Why do I need an export meter with my Solar panels?

  • 29 March 2017
  • 8 replies

Can anybody tell me why I just can't pay the difference between the energy I put onto the Grid and the energy I take from the grid
I have an export meter recording what goes onto the Grid and a smart meter recording what I take from the grid,
Since the installation of the panels last summer I have gained nothing from my investment!


Best answer by Nancy_OVO 11 October 2018, 12:32

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8 replies

It is a confusing situation, depending on when you got your solar panels the generation tariff is at around 4.11p/kwh and the export tariff at around 4.91 p/kwh, whilst electricity from the grid is at around 14 p/kwh upwards. So I can see what you mean about paying for your imported energy minus the export tariff.

Since I had my panels installed in February, I have used 51kwh of the 216kwh my system has generated but exported over 165kwh of that! I don't think OVO or the regulator would allow, or have a system in place to allow customers to pay less because of what they exported, I think it may be because a number of people may not have smart meters or export meters that will tell them how much they have exported, as it's not a requirement for any solar system under 30kW, having an export meter is kind of a luxury add on in most domestic cases.

My best bet is to just use the panels when you get the best opportunity, like timing appliances, using smart plugs that you can switch on from your phone whilst you're out and about to charge laptops/iPads and so on, and just taking full advantage of the peak hours of sunlight. And possibly, when prices drop, look at adding a battery to your solar system which uses excess energy to charge that so you can use electricity at night, rather than exporting any excess that you make. You will most definitely gain back money during the life of the system, with average payback plus profit being at about 9-10 years.
Since moving to a smart meter, I am unsure if my solar panel generation is communicating with it. By this I mean it would appear from my breakdowns on my bill that the electricity I am using in the daylight/generation hours I am being charged for instead of this being deducted. When I had an old meter (dial) the dial stopped spinning when I was generating. My solar panel meter flashes when I'm generating so that I know I am but it doesn't appear to be reflecting on my smart meter.
I guess I'm asking how i can heck how much electricity I'm generating and how can I check that I'm not being charged for it instead?
Userlevel 5
Hi @BexB,

Welcome to the forum.

Do you have two meters, an export/generation meter and an import meter? Or do you just have the new smart meter?
Userlevel 5

Updated on 22/04/22 by Jess_OVO


Great question and the answer to this one will depend on when your solar panels were installed and you registered to receive payments.


Registered your solar panel before April 2019 means you’re eligible for the Feed-in Tariff. You’ll be paid for both the energy you generate and the energy you export, so you’ll have a separate generation meter. The export reading can either be clocked by an export meter/smart meter or ‘deemed’ whereby we calculate it based on your generation reading. 


After April 2019 the Feed-in Tariff was replaced by the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG). This payment only covers energy you actually export which is clocked by your Smart meter.


If you’ve got your FIT or SEG registered with us and are concerned about your payments you can contact the team on The team can make sure you’re giving the correct readings and being paid the right amount.


OVO member but not got a smart meter yet? - Book today!


Interested but not yet an OVO member? - Check out our plans!


Hi @BexB,

Welcome to the forum.

Do you have two meters, an export/generation meter and an import meter? Or do you just have the new smart meter?
I have a smart meter and a meter I've always had since the panels were installed that I basically once a year send the reading to britsh gas for my FIT payment
Userlevel 5
@BexB - do the comments on this thread help, or do you still need some more assistance?

I don't have Solar, but can try and help....

I think the FIT payment you get from BG is an amount for every unit of electricity you generate. The OVO smart meter should measure the amount of electricity you take from the Grid.
So when you are generating more than you are using, that will be zero, but when you are using more than you are generating that value will start increasing.

Can you see the half hourly breakdowns in the MyOVO website, so see if there are some periods when you are not taking anything from the grid?

One of our regular forum users @Transparent is a bit of a pro at these things, so maybe he can help out more.
Userlevel 7
Badge +5

Thanks for the push @Mw2870.

I do have solar... but it's not Grid-connected! So I have no personal experience of how FIT payments are administrated.

However, as a member of a local Transition Town group, I am aware that those members with grid-connected solar are studiously avoiding having Smart Meters because they get a better financial deal based on the "government estimate" than they do if the real export quantity were known!

I'm also in one of the Community Groups working with the OpenLV Smart Sub-station technology.

We are just starting to receive live data from "our" monitored substation and we can clearly see when an attached 3-phase solar array on a primary school is generating.

Since we also have a direct data-feed from that solar-array, we must now decide how to integrate that generation into the sub-station graphs. Would other consumers on that sub-station understand if the current graphs for that Feed went negative?

Or should we subtract the solar generation (since it's known to us) and present it as a separate positive line on the graph?

These issues will affect how Ofgem, DNO's (like Western Power) and Energy Suppliers (like OVO) will offer half-hour variable tariff structures in the future. Simply sending uncontrolled solar power back onto the Grid isn't sustainable. The imbalances at Distribution-level (32kV and below) are causing energy losses to double... now averaging almost 10%.

With the right financial incentives, us consumers can change the way we buy & sell energy, making better use of our valuable resources.

The current crude and unmonitored system of FIT payments is causing a lot of problems. Shortly it will be technically possible that these can be alleviated by reselling the solar-generation locally, within the same sub-station Feed and Phase. Thus a house with solar-panels on Feed-B, Grey-Phase could be sending energy to a neighbour with an EV or Flex-connected storage radiators on the same Feed/Phase.

There is some exciting technology on the way!