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Smart meter issues since getting photovoltaic (PV) solar panels fitted - inverter issue, is the meter damaged?

  • 24 June 2022
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Photovoltaic system (PS) installed on my house in 2019.  Utility installed a smart meter.  Utility bills were reduced some, but never was able to bank energy credits.  In May ‘22, I noticed  meter had stopped working.  It read “Er0000002.”  Still received power.  Checked our bills; They have been $0.00 since January!  Free electricity is nice, but I wondered if the power the PS made was going into the utility lines.  Installing company came out and said the inverter is bad; will be replaced.  That was today.  Question is, “Coult the PS damage the smart meter, or did the smart meter allow the PS inverter to be damaged?”

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Best answer by Jess_OVO 27 June 2022, 15:25

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Howdy @DokDream !

Sorry for the wait. It sounds like you’re in Australia perhaps? Just as a heads up, we don’t have much experience with anything related to OVO Australia because this forum is more for OVO UK.

Most smart meters can handle your type of setup just fine - I think it’s more likely that the meter is detecting reverse energy and triggered a Reverse Energy Detected (RED) warning. Usually, this is a sign of potential energy theft, but can safely be ignored in the case of legitimate exports like yours.

I’d still recommend having a chat with OVO anyway though!

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Ya know, I SUSPECTED that you folks were across the pond!  Couldn’t be sure, though.  No, I’m in sunny Southern Califonia.  The smart meter the utility installed is what I’m wondering about.  As I noted, the meter hasn’t budged in about 5-½ months.  Since reading is automatic, the system subtracts the old reading from the new and calculates power use.  Since zero from zero is zero, then we get a bill for $0.00.  I’m not protesting THAT.  But I wonder if the elecricity I am making with my photovoltaic system is feeding into the utility lines.  If not, then I paid (and am paying) $30,000 to save $250/month.  When the meter was working, I didn’t really see it reflected on my bill.  I have 21 conventional-size panels, so I should be producing up to about 800 kwhr/month of power.  If the inverter was faulty from the start, then the system was likely producing less than half of that power, which would explain why my bills never appreciably declined.  Now, with the issue of the non-functional smart meter, I am wondering just what do I have?  Did the photovoltaic system kill the meter, or did the meter cause the system to malfunction?

 

By the way, with an issue like this, I wonder just how likely are photovoltaic system components prone to failure?  Since the systems are tied to the utility, the typical homeowner won’t have a clue if the system failed or not.  They may wonder why their electric bills remain high, but dismiss the thought as reflecive of their own power usage.  And with commercial grids, I suspect the problem would be exacerbated.  Technicians would be constantly busy diagnosing systems and replacing faulty components.  I’m starting to wonder if intertied photovoltaic and utility systems are such a good idea.  What if I spent more money to install battery banks and only used utility power during the “low cost” part of the daily cycle, and relied on electricity saved in the batteries for the rest of the time and at night?  Opinions???

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Haha, we get a lot of people here! You’ve no idea how many Australians stop by!

We can definitely try to figure out what you’ve got if you’re cool with posting some photos. I’ve never seen an American smart meter myself, but you never know. And if push comes to shove, I guess our resident smart meter engineer might be interested in giving it a go! XD

There are also members here who know a lot about solar panel stuff. I’ll get the forum moderators to remind me of who is best placed for that sort of thing. Please post as many photos of everything as you wish. :)

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That reminds me actually. You up for a unique challenge @hydrosam ?

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Ya know, I SUSPECTED that you folks were across the pond!  Couldn’t be sure, though.  No, I’m in sunny Southern Califonia.  The smart meter the utility installed is what I’m wondering about.

 

Hi @DokDream and welcome to the OVO online community.

 

I think you might be our first US poster here, so apologies that we might only be able to give advice from a UK perspective. As you mention a recent solar PV installation which seems to have disrupted your smart meter readings, I’m wondering whether this is an issue you’ve raised to the solar panel installers yet? If the wiring of your new panels hasn’t been completed correctly this might explain things. Check out the threads below for some similar issues which have been reported here:

 

 

Let us know how these set-ups compare to what you’ve had installed. We’d love to see some photos which might help our community members do some trouble-shooting too!

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I don’t know how effective photos will be, but I’ll produce some images of the meter, the photovoltaic system controls and the solar array.  Importantly, the comments you cite do suggest that others are experiencing the same or similar situation.  The panels are by a company named “Solar Edge.”  The installer, “Semper Solaris,”  has been quite cooperative.  Their personnel spent hours testing and diagnosing our system.  They concluded, and the supplier concurred, that the solar inverter was faulty.  It is scheduled to be replaced.  Of relevance is that the technicians could not explain if there was a connection between inverter failure and (a) malfunction of our “smart meter,” or (b) electrical use or production by the system, with feed into the utility grid.  As a corollary, is the power production of the system optimal, or am I mainly relying upon the utility due to equipment malfunction?  Further, how long has this been occurring? At this point, I just don’t know.

Not to make light of the matter, but it does remind me of a story:  “A man went to his confessor.  ‘Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.’

‘What did you do,’ queried the Holy Man?

‘When the war began, I hid a man from the enemy.’

‘That was noble,’ said the Father.  ‘ Why do you beg forgiveness?’

‘Because I charged him an exorbitant amount to hide him.’

‘Well, I understand.  But you were faced with war-time shortages and any remuneration helped you defray expenses.  I see nothing wrong with that. Besides, the war ended 13 years ago.  Why is this bothering you now?’

‘Thank you, Father.  Because I never told him the war ended and I’m still collecting hiding money from him.’ “

Yes, my concern with the solar system is sort of like that!

 

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