Switching from an Economy 10 Setup with 2 meters and supplies (MPANs) to a single five-port smart meter

  • 16 September 2021
  • 62 replies
  • 410 views

Userlevel 5

Hi, long time since I posted, but I am back!!

I have moved to a new property which was wired for an old Economy 10 tariff. The property has underfloor electric heating (from the 60s), cheap to run!!! 

The current supplier Igloo, don’t offer Economy 10 or Economy 7, they charge me a single standing charge plus the same unit rate for both meters.

I tried to move to Ovo, as I have had a great experience with them in the past. They rejected the move as I had 2 x MPAN numbers - and they said:

Unfortunately, we have had to stop the transfer of your electricity supply as there are 2 supplies registered to your property and we only have your permission to apply for one.

We’ve now stopped the switch, as we don’t have a functionality to apply for both electricity supplies at the moment. 

 

I asked to speak to someone at OVO, who called me back, and said that as I had two supplies I would need to pay 2 x standing charges. I explained that Igloo didn’t do this, but it did not hold water. The person at Ovo advised me to get an electrician to wire both consumer units to the same meter, and then call Western power to disconnect one of the MPANs. I duely did both, so my electrician ensured that both consumer units (Main + Underfloor heating) was fed from one meter.

I then called Western Power who told me:

To confirm, the energy supplier should come and remove the meter and time switch, not WPD. When this has been done they should complete the necessary ‘DTN flow’ which would then notify WPD metering who will then disconnect the MPAN for this meter only. 

If you want a smartpower meter fitted for a dual tariff, the energy supplier will do this and as long as you provide the necessary cables from each consumer unit for them to connect into the new meter / contactor (the device which will be switched at the appropriate time to energise the off peak heating), there should be no problem.

Western Power Distribution is the distribution network operator and only deals with the electricity supply up the incoming supply fuse. It does not fit or remove electricity meters or provide different tariff options. The energy supplier deals with different tariffs.

 

Sigh! So I have now called Igloo to see if they can remove the old meter and timer, no doubt there will be a charge! 

This then leaves me with the problem that the heating can be energised at any time of day...including during peak rate, if I move to Economy 7.

I then found @Transparent’s post showing that OVO can install 5 terminal smart meters. So my current plan is as follows:

  1. Ask Igloo to disconnect “off peak” meter and timer - leaving with me with 1 x MPAN number
  2. Transfer to Ovo
  3. Ask Ovo to install 5 terminal smart meter

Does this sound mad, it seems harder than it needs to be based on different people, Distribution, Supplier, Electrician having different bits they can and can’t touch.

Also does anyone know if OVO can install isolating when fitting meters? Wester Power want 

£231.42 (inclusive of VAT) to supply and fit a 2 pole isolation switch or £294.04 (inclusive of VAT) to supply and fit a 4 pole isolation switch...


62 replies

Userlevel 7
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Wow, @Mw2870 … there’s a lot of information in that post (and photo) which I’d love to comment on.

But let’s keep the initial response brief.

Yes OVO can install isolation switches. The price depends on whether they are also doing other work on-site. See price list here and a topic about isolation switches here.

 

And just to clarify - you wrote:

I explained that Igloo didn’t do this, but it did not hold water.

This is no surprise. OVO may not hold water, but by their very construction you would certainly expect Igloo to do so!  :wink:

 

Note to @Jess_OVO - please hold off merging this topic with the other one. We may yet discuss other aspects of this particular house here.

Userlevel 7
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And here’s my next raft of comments for @Mw2870 

 

I’m surprised that the local electrician has re-routed your off-peak load through only one meter since it’s only rated 40A max.

Am I right to assume that your grid supply is TT and you therefore have your own earth-stake? Did the electrician test the earth resistance?

Does the Consumer Unit back onto this meter cupboard?

Where does the Mains Feed come from? Underground, or on poles?

(Send me a PM with your post-code and I’ll be able to check all this on Western Power’s own map. That might explain why the incomer appears to have an earth-clamp on it!!)

We have a whole topic about possible faults on the Service Fuse. If it does have a piece missing, post a better photo here and I’ll cross-check the fault code which needs reporting to WPD.

Userlevel 5

Yes OVO can install isolation switches. The price depends on whether they are also doing other work on-site. See price list here and a topic about isolation switches here.

 

 

Well that’s good to know, they seem cheaper than Western Power…. especially if done with other work. Does it normally go between the master fuse and the meter or between the meter and the consumer unit. If the later I would need two presumably or a 4 pole one

And just to clarify - you wrote:

I explained that Igloo didn’t do this, but it did not hold water.

 

What I was getting at, was that one supplier can charge you 1 x standing charges if you have 2 x meters and 2 x MPANS - whereas others like Ovo can charge you twice - it’s madness!

Userlevel 5

I’m surprised that the local electrician has re-routed your off-peak load through only one meter since it’s only rated 40A max.

 

I guess that’s why I employ an Electrician, so I don’t have to know these things... 
I assume you are inferring that the load on the 2 x consumer units is greater than 40A

Userlevel 7
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The load now on the one meter may be more than 40A since it includes the high-current loads which had been on the other meter.

Userlevel 7
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Isolation switch - It goes between the meter terminals and the Consumer Unit.

I would need two presumably or a 4 pole one

Personally I’d opt for two switches each with 2-poles. So if an electrician needs to work in one of the Consumer Units, you don’t have to lose power to circuits fed from the other one!

Both isolators could still be side-by-side within the same enclosure of course. But that enclosure needs to have enough space around it to allow the ‘tails’ to enter and be routed to the relevant terminals.

 

This is the right moment to ensure that the mains supply topology and conductor sizes are future-proofed.

There are several other high-current devices which you might need/want in the next 5-10 years and it makes sense to ensure that these could be installed without upgrading the cabling on either side of the new Smart Meter:

  • EV charger
  • Heat pump, ground or air-source
  • Storage Battery with or without PV Solar Panels

 

Have a look at the West Midlands map for WPD’s Future Energy Scenarios. I’ve just checked it for home-based EV chargers and (non-hybrid) Heat pumps in 2030. Cheltenham’s Montpelier Primary substation feeds the regional area where there is expected to be the highest uptake of these technologies.

 

Userlevel 5

Am I right to assume that your grid supply is TT and you therefore have your own earth-stake? Did the electrician test the earth resistance?

No idea what TT means….it’s a block of flats….

Does the Consumer Unit back onto this meter cupboard?

Yes there are two:

Main board, originally from “peak” meter

 

Obviously if the second board is only energised during off peak, then the “Bell” circuit will need moving to the top board, and potentially also the Immersion - which has it’s own separate timer control, so can be time switched separately from the meter.

Where does the Mains Feed come from? Underground, or on poles?

Underground

(Send me a PM with your post-code and I’ll be able to check all this on Western Power’s own map. That might explain why the incomer appears to have an earth-clamp on it!!)

Thank you, will do

We have a whole topic about possible faults on the Service Fuse. If it does have a piece missing, post a better photo here and I’ll cross-check the fault code which needs reporting to WPD.

Will get a better photo tomorrow, thank you.

Userlevel 5

Personally I’d opt for two switches each with 2-poles. So if an electrician needs to work in one of the Consumer Units, you don’t have to lose power to circuits fed from the other one!

Both isolators could still be side-by-side within the same enclosure of course. But that enclosure needs to have enough space around it to allow the ‘tails’ to enter and be routed to the relevant terminals.

Hopefully OVO could fit, this, I guess an Electrician could - but they can’t put tails into a meter...

 

This is the right moment to ensure that the mains supply topology and conductor sizes are future-proofed.

There are several other high-current devices which you might need/want in the next 5-10 years and it makes sense to ensure that these could be installed without upgrading the cabling on either side of the new Smart Meter:

  • EV charger
  • Heat pump, ground or air-source
  • Storage Battery with or without PV Solar Panels

Some good points here:

  • EV Charger - No - It’s a top floor flat
  • Heat pump - unlikely to get ground without a lot of lease issues, air-source - I did enquire, was told not suitable for flats currently - that could change - but the wheels of progress turn slowly
  • Battery/PV - again major issues to navigate with the freeholder
Userlevel 5

I guess the pertinent point in my posts are, you shouldn’t have to become an Electrical Engineer to figure this stuff out…...

As a consumer I just want to be able to switch tariffs/suppliers to get the best deal for myself without having to project manage the different relationships between Distributor, supplier and electrician - unfortunately no one is going to do that for me.

Userlevel 7
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Sheesh! You’ve got a 50A breaker for an electric shower. That suggests it’s a nominal 10½kWh unit (quite common) which draws about 45A.

How the heck did an electrician install that without insisting that the meter needed upgrading? :scream:

The same Consumer Unit already had a 32A MCB for an electric cooker!

Userlevel 5

The load now on the one meter may be more than 40A since it includes the high-current loads which had been on the other meter.

Do you know what the 5 terminal smart meters support?

Userlevel 5

Sheesh! You’ve got a 50A breaker for an electric shower. That suggests it’s a nominal 10½kWh unit (quite common) which draws about 45A.

How the heck did an electrician install that without insisting that the meter needed upgrading? :scream:

The same Consumer Unit already had a 32A MCB for an electric cooker!

The joys of “inheriting” previous “good workmanship” - This sounds scary, who’s responsibility is it - I am guessing like everything else I will have to stick my hand in my pocket…..

Userlevel 7
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A 5-terminal meter is still rated for the usual 100A maximum current you’d expect to have in a house/flat. That’s 100A input, which gets divided into the two separate output terminals at whatever ratio is required.

 

Userlevel 5

The joys of “inheriting” previous “good workmanship”

May have been the same person who installed a new bath, but didn’t connect the overflow - we discovered that the first time we used the bath (rather than shower) and the head of water caused it to be jettisoned onto the floor…. 

Userlevel 7
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I’ve just checked the WPD Distribution Grid map. For obvious reasons I’m not permitted to upload a copy here.

However, @Mw2870 you’re fed from the Finchcroft Lane substation (79/0661). The 3-phase 440v supply then runs on to the east of you where it supplies around 30-50 other properties. There seems to be a possible reverse-feed from the Noverton Estate substation which gives you some measure of resilience.

The TT-supply means that Western Power do not provide the earth for your home via the neutral conductor of their cable. If they did so, then your supply would be type TN-C-S and you’d have an earth cable coming out of the Service Fuse box to the right, adjacent to the neutral. I can’t see one.

So your home must have an earth stake in the ground outside somewhere and an earth cable connecting to it.

There remains the possibility that WPD may not be able to upgrade the feed to your home without replacing/upgrading the entire cable back to the substation. That’s their problem, not yours. You are entitled to request a 100A Service Fuse and you’re going to need it because of having such a high demand.

In the meantime do not use the shower at the same time as the cooker or the electric heating is on!

Userlevel 5

Thanks for all the detailed information and responses…
So if you were me…. how would you phase this project, given that no one party can do all it?

Step 1. Contact Western Power again and ask for an 100A service fuse?

Step 2. Have current supplier swap current “peak” meter and remove “off peak” meter then complete the necessary “DTN flow” which would then notify WPD metering who will then disconnect the MPAN for this meter only.

Step 3. Switch to a supplier (hopefully OVO) that supports Economy 7 - and request a smart meter is installed along with 2 x isolators - can this even be done as one step??

 

As you can see from my pictures, currently the circuits for the underfloor heating are switched off, but I would quite like to get this resolved before Winter kicks in!

Userlevel 7

Welcome back @Mw2870,

 

Great to hear you’re thinking of switching back to OVO despite the many hurdles you’re having to jump along the way. Unfortunately as you’ve already heard from the Support Team, we’re not able to onboard your dual meter, dual MPAN set-up at the moment. So I understand the advice you’ve been given to look into removing the additional MPAN if you’re interested in joining us.

 

Taking a look at your set-up it seems to me that it might be due an upgrade anyway. By replacing the two meters for a single 5-port smart meter and removing the surplus MPAN (which needs to be requested by your current supplier once the extra meters been removed) - you’d then be able to access an Economy 7 plan with OVO and benefit from all the great smart features. I’m wondering whether you’ve spoken to your current supplier to see whether they’d be able to offer you a 5-port smart meter prior to initiating a switch to OVO?

 

I’m not in a position to comment on the electrical safety issues mentioned by @Transparent, but wonder if @PeterR1947 might be able to give his expert view. As ever we’d always recommend any work be carried out by a registered electrician.

 

 

Userlevel 7
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I don’t think I can add anything else to what @Transparent has already said apart from I thin you should change your electrician who has obviously failed to realise the problem he has created.

 

Userlevel 5

So I understand the advice you’ve been given to look into removing the additional MPAN if you’re interested in joining us.

This advice, then led to me asking an Electrician to create a potentially dangerous situation, and costing me money….. feels like I have been let down here.

I’m wondering whether you’ve spoken to your current supplier to see whether they’d be able to offer you a 5-port smart meter prior to initiating a switch to OVO?

They can’t - they don’t offer Economy 7 or 10

As ever we’d always recommend any work be carried out by a registered electrician.

He was...

Userlevel 5

OK - so today’s photo shoot Ladies and Gentlemen….

 

Item 1. Earthing arrangements

There are three earth wires going into the top consumer unit (which has plugs, lights, shower etc) - none into the bottom one (which has underfloor heating, immersion and bell circuits)

 

These appear on the other side as follows:

One of which is clamped to the metal sheath of the incoming feed:

 

I think this was the one @Transparent thought was broken, as in one of the original pictures due to camera angle, it looks like it is disconnected.

 

 

Userlevel 5

Item 2. Damaged Service Fuse?

 

 @Transparent 

 

No idea if there is meant to be a bit of plastic here or not. Photo in post above for context...

 

Hard to get a better shot I am afraid...

Userlevel 5

Item 3. Incoming arrangement

The unit is fed from a board at the bottom of the block which looks like this:

I couldn’t find a tape measure, so my fat thumb for context…. very scientific…..:wink:

 

Userlevel 7
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I’ve been looking further at the mains incomer to the Service Fuse, owned by the Distribution Network Operator. Let’s zoom in on that area:

 

I do now wonder if that is a copper-sheathed mineral-insulated cable.

These are often used in commercial or multi-occupancy buildings where there is a requirement to prevent the spread of fire.

In addition, the outer copper sheath has been used to provide the earth for each flat via the clamp which is best seen in this photo. Without looking more closely at the ground-floor distribution board we can’t tell if this is terminated with an earth stake or connected to the neutral of the 0.3-Al cable right back to the substation.

Mineral insulated 2-core solid copper cable

Such a cable would be about 16-17mm overall diameter for inner conductors of 16mm², and 19-20mm diameter for 25mm² conductors.

Userlevel 7
Badge +5

Thanks for the additional photos @Mw2870 

Let’s now zoom in on the Service Fuse (aka the ‘Cut-out’).

This is a Henley ISCO Series-3 and made from Bakelite/Phenolic Resin. These were used between 1960-1990s and unless there is evidence to the contrary, an electrician must assume that a 60A fuse is fitted (ENA Cut-out Types & Ratings Guidance, v1.1)

If an electrician has reason to note that the current drawn by the property may exceed 60A, then no installation/modification work may proceed without first notifying the DNO. So that rule has been broken at least twice - once by your electrician and once by whoever installed the electric shower.

The electrician must also undertake a voltage test on the outside of the black plastic enclosure. Some have been known to break down electrically, thereby presenting a risk of shock if touched.

1: Regardless of its condition, the presence of a black plastic Cut-Out is notifiable to the DNO under condition C17.

2: Cut-outs supplied by a Mineral Insulated Copper-clad cable are notifiable to the DNO under condition C15.

Neither of the above would prevent a meter engineer from proceeding with the installation of a Smart Meter.

 

3: Status of DB Cut-out

close-up of missing cover on Cut-out showing internal wires

I am unable to tell if the wiring visible inside is live or neutral, but it looks like it could be touched by a (small) finger without the use of tools.

For that reason, the most suitable Fault Code appears to be A04 (Physical damage to DB equipment, including broken or severely cracked casing). If my assessment is correct then this is a high priority. It would prevent a meter being fitted/replaced and needs reporting to the DNO immediately.

 

Fault codes taken from MOCOPA Guide v3.5

Userlevel 5

So I spoke with Western Power today. They are going to come and do a site inspection on Monday! Will report back!

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