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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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Userlevel 3
Hi,

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:
https://shop.energyhive.com/products/energyhive-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.

Thanks,

--
M
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Best answer by Anonymous 19 December 2017, 12:44

Hi,

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:
https://shop.energyhive.com/products/energyhive-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.

Thanks,

--
M


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).

Thanks,
Emma

**Updated 17/07/2019**

Check this post for updated info.
View original

49 replies

Userlevel 3
We've had three emails that weren't helpful followed by three calls of > 30 minutes each where we started to get somewhere.

I'm keeping the thread up to date so that others don't have to ask the same questions or go through the same arguments again. 🙂
Userlevel 3
Hi,

January 5th has come...and passed...with none of the promised response from Ovo or the CAD being paired with the smart meter.

Ovo: you are in breach of the terms of your electricity supply licence:

(condition 49 for starters)

https://epr.ofgem.gov.uk//Content/Documents/Electricity%20Supply%20Standard%20Licence%20Conditions%20Consolidated%20-%20Current%20Version.pdf

I'm no longer prepared to tolerate your delaying tactics and am therefore starting the clock by escalating this into a formal complaint so that the regulator can breath encouraging words down your neck.

Do you have an explanation for your actions that you'd like to share?

--
M
Userlevel 3
Whitelisting means taking the EUI / Install Code for the CAD that the consumer has given you and applying them to the meter - as you do with your own IHDs.


Testing? The excuse for saying "no" wheeled out by a man in the smart team by the name of Ken; who made the mistake of *refusing* to whitelist this CAD when given all the details needed (account number, name and security details, exact CAD make/model/firmware details, and the EUI / Install Code for the CAD) 8 days ago and used a lack of testing as his sole justification.


Ovo aren't allowed to do this (to my eye it's against the conditions of their supply licence and it's anti competitive behaviour) but I'll play the game because if that sole justification for saying no were to evaporate it's going to be difficult to say no twice.


Saying yes is hard because:

- It'll be a complete pain in the backside if hundreds or thousands of enthusiasts start asking you to pair their own devices with the smart meters. (wohoo - another department and set of processes...)
- You're working on your own version of what I'm asking for (collecting 'live' data from the meter using a CAD and the internet instead of 'batch' data the GPRS unit in the meter) that will be much easier for you to administer and means that you control a consumer's access to their own data

Understandable. But the smart metering game has rules.


I'm too impatient to wait for Ovo to built their thing to suit themselves. That particular CAD comes with an API that let's me get on with it now:
https://www.energyhive.com/content/about/develop

Also the whole point of the architecture that DECC / BEIS created is to avoid the vendor lock-in (supplier lock-in) that will happens if the only way to access your meter data is via one particular energy supplier.

That's less of a concern for the R&D project I have in mind than missing *all* of this winter's data due to delays installing the meter and delays pairing the CAD with it. (though imagine many others would object to their APIs and smart devices not working if they switch supplier)
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**Edit** - Why is this thread marked as solved, when it is not as it gives a totally different impression at the top of the thread than the reality (which is it is ongoing)

I am also interested in this and closely tracking what happens with markocosic. I hope you can get this sorted and we don't all have to open cases with the regulators to get CAD's added. I appreciate the process is likely onerous for OVO, but if your in the smart meter game its part of the territory. Possibly you could nip this all in the bud by developing (if you are not already) an open API for customers to interrogate the data themselves.
Userlevel 3
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. 🙂
Userlevel 3
Indeed. When actual device arrived and it came to pair up the smart team refused to comply.

I've just been on the phone for the best part of an hour.

The true situation is more complex.

Legally (and technically) your first answer was actually correct.

However the smart team are currently refusing to play ball and are lying in order to justify their position.

The smart team refused to have an adult conversation about this and are punting the customer care team out to take all the punches. (unsporting)

Customer care are going to have words with them this evening and provide an answer by morning. If the smart team wish to lie again in writing I'll be taking this up with the Ombudsman. (the failure to comply and the lie)

Just because Ovo haven't been able to connect to the HAN and pull back the 1-minute interval data that the smart meters provide yet doesn't mean that they should prevent the consumer from connecting a consumer access device to the home area network to do this themselves. (as BEIS intended)

We'll see what the morning brings. Having waited this long for the meters to be installed in the first place it would be frustrating to have to switch supplier and have them switched again just to access the data.
Userlevel 3
Unfortunately it looks like Ovo have dug their heels in on this one.


Their last response on 22/12/17:

"Good afternoon Mr Cosic,

Following on from our conversation yesterday I have tried to call this afternoon but unfortunately I was not able to get through. [no record of any missed call - MC]

I am currently in discussion with our Smart team and as previously advised it is not our policy to pair unknown CAD devices with our Smart meters as we do not know the impact of the device or the security of the data. The Smart team have however advised that they are liaising directly with Secure to get further clarification and as soon as I have had a response from them I will be in touch.

My apologies that I have not been able to provide a more solid resolution today."


i.e. Ovo have pushed the reason for the delay onto Secure.


My response:


"Hi,


Thank you for the update. I'm sorry to hear that the smart team continue to make your life difficult by continuing to lie to you.

My (non defamatory) accusation - that Ovo are LYING about this CAD not having been tested with the SECURE meter and posing a potential security risk even though it is not a PPMID - stands.


You have until 31/12/2017 to:

1) Open up the HAN and connect this CAD using the details provided
2) Apologise for making statements and accusations that you did not in fact know to be true without the appropriate caveats
3) Apologise for dismissive and combative manner in which you have handled my simple request

Should you fail to do so I shall:

1) Make this a formal complaint. (start the clock ticking)
2) Ask the Ombudsman to review Ovo's potential failure comply with the terms of their supply licence. (this is a separate matter from a consumer complaint)
3) Ask the Competition and Markets Authority to review what I consider to be Ovo's anti-competitive behaviour in seeking to restrict access to the HAN to only the CADs that suit their commercial interests. (escalate to your in house counsel please)


This isn't how this process should work. Here's how is should work: (pp3, courtesy of 'redwood' on the Ovo forum)

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/591322/09022017_-_Smart_Meters__Data__Growth_DR_-_updated.pdf

Please get on with your job.


Thanks,"


I'm not impressed.


Should Ovo modify or otherwise suppress this posting I'll add this action to the file for the Ombudsman and the CMA.
Userlevel 3
Has Ovo's Smart team finished choosing which hoops we need to go through to make this happen Lucy?

You have been given:
- The exact make/model of CAD (the Hildebrand unit in the link in my initial post)
- The EUI and the Install Code required to pair the exact unit (via email)

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.

Ovo are *also* saying that the CAD type and firmware version *need* to be tested for stability on their system. That's not true in the strict sense. *Ovo* choose to require this but it is not needed in order to open the HAN and pair the device.

I'll play your game though. Here are the details that you need:

- Hildebrand model CAD (per link above)
- EUI and Install Code (per email)
- Firmware version 0.8.6

Ovo's last position appears to be "Ovo states that this has never been tested"

Or is Ovo back-tracking on their original written statement; stalling on asking Secure meters the question and hoping that I will be satisfied with making a complaint in the same way that Ovo was hoping that waiving the exit fees would encourage me to leave before the contracted end date and you'd get away without having to give an answer or answer to the Ombudsman or the CMA?
Userlevel 3
Posting a reply on this forum prods Ovo into action @Lucy_OVO - they're reading and reacting to this discussion...and paying more attention to it than they do to emails or phone calls because it's embarrassing.


With regards to Ovo's interpretation of their compliance with the terms of their supply license:

"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."


Ovo's response has been:

"Sure, no poblem."
"Actually, no, sorry."
"No, we don't have to do this for you."
"Can we bribe you to switch supplier please?"
"We'll ask our meter supplier to say no on our behalf."
"Oh, and we've marked the issue as resolved."

Ovo has demonstrably tried to shirk their obligations. Ofgem will see through this.


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

Indeed.

Having refused your money in lieu of a failure to deliver your only option is to deliver, and the longer it takes for Ovo to stop refusing to pair the SP1.1b compliant Consumer Access Device that is already in operation with this model of Smart Meter, the more hypocritical Ovo are going to look.


It took >3 months and several missed visits to install the meter. (Aug 9th>14th Dec) This happens. Ovo use the same contractors as every other utility company and they're not spectacular. Fair enough. We'd like the data before winter is over please and it's really not as complicated an ask as Ovo are making out.
Userlevel 3
Update:

The Consumer Access Device has now been paired. (EnergyHive firmware version 0.8.6 with the Secure Meters smart meters)

This was indeed easy: all Ovo need is the exact make/model of CAD, the EUI, and the Install Code, and the CAD to be powered up and in range of the smart meter.

That exact make/model/firmware version of CAD had indeed been tested with the Secure Meters smart meter too.

The smart meter team at Ovo, once you're permitted to speak with them, know how to do this.


A formal complaint was raised, and it was requested that Ovo acknowledge:

"1) Their obligations under the terms of their supply licence. Admit, in writing, that you're obligated to make a reasonable effort at pairing a consumer access device with a smart meter.

2) That it is possible to pair this particular consumer access device (EnergyHive, can also be branded Hildebrand or Labrador), firmware version 0.8.6, with the Sscure Meters.

3) That I as a customer actually asked for something perfectly achieveable

4) That Ovo, shall we say, consistently made it more difficult than it could have been to communicate with the appropriate individuals within Ovo who could resolve the issues, and indeed communicated a number of what transpired to be false statements in the process

5) That Ovo have learned from this and promise not to do it again

and that Ovo would:

A) Turn over all internal meeting minutes, internal and externals correspondence, and call recordings to XXX at BEIS (not myself) such that they make take a view on changes that may be needed to expedite the delivery of useful smart metering in the UK

😎 Commit to enacting a formal process by which consumers may request that an "pre-approved [by Ovo] consumer access device" is paired with their smart meter within 2 weeks of first requesting this; and having this process documented online and in operation by 31/08/2018"



Ovo replied with:

"Good morning Mr Cosic

Thank you for your patience whilst your complaint was investigated.

Following your conversation with XXX on LinkedIn, I can confirm that your Consumer Access Device (CAD) has been paired, and your complaint has been closed.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch. You can contact us by replying to this email, or emailing feedback@ovoenergy.com directly. You can also call the Complaints team on 0800 408 6699, our lines are open 9am-7.30pm Monday to Thursday and 9am-6pm on Friday.

Kind regards

Stacey Seeley​
Complaint Resolution Agent"



Thus ignoring every reasonable request in the complaint and attempting to brush it under the carpet on their systems.


The smart metering folk there are ok. The front line consumer facing folks are good sports too. The upper echelons appear have adopted the kind of comfortable "treat the consumer with total contempt" approach that the media would have you believe was exclusive to the Big Six. If you refuse to be bullied by them a consumer can pair their own consumer access device though.


PDF this whilst it still exists here. 😉
Userlevel 3
Hi ErTnEc,


It's a Hildebrand (Enerrgyhive) CAD firmware 0.8.6
https://shop.energyhive.com/products/energyhive-cad

Ovo know full well that it's already been tested and whitelisted and paired at least once.


If Ovo's chosen smart meter supplies wants to charge Ovo £4,000+VAT and take 6-8 weeks to test, before levying an additional charge to whitelist each individual device, in order that Ovo may meet their regulatory obligations to the consumer...that's Ovo's business not yours.

If Ovo whinge about having to meet the terms of the supply license that they signed up for being deeply unfair they're welcome to hand it back and exit the market. If Ovo whinge about what their supplier charges them they're welcome to think more carefully when buying next time. They're not allowed to refuse you or to force you - or the CAD vendor - to pay extra. It's their job to do this and part of the regulated supply made to you.


If given any s**t pick up the phone to Ofgem and BEIS and refer Ovo to them for anti-competitive behaviour (they found "smarts" too hard and are trying to prevent others doing "smarts" which is an abuse of their position) and wilful failure to meet the terms of their supply license (a much bigger stick to negotiate with)


--
M
Hi,

The ability to connect a CAD to the HAN is something I would also like to be able to do.

As a new OVO customer, this is my first investigation into this.

The response from OVO so far would seem to be in direct opposition to the UK Gov position on the subject, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/591322/09022017_-_Smart_Meters__Data__Growth_DR_-_updated.pdf (page 3 refers).

Looking forward to a positive response from OVO early in the new year...
Not wishing to muddy the water!

But in this thread https://forum.ovoenergy.com/smart-meters-smart-products-33/when-is-the-new-chameleon-in-home-display-ihd-being-made-available-558 OVO state they are trialling the Chameleon IHD.

Chameleon also make a CAD so could this provide a route to achieving the desired goal. Both Secure and Chameleon are involved in the preparation of this paper http://www.beama.org.uk/asset/EBA9BBB9-756E-48A0-B6C38EBFBC3EEEAB/ (download) so one would hope for a degree of compatibility.
Userlevel 1
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This is now very much doable and supported by OVO.

You can buy and pair a third party HAN very easily. In fact the Hildebrand Glow HAN can be paired by them without you having to ask OVO to unlock your smart meters.

There is access to an app and an API for getting real time data and historical data. The API is ok (it falls down in places but can be worked around). I am in the process of writing a Python class interface with the API that sorts out some of the oddness.

Hildebrand as a company appear to be quite responsive and helpful and the setup was a doddle.

Will post back here when I have the Python code up on GitHub.

**UPDATE**
Version one of the python library for the Hildebrand API. May well be a bit sketchy.

https://github.com/ghostseven/Hildebrand-Glow-Python-Library
Userlevel 5
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Thanks for the update and share @blakedrayson ☺
Userlevel 3
I don't have any faith in an (Open and not crippled by rate limits) Ovo API via Chameleon IHD appearing before winter is over.

(this was suggested this as a solution before being offered the bung go switch supplier and become somebody else's problem)


Would Ovo refuse the use of 3rd party gas meters in place of their supplied meters?

Something like a Diehl Aerius is available with non-proprietary, non vendor-locked, European standard protocols that facilitate remote reads:

http://www.diehl.com/pl/diehl-metering/produkty-i-rozwiazania/pdb-details.html?tx_diehlproducts_pi1%5Bproduct%5D=69794451566&tx_diehlproducts_pi1%5BbackPid%5D=522&tx_diehlproducts_pi1%5Baction%5D=show&tx_diehlproducts_pi1%5Bcontroller%5D=MeteringProduct

It would have to *replace* the utility meter rather than sit downstream due to pressure drop limitations though.
Userlevel 3
This has now been referred to the enforcement team at Ofgem and delegated to the Deputy Head of Smart Meter Delivery at BEIS.

The latter are not responsible for enforcement but have taken an interest in Ovo's refusal to pair the (non-Ovo) CAD (that could send data to non-Ovo controlled destinations) with the smart meter.

We await the results of your next internal meeting to discuss Ovo's policy in this area.
Userlevel 3
Slow learners.

If the CAD is powered up and in the vicinity of the meter it'll pair within seconds of that XML file hitting Secure's head end servers and the update being pushed to the meter.

If it isn't done the same day it's because Ovo are refusing to or are purposefully dragging their feet as slowly as they dare without incurring the wrath of BEIS and Ofgem. PDF and forward your experience (this thread) to their smart metering implementation team and Ofgem if you'd like to hurry it along. ;-)

It is disappointing to see bare faced lies (e.g. security checks) being peddled by Ovo again.

--
Marko
Userlevel 3
If you roll back through the discussion @TerryE you'll find I tried to work constructively with the team but was told to shove it.

The low level folks at Ovo were just doing their jobs and I sympathise with their predicament. The instructions to tell the consumer to shove off came from a senior level.

As to cost:

If a company wants the privilege of making money by supplying gas/electricity to consumer then you've got to follow the rules.

I asked Ovo to connect a consumer access device to my smart meter. This is a cost that they agreed to cover when they decided to supply gas/electricity to consumers. The device was even tested and approved.

They lied, stalled, and generally told me to shove off until I asked BEIS and Ofgem to breathe down their necks and generally bloody well comply with the rules that they agreed to abide by - aka do their jobs - when becoming a licensed supplier.

Their hostility...not mine. And management hostility...not frontline staff.

Screen scraping the online interface wouldn't achieve the result I was seeking because it doesn't provide the same update rate on gas consumptions as the CAD does.

Simpler. Easier. But useless.

I do agree that it would have been *far* easier for Ovo to have worked constructively with the consumer than to have been so hostile in this situation. (black mark with the regulators over this episode)
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. 🙂
Userlevel 3
The forum agents are in the same tricky situation as the frontline customer support staff and the smart metering team.

They all know that was I was asking was easy and reasonable.
They all know I asked very nicely the first time.
And they all know that management were complete punks about it.
They should know that I know they've got orders to follow.
They should know that I know management will be bullying them to censor/suppress this thread.
And they should know that I don't hold this against them.

i.e. The forum / frontline support / smart metering people are doing a good job in spite of management's best efforts. This doesn't go unnoticed.

I doubt there'll be any friends on the inside for myself now; whether looking at boiler efficiency is useful or otherwise.
Userlevel 3
It's a "discussion" over who pays; be this for the admin hassle or the fleet management system they'll be needing to implement to keep track of this all.

Ovo will want the CAD supplier to foot any bill for pairing the devices. They can't say this out loud. BEIS and Ofgem would be alarmed at them for even thinking that this is acceptable. They can keep bullshitting their way through the delays though.

Technically it's a piece of cake that takes 2 minutes. Management won't allow the smart metering team to do it.
Userlevel 3
Security is a non-issue for a CAD. (it's read only)

Security is a big deal for a PPMID. (you can change things with this)

CADs are easy to authorise, safely, using the smart metering architecture designed by the utilities. The ownership of data and the right of access are set in stone too.

PPMIDs will indeed take ages and need to be carefully vetted.


The smart meter provides lots of data. It isn't feasible (cost effective) to pull this back via the mobile phone network.

It is feasible to pull it back via wired internet using a CAD or PPMID. If Ovo's head end system were capable of ingesting this data and providing an API for others to access and Ovo made this available then I agree this would be grand. Much easier.

Ovo's head end system is not capable of ingesting this data or providing an API for others to access. Half hourly data yes. Real time data no. So we're back to the CAD to access this stuff.


It only matters for gas. For electricity you can easily ignore the "smart" meter and install your own clamp meter with local voltage reference to get *proper* real time data. (see Verv from Green Running etc)
Userlevel 3
I couldn't give a fudge if a 3rd party accessed the meter data without my consent. It's sat outside the house in the snow accessible from the street. ECV and display.

The CAD is remotely update-able and outside the control of the meter. If there'a vulnerability in the meter via the API for the CAD that's a problem for the meter manufacturer.


Large security risks are:

1) The utility industry for turning a "meter" into a "load control" device. (installing remotely operable disconnection devices inside the meters - a risk that wasn't present previously and isn't necessary)

2) Giving control of these "load control" devices to humans. (high turnover and lightly vetted call centre operatives using machines that aren't well locked down)

3) Meter manufacturers trying to do communications and control. (see: making such schoolboy errors like using the same key on every meter that GCHQ has to intervene)


The bigger security risk is IoT consumer devices. It'll be easier to hack a 500,000 "smart kettles" or "smart toasters" or "smart heating controls" knocked up in a shed in China (see also: IP camera botnets) than it is to hack the "load control" devices in the meters. Turn 'em all on slowly. Flip 'em all off. Flip 'em all on again. That +/-/+ 1 GW swing takes down the grid.

No regulation there. No security checks. A cakewalk in the not too distant future.

EVs are the other one likely to bring down the grid. Big loads that consumers and hackers alike are free to flip on and off in a coordinated manner.

Gas grid won't care. Hard to take that out.
Userlevel 3
Wowser.

Ombudsman rules that a supplier doesn't need to comply with the conditions of their supply license... publish that in full then complain to Ofgem that the ombudsman is endorsing not complying with supply licenses?

I've switched to octopus and have been experimenting with their agile tariffs. Thus far they've not been the obnoxious, lying, self interested corporate that Ovo has become since it achieved scale. I guess it must make some money now though, what with charging above market rate and dialling back the service level.

Shame on the ombudsman though.

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