Smart meters, not worth the pain?


Userlevel 2

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.

Andrew

Updated 26/02/2020


112 replies

Userlevel 1

@Transparent 

Thanks for the advice, really much appreciated.  And I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this one thing goes without a hitch (unlike fixing the chip in my windscreen yesterday - I told you I was unlucky!).  If it all works out, then great.  I know meters in themselves don’t save money, but if it means I’m doing just a little bit towards the bigger effort, well, I’ll settle for that.

Userlevel 7
Badge +2

You can be assured @Melchett that the Forum will stand by to offer advice if you experience problems with your new Smart Meter.

Yes, I did have  several months of failures, including two occasions when meters were exchanged. However, it would be unfair to use my experience as typical because I had deliberately offered my site to an OVO engineer for software testing. Whilst not permanently successful, both OVO and I learned a great deal from this work.

The background research I undertook during those months has left me in a very strong position to appreciate both the technology and where Smart Meters fit within the overall Demand Side Response strategy that the UK Government enacted during 2013/14.

It is disappointing that the main focus still seems to be on pricing. There is little yet heard about the other major benefit, which is the ability for individual households to regulate their energy use to combat Climate Change.

We need to look beyond the present difficulties and equip ourselves with a clearer vision of where we’re heading.

Userlevel 1

Let’s hope so @Amy_OVO - especially as I took the plunge and booked it in.  If it isn’t broken don’t fix it is still running through my head, but seeing as I’m working from home that week it means I can get it done without having to take any time off work. 

I’m assuming that even though it’s just the electricity meter certification that has expired they will replace both meters?  Part of the reason for doing it is working away from home a fair bit means it’s one less thing to think about, so having one smart and one dumb meter would defeat the object a bit there!

Userlevel 6

Let’s hope your bad luck ends here, @Melchett, if your meter were to lose it’s smart function and we couldn’t communicated with the meter remotely, your meter would in effect be a non smart meter. We’d require manual readings from you so that we could bill you accurately. 

Before we book an install we ask eligibility questions, you’ll find more info here, this helps to ensure the smart meter will be effective in your home. 

If there is anything we can do to put your mind at ease, please let us know!

Thanks! 

Userlevel 1

Hi @Transparent , @Tim_OVO,

Thanks for taking the time to reply.  I’ve had a look at the SMETS2 installation thread suggested by @Transparent which was really detailed and a useful explanation of things.  However, I’ve also had a mooch round the rest of the forum and there still seem to be quite a few issues cropping up across a range of matters - whether it be the length of time for things to settle down, having to input manual readings for months afterwards (did I read that you were in this position @Transparent?), peoples’ bills seemingly suddenly rocketing once a new meter has gone in etc. As it is, beyond a bit of inconvenience when I forget to submit a reading or a reading date crops up when I’m away with work, it’s all pretty straight forward and I don’t have any issues. 

Whilst I appreciate that complaints and issues on here probably represent a tiny proportion of the overall numbers of smart meter customers, it still makes me a little nervous.  My friends will tell you that I am notoriously unlucky - they love it, I seem to attract all their bad luck! - and I can’t shake the nagging feeling that rather than making my life easier, I’m going to be battling through issues various over the coming months if I go ahead with it.   And given that I’m often working away from home, I may not even know there’s an issue until it’s progressed from being a small issue to a big issue, or I end up spending what precious spare time I have trying to resolve problems, neither of which is ideal.

If - and it’s a big if - I did go ahead with it and it turned into an issue, is there any way the smart functionality can be disabled and I can simply go back to submitting readings manually?

We had almost a  year of hell with OVO when they installed the smart meter. I’m a physicist and I’m pretty sure the meter was reading wrong. It is well documented that many smart meters don’t like the DC conversion that LED lights used.

Complained to OVO and then had a four + month fight with them to get it sorted which it never was. So today, I bit the bullet paid them off and left.

Smart meters only save you money if you don’t normally keep your eye on consumption- and as can be discovered by looking on the web, they can get the consumption wrong.

I would say avoid.

Userlevel 7

Hi @Melchett and welcome to the forum - can you say hello here?

 

What did you think of @Transparent’s detailed reply?

 

I agree with their point that smart meters in general offer a big net-gain to customers and suppliers alike. And to the grid. It’s worth remembering that this is a support community. That means people use it mainly for support with queries and issues. Think of all the smart meter customers in the UK that haven’t had an issue……. I bet there’s lots!

 

I’d love to hear about your first few weeks with a smart meter. It might be a critic>advocate story that’s worth sharing. Can you post here after they’re installed? 

Userlevel 7
Badge +2

Hi @Melchett and welcome to the Forum :slight_smile:

Meter certification is a mysterious area of science. It’s true that there is a time-limited certificate for all meters, transformers and electrical distribution equipment in general. But few will actually experience the extremes of degradation that the certification process is intended to guard against.

I’ve seen electricity distribution boards inside West Country farm buildings which still operate perfectly satisfactorily despite being used as bat roosts for the past 70+ years! Perhaps the nutrient-rich layers of guano act as an effective protection from the hostile climatic conditions.

You have elected to make your first post here on a Topic which highlights problems with Smart Meters. Have you perhaps also read the Topic about SMETS2 Meter Installation where there’s a more neutral tone of discussion?

The Smart Meters themselves are inherently reliable. We’ve now had 4 years of SMETS1 installations, and it’s 15 months since OVO moved across to fitting only SMETS2 meters.

Most of the problems you’re now reading about here on the Forum boil down to two distinct issues:

1: Software updates to Meters are occasionally disrupting communication with the In Home Device (IHD). This isn’t as serious a problem as you might suppose. None of OVO’s customers are yet using this communication channel for controlling appliances in the home or for monitoring a Time Of Use tariff. Moreover you can still view your Usage Statistics via your Online Account.

2: Errors in the new Billing System… which is not tied to use of Smart Meters anyway, and is mainly going wrong when historic data is migrated across from the old software.

Does that help to provide you with a more balanced view of the current situation?

Userlevel 1

Hello All,

First time poster here - please be gentle, and if this is in the wrong place, apologies, but I thought this thread might be most appropriate.

Long story short - I currently have the old style meters and it all works fine.  I set a reminder on my phone to submit the readings once a month and job done.  I’ve recently had an email saying my electricity meter’s certification has expired.   It will keep working and is safe, but they can’t guarantee the accuracy so I need to replace it and that the replacement will be a smart meter.

I’ve been holding off for a couple of years with the whole SMETS 1/ 2 issue, but I believe Ovo now only do SMETS2 meters.  However, when browsing the forum to have a look at installation discussions all I can see is tales of woe, bugs in the system, displays not working, comms dropping out. 

If my meter is still safe, is it actually worth moving to a smart meter or are they still so buggy and fault ridden that it’s going to make my life even more complicated than having to remember to take a reading once a month?  My job means I’m away from home as much as I am in it, so on the one hand a smart meter could be useful.  But not if it is going to cause more problems than it solves.  What’s the forum thinking on the state of these meters at the moment?

Userlevel 6

Perfect, @CrispyUK, the team will be in touch! 

Thanks for the reply @Amy_OVO - I’ve dropped an e-mail over to the team so they can take a look at this. I’ve made my own calculations and the credit on my account covers the unbilled electricity, so my account is up to date in that regard, just needs a statement to take the money over from my pot to yours!

Thanks :thumbsup_tone2:

Userlevel 6

Thanks for the update, @CrispyUK, I really appreciate your understanding in this busy uncertain time, but please contact the team, we need to look into your account to bring it up to date. 

You can send us a message on FacebookTwitter or our Help Centre has online chat. You can reach our team on: 0330 303 5063. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday to Friday.

Thanks! 

Thought I’d drop in here with an update, my last three statements (Feb, Mar, Apr) have all been only for gas usage, I haven’t been billed for any electricity since my January statement.

It seems there’s a second period of billing disruption/suspension that has been trigged by the smart meter becoming ‘smart’ (part of the provisioning stages I imagine). Ovo are receiving the daily meter readings, I can see them going back to 2nd Feb in the app.

I haven’t contacted customer services about this, as appreciate they are busy and this isn’t the most important thing in the world right now. My fix is coming to an end shortly so hopefully this isn’t going to cause any problems with me switching to another plan/supplier.

Ultimately though, I wish I’d never bothered, I had a better idea of what my electricity was costing me on the old meter giving monthly readings - the “smart” meter has been a complete failure so far!

Userlevel 7
Badge +2

This information is incorrect @RUGGERIO

A: No Smart Meters in the UK use 5G

B: The WAN transceivers in Smart Meters are rated at less than ½W. They spend 99.999% of the time not transmitting.

C: A Smart-phone might transmit at 2W whilst establishing a call, but once connected will typically reduce output to far less than 0.2W. (Not 5w as you claim).

D: Most microwave ovens are rated 750-900w (not 50-60W). They operate at 2.56GHz.

E: Microwave radiation is generally defined as between 500MHz to 100GHz; higher frequency than most “radio” waves, but less than visible light.

F: Human immune systems are biological. They are not effected by radio-waves, which are comprised of photons.

Any discussion on this Forum needs to be based on correct physics.

NO SMART METER COMPANY IS INSURED AGAINST THE HARMFUL EFFECT OF 5G AND THEY WONT INSURE IT BECAUSE THEY KNOW THE RISKS. IF THEY WONT INSURE IT WHAT TAKE THE RISK YOURSELF?

It's crazy how much these smart meters are being pushed considering they have so many basic issues.

I was tempted to switch to a smart meter but I am going to have to wait it out untill they...actually work.


I don’t like ‘Smart Meters at all. I am Electromagnetically Hypersensitive and  my Health already suffers as a result of a plethora of Mobile Phone Masts less than 35 yards from where i live and 26 more one kilometre away alone. The health problems are cumulative and increase with age and affect the very young worst of all because their immune systems have not fully developed to cope with the effects of them.

They are Microwaves just like mobile phones and indeed all frequencies above 800 MGHZ are microwaves. A microwave oven is 50-60 Watts Power. A Mobile Phone is 5  watts so 10 Mobile Phones produces the same output. Never leave any wifi on at night because your sleep will suffer and then your health. I have had to paint many of my walls with anti -radiation paint because of my problems but even that does nt solve it ! The smallest gap will let them through. I get neck and back ache s, rashes and heart palpitations and much much.

There will be some big demonstrations about the 5g aspects shortly. Look up Anthony Steele on You Tube , This man is an expert in this technology and is currently bring people to court because of the dangers. He won a Court case against Gateshead Council that they brought against him for ‘ Worrying them’ and proved his expertise and qualifications .The Judge said that the Public” had a right to know”

5G is a weaponized Technology and can Kill.

Userlevel 7
Badge +2

I don’t think your experience is as unusual as you might suppose.

Readings from Smart Meters are handled differently than monthly manual readings. After all, it’s much easier for an algorithm to analyse a trend if it has daily data as an input!

For a similar reason the estimates used to calculate DDs will also differ.

The difference in handling gas and electricity readings shortly after the Smart Meter installation can be attributed to the processes used by ECOES and Xoserve, which are the national databases for electric and gas respectively. It is they who obtain the readings from the old meters, check this against your self-declared usage, update the MPAN numbers etc.

It also takes a month to commission and verify readings from the new Smart Meters. If your IHD hadn’t been displaying “waiting for current data” you may have noticed this. Initially it would have displayed usage based on a default data-set held within your Communications Hub. Once DCC hand over the meter configuration to OVO, your real tariff data will have been installed.

The reason your IHD suddenly sprang into life is probably that OVO downloaded updated code to your Communications Hub.

There’s a lot of procedures which go on behind the scenes.

… and that’s why I wrote the Topic on Installation of SMETS2 Meters in the first place.

Everything was fine for the first few months, it seems to have been the smart meter installation, and resulting disruption to the billing/statement cycle that has upset things.

Statements produced on 5th Jul, 5th Aug, 5th Sep, 7th Oct all like clockwork, prior to the meter change.

I then didn’t get a statement until 10th Dec, which was for gas only.

Followed by a statement on 16th Dec, for electricity only (with the transition between meters).

Whilst I can understand the meter change potentially delaying the electricity billing (although I thought the data flow would be a bit more real-time in this day and age!), I’m not sure why I didn’t receive at least a gas only statement in November.

It also seems all the more odd that I started getting “change your DD” notifications in November when no statements were generated and my account was just building up credit.

Statements back to normal for 6th Jan, and hopefully another in a few days on 5th Feb.

My account balance has remained in credit the whole time (although I have just noticed no interest reward has been paid on my last two statements, despite credit balances of £108 / £66 brought forward to them).

Also my direct debit amount has never actually been changed, despite e-mails from Ovo on two occasions telling me they’ve changed it. I’m also not going to change it now to the £10/month it’s recommending as that will definitely result in a debt building!

I’d been hesitant to contact Customer Services regarding the direct debit as suspected it would knock-out my self-service reward, will see what the Feb statement brings.

I was curious if anyone else had experienced similar billing/DD issues around a meter switch, as it might indicate problems with the algorithms used to monitor DD amounts, perhaps they cannot handle statements falling out of the regular cycle?

Userlevel 7
Badge +2

Hi @CrispyUK . I’ve responded to two of your points over on the other Topic you started this evening. (That Topic and my response now relocated below)

There’s loads of other Topics about Direct Debits, such as this one here.

Remember, you’ve raised this point in winter. The guidance from Ofgem is that the Energy Supplier should expect to hold in credit sufficient funds to cover your next bill. You can ask to be repaid amounts beyond this.

A lot of us actually keep substantially more than that in our OVO account because we earn more interest than we would in a bank!

The algorithms used for the three types of estimated usage which you sometimes see, have been reconstructed into new in-house software by OVO’s developers about 18 months ago. Before then OVO used 3rd party software, but this made errors which got them rapped over the knuckles by Ofgem. :open_mouth:

It takes quite a while for these algorithms to learn the patterns of usage. The formula used to calculate Direct Debits is one of the most problematic. If customers don’t respond at all to a “change your DD” notification, then it’s all the more tricky for it to arrive at the correct figure.

In your case it seems to have now settled on a reasonable outcome by tracking your account over the 7 months since you joined. But there are other customers who have received unpleasant surprises by not taking relevant action, such as emailing Customer Services.

I wanted to share my experience so far with Ovo and smart meters, to see if it’s normal or has something gone wrong in my case?

Ovo started supplying my energy in June 2019. My properly was purchased as a new build in June 2013, with a regular gas meter and SMETS1 smart electricity meter, up until switching I’d been with E.ON for the previous 6 years, no issues, just finally became uncompetitive at that point.

Shortly after joining Ovo, I received the first call from them to sign me up for smart meters, yep fine, run through all the details on the phone only to be told no appointments available - what was the point of calling me?!? Exactly the same next time they called. I didn’t bother answering after that!

Later in the year, I booked online for smart meters to be fitted on 29th October, engineer arrived, advised he couldn’t change the gas meter because of the earth clamp being inside the meter box, changed the electricity meter, left the IHD with me and said they’ve usually sprung into life by the time he’s finished swapping a gas meter so it should show me some info soon and headed off.

For 3 months my IHD just displayed ‘waiting for current data’ - although it has finally started working in the last couple of days!

Billing has been a mess since the meter was changed, unable to submit electricity meter readings for a while, despite receiving reminders to do so because my bills were being estimated. Then the meter details updated but I was still having to submit electricity meter reads manually.

My direct debit has been £42/month since I joined and I’m confident this is what it should be.

19th November, I started receiving e-mails telling me I needed to increase my direct debit to £74/month to avoid building up a debt. Given the billing situ, I just ignored this.

20th December, I received an e-mail telling me my direct debit was being changed to £73/month because I hadn’t done anything with it.

8th January, another round of e-mails starts telling me I need to change my direct debit to £67/month to avoid building up debt.

16th January, e-mail arrives telling me direct debit is being changed to £63/month as I haven’t done anything with it.

As of today, 1st February, the app still shows my direct debit set to £42/month, although it’s now recommending I change it to £10/month…!

Interestingly, all my previous electricity meter readings have disappeared from the app since I last checked it earlier in January.

Does everyone get a similar experience? I’m not overly bothered/upset about it myself, but it strikes me as a really poor customer journey. If someone was on a very tight budget, and not confident in their usage / direct debit amount, it could have created a lot of unnecessary worry!

In these circumstances I always recommend using email not telephone.

A: You get to retain a message with a date/time stamp, and that’s very useful evidence should you later need to contact the [color=#6090a0]Office of the Energy Ombudsman[/color]

B: It is almost certain that the initial CS Staffer will need to pass this on to a member of the SMETS2 Engineering Team. It’s obviously much easier to forward an email in which you explain the fault timeline than it is for a Staffer to transcribe this from a phone conversation!

Six weeks sounds to me like the anticipated “commissioning” timescale.

After that you will see the readings appearing on the OVO App, and then on your online account page.

There’s then a final stage where the readings are picked up by the Billing Team and incorporated into your Statements.

Well I've just spoken to them, apparently cause I can't see my usage was cause it was set to monthly, not half hourly, now changed will take 2 days to show! Should get a bill in 10 days time, I still don't understand why the gas is sorted just like that and electric takes for ever. I will see what happens. Re emailing I never get answers for that, have got documentation on fb. And the lady I spoke to can see all my problems :) The point is I shouldn't have to worry about all this in the first place. There should have been pro active alerts on their part. I first noticed the problem when I was in Australia and got a combined bill for £20.00!! That's clearly not right:( And so the saga began. 

Userlevel 7
Badge +2

In these circumstances I always recommend using email not telephone.

A: You get to retain a message with a date/time stamp, and that’s very useful evidence should you later need to contact the Office of the Energy Ombudsman

B: It is almost certain that the initial CS Staffer will need to pass this on to a member of the SMETS2 Engineering Team. It’s obviously much easier to forward an email in which you explain the fault timeline than it is for a Staffer to transcribe this from a phone conversation!

Six weeks sounds to me like the anticipated “commissioning” timescale.

After that you will see the readings appearing on the OVO App, and then on your online account page.

There’s then a final stage where the readings are picked up by the Billing Team and incorporated into your Statements.

At the moment nowhere, I'm going to ring them today cause they said I had to wait 6 weeks for it to work!!! You know when you know something isn't working, it's pointless waiting? Well that's me. If it wasn't for their 5%interest I would have left long ago. Tempted now, but still going to have the hassle of smart meters as they aren't taken away, and replaced with the old fashioned ones, the new company will have to replace them. Oh I had 3 no shows! So got £90 back from OVO for that, it's £30 for a no-show! 

Userlevel 7
Badge +2

That’s about the same timescale that I experienced @Merryharry .

So… where are you on the Complaints Procedure?

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.

andrew.

I am having the same problem, tied. Into a 2 year contract and although my meter was replaced end of November after waiting since May, it still won't send electric readings, does the gas fine. Complete waste of time :(

Reply