Pure Planet head of smart meter rollout answers community questions

  • 22 March 2019
  • 1 reply
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Hi everyone

Thanks for your brilliant questions about smart meters.

It took a couple of days longer than I thought it would, to get my replies together, so thanks for waiting. We’re also in the middle of our first pilot of 2nd generation smart meter installations which is keeping us busy!

Here are the answers to the questions you asked in the community. I’ve done my best to avoid using energy industry jargon, but apologies if some of that slips in. :rolleyes:

Question from @Bev
I’m really looking forward to having a Smartmeter but when my previous provider came to install what was then the first phase of smart meters, he did all the installation, then realised I had storage heaters (they’re not used btw, but of course they’re wired up separately for E7 ). Basically, once he’d put the meter in, he then realised the storage heaters were no longer on E7, so wired to be on all the time, and had to ring his manager who instructed him any property with storage heaters could not have a smart meter. Apparently this was regardless of provider, and instruction from the government.
Now things have moved on, and the 2nd generation are being installed, I would like to ask if this wiring hurdle has been taken into consideration, or will properties with these antiquated hideous storage heaters and equally antiquated E7 wiring, still be unable to move into the 21st century?

Hi @Bev
Thanks for that question. Storage heaters have historically been an issue, and even with SMETS2 the meter manufacturers have prioritised single rate meters and Economy 7 (without storage). There are some SMETS2 meters that have been made for this - they can turn a switch on/off to work storage heaters - but they’ve not really been tested yet. If you’re not using your storage heaters, then you could get them disconnected, of course.



Question from @jeparfitt
I live in an area with just about 2G signal and previous attempts to install smart meters have proved fruitless. Is there any point in registering an interest in having them installed by PP?
Hi @jeparfitt It should be okay. SMETS2 meters have better communication. All suppliers including us of course will check coverage prior to installation. The industry estimates that by the end of 2020 more than 99.25% of UK households will have good enough data coverage for a SMETS2.


Questions from @woz
I'm looking forward to some real detail about how the meters work with Economy 7 (and ultimately Economy X) tariffs.
The capability is there via SMETS2 meters to mirror all of the timing regimes currently offered by the industry, so all current E7 customers should be offered the same setup.

Whether the timings will change if you're currently controlled by a radio teleswitch where the times are linked to (set by) the DNO.
This includes radio teleswitch, as the functionality to switch from one rate to the other is controlled by an accurate clock on the meter and the timing regime can easily be changed/updated if required.

Whether the timing is fixed for everyone to the same time no matter who is their DNO?
No, it will reflect the meter setup that the industry has available in that DNO area.

Whether the timeswitch will be removed and off-peak timings will be set by the meter?
Yes, the industry intention is to remove the timeswitches/teleswitches when SMETS2 is installed and also any contactors, so the capability to switch to the off-peak register and turn on any switched load will be fully driven by the SMETS2 meter

What PP are going to do about off-peak installations where the timing is done by a DNO sealed timeswitch? (that is assuming they have accepted the customer switching-in in the first place).
As per the answer above, the intention is to remove these and allow the full functionality of the SMETS2 meter to take over.

Whether the IHD will log peak and off-peak correctly.
Your IHD will mirror the meter set up and if this was set up as 2-rate it would have the capability to show this information on the screen, both for consumption, rates and cost incurred.

How the IHD is powered and it's expected consumoption over a year, and can you have more than one? If so how much extra for another?
The IHD we have initially chosen is only powered by mains supply,so needs to be kept plugged in. If it was plugged in for 24 hours a day for 365 days a year it would cost you 75p per year based on Pure Planet’s current unit rate.
We believe one IHD should suffice as you can unplug and re-plug it in anywhere in your home and longer term the intention is to provide the same functionality via our app.

Whether PP will allow a future changes of tariff from E7 to single rate and vice versa without charge (after all it should be possible to remotely configure the meter)
We might, but it's not like we have plans yet or a date in our diary.

Whether you will be providing any open source (or proprietary) tools to allow integration into home automation. Is this discussion with regards to integration of home controls with the meter or the IHD?
We're definitely open to this but it's not something we'll look into until we're well into a time when we're installing these in larger numbers.

Whether the installation includes fitting an isolation switch if you don't already have one (it makes sense to do it at the time)
No, this is not part of the installation option, we would only do this if the install was at a new connection and the customers wiring was not yet completed and ready to be wired directly to the meter.



Question from @G4RHL
Does anybody know if there is an app or programme that can pick up the data from a Smart meter for it to be read and logged on a mobile phone, tablet or desktop? If the data is accessible, then an app could be designed where you can gradually build up a record of what is switched on and how much it uses. A bit like Smappee does.
Hi @G4RHL. Great question. For now we’ll be offering Members an IHD (in-home device), but we’d like to put this info about energy usage and cost in your Pure Planet app. This would mean you’ll be able to access the info wherever you are, not just when you’re standing in your kitchen. A lot of these IHDs end up in kitchen drawers! It’s a shame to spend time and money making these extra displays if they’re not used and the app can show you the same info, or better.



Question from @GTJ
I have had two previous suppliers I.e.SSE and USIO put Smart Meters into my property and I understand the advantages to both the consumer and energy supplier,however these smart meters are not compatible when changing to a new supplier and find this a waste of money that apparently we are paying for the cost of these meters. My position at the moment that although I have Smart Meters they only work like any other non smart meter and if Pure Planet go ahead with installation of these meters will they be of use in the future when changing to another supplier?
Hi @GTJ. I’m guessing from your question that you’ve got a SMETS1 meter? This is older technology which were limited to the energy supplier who installs them. We’ve decided to skip SMETS1 and go with SMETS2, the second generation. These work with all suppliers, so you’re not stuck.
But, it’s not all terrible news for all SMETS1 households. Some models are being integrated into the SMETS2 network later this year. There’s a body called the Data Communications Company, set up by the Government to coordinate the SMETS2 rollout. The DCC has given energy companies details of the specific models of SMETS1 which it hopes to bring back to life!



Question form @welshwizzard13
Hi . I requested a smart meter when I changed over from British Gas and I think I was put on the list for priority owen to my age (64) and also my disability which limits me to not reading my meters regularly this is causing me a problem with estimated bills continually. Please could you give this priority and install them asap this would greatly help me in regularly checking our consumption. If unfortunately you are unable to instal the units I will probably consider having to find a supplier that can accommodate this, but I'm hoping you can help.
Hi @welshwizzard13 Having a smart meter is going to be really helpful for lots of Members who struggle to read meters. Right now we’re in the pilot phase of installations. That means we’re working with a small number of Pure Planet members on getting the meters installed and then checking that we receive accurate automated readings from them. Once we’re happy that it’s all working as it should, we’ll be able to offer them nationally.



Question from @Jon1:
Hi Leyton. Firstly great job on keeping all informed on the rollout programme. I would like to have a smart meter, however I have a 3-phase meter and my understanding is that getting one is not an option. Am I wrong or will this change at some point in the future?
I do like the prospect of scaring those that use the electric but dont pay the bill by showing them how much it costs.
Thanks for the question @Jon1. The SMETS2 roll-out covers domestic properties and smaller businesses and the majority of these have single phase and not 3-phase meters. Due to the SMETS2 roll-out being a project in its infancy there has very much been a focus on delivering a solution for the largest volume of members, so meter manufacturers have exclusively produced single phase meters.
However, we have already made enquiries with regards to 3-phase meters and have been told that there may be a solution available by the end of this year. Rest assured that we will continue to ask the question of manufacturers and as soon as these meters are available we will be contacting our members to book installs.



Question from @AlanT
I have solar pv on our roof since December. Will your Smart Meter be able to take information from the Feed In Tariff meter and/or the SMA inverter system? Ideally they could all work together to give an accurate measure of our generation and supply to the grid as well as our use from grid.
Hi @AlanT Unfortunately there are a few issues that the industry needs to resolve before the roll-out can start for feed in tariff Members.
Firstly, there is not currently the capability for generation meters to communicate with smart meters on the HAN (Home Area Network), so there’s an ongoing issue where this meter would still need to be manually read by a meter reader on a regular basis.
The smart meter installation also leads to the need for a separate industry identifier to be registered to allow the export volume to be accurately measured and no longer paid on a deemed basis against the export tariff. There’s then the issue of the meter being installed by your supplier, who may not be the same company as your FIT supplier. This then leads to an industry process breakdown as to how communication and information passes between both of these suppliers.
These issues and complexities have been collated by the industry and are being addressed, but until there is clarity on the process we will not be installing meters for our FIT members as it would be a poor experience for them.



1 reply

Nice one everyone for taking the time to ask these great questions. I reckon they'll come in useful for other community Members and they'll also come in very handy when we start to expand our FAQs section on smart meters as we install more and more meters.
I've closed this thread - so @Leyton Jones can get back to his day job :rolleyes:
But we'll run another Q&A on smart meters in the future if the community wants to!

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