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Is a signal 'Relay' available, to allow connectivity between SMETS2 gas and electricity meters that are far apart?

  • 24 September 2020
  • 5 replies
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I would like to join the ‘Better Smart’ tariff which entails getting smart meters. The problem is that our electricity and gas meters are on opposite sides of the house, with a distance of 16m, 2 external and 3 internal walls between them making connectivity unlikely.

I don’t want to get a smart gas meter that does not connect, as it presents no advantages and only the disadvantage of having a battery that runs out and makes the meter useless within 10 years (so not environmentally friendly either). I appreciate that the presence of neighbours’ SMETS2 meters could provide connectivity via a mesh network, but this is not a possibility in our case.

While OVO Energy provides a relay for SMETS1 meters, is it correct to say that this is not compatible with SMETS2 meters, which have a different Zigbee profile - dual band 2.4GHz & 868MHz? If so, are there any plans to make such a relay (Zigbee booster) available for the HAN, if so when?

Or alternatively, is it possible to only get the electricity meter upgraded to smart, leaving the existing gas meter in place, and still join/stay on this tariff?

Thanks, Mike

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Best answer by Transparent 25 September 2020, 12:00

Hi @vrmike . Welcome to the Forum. Great question to start with.

When you book a Smart Meter installation with OVO and they discover that there is insufficient signal to the gas meter, then you will indeed end up with only the electricity meter. That’s the default position… and one that gets raised regularly: see here.

You’ve obviously done a bit of research because you’re aware of the development of a pseudo-ZigBee running at 868MHz. There are other solutions being worked on by the Alt HAN Company.

A ZigBee repeater is a possibility, but is not currently “approved” for use on a SMETS2 site because it introduces a security loophole.

The Mesh network you mention would achieve nothing to resolve your situation anyway. It’s a strategy used for linking homes to the Wide Area Network, whereas your inferred deficiency is on the Home Area Network.

So I’d recommend that you apply for the Better Smart tariff, book for the Smart Meter installation, and then post back here to let us know how it goes.

Could you please fill out your Forum Profile page? That’s where we look to more accurately tailor responses to your situation. Thanks.

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Hi @vrmike . Welcome to the Forum. Great question to start with.

When you book a Smart Meter installation with OVO and they discover that there is insufficient signal to the gas meter, then you will indeed end up with only the electricity meter. That’s the default position… and one that gets raised regularly: see here.

You’ve obviously done a bit of research because you’re aware of the development of a pseudo-ZigBee running at 868MHz. There are other solutions being worked on by the Alt HAN Company.

A ZigBee repeater is a possibility, but is not currently “approved” for use on a SMETS2 site because it introduces a security loophole.

The Mesh network you mention would achieve nothing to resolve your situation anyway. It’s a strategy used for linking homes to the Wide Area Network, whereas your inferred deficiency is on the Home Area Network.

So I’d recommend that you apply for the Better Smart tariff, book for the Smart Meter installation, and then post back here to let us know how it goes.

Could you please fill out your Forum Profile page? That’s where we look to more accurately tailor responses to your situation. Thanks.

Hi @Transparent, I joined OVO on the basis of their commitment to renewable energy, but in the end decided not to go with a tariff requiring a smart meter. I don't see any point in getting a smart meter for electricity only, as it currently provides no advantage - no EV or other devices that could benefit from dynamic tariffs. The main benefit for me right now is if I could have smart meters for both gas and electricity to avoid manual meter readings, but due to the distance and walls between them, it is certain that a smart gas meter is not viable due to lack of connectivity to the electricity meter acting as base station. At the point where I have to remember to read one meter, it is just as easy to read both.

 

Hopefully in a year's time when I renew tariffs, OVO will be able to provide a repeater/booster to allow this connectivity between SMETS2 meters, in the same way as it used to for SMETS1 ones. It is disappointing that the industry as a whole is pushing smart meters so heavily, but is not willing to provide a complete solution for a sizeable minority of households where the distance between the gas and electricity meters is too great for smart meters.

 

Thanks, Mike

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Thanks @vrmike - those observations are not only valid, but also useful feedback to OVO.

Presently there are a number of problems emerging with the widespread installation of SMETS2 Smart Meters, which were not detected in the Trial Sites. This is to be expected. Even a 0.1% failure rate within the communication links to gas meters is still a massive 21,000 customers!

It seems perfectly understandable that you should hold off pending the results of the Trials from the technological solutions being developed by the Alt HAN Company.

Excellent info. I believe that the number of Zigbee failures will grow as the current vogue in new buildings is to place the gas meter on the front of the house and the electricity at maximal distance down the side of the house. The lower frequency provides some hope, if and when available,  for better penetration. I never understood why the 2.4GHz band was chosen as there is limited information to communicate.

 

I am currently an EDF customer and their knowledge on this issue has been poor. I have a Landis and Gyr SMETS2 gas meter which was installed and I was told it would take up to 30 days to come on stream - however neither I nor EDF have seen any output. 

They did mention boosting the power (whether this is the switch to the lower frequency I don't know). Is this something that can be done remotely understanding that this will clearly have a negative impact on the battery life.

 

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Hi @Plug and welcome to the Forum.

I’m not aware of any SMETS2  Gas Meters or Communications Hubs with 868MHz capability which have yet been granted approval for installation in UK. If you tell us the model number of your L&G gas meter we should be able to confirm what frequencies it offers.

If your meter installation was recent, then the engineer would not have left site without receiving confirmation that there was effective communication to/fro your gas meter. Without that, the off-site commissioning couldn’t be completed and EDF would be unable to claim the grant payment.

Are you not seeing gas data of any kind displayed on your In Home Device? Showing you this and demonstrating how it works forms part of the installation procedure. The gas meter costings wouldn’t be correct because your tariff would not yet have been downloaded, but you should have seen some usage data in order for the engineer to “tick that box”.

 

I can’t see how the use of a different frequency in future would adversely affect battery life. But if you have a better understanding of the underlying physics, then please share it here! :slight_smile:

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