Worried about your energy bills?

Smart meters may help you save money on your energy bills while also reducing the carbon emissions produced by your home. The data is digitally transmitted back to your energy supplier, allowing for more accurate billing and a more detailed analysis of your energy usage.

The British government has a target for all British Homes to be fitted with these smart meters by 2024. Currently, about 15 million have been fitted by the big six energy suppliers. This is done to develop a smarter energy-efficient grid, one that will offer a low-carbon energy future.

What is a Smart Meter?

A “smart meter” is an electricity or gas meter that can communicate wirelessly with your energy supplier.

This allows for two-way communication so that your energy readings can be sent to your supplier without you having to lift a finger – and it also means that you’ll be able to top up your account or switch suppliers using just a few clicks on your in-home display (IHD).

The term

The phrase “Smart Metering Equipment Technical Specifications” is an acronym. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) developed this document, which specifies the technical requirements that all smart meters in Great Britain must meet.

Types of SMETS Meter

There are two types of SMETS meter – SMETS 1 and SMETS 2:

SMETS 1 meters were the first type of smart meter to be rolled out in Great Britain. They use a wireless connection to communicate with your energy supplier, and they’re fully compatible with all energy suppliers.

The six largest energy suppliers in Great Britain–British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON, Npower, ScottishPower, and SSE–are required to offer SMETS 1 meters to their customers.

SMETS 2 meters use a different kind of wireless connection (GPRS) to communicate with your energy supplier.

They’re also compatible with all energy suppliers, but they offer some additional features that aren’t available with SMETS 1 meters.

These include an in-home display that shows you how much energy you’re using, and the ability to switch energy suppliers without having to replace your meter.

SMETS 2 meters are being rolled out by all energy suppliers from June 2019 onwards.

If you’re thinking of switching energy suppliers, it’s worth checking whether they offer SMETS 2 meters. This is because you may be able to keep your smart meter (and all its features) when you switch.

What Does A Smets2 Meter Look Like and What’s The Difference?

If you have a first-generation SMETS1 meter, it will look like a traditional analog or digital meter. This is because these meters were designed to be retrofitted into existing properties.

SMETS2 meters have a new, sleek design that’s been specifically created for new build properties.

They’re also larger than SMETS1 meters, so they can accommodate the extra components that are required for two-way communication.

Is there a SMETS3 Smart Meter?

No, there is no such thing as a SMETS3 smart meter. The term SMETS 3 is sometimes used to refer to advanced meters that go beyond the scope of the SMETS technical specifications.

These meters are often trialed by energy suppliers and other organisations, but they’re not yet available to the general public.

In the future, as more people buy EVs, solar panels, and battery storage units there may be a need for a new specification, but at the moment SMETS 2 is the most advanced type of meter available.

What are the benefits of having a Smart Meter? (Should I Get One?)

There are lots of reasons to get excited about smart meters. For starters, they’ll help you to keep track of your energy use and costs in near-real time, so you can make changes to the way you use energy and save money.

What’s more, because smart meters connect directly to your energy supplier, you’ll never have to submit meter readings again – meaning no more estimated bills!

Finally, as the UK moves toward a low-carbon economy, smart meters will play an important role in helping us to meet our climate change targets by making it easier for people to use less energy.

What is a Smart Grid, and Why Should Society Invest in This Technology?

A smart grid is a power grid that is equipped with digital technology to deliver electricity more efficiently, consistently, and securely.

It involves the installation of smart meters, which communicate with each other and with the central grid system to provide real-time data on electricity supply and demand.

This information is then used to manage the flow of power around the grid, reducing wastage and ensuring that everyone has the electricity they need when they need it.

Smart grids are seen as a key part of the transition to a low-carbon economy, as they make it easier for renewable energy sources (such as solar and wind power) to be integrated into the grid.

What’s more, by making the grid more efficient, smart grids can help to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and lower our carbon emissions.

Investing in a smart grid is therefore seen as a vital part of tackling climate change.

How SMETS2 Smart Meters Can Help us Take Care of our Loved Ones

The fact that we are able to monitor our energy usage more closely with SMETS2 meters can help us to take care of our loved ones in a number of ways.

For example, if we have an elderly relative who is living alone, we can use the data from their smart meter to make sure that they are not using too much energy.

This can help to reduce their bills and make sure that they are not putting themselves at risk of fuel poverty.

What’s more, if we have a loved one who is living with a disability or chronic illness, we can use the data from their smart meter to make sure that they are not struggling to pay their energy bills.

This can help to give us peace of mind that they are not going without the essentials, like heating and hot water.

How do I know if my meter is a SMETS1 or SMETS2?

If you have a smart meter that has Telefonica/Arqiva/WNC/Toshiba, with 2 to 5 LED lights on top then this will likely be a SMETS2 meter. If your meter only has one light on top, or no lights at all, then this will likely be a SMETS1.

If you’re still not sure which type of meter you have, you can contact your energy supplier and they will be able to tell you.

How To Go From A Regular Meter To A Smets2 Smart Meter

A simple remote software upgrade will turn your regular meter into a Smets2 smart meter. There’s no need for an engineer to visit your property, and the process is quick and easy.

To get started, all you need to do is contact your energy supplier and ask them to upgrade your meter.

Once the upgrade has been completed, you’ll be able to start benefitting from all the great features of a Smets2 meter, like near-real-time energy use data and the ability to submit meter readings remotely.

How to Get a FREE SMETS2 Smart Meter Installed

The quickest way to get a free SMETS2 smart meter installed is by asking your energy supplier to do it for you.

Most energy suppliers are now offering free smart meter installations to their customers, so it’s worth checking with yours to see if they can help you out.

If you’re not sure who your energy supplier is, you can find out by checking your most recent energy bill.

Here’s A Guide On How To Read Your Smart Meter

To be honest, if you have a SMETS2 smart meter you won’t need to do much reading as the meter will send your readings to your energy supplier automatically.

However, if you do need to take a reading from your meter, it’s actually very simple. Just follow these steps:

1. Find your smart meter display unit. This is usually located near where your old analog meter was.

2. Once you’ve found the display unit, take a look at the screen. You should see a number of different values displayed, including your current energy use in watts (W).

3. To take a reading, simply write down the value that is displayed next to the “W” symbol.

And that’s all there is to it! Once you’ve taken your reading, just submit it to your energy supplier in the usual way.

SMETS 2 Communications Hubs

The introduction of SMETS2 meters also brought with it a new type of communications hub, known as a “Type 2” hub.

Type 2 hubs are more reliable than the older “Type 1” hubs that were used with SMETS1 meters, and they offer a number of benefits, including:

  • The ability to receive updates and new features via software upgrades.
  • Improved security.
  • Reduced energy consumption.

If you have a SMETS2 meter, then it’s likely that you will also have a Type 2 communications hub. However, if you’re not sure, you can always contact your energy supplier to check.

How Are Smets2 Meters Checked For Accuracy Throughout Their Life?

The MID (Measuring instruments Directive) applies to smart meters, which means they have been tested and shown to be accurate at the time of sale but do not have a certification period as traditional meters do.

Because of the MID In-service testing (IST), the lifetime of their performance is limited. If supplier samples show to be incorrect, the type and age of the meter will be changed on customer premises according to the Office for Product Safety & Standards.

SMETS2 Smart Meter Problems

There are a few problems that have been reported with SMETS2 meters, but luckily they are all fairly minor and can be easily fixed.

  1. The most common issue is that some meters stop sending automatic readings to energy suppliers, which means that customers have to submit their readings manually. However, this problem can be easily fixed by doing a simple software upgrade on the meter.
  2. Another issue that has been reported is that some meters lose their “smart” functionality when they are switched to a different energy supplier. This problem can also be fixed with a software upgrade.
  3. Activating emergency credit on a SMETS2 meter can be tricky, as the process is not yet fully automated. However, energy suppliers are working on this and it should be resolved soon.

Which Energy Suppliers are Installing SMETS2 Meters?

The following energy suppliers are installing SMETS2 meters for their customers:

  • British Gas.
  • Bristol Energy.
  • Bulb.
  • Co-operative Energy.
  • Ecotricity.
  • EDF Energy.
  • EON.
  • Green Network Energy.
  • Green Star.
  • Igloo Energy.
  • Lumo.
  • Nabuh Energy.
  • Npower.
  • Octopus Energy.
  • OVO Energy.
  • Pure Planet.
  • Scottish Power.
  • Shell Energy.
  • Spark Energy.
  • SSE.
  • Tonik Energy.

If you’re with one of these suppliers, then you should have no problem getting a free SMETS2 meter installed

FAQs

Can smart meters be upgraded?

Just like your computer or phone, smart meters have the potential to have their firmware updated. The new features and system upgrades will be used to repair malfunctions and develop new capabilities in the background, with little impact on the user.

What is The Smart Metering Wide Area Network?

The Smart Metering Wide Area Network (SMWAN or WAN for short) is a nationwide communications network that connects all of the UK’s SMETS2 meters. This network is used to send your meter readings to your energy supplier automatically, as well as allow energy suppliers to remotely connect and disconnect meters.

Do smart meters need a mobile signal?

SMETS 1 and SMETS 2 Meters require an outgoing 2G and 3G signal to communicate with the Data Communication Company (DCC) which is used to send your half hourly consumption readings to your supplier.

Can I get a smart meter if I have solar panels?

If you have a single-rate electricity tariff and your generation meter is already digital, your installer will install a SMETS2 dual-rate meter that will record your consumption and generation.

Do I have to have a smart meter?

No, you don’t have to have a smart meter. If you live in England, Scotland or Wales, your energy supplier will offer you a free smart meter by the end of 2020. If you’re not sure whether you want one, you can always say no and wait to see how they develop.

What is dithering?

From time to time smart meters lose power, for example when the electricity goes off or when the batteries in the meter run out. When this happens, the meter will go into a “dithering” mode where it will randomly turn itself on and off to try and conserve power.

About the Author

Passionate about helping households transition to sustainable energy with helpful information and resources.

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