Can I connect a CAD to my smart meters if OVO open the Home Area Network (HAN)?

  • 15 December 2017
  • 49 replies

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49 replies

Excellent news, thank you for all your hard work and persistence in bringing this to a satisfactory conclusion.

I've just placed an order with Energyhive for the same CAD, so lets hope I can get a speedy connection.
Just sent an email to OVO requesting connection of my CAD to the HAN.

Same make, model and firmware as the one successfully paired for markocosic

I'll report progress as it happens.
Progress (or lack of it) so far...

All via email unless otherwise stated.

Me to OVO 10:32 Can you please pair this CAD, here are all my account details and an .xml file with all the zigbee connection details

OVO to me 10:39 We have opened the HAN for 30 minutes

CAD failed to pair, so I contacted Energyhive and they could see the open HAN and suspected the .xml file had not been uploaded

Me to OVO 11:25 Can you please confirm the .xml file had been uploaded.

OVO to me 11:47 We have opened the HAN for 24 hours. No confirmation of successful .xml upload.

CAD failed to pair, Energyhive still suspect the .xml file had not been uploaded

Me to OVO 13:31 I asked them to confirm receipt of the .xml file and it's error free upload

OVO to me 13:46 Replied to say the Smart Metering Team now had the files and
would be in touch within 3-5 working days. still no confirmation of error free upload.

Me to OVO by phone 13:56 Spent 21 minute mainly on hold to be told someone would phone me back later today.

OVO to me by phone 16:02 Told it would take up to 2 to 4 weeks to get the CAD connected. Various "reasons" given for the delay. "we need to carry out security checks", "we can only upload .xml files in bulk", none of which appeared in the followup email.

OVO to me 16:18 Email confirmation of the above phone conversation.

===================== quote ========================

Thank you for your time today.

As discussed, after speaking with our smart metering team they have
advised that they can pair the CAD device you have purchased, however it
will take some time to get everything ready.

They have requested that the device is left plugged into the mains and
turned on, once necessary activity has been carried out on the network and
with Secure then we will remotely pair the device, this will be completed
within the next 2-4 weeks.

======================== end quote =====================

So questions:

Why was the HAN opened if the .xml file had not been uploaded?
Why was the HAN opened if OVO had "necessary activity" to engage in prior to pairing?
Why did it take so long to backtrack?

I also received a spurious email from OVO saying they could not pair a customers own IHD but happily supply me an OVO one!

Using email to communicate with OVO is frustrating. Each exchange is answered by a different person and no audit trail is maintained (at least not from the customer perspective).
The 2 to 4 weeks they said it would take have now passed and the CAD is still not connected.

I've just raised a complaint and also uploaded it to the forum as a new thread as it appears OVO no longer follow this one.
@TerryE I don't believe I've been hostile at any point in my contacts with OVO. The point of my thread title ('I'm not asking to the moon on a stick') was to try and kickstart some action from OVO.

From my perspective, I was glad to see Marko doing the heavy lifting, throwing in a comment where I could.

Once Marko had got his CAD paired I would have expected getting my CAD, same make, model and firmware, would be a simple process as type approval would already be in place. But it seems I was wrong and OVO are choosing to want to go through the whole process again. This is a quote from their last email response to me:

Secure will not allow us to add your device until all 3 companies involved are on the same page. Your CAD manufacturer, Hildebrand, also need to liaise with Secure to sort out the authorisation of the device on Secure's network. We are currently in talks with both companies to resolve this as quickly as possible, but given part of this resolution is outside of our control, this hasn't happened as quickly as we'd have liked.

Are they going to do this for every customer that wants to connect a third party device t0 the HAN?

For me scrapping off the web site does not give me the resolution I want.
Got there in the end!

10 months after my request to OVO to connect my CAD, it was finally connected on 30/11/2018

During the 10 months, after many unsuccessful attempts to get OVO to connect my CAD, I raised a format complaint with OVO - which they completely ignored.

I then referred OVO to the Energy Ombudsman, who found in favour of OVO, saying it was unreasonable to expect OVO to pay the £500 that Secure required to connect my CAD. The fact that OVOs supply licence requires them to connect a CAD when requested and at no cost to the customer counted for nothing. The £500 charge, I have subsequently found out was for a single operation which could be for 1 or a 1000 devices. So why couldn't they lump my CAD in with the Chameleon IHDs which OVO appear to have been connecting in great numbers.

My next move was to contact the smart metering team at BEIS, who took an interest in my case and seemed to be moving things forward, providing me with updates and setting deadlines.

In the meantime Hildebrand have been working with Secure to remove the £500 connection barrier. That became operational on the 31st of August and Hildebrand connected their first CAD to a Secure meter 21/09/2018 (utility company unknown but not OVO).

Throughout the 10 month period the support from Hildebrand and from BEIS, once I got them involved has been superb. The support from OVO has been non-existent, some honesty, instead of pointless waffle in their replies to me would have helped.
I supplied BEIS with a full copy of the Ombudsman's adjudication. They were somewhat surprised at the decision of the Energy Ombudsman and 'had words' with them!
Userlevel 1
Saved, just incase they remove this post, it is a shame they did not fully respond and formally clarify their position. Still upshot is that the device can be paired. I shall look into grabbing one a repeating your process (hopefully with less aggravation).
Userlevel 1
Nice one redwood, keep us up to date. Hopefully the process is more streamlined for you and we can start ordering more CAD's
Userlevel 2
@markocosic, @redwood, why the hostility? These guys are only doing their jobs. Are you willing to pay the cost consequences of connecting a non-standard device to their meter. Surely it is worthwhile trying to work constructively with the team?

I looked at CADs for plugging into my HA, and the mature open APIs just aren't there yet. If the industry standard connection cost for connecting to an unapproved device is more than a few £ or not fully recoverable from the customer, then no business is going to do this.

In the end, I just pull the data into my MySQL backend from the online interface. Just a lot simpler and easier. Even though I am retired, I still have better things to do with my life 🙂
Userlevel 2
@markocosic Hi Marko, yes OVO might be failing their regulatory duties, and you might be in the right, but letting your frustrations out at the moderators and agents working these tickets just won't help you get resolution. It's not good for you and its not good for them.

My suggestion is that if you can't get resolution, then accept this and either switch suppliers, or go the web interface route for now.

If OVO don't come up with a decent smart metered time-of-day variable tariff linked to the spot wholesale rate soon, then I will be switching myself at the end of my contract.
Userlevel 2
Your call, but if you do it in a way that gets a smile out of the forum agents, then you might at least get a supporter on the inside.

Fo me life is too short (literally) 🙂
Userlevel 2
Architecturally the the whole CAD concept seems flawed to me in one area: its security model. This seems to be closed sourced and proprietary, and the vulnerabilities and financial exposure if the system is compromised are absolutely enormous. So for Secure, the disclosure of identification protocols to third party suppliers is a severe risk and it has a duty of care to its customers and to end-users that must be appropriately mitigated. This is all going to take ages.

Keeping their data inside a private network and passing it back to the the energy provider to present in the cloud is far simpler and easier. The security is then all open-source and already the world's standard.

All I then need is to do is to agree an identification moniker with my supplier and sign a consent form to allow it to make my metering data accessible over HTTPS. This could be a very simple request form on the current OVO website. In my case, I can then use access this with a 4 node flow in NodeRED with three standard nodes and one a dozen line function.

Why make it complicated, when simple standard does everything that you need?
Userlevel 2
Security + non-issue is an oxymoron. For example just google "ZigBee security vulnerabilities" and start browsing. I don't want to get side-tracked by PPMID discussions. Let's stick the the CAD.

First of all are you sure that you don't care if someone reads your data?

Second, has the supplier formally proven that the Access Device doesn't have some exploitable update back channel? Could this in turn introduce a back channel to attack the smart meter? Even if its "just" a DoS attack on it. STUXnet targetted Iranian SCADA systems controlling Uranium enrichment. What if someone did a similar viral bot to take out CAD linked electricity / gas meters? I am not saying I know hwo to do this, but do I think that someone might find some attack? If the possibility is there, then some goon will find it.

So let's agree to disagree, eh? 🙂
Userlevel 2
On your first point, yes the energy majors could act in this way, but I am personally more concerned about unknown third parties exploiting some other security vulnerability to do this.

The bigger security risk is IoT consumer devices.
I am one of the core developers for one of the ESP8266 firmware platforms, and I happen to agree with you on that which is why (all except one) of my IoT devices are on an isolated control LAN, run open source firmware and have no direct access to the Internet. The exception is one Chromecast device, but even that has got me doing what my Ma always told me to do: I power off the TV and chromecast at the wall when I am not watching it. I am also thinking of replacing it by one of the OpenSource Linux SBC systems, even though it is only used for watching a couple of hours cloud content a day on a TV.

But now we are totally off topic and time to stop 🙂
Userlevel 3
So how's it working out for you now? The original CAD device mentioned doesn't seem to be available any more, the only one is the glowstick here:

@redwood did you use the same CAD device as @markocosic or something else? I want to get this sorted now as I'm fed up of the smart meter playing 'dumb'

It's working well using the app on my phone. I intend to use the API to integrate it into my home automation "real soon now!"

Although Hildebrand have told me they don't directly support elec. export the (almost) realtime updates, app homepage every 5 seconds and graph every 1 minute do show export which will be quite useful to me.

Yes the same CAD as @markocosic seems to show a similar CAD to mine. Suggest you contact Hildebrand support, I've always found them most helpful.

Will Ovo "open the HAN" to allow use of a CAD (consumer access device) such that I can access the data from the Liberty electricity /gas meters?

Specifically this CAD:

Alternatively is there any other means to retrieve "live" meter data in a less useless way than screen-scraping the Ovo website or a webcam on the IHD?

It's an R&D project on combi boiler efficiency. "Real time" heat use is easy using heat / electricity sub-meters with open M-Bs protocols. "Real time" gas use is tricksy.



Hey @markocosic

I've edited the title of your query slightly so other users can find the same information.

I've spoken to our Smart team and it's not something we're able to do at the moment. This is because we can only pair devices that we've authorised e.g. our In Home Displays (IHDs).


**Updated 17/07/2019**

Check this post for updated info.
Dead easy - cheers!

Waiting on the change to propagate to the meter (24 hrs) then will see if we can get the Energyhive CAD to play ball. :-)

Hey @markocosic

Just had an update from the team and I've amended my original response (sorry for any confusion) - please see above for more info.

Userlevel 5
Badge +2
I’m afraid it’s a lot more complex than just opening the HAN to try and pair the CAD. If we opened the HAN, it’s very likely that it wouldn’t pair. It needs to be whitelisted by secure as it can affect other functionalities we offer.

The team have also advised that each CAD type and firmware version has to be tested for stability on our system before whitelist requests can be accepted. Without this, we cannot be sure that the CAD device will not disturb the operation of the rest of the Secure system.

I imagine this isn’t the answer you were hoping for and you mentioned that you’d like to raise a complaint if we weren’t able to open the HAN. Please feel free to raise a complaint via our complaints webform here:

Userlevel 5
Badge +2
Sorry you've not had a response yet @markocosic. I'd encourage you to keep contacting the team via email if this is how you'd prefer to communicate with us. As we don't have any of your details on here, we're unable to chase this up via the Forum. If you change your mind and would like us too, just pop one of us a PM with your details so we can help.

As for the license agreement you've stated, the most relevant section indicates that the licensee must take all reasonable steps. As far as I understand the situation, OVO are looking into white listing your CAD as requested, so I wouldn't say OVO are in breach of their electricity supply licence at present.

Either way I really hope this gets sorted and we can get things back on track!

Userlevel 7
Badge +2

Ovo are now saying that the device *needs* to be given permission (whitelisted) in order to connect - That's what I'm asking you to do. Go ahead please.

So if we haven't tried to get your CAD model whitelisted and testing to be done (all we can do is try out best), let's get the ball rolling with this @markocosic

Usually we'd ask you to send us some account info via more direct customer service channels (like a Facebook PM, Twitter DM or email) but if you'd prefer, feel free to PM me directly. I'll need your account number, name and DoB.

Userlevel 7
Badge +2
Have you managed to email in about this or did you want to PM me your details instead @markocosic?

Userlevel 3
On the contrary @TerryE

The *only* way to get bullies like people in charge at Ovo to fulfil their regulatory duties *is* to publicise their behaviour and so threaten the one thing (appearances) that they actually care about.

My CAD was paired back in January.

This was a combination of the folks in charge at Ovo realising that their reputation was at risk...and Her Majesty's Government tapped them on the shoulder and suggested that life would be easier if they discharged their regulatory duties.

Don't confuse me negotiating in public with me venting frustration. ;-)

There was an element of frustration yes, but the purpose of documenting how outrageous their behaviour was in public was more about negotiation. And equipping others with the collateral needed to negotiate on more equal terms with a large utility company. :-)

Could you share the details on what make/model and firmware revision your CAD is at? I would like to have a device paired too which would give me the data I need to feed into my heating system, however I got this response back from Secure, which does somewhat back up what OVO are saying:

In order to connect a CAD device to a Secure SMETS 1 HAN the following must be provided;

1. A compliance certificate for Zigbee SEP 1.1 issued by the Zigbee alliance.

2. Two test devices for approval.

3. Details of installation process along with MAC id and install codes for the above test devices.

4. Release details for the version of CAD firmware to be tested.

Once a date is agreed testing typically takes 4 - 6 weeks, Secure levies a nominal charge of £4000 + VAT for each firmware version tested. Secure reserves the right to remove any device from the network if its behaviour impacts the correct operation of the HAN. Testing by Secure does not validate the operation of the CAD device only that it does not adversely impact the correct operation of other devices on the network. Data privacy for data retrieved from devices on the HAN network is the sole responsibility of the CAD manufacturer.

Once approved individual CAD devices must be whitelisted, this request to whitelist must be submitted via your energy supplier and is subject to a nominal charge.

Secure does not provide a list of approved CAD devices, please contact each individual CAD manufacturer for confirmation of approval.

Unless OVO can provide the list of supported 3rd party CAD devices, as mentioned by Secure.