Your AF Energy insights

06.02.24

How smart is smart metering?

Last year your AF Energy team arranged over 1,000 smart meter (SMETS2) installations for sites in the AF electricity portfolio. But that’s just the start. There are lots more to install this year.

We’re prioritising smart meter installations for Members whose existing meters use the Ratio Teleswitch Service (RTS).

RTS will be switched off at the end of March 2024. So if we’ve already contacted you about this, get in touch with us. We’ll arrange your SMETS2 smart meter to be installed before your current meter stops working at the end of March.

What are the benefits?

Members who’ve already had SMETS2 smart meters installed are telling us about the benefits.

No more:

  • monthly meter readings
  • estimated bills
  • credits and rebills

Hear how making the switch to smart metering has worked for them in our Member case studies coming soon.

Are smart meters an AF initiative?

No. There are now over 16 million SMETS2 smart meters installed across the UK, making them an important part of everyday electricity portfolio management for everyone.

Does the technology work?

Yes, it’s tried and tested. There have been some teething problems with connectivity to auto-send readings but coverage is improving.

The meters are subject to strict measurement control and your electricity usage data is held securely in a closed system.

Still have questions?

You’re not alone. Read our answers to Members’ most frequently asked questions below.  Or get in touch with us by email to energy@af.farm or call 01603 881 910. We’re here to help.

What is a SMETS 2 meter?

Over 16 million meters have now been installed to the Smart Metering Equipment Technical Specification (SMETS) 2 standard. These are the most advanced meters available and communicate through the Data Communications Company (DCC). Suppliers were obliged by government rules to stop installing SMETS1 meters by 15 March 2019 and only install SMETS2 meters. Suppliers started to install SMETS2 meters from April 2017, and in large volumes from autumn 2018.

How accurate are smart meters?

Under UK law smart meters have to be approved to certain accuracy standards. The accuracy is defined as the MPE (Maximum Permissible Error) class.

Electricity Meters: MPE Class A (± 2.5% at 1 amp and ± 2.0% at 20 amps)

However, many electricity meters fitted achieve the higher standard of MPE Class B (± 1.5% at 1 amp and ± 1% at 20 amps).

How are smart meters tested for accuracy through their life?

Smart meters fall into the MID scheme (Measuring Instruments Directive). This means they are certified as being accurate at their introduction to market, but are not given a certification period as traditional meters used to be. Their life depends on their performance during MID in-service testing (IST). The Office for Product Safety & Standards gathers samples of meters from suppliers. If they prove to be inaccurate, that type/age of meter will be replaced in customer premises.

Do you pay for the electricity to power the smart meter?

No. In the same way as traditional meters, smart meters take their own power from a point before measurement takes place. The power used by the meter is classed as a distribution loss (which also includes energy lost through distribution cables).

Are SMETS2 meters compatible with storage heaters?

Yes. A fifth meter output is required to control the storage radiator load and 5 terminal meters are now available from most suppliers.

I have a SMETS2 meter. Will it work if I switch suppliers?

Yes.
SMETS2 meters are commissioned through DCC, a service used by all suppliers. This means your meter will continue to work even if you switch to a new supplier.
SMETS 1 meters often use different support systems across different suppliers, so these may not work after switching suppliers.

How much data is stored on a SMETS2 smart meter?

Half-hourly usage data is the standard. A smart meter can typically store around 13 months of half-hourly usage data.

The SMETS2 specification requires the following half-hourly electricity data to be recorded and stored:

  • 13 months of consumption (Active Energy Import)
  • 3 months of active energy exported / reactive energy imported / reactive energy exported
Can SMETS2 smart meters be upgraded without being replaced?

Just like your computer or mobile phone, smart meters can have a firmware upgrade. An upgrade can be used to fix faults and add new functionality and should happen with little impact on you. Upgrades are even being used to allow some SMETS1 meters to be upgraded for the SMETS2 system.

Do SMETS2 meters support solar panels?

Yes, all SMETS2 meters support solar panels as this was included in the SMETS2 specification. However, this does not mean your supplier will support it. A lot of work is required in a supplier’s administration systems to set up the meter correctly, and process and store the messages required to operate export properly.

If you’re considering installing solar panels, get in touch with your AF Energy team before you do anything. We’ll check if your meter is compatible, and we can even quote for installing solar panels!

How does the smart meter record energy generation if a solar panel is installed?

Smart meters record export and import separately. You can view these readings by stepping through them on the meter display. All meters should show all 4 power quadrants. You can ignore the reactive ones and just look at active import and export:

  • Active energy import (kWh) – consumption you are billed for by your supplier
  • Active energy export (kWh) – exported power for which you are paid by your export supplier
What is a cut-out?

It’s a piece of electrical equipment that forms the link between your DNO’s (Distribution Network Operator) electricity cable and the internal wires in your property. It contains a large, sealed fuse that can only be replaced by the DNO. Certain older cut-outs are inadequate and will need to be upgraded by the DNO as part of your smart meter installation.

What if my signal is too weak and cannot support SMETS2 smart meter?

For SMETS2 there are other options. Suppliers can check whether your premises will have communications before visiting site. Once there, they can use a signal checking device to determine if the signal is strong enough in the meter location.

If it isn’t they can try different aerials to boost the signal. If that still doesn’t work, an external aerial or an alternative mesh communications method is available in some areas.

And if none of that works, they can leave the meter de-commissioned and ask DCC to get the communications working in the future. The smart meter will be treated as a standard meter and you will need to provide regular reads to ensure accurate bills, until the communications are working.

Save money. Save time.