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Is my gas meter too high and obstructed to get a smart meter fitted?

  • 13 October 2020
  • 15 replies
  • 701 views

I am considering having a Smart meter installed (Gas and Electricty) but have noticed (via Forums and internet searches) that there can be issues with the location of the original meters. These  could prevent the installation of  Smart meters. This is particularly with obstructions and height from the ground.

My Gas meter is in the garage on a shelf about 6 foot of the ground. There is a metal strut (a runner for the garage doors) that across the top of the meter in front of the dials for reading.

Would the height of the floor or obstruction prevent a Smart meter being installed? I have attached a photo below.

The Electricity meter are outside, in front of the garage, a few meters away from the Gas meter inside the garage. Are the issues with the meters being outside?

 

 

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Best answer by Tim_OVO 14 October 2020, 15:38

I’ve taken the info below from this guide on meter exchanges and on site work:

 

General issues - Meter(s) higher than 6 foot

 

Why does this cause an abort?


The current meter is really high on the wall - this is a safety issue for the engineer.  
 
How do we resolve this?


We are unable to resolve this unless the customer can have the meter moved down by the DNO or transporter. Reach out to them directly for advice on this.

 

 

 

 

With regards to the obstruction of the meters, my only concern is with regards to the earthing, which might require an electrician if it has to be adjusted. Here the info from that same guide:

 

Gas technical information - Electrical earth bonding


What is it?


Electrical earth bonding (or cross bonding) is required to stop you or the installer from getting an electric shock from the gas pipework. This is something that all properties should have, however older ones may not. The bonding attaches the earth cable to the outlet pipework (see bonding clamp below).
 



Why is it aborted?


We are not allowed to move or alter the earth bonding. Therefore if we need to complete alterations on the pipework, we are obstructed by the earth bonding. This usually happens either on a semi concealed exchange, or if there is lead pipework that needs to be exchanged. If this is the case these jobs can’t go ahead.

What advice if this happens?


You would need to organise for an electrician to relocate the electrical earth bonding. The earth bonding needs to be within either 600 mm of the meter outlet, or in the case of an external gas meter it can be within 600 mm of where the pipework enters the property. Once this has been done, can contact us to re-book the job.

What should we not do?


We should not exchange/install new pipework and leave the cross bonding unattached. If this is the case, please contact us ASAP. 

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15 replies

Userlevel 7

Thanks for posting this, @Roger J!

 

Lots of great info to help us advise you here, I’ll get a full response posted on this below, which I will hopefully be able to assign as a best answer unless another member trumps my reply (you can be the judge)!

Userlevel 7

I’ve taken the info below from this guide on meter exchanges and on site work:

 

General issues - Meter(s) higher than 6 foot

 

Why does this cause an abort?


The current meter is really high on the wall - this is a safety issue for the engineer.  
 
How do we resolve this?


We are unable to resolve this unless the customer can have the meter moved down by the DNO or transporter. Reach out to them directly for advice on this.

 

 

 

 

With regards to the obstruction of the meters, my only concern is with regards to the earthing, which might require an electrician if it has to be adjusted. Here the info from that same guide:

 

Gas technical information - Electrical earth bonding


What is it?


Electrical earth bonding (or cross bonding) is required to stop you or the installer from getting an electric shock from the gas pipework. This is something that all properties should have, however older ones may not. The bonding attaches the earth cable to the outlet pipework (see bonding clamp below).
 



Why is it aborted?


We are not allowed to move or alter the earth bonding. Therefore if we need to complete alterations on the pipework, we are obstructed by the earth bonding. This usually happens either on a semi concealed exchange, or if there is lead pipework that needs to be exchanged. If this is the case these jobs can’t go ahead.

What advice if this happens?


You would need to organise for an electrician to relocate the electrical earth bonding. The earth bonding needs to be within either 600 mm of the meter outlet, or in the case of an external gas meter it can be within 600 mm of where the pipework enters the property. Once this has been done, can contact us to re-book the job.

What should we not do?


We should not exchange/install new pipework and leave the cross bonding unattached. If this is the case, please contact us ASAP. 

Userlevel 7

Quick follow up question, @Roger J - are those two flexible pipes on show? One going in, and one going out of the meter? I ask this because of this advise:

 

 

 

Gas technical information - Double flexi/anaconda pipes


What are they?


Normally, gas meters have a flexi inlet pipe and a solid outlet pipe - see the image below:

 

 

On some supplies, the solid outlet will be replaced by a flexi outlet, meaning there is 'double flexi' pipework. Double flexi should only be present on semi-concealed meter set-ups where there are space restrictions (they are unsafe on wall-mounted set-ups). 

Thanks Tim. That’s really useful info. It confirms I need to have the gas meter lowered.

Regarding the piping and earth. I have attached a close up picture below. The left hand side appears to be the input pipe - a metal pipe comes up from the floor and then is attached to the meter vi a flexi hose. . The right hand pipe appears to be the output - the flexi hose is attached to a metal pipe that goes into the house.

There is a clip on the output metal pipe (right) that attaches an earth wire that is routed somewhere along the roof of the garage.

Is the earthing correct.

Roger

Userlevel 7

Thanks for this info and second picture, @Roger J 

 

It sounds like there will need to be some work done here. I’d welcome some advice from others ( @Transparent may be best placed amongst our regulars to help me advise) but as far as I can tell, you will need the following work done:

 

  1. Arrange for your regional gas transporter/National Grid to visit to move pipe work leading to your meter, to the area you want it. 
  2. Arrange with our Support team later that same day for an OVO engineer to move the meter itself.

 

However, I’m not sure on the following potential complication. You seem to have a flexi pipe for the inlet and the outlet. A Gas safe engineer might be needed to replace that, if the advice above, (outlined in full in this topic) is correct. 

Userlevel 7
Badge +4

Well it’s a shame that OVO’s installation guide won’t accept a meter more than 6 foot above floor level, otherwise this site wouldn’t be problem!

Firstly everyone working for OVO is less than half my age… so I can’t understand how they managed to find anyone to write the guidance notes in feet! :thinking:

Secondly, if that outlet pipe with the earth connection attached to it, is made of copper, then it would’ve been relatively easy for the Installation Engineer to have soldered on a 90° bend and a short length of 22mm pipe to reach the new Smart Meter.

But if the meter position must first be lowered, then two additional issues rear their head:

  • The vertical distance between the new meter position and the existing pipe will be too far to be regarded as a minor connection. A new drop-pipe will need to be installed by a Gas-Safe registered engineer.
  • The earth-bonding connection will be more than 600mm from the meter outlet, and will need to be repositioned by a qualified electrician so that the impedance to ground can be measured/certified.

These qualified people don’t come cheap!

 

As it’s Friday afternoon and I’m feeling frivolous, could I suggest it might be cheaper to erect a temporary wooden floor?

You could get the Smart Meter installed by an OVO Engineer without him suffering from vertigo by being two steps up a ladder, and then remove the floor again once he’s gone.

How does that sound @Tim_OVO:wink:

 Great idea about building a temporary wooden floor…...Or perhaps I could see if I can get a hover board as used in the film ‘Back to the Future’. The engineer could float upto the level of  the meter and…..well perhaps not!

 

I appreciate all the feed back. I’m considering whether the issues to resolve and the cost would  out weight the advantages of a Smart Meter. I’m not too concerned about not having to read the  meter, although monitoring which device uses significant amounts of electricty could be useful to cut down its use.

Userlevel 7
Badge +4

I think we should wait until next week and see if @Tim_OVO can get any sensible clarification on why OVO Engineers can’t use a pair of steps.

Last month I saw a new Gas Smart Meter installation in a garage undertaken by SSE at a height of 2.2m without the use of oxygen.  :scream:

Now that OVO own SSE, it seems odd that their Installers are working to different standards.

Userlevel 7
Badge +4

So, on behalf of @Roger J I’d like some clarification please, @Tim_OVO 

Over on a similar topic you’ve identified a charge of £145 from OVO to reposition a gas meter.

Above here, you’ve stated that Roger will need to book his Gas Transporter to move the inlet pipe before the OVO Engineer arrives.

In this case he’ll also need a local Gas-Safe Engineer to extend the outflow pipe downwards to the new position (about 1m of 22mm copper pipe and a 90° bend). That automatically gets rid of the flexi-pipe too of course.

Then he’ll need a local electrician to move/extend the earth bonding and check the impedance to ground.

So just what does OVO do for the extra £145?

The other fully-qualified / certified tradesmen have done all the repositioning work before your Installer turns up on site with the Smart Meter!

Is that £145 for a shelf to put the meter on?!

Userlevel 7

OK then, well this is interesting. 

 

For gas meter repositions, I have now learnt that we would only visit (at a cost of £145) if the gas meter needs to be moved without the involvement of the transporter. I.e for small distances where the incoming pipework is unchanged. 

 

If the meter is being moved so that the incoming pipework and ECV needs moving, this involves the transporter, who would usually move the meter at the same time. Meaning we would not have to visit as well. 

 

I’ll go through and update our guides to make sure there’s no misinformation here

Userlevel 7
Badge +4

This is still quite an expensive job, @Roger J 

If I were in your position I’d be getting an estimate from a local heating engineer company. They are almost certain to have staff who are Gas-Safe registered and qualified to move/check the earthing.

Thank you, both, for the useful info and comments you have provided. I knew the location of the gas meter was a potential problem (i.e. height above the floor)  but you have also pointed out issues with the piping and earthing. Also, it has been useful to know who I should contact to have the problems resolved.

 

I appreciate one of the main benefits of a Smart meter is to monitor domestic appliances for usage and use them more efficiently to save money. However, I know there could be significant cost of resolving the issues (I noticed one of your comments about this – ‘it doesn’t come cheap’.)  I have seen price quotes on other web sites of £400+ for moving a meter, depending how far it has to be moved and issues that may have to be resolved. It would take some time to make up a cost of, say, a few hundred pounds by more efficient use of domestic appliances. Particularly as I could be moving to a new house within a couple of years.

 

The advantage of automatic readings (rather than taking readings myself) isn’t a big issue for me – useful, but not as significant as saving money. However, the various comments you have made could be useful to other folk using the Forum. So I need to  decide whether to proceed any further even without getting an actual estimate.

 

One last comment. I notice on the OVO web site, when referencing booking the installation of a Smart meter, there  is a mention of some basic issues that could prevent installation (such as making sure there is clear access to the old Meters for the Installation engineer). However, to be aware of other issues such as the ones I have, you would have to search around to find them. I wonder if there should be a high-lighted link near any reference to booking an installation that gives a summary of some problems and a link to more info – such as you mentioned Tim.

 

Many thanks for your responses that has made me aware of  the issues I faced and how to resolve them.

 

 

Userlevel 7
Badge +4

Good observations @Roger J 

The possibility of additional costs when a Smart Meter gets installed are significant. There are many households that simply can’t afford this… many of which have antiquated meter-boards, wiring and pipework.

Apart from everyone actually having Smart Meters, the Government strategy is intended to pick up sites where there are unsafe conditions. Once the role of the traditional meter-reader came to an end, there have been very few physical checks made on domestic electricity and gas supplies on a customer’s premises.

Occasionally even an installation of a new Smart Meter fails to spot these, and it is all too often the case that the householder incorrectly blames the meter engineer for a subsequent fire.

You may have seen some these featured on BBC Watchdog. Their sensational reporting style has incorrectly blamed the Smart Meter despite inadequate supporting evidence. Hence fewer people being prepared to request one and that means yet more houses have no opportunity for the important safety checks.

I don’t know if there are grants available to assist home-owners in meeting possible high costs incurred when requesting a Smart Meter. So I’m throwing that question back at @Tim_OVO to see if he can find out for us.

If not, then I do have a possible solution… which will involve writing to an MP because it requires a change to the regulations under which Ofgem operates. But that’s fine. It’s just what MPs need to be alerted to. No MP wants unsafe meter installations in old properties to remain a possible hazard to their constituents, so such a move is unlikely to meet political opposition.

Userlevel 7

Some great feedback, @Roger J - I’ve passed that on to the team who are working to improve the customer journey after a smart meter appointment is booked. 

 

 

I don’t know if there are grants available to assist home-owners in meeting possible high costs incurred when requesting a Smart Meter. So I’m throwing that question back at @Tim_OVO to see if he can find out for us.

 

The best team to advise on this is the Centre for Sustainable Energy. OVO customers can get free advice from their energy experts, and they have lots of knowledge on the resources and initiatives available to help reduce energy and bills. We have a topic about the CSE here

 

I’d be keen to hear about this. As you mentioned, some meter set ups are just not ideal for a smart meter and currently the emphasis is on the customer to change this, at a cost….

 

 

Userlevel 7
Badge +4

Thanks @Tim_OVO.  CSE are known to me. They oversaw the OpenLV Trial when community groups started monitoring substations.

And their office has St James Priory Cafe next door. Not only is it the oldest building in Bristol, but the cafe serves excellent food too :coffee:  :cake:

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