Smart meters, not worth the pain?

Userlevel 2

Updated on 28/06/21 by Jess_OVO


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OK not looking for any resolution from Ovo to my issues as they are long-standing and communication is ongoing.

just a word to the wise —- if you are thinking of taking Smart Meters, I would hold off, at least for now.

They simply don’t work — at least for any length of time. I’ve had nearly a year of nonsense — they only occasionally return any readings, ALWAYS show nonsense on the IHD, except one of either the gas or electric drops off the display entirely. And while all of this is going on your billing will be screwed up, and you’ll receive little sympathy when faced with a large bill.

And Ovo’s overriding response is: well you are still getting gas and electric to the house, and I can still provide manual readings, so what’s my problem ??

its not a good product and it doesn’t work. Don’t have them foist these awful things on you.


107 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +5
Thanks for posting this @Andrewmk

To clarify matters for others who read this, the earlier SMETS1 meters were supplied under contracts between Energy Suppliers, like OVO, and the meter manufacturers. The meter communications were those implemented by the Energy Suppliers themselves, most commonly in partnership with mobile phone network operators.

In other words, SMETS1 hardware and software was under control of the Energy Suppliers themselves... hence the issues when you tried to switch!

The later SMETS2 meter network was commissioned under contracts between the Data Communications Company (DCC) and suppliers. You can actually read those contracts here for the communications service providers. And here is the specification for the interface which a SMETS2 electricity meter manufacturer must provide if they wish to get hardware approved to operate on the National Smart Meter Network.

In other words, the design of these meters and their functionality is no longer in the hands of Energy Suppliers like OVO.

Whilst there is a lot of flak being aired on this Forum, much of it is directed at the wrong parties.

The test and approval process by DCC may need to take its share of the blame.

And the Energy Suppliers are obliged to keep fitting Smart Meters under the terms of their Licence Agreements with the Energy Regulator, Ofgem.

OVO is caught between a rock and a hard place.
Userlevel 2
Hi Transparent.

Thanks for your posting. Clearly you are very knowledgable about this and I hear what you say. However though Ovo are never anything but polite, but I’m finding it hard to be sympathetic. The problem may not be of their making but they simply appear to have little sense of how this technology works, or how to resolve it when it doesn’t. As an end customer, I shouldn’t care how it works — but I know it doesn’t, and I’m afraid I only have Ovo to talk to.

A typical dialogue (I’ve had many) with Ovo will go something like this:

Me: my smart meters have stopped working.

Ovo: no they haven’t, we’re getting daily readings.

Me: no you’re not.

Ovo: yes we are.

Me: no, really you are not.

Ovo. Oh, no we’re not. We’ve lost comms.

Me: why?

Ovo: we don’t know.

me: what should I do ?

Ovo: wait 3 months.

Me: what will happen in 3 months?

Ovo: we don’t know, let’s wait and see.

Me: will connection resume in 3 months?

Ovo: we don’t know.

Me: oh ok, and if it doesn’t?

Ovo: we’ll swap out your meter for the fourth time.

Me: will the new meter work or will it have the same issues ?

Ovo: we don’t know.

And on it goes, with no end in sight. I wouldn’t have any confidence in buying a toaster from these people.

they are very nice, they are charming — but they don’t know what they are doing.

Userlevel 7
Badge +5
That's still useful feedback @Andrewmk

There are two people in OVO who need to read what you've just written.

The first is Justin, who is the Manager of Customer Services. I was able to talk with him over lunch a couple of weeks ago. He is favourable towards the Forum, and I was able to put to him two particular cases where OVO's procedures were needlessly making more work for his staff.

It's clear that the SMETS2 failings aren't going to get resolved in the next few days, and possibly not within the 8 week time-frame during which OVO must respond to any customer who implements their complaints procedure. So Justin will need to know that the SMETS2 Team must provide his staff with better information before they get deluged under a pile of complaints!

The second person who needs to know what you're facing is Ben, a member of the SMETS2 Engineering Team. He's monitoring technical points being made here on the Forum. But he needs accurate information such as dates when meter engineers attended, whether you've got PV panels or an EV charger etc.

So for Ben's benefit please

a. fill out your Forum Profile with basic background details. Some faults may be geographically based, so such information is important.

b. state here any further observations you may have, such as "the gas meter never communicated with my IHD" or "the electricity meter stopped sending data to OVO after n weeks".

That means others can read what you've written, and say "me too" or whatever.

I'll now tag @Darran_OVO because he's the Forum Manager, and he'll ensure the two relevant members of staff get to see this Topic.

I'm now away for 24hrs because I'm meeting up with representatives & engineers from my DNO (Western Power) tomorrow. So I won't be responding further here.

And, yes, I know that the Forum-software has just removed my first reply to you, but that's due to a software bug. The duty Moderator tomorrow (@Amy_OVO or @Tim_OVO ?) will fish it out of the bin and re-post it here.
Userlevel 7
Badge +5
Sorry @Andrewmk - the Forum software is being quite vindictive towards me this evening. It's re-routed both of responses to you into the Spam bin! Aaaagh!

The Moderators will retrieve them in the morning (@Amy_OVO or @Tim_OVO ?). It's a known bug which hits me more than other users. So I'm keeping this message short in the hope I can get it uploaded before the gremlins notice I'm still here! 😧
Userlevel 2
Ahh, something else Ovo can add to their list of things to fix 😋

I agree with the pain.

I had British Gas Smart Meters which were fine when I was with them, but when I migrated to OVO, they stopped being Smart. I held off getting new meters until the SMETS2 roll out became available and I had a Gas and Electricity Meter installed.

Worked fine for a few days and then Electricity Readings just stopped. Gas has been fine.

Raised the issue several times and it's all gone a bit quiet. Being told to wait 2-3 months in the hope that it will sort itself out is not really what I expect.

I've no idea what would happen if I changed supplier.
Userlevel 2
Well ok, Transparent, I’ll provide what I can.

First Smets2’s went in at beginning of October 18, but never appeared to work so I won’t go into that.

Their engineer Tim, great guy (knows his stuff), replaced the electric SMETS2 with a revision model. He had gas and electric working on the day he left. Both returned daily readings which showed in the app and the IHD also showed dual fuel. Things were great from 16/4 for six days, and then the electric dropped off the IHD and there were no further daily readings for electric uploaded.

Ovo had no idea what was going on, and had no suggestions other than to do another swap.

Tim was back with a third electric meter and comms unit on 5th June. Again everything just worked — but the electric dropped off on 31st June.

Gas has been fine throughout — Ovo tell me the electric meter has stopped communicating with the comms unit, (even though they are linked ??) but don’t know why.

LEDs always show normal (all flash in unison apart from mesh - every 5 seconds).

Only advice I’m given is to wait 3 months — see what happens.

hope this helps.
Userlevel 3
This is probably the wrong thread, so moderators please feel free to move it somewhere else. I just wanted to give some feedback to those of you who are 'eagerly' awaiting the results from the 4th smart electricity meter install here in Leicester, which I talked about at the Bristol VIP day. This is needed to get a SMETS2 meter with updated firmware which can cope with my solar panels without losing communication.

The installer - Richard - who has been here before, and knows me on first name terms now 😉 arrived on time. He hadn't been told the exact details of the problem, so I explained to him that he was supposed to have a meter with updated firmware. He rang OVO and found that this was not the case - new firmware would need to be uploaded on-line. Now that immediately created a problem, in that if the meter failed before the upload, then yet another visit would be needed. We discussed the problem, and I agreed that I would leave the solar panels off for 2 days, giving OVO plenty of time to get new firmware uploaded. The agreement is to get an email from OVO when the upload is complete - apparently the team cannot schedule an immediate update. This will cost me around £10 at this time of year, which I will attempt to claim back from OVO.

I left Richard and his new lad who was learning on the job to install the new meter, and they then announced that all was complete. I looked at the IHD, and it was still not showing electricity, so Richard said to wait a bit for it to update, but he wasn't prepared to stay till it did.
I have now been waiting for 50 mins since the power went on and the IHD is still only showing gas. I will give it a an hour or two more before ringing the OVO line and also possibly Richard's mobile number to find what is happening. At the present time I have little faith in the system!

Userlevel 3
@Darran_OVO @Tim_OVO @Nancy_OVO
@Transparent @Leo Moran @aaronr @UC Bear @PeterR1947 @NoPoke

Over 2 hours now, and no electricity readings. Should I just turn the solar panels on again and forget about OVO?

Userlevel 3
@Darran_OVO @Tim_OVO @Nancy_OVO
@Transparent @Leo Moran @aaronr @UC Bear @PeterR1947 @NoPoke

A phone call to OVO customer service got me through to the tech team, and they managed to turn on my electricity readings, which hadn't happened after 3 hours without my intervention.
The operator also says that they will be emailing me about the solar panel problem. So, here's hoping it's sorted. I do note, however, that the electricity cost readings are rubbish - probably a known fault for all?
Userlevel 6
I've moved your posts over here, @tony1tf!
Userlevel 7
@tony1tf Thanks for the updates on your latest install. Seriously, I think we are jinxed with yours. Not great, appreciate its frustrating.

There is a problem with the IHD showing the right readings on SMET2, we are well aware of this and working to correct, so you are not on your own here. It's actually what we were busy testing in the Smart Meter test room you visited when you were here. @Transparent has posted about this over on this topic.

Hopefully this will all be sorted soon and you will be fully up and running. For both our sakes, I hope that's the case.
Userlevel 3
Hi @Darran_OVO @Transparent et al

Good news this morning! Electricity meter readings still happening, and a phone call from Nick at the SMETS2 tech team. They have successfully uploaded new firmware to the meter, so he was happy for me to turn the solar panels back on - exactly 24 hours after I had disabled them (£5 OVO?) Also a reset of the IHD got the correct electricity prices showing. Nick says they will be keeping an eye on our readings as we have now become a bit of a test case (or is it cause célèbre?).
I was looking at a smart meter website and see now why the reverse meter current could cause problems - the meter sends error messages because we might be fiddling the system by reconnecting the meter backwards. Apparently the generation side of OVO software is not yet available, but as long as they know that I have solar panels they wont be sending round the electricity police!
The panels have now been running for over 1 hour at over 3kW in this lovely weather, so I am charging the car at 3.6kW and seeing a residual power draw from the grid of around 900W.
Hopefully you wont hear any more from me about failures in SMETS2 meters. Although, I am led to believe it could be a few weeks before our usage appears on OVO's MyEnergy - the next milestone.
Userlevel 7
@tony1tf Well this has made my Friday....! This is GREAT news, not just good news.

I know, I know, lets not get too excited, but really glad to hear this is for the most part resolved for you now Tony!

Great to see you and your solar panels taking advantage of the great weather we are having right now. Have a good weekend.

Userlevel 2
....... and yet my problem remains unresolved 😕

Userlevel 7
Badge +5
What puzzles me about this solution @tony1tf is that the code inside your SMETS2 meter needed changes to be made by OVO in order to allow your grid-connected PV panels not to disable electricity readings.

I had assumed that all SMETS2 meters were universal, and would therefore be running identical code. Isn't that a crucial part of the philosophy behind migrating away from SMETS1 meters which were operating differently for each Supplier?

I can understand that OVO's web-based customer pages may have required changing in order to cater for the concept of Exported Power. And I can appreciate that the billing system may have needed to be altered to accept the data incoming from DCC for customers with grid-connected generation.

But neither of those software upgrades would require new code to be downloaded into the Smart Meter itself.

What would happen now if you moved from OVO to a different Energy Supplier?

Would they be able to accept your meter readings?

Or would they need to remove the code-changes which have been made by OVO?

Is each Energy Supplier being permitted to put their own software variant into your Smart Meter when you switch to them?
Userlevel 3
@Transparent said
What puzzles me about this solution @tony1tf is that the code inside your SMETS2 meter needed changes to be made by OVO in order to allow your grid-connected PV panels not to disable electricity readings.

I would guess that the firmware upgrade will have come from the manufacturers, and needed to be uploaded to meters that were in stock at OVO. It appears that in my case that had not been done to the meter that my fitter was issued with, so had to be done on-line. It feels like these SMETS2 meters have been issued in a hurry without comprehensive testing. Perhaps this is the problem with all modern tech stuff - especially those that use wireless - too many different scenarios to test them all.

Userlevel 7
Badge +5
Hmm. I think this needs further clarification @tony1tf. Most (less-technical) members of this Forum might reach one of two conclusions:

a. Your installation of SMETS2 meters in July 2018 combined with your particular arrangement of grid-connected PV panels resulted in a unique set of circumstances whereby your electricity meter was unable to send data to the Communications Hub bolted above it.

b. SMETS2 meters and grid-connected PV panels are a combination which is not supported.

Personally, I believe that neither of these conclusions is valid.

If (a) were true, then you've just had your SMETS2 meters configured in a way which is different to everyone else, which breaks the concept of SMETS2 universality.

If (b) were true, then there would be uproar from the thousands of people in GB who have grid-connected micro-generation.

I'd like to hear somewhat more fulsome feedback from OVO's SMETS2 Team about what's happening please!

Let's remember that four other members of this Forum with SMETS2 meters installed during 2019 have also reported in the last fortnight that they too are experiencing no readings from their electricity meter. Two have confirmed that they have no grid-connected generation.

So are these completely different faults?

Or would they too benefit from the code changes that seem to have resolved your situation?
Userlevel 6

Hey @Andrewmk,

Sorry to hear about the issues you've experienced with your SMETS2 meters. It's hard to say what's happened, or why we've suggested waiting 3 months before a fix can be implemented.

We'll need to take a closer look into this, can you send us a message on Facebook or Twitter with your name, DoB and account number please? If you don't use social media our Help centre has online chat!

Userlevel 2
@Eva_OVO Hi there,

Well as as I said at the beginning of this thread, I’m not looking for a resolution here. But that’s only because I have emailed, many many many times. I have called many many times. I have taken three mornings off work for meter installs, and that has not got my anywhere.

This isn’t the forum for me to moan but I have tried desperately hard for a solution, from your company for many months, not least because my billing has been messed about since October 2018.

i have been told to wait 3 months for the electric meter to reestablish connection with comms unit (to which it is attached and in the same cabinet). I was told this by Reece in the Smart meter team. I have no idea why it would suddenly reestablish connection, but neither did he. But I have to wait. If nothing resolves itself, that will take me up to a year of this nonsense. I am just trying to warn others off.

Userlevel 3
Hi @Andrewmk

I'm sure it's very frustrating for you, as it was for me. I'm pleased to say my electricity (and gas) meters are still connected and showing readings on the IHD. The operators do respond at OVO eventually, and will communicate with the SMETS2 experts , and even put you through to them sometimes. It looks like this new firmware upgrade is stable, but you will need a new meter install if the meter has stopped communicating with the data centre, because the firmware can't be downloaded to it. I can see no reason for that advice on waiting 3 months to establish a connection. I would want an expert to explain to me how that could possible be.
I can understand how getting usage on the website could take time if there are loads of customers already in a queue and there is some manual data entry involved. I just looked to see if my usage is appearing yet, but is showing down for maintenance, so I don't yet know!

good luck
Userlevel 2
Hi @tony1tf

I’m glad you have yours sorted.

i did (with much effort) get through to the specialists at the smart meter team.

As above, I spoke with Reece, polite and professional as everyone is, I can’t fault them for that. but it was Reece who told me they will take no action for 3 months. When asked why, it was to see if the electric meter reestablishes connection to the comms unit. I get what you say, how can they resolve this if connection is lost ?? I don’t know. I am powerless to do anything. they won’t even remove the damn things (for dumb meters) unless I pay £110.

Userlevel 6
HI @Andrewmk

It can take a few months after installation for the connection to 'settle', which is why we'd leave it a few months first to see if it establishes itself.

Hope this helps!
Userlevel 3
HI @Andrewmk

It can take a few months after installation for the connection to 'settle', which is why we'd leave it a few months first to see if it establishes itself.

Hope this helps!

Try to be reasonable, @Nancy_OVO . We know that electronic systems don't have time constants measured in months! If you want to stick to this argument, then you must treat us with some intelligence, and list what steps the system has to go through, and where the bottlenecks are that result in customers having to wait 3 months to receive the information they signed up with OVO to obtain.

Userlevel 2
Hi @Nancy_OVO

thanks for the post.

I know the original message can get a little lost over time, but just to be clear the electric meter *was* working after install, and continued to do so for about 2 weeks. It was returning readings to you and to the IHD.

it then stopped. Your tech guys tell me it has stopped talking to the comms hub. So now you are not getting readings and neither is the IHd. I would presume if you cannot now reach the meter you cannot either reset it or upload firmware. So what are you realisticly expecting to happen In 3 months.?

Going from working to not working does not indicate a need to ‘settle’. It would indicate something is not working. Would you not agree ?