F.A.Q.

Radio teleswitch (RTS) shutdown sunset FAQ

  • 26 January 2021
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Radio teleswitch (RTS) shutdown sunset FAQ
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Updated on 24/10/23 by Emmanuelle_OVO

 

The Radio Teleswich System shutdown is now due April 2024

 

The sun is setting on Radio-Teleswitched (RTS) meters

 

As you may know, some big changes are coming which affect old electric meters that use Radio Teleswitches. Here’s some helpful FAQs about what’s happening.

 

What is the Radio Teleswitch System?

 

The Radio Teleswitch System (or RTS for short) is a system that was created to help with the control and management of electricity meters that had special tariffs such as Economy 7 prior to the existence of smart meters. It has a few features that are seen in smart meters today, such as remotely switching between Day or Night rates and automatically turning heating/hot water on or off, but doesn’t have the ability to collect meter readings.

 

As a fun fact: The same signals and frequencies also get used for the BBC Radio 4 longwave service, and the three transmitters have enough power to blast the signals across the entire country at once.

 

What is a Radio Teleswitch Meter?

 

These are legacy meter types that may be known as Radio Teleswitch Meters (RTS Meter) or Dynamically Teleswitched Meter (DTS Meter), however they both work in a similar way. Alongside the electricity meter itself, a Radio Teleswitch device would also be installed and it’s this device which picks up the RTS signals and controls the time switching features on the meter.

 

So are they smart meters?

 

Well… Sort of… But not quite. The signal was only ever one-way and had no way for meters to send any kind of replies, while current smart meters can do two-way links. But you could say that they were a really early form of smart meter! :wink:

Many RTS Meters could be updated with a single message, such as making changes to every time switch in a particular area all in one go. Smart Meters can only be updated individually and will ignore random broadcasts that don’t specifically target the meter directly, making them more secure.

 

What are DTS/RTS Meters used for and why would I have one?

 

These meters were mainly used for special tariffs such as Economy 7/Economy 10, HeatWise, WarmWise, Total Heat Total Control and Weathercall. Officially speaking, the tag line for them was “Using Radio transmissions to control tariffs and loads economically and reliably.” The purpose was to allow entire groups of meters to be switched in one go based on the appropriate tariffs. It also had the ability to be used for certain emergency scenarios as well. They were not used for single-rate tariffs.

 

What kind of tariffs were these meters installed for?

 

OVO has never offered or supported any legacy RTS/DTS Tariffs, but other suppliers have done so in the past. A full list is hard to locate, but here’s a few examples of known tariffs:

  • Economy 7 (only if it’s a load controlled plan where an RTS Meter is installed)
  • Economy 10 (only if it’s a load controlled plan where an RTS Meter is installed)
  • Total Heat Total Control
  • Weathercall
  • HeatWise
  • WarmWise
  • Storage Heat Control
  • White Meter
  • Superdeal
  • Flexiheat
  • Comfort Plus
  • Comfort Plus Control
  • Twin Heat

 

These tariffs sound like good deals, so why doesn’t OVO offer them?

 

Well… Here’s the thing… They’re all legacy tariffs and RTS/DTS Meters are all legacy meter types which are no longer installed. On top of that, the RTS service is actually shutting down by the end of December 2023 and this would make it impossible to provide such tariffs without smart meters being used. Most of them are also not exactly great value for money either…

 

It’s also worth noting that almost all such tariffs are closed to new customers (except the standard non-teleswitched Economy 7 which is definitely not going away!) and the suppliers which previously installed RTS/DTS Meters are ending support for them soon anyway.

 

These meters are also on life support at this point, since the BBC has been trying to shutdown the BBC Radio 4 Longwave service since 2014!

 

I’ve got an RTS/DTS Meter at the moment and it’s working fine. So what’s the problem?

 

All of these meters are legacy types which are no longer installed by any supplier today. The shutdown of the RTS service would mean that the teleswitching features would completely stop working, which could in theory leave your electricity meter jammed on the last rate it was on before the signal died, prevent your heating/hot water from turning on properly or leave the heating/hot water jammed on 24/7. OVO’s Resident Smart Meter Expert (and that’s not me!) is working with the industry and Government to figure out a safe migration plan and keep the RTS Service running until all customers can be migrated off it. The signal will be turned off eventually, but only after alternative solutions have been implemented to ensure that your heating and hot water continue to work properly.

 

In addition, many of these legacy meters are reaching end of life and the certifications are about to expire due to age. When this happens, suppliers are required to replace the meter as part of the terms of their licenses. There are still stocks of RTS Meters in the inventory that OVO and other suppliers have access to - but these stocks are reserved for existing installs only and will not be used for new installs. These stocks are intended to be used to help with maintenance of existing setups, such as replacing faulty RTS Meters. 

 

But I don’t want a smart meter and I’ve already made it clear that I wanted to opt-out! Can I have a non-smart meter instead? And why is my supplier not respecting my request?

 

Due to the rules that suppliers have to follow, suppliers are only allowed to “override and bypass” a smart meter refusal in specific circumstances. They cannot bypass just because they want to try and meet targets or boost their stats. However, attempting to force an upgrade due to a meter fault, for safety reasons, end of life meters, expired certifications or for accuracy reasons are considered valid cases to bypass opt-outs.

 

OVO has stated however, that they will not force a Smart Meter upgrade on a member who doesn’t want one. I’ve had confirmation that OVO is working with both the Citizens Advice Bureau and the Energy Ombudsman to help with discussing any concerns with members who decline an upgrade to see if there’s anything that can be done to resolve such concerns. They’re willing to discuss these with you for as long as you wish and you won’t be forced to make any decisions if you’re not ready.

 

I’m no longer with the supplier that originally gave me the meter and I don’t have that kind of tariff anymore. What can I do?

 

The good news is that your current supplier will be happy to sort you out and they’ll be in touch at some point. Parts of OVO Group did offer legacy tariffs or meters that relied on RTS/DTS, other suppliers did so back in the day. All suppliers have a duty of care to help customers migrate over to smart meters, and this includes OVO. Your current supplier will know if you’re affected and they’ll be best placed to assist.

 

What will happen if I don’t get my meter replaced/upgraded?

 

Impending doom is sure to follow and there’ll be no way to escape your fate! And you really don’t want to be trapped in a temple of doom with a 500 stone boulder chasing after you…

 

What will actually happen is that your meter will stop working properly and it may mess up your bills pretty badly. If your heating and hot water are also controlled via RTS, it’s very likely that your house will turn into The North Pole or Sahara Desert… Not sure which one I’d prefer myself to be honest…

 

OVO have advised that they’re working incredibly hard to make sure the RTS closure is only done when all customers impacted can get a suitable solution. So this is worst case scenario if nothing was done and OVO were negligent.. something they have no plans to be.

 

Hold up! I’ve got Economy 7 and I’m with OVO?! What do I do?

 

Firstly, please don’t panic, OVO has considered this possibility. Economy 7 tariffs are fully supported by all suppliers which provide them, including OVO and there’s no plans to change that. If you’ve got a smart meter in Economy 7 mode, you’re good to go and the RTS shutdown won’t affect you.

 

However, if you are on Economy 7 or Economy 10 with any supplier and don’t have a smart meter, now might be a good time to consider getting a meter upgrade.

 

I’ve got one of these legacy meters, but I moved to a single-rate tariff. Does this still affect me?

 

Kind of. The good news is that it won’t hit you as hard, but you would still be affected to a degree. I’d recommend upgrading to a smart meter anyway to make sure your current meter doesn’t come back to haunt you later. Given that the meter is probably reaching end of life anyway and the certification is probably going to expire soon, my advice would be to say that you are affected.

 

As a bonus, replacing your meter might even let you get rid of that second MPAN (Meter Point Administration Number) if your RTS setup currently has one.

 

What will happen to my tariff?

 

Good question! Your tariff will be set free into the wild where it can relax and enjoy the luxury of retirement, safely looked after by the best hospitality in the jungle… Meanwhile, a Dungeoneer will cast some magic that summons a much younger and more modern tariff to take its place, just for you.

 

Spellcasting! R E F R E S H

 

Or I wish I could say that! The exact answer will depend on your circumstances - OVO have advised that this totally depends on the RTS arrangement in place and where in the UK you may be... I hear there are challenges being faced with replacing RTS meters that are being worked upon.  So I strongly recommend talking to your supplier about your options, or consider switching to a new supplier - you can sometimes get better deals by switching anyway.

 

Just a heads up though. Once you switch away from a legacy tariff, you won’t be able to get it back. Please make sure to choose your options carefully. Or as Treguard used to say…

The only way is onwards… There is no turning back.

 

 

I’ve got another question that’s not covered? I’m still confused and need more help! Where can I go?

 

Right here! These forums are the perfect place for getting help and advice like this, and we’d be more than happy to help you out. Feel free to create a new topic on the forums or reply to an existing one that’s similar and we’ll swoop into action.


82 replies

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I see. It’s possible the agent you spoke to at the time wasn’t aware of the shutdown, which can happen.

I tend to keep on top of big changes and I use multiple sources to stay up to date. Some of which are fully public, others are a little more hidden but I have a variety of them on hand. I haven’t been able to totally validate Martin’s claims at the moment because they don’t match up with one of OVO’s internal meter experts who has advised the RTS Service will keep going until the last customer migrates off of it, as long as it doesn’t suddenly collapse before then.

Martin Lewis might not always be accurate for everything and I personally find first-party sources to be more reliable when it comes to the RTS Shutdown. He might be right, but the ultimate source of truth would be SSE’s Electric Heating Team. You can reach them directly on 0345 071 7972 and they can discuss your options.

It’s understandable if you don’t want to make changes right now, but please don’t hold off indefinitely because the letters will probably keep coming. I don’t see any particular issues with waiting until September if that’s easier for you, but it’s ideally best to get things sorted out before winter so you have time to fix any issues.

As for smart meter problems, many of them have been resolved now but I’m experienced with diagnosing issues and we’ve got quite a big community that can offer advice if you need it. If you think a smart meter has caused something else to go boom, you’re always welcome to post on this forum and we can try to help figure out the root cause. It’s not always smart meters! :)

Thanks for your input, much appreciated :-)

 

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No worries. :)

It’s a very complicated topic to handle and the exact answer genuinely does differ for each member who asks for help with it.

If there’s anything else we can help you out with, please feel free to stop by. :)

Userlevel 7

Great to see our community super star, @Blastoise186 already offering some great advice, @SnowBelle.

 

In case you hadn’t spotted it he’s also written this pretty in-depth guide to all things RTS shutdown:

 

 

Hiya @AG17 !

Good question there. I don't have the authoritative answer as such, but my understanding is that THTC type tariffs will cease to exist post shutdown. Unfortunately, you can't remain on any legacy RTS Meter or RTS reliant tariffs because the meter will stop working properly.

In most cases, the best alternative for the time being would be Economy 7, since Time of Use tariffs would not work very well for your use case. 

I am not understanding why you would recommend Economy 7 when it gives a cheaper rate only overnight. I have panel heaters, water heater, washing machine and shower on THTC. Of these, I could heat water and use the washing machine overnight on Economy 7, but not the other  appliances.  I have seen a post which said OVO would not offer economy 10. Is this true? 

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Actually, Economy 7 makes it so that ALL electricity usage during E7 hours gets charged at the cheaper rate, not just certain things.

I’m not aware of any plans for OVO to offer Economy 10 right now. However, if you’re on SSE THTC then I strongly recommend talking to the SSE Electric Heating Team on 0345 071 7972. They’ll be best placed to advise you on your options.

Since the clock change last weekend my Radio Teleswitch isn’t working properly-only coming on for 3 hours in middle of night.Ovo say it’s nothing to do with them.

They gave me a Scottish Power number who say it’s nothing to do with them

Any suggestions please? 

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Hi @kenko92 ,

Do you know who your current supplier is? I’m afraid you’ll need to get the meter and Radio Teleswitch completely replaced with a Smart Meter to resolve this one. It’s not worth fixing the teleswitch as-is at this late stage in its service life.

Thank you-I am with OVO.

I have an ancient legacy deal which gives me a night rate from midnight to 0830.

I would hate to lost it.

Will a smart meter keep same hours?

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Ahh ok. It sounds like you’ve got Economy 7/White Meter, right? You should indeed keep it when you migrate to Smart Meters, just as long as you specify that you have Economy 7/White Meter and the reason for it during the booking e.g. storage heaters. That’ll ensure the engineer brings along the right kit. Make sure to specify you need a FIVE Terminal meter!

The hours will remain the same for the most part, but might cease to adjust for summer/winter time. As long as you’re cool with that, you’re good to go.

https://smart-booking.ovoenergy.com is the easiest way to book. Alternatively, the Support Team can help you make the booking over the phone or via Live Chat.

Thank you!

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You’re welcome.

Stop by again anytime if you need us! :)

Userlevel 2

Bumping this thread, my mother still has a teleswitch, and it’s one that switches two electrical phases. Her house (my family home) has electrical storage heating, and because at the time it was built (1966) the Southern Electricity Board put it across two phases, because the local dist network couldn’t accept the load across a single phase. So she has four fuse boxes, and three meters. On Peak, and Two Off Peak.

I tried ringing the number quoted up thread. I spent over an hour speaking to a very helpful operator. She did her very best to get some quality advice, but we got nowhere, and she suggested I send her a diagram, photographs, and a narrative of my mother’s installation, I’m unclear how this will progress the issue, but I will do so however.

What I actually require is to talk to an OVO engineer (and I mean a qualified engineer, not an installer) and they need to relate the requirements to the Smart meter installation dept. It will probably require an OVO engineer to physically visit to assess what’s needed. It was suggested I contact the DNO (SSE) for advice, but the operator didn’t seem to realise that metering matters, and anything downstream of the 100 Amp fuses is not the DNO’s domain.  

Surely there is a way to directly engage with someone to resolve this ?

Userlevel 7

Hey @MarkC63,

 

Thanks for a great question.

 

Sounds like a really complex set up your mother has. 

 

Our siteworks team would be who your photos and diagrams would be forwarded to as well as details of the job. They are trained on the intricacies on engineering work, if a job was booked it would be sent to to the engineer who would attend your mother’s property. If there were any issues or any additional work that needed to be done they would let you know, and book it in if appropriate. Or, if the DNO needed to do some work beforehand, OVO would inform you before sending round an engineer. 

 

The pipes going into the meters are the DNO’s domain. I’d advise contacting them for advice. 

Userlevel 2

Many thanks @Emmanuelle_OVO 

I’ll get the documentation completed and send it off…

Yes, I suppose the incoming meter tails (between DNO 100 Amp fuses and the meters would be within the DNO’s domain)

Userlevel 7

Hey @MarkC63,

 

Just to add, we have some great guides here that might be helpful to you:
 

 

 

Let us know how you get on, could really help other customers who have similarly complex set ups! 😊

Userlevel 2

Hey @MarkC63,

Let us know how you get on, could really help other customers who have similarly complex set ups! 😊

 

I certainly will. In fact a friend of mine, also has a mother with the same two-phase, dual on/off peak, multiple metering, teleswitch set up. SSE turned up a few months ago to fit Smart Meters, took one look, and did a runner. Nothing further since. 

Userlevel 2

Here’s the diagram and photo of the set up….

 

Further to my RTS failure query.

The smart meter was fitted on 4Nov and I am now checking current billing.

OVO have ignored the installers final old meters reading and have inserted much higher figures.

Who am I best to contact about this?

On another matter I notice that they have increased my October bill since it was issued on 25 Oct.Are they allowed to do this and why would they do it?

Thanks.

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Hmm… You’ll need to raise read disputes for this one. The Support Team can make the arrangements. https://help.ovoenergy.com .

Userlevel 7
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On another matter I notice that they have increased my October bill since it was issued on 25 Oct.Are they allowed to do this and why would they do it?

Thanks.

My only thought is on your gas reading .. if the adjustment is due to calorific value updates (issued in retrospect by National Grid) then that would be valid

Userlevel 7

Hey @kenko92,

 

Sorry for the issues you’re having,

 

It can take up to 6 weeks for new meter details to be updated. If you’re concerned that your new meter has been given an incorrect install read you can send Support a photo of the yellow/white sticker on your new meter which should show the install read, as well as the removal read of your old meter.

 

I’d advise waiting until you get your first statement following the meter exchange. 

 

Hope this helps. 

New meter is working ok.

It is just annoying that OVO has ignored the installers readings from the old meter and seem to have used much higher figures for some reason.

Anyway I have been on to chat and given the correct figures.

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It is, I have to admit, a rather complex looking setup and I don’t think it’s one we see very often here. That sort of thing unfortunately can’t be handled by just any engineer either. It has to be done by someone who’s specifically trained to deal with not just regular Three-Phase setups, but Three-Phase Complex Setups.

A certain forum friend has confirmed previously that SMETS2 Three-Phase Smart Meters can deal with all sorts of exotic setups quite easily, but it remains to be seen as to whether they’re the right option for every scenario.

Either way, the old equipment will be disposed of safely once the retention period for it expires.

Userlevel 2

It is, I have to admit, a rather complex looking setup and I don’t think it’s one we see very often here. That sort of thing unfortunately can’t be handled by just any engineer either. It has to be done by someone who’s specifically trained to deal with not just regular Three-Phase setups, but Three-Phase Complex Setups.

A certain forum friend has confirmed previously that SMETS2 Three-Phase Smart Meters can deal with all sorts of exotic setups quite easily, but it remains to be seen as to whether they’re the right option for every scenario.

Either way, the old equipment will be disposed of safely once the retention period for it expires.

 

It’s not actually a three phase (or even bi-phase) system. When originally installed by the then area board (SEB) in 1966, because of the house having 10 storage heaters, plus electrical water heating and cooking the load it presented on the network was (and still does) getting close to 50 kVA. That’s huge, and obviously exceeds the load a standard domestic single phase circa 80-100 A feed can provide.

Originally it was effectively two totally independent on-peak/off-peak provisions, each serving half the house. Each half on its own phase. So simply ‘two supplies’ at a single address. There were four meters.  In the 90s the SEB/SSE turned up to replace the two spring reserve mechanical time-switches with radio time-switches. For some reason only one was replaced with an RTS, the other was replaced with a refurbed mech switch. At the same time they moved one of the on-peak circuits to the other phase. I’m not sure why, but that’s why and how the metering was reduced from four to three.

Anyway, all this is upstream of the fuseboxes/CU, so as far as I’m concerned it remains within the scope of the DNO and SSE/OVO to sort out with their provision of RTS replacement.

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