Solar panel systems work with all meters, including smart meters. However, there are some improvements that network providers need to complete so that the homeowner is able to understand exactly how their power is distributed.
Smart meters provide the most information to the user and have been around for over 10 years.
They started becoming really popular in 2013 when most energy suppliers gave a push in marketing, offering to exchange old meters for free. These were the first-generation meters which had a few problems because of the way they communicated with the supplier.
First gen smart meters used a 2G connection and also included a sim card so essentially they sent packet data similar to a traditional text message. Homeowners started to report that the SMET1 meter was not as accurate as promised and complained about higher bills. The tech was also reported as having stopped working when users switched to certain suppliers.
However, with the introduction of the SMETS2 (2nd gen smart meters), the technology has improved using a dedicated communications network known as DCC (Data and Communications Company)
What is the advantage of having a smart meter?
The advantage to these types of meters is to provide real-time readings that are sent remotely from the household to the provider. This saves time and cost from a supplier perspective, they no longer need to spend money on labour to complete energy readings.
Smart meters are also helpful for the homeowner, now they’re able to get a real-time bill and only pay for the energy they have used. They also come with digital usage displays, so the user can see the energy consumption. This can be a helpful energy-saving device, helping the user understand which appliance uses the most energy.
Do households with solar panels need a smart meter?
This really depends on one question – do the homeowners want to export excess energy to the national grid? Smart meters make it easier to read the energy that is generated from solar and then exported to the grid.
Without a smart meter, the home would need a separate export meter, which may be less accurate and affect payments.
Exporting excess energy allows the average home to make £159 per year when signed up to a Smart Export Guarantee rate through your supplier. However, shop around as suppliers offer different rates.
So how does a smart meter interact with a solar PV system?
Unlike traditional meters, smart appliances record the export and import separately, displaying readings on the display. Some suppliers have really stepped up their offering for homes with solar panels.
Depending on the type of solar system installed, there may be an additional meter that solely monitors your solar generation and storage if you have batteries.
How do I know what type of meter I have?
Smart meters are quite distinct from their older siblings. Generally, traditional meters have a manual dial interface showing the meter reading. Smart meters have a digital display.
SMET1/S1 (1st gen meters) have a keypad on the front of the unit and SMETS2 does not.
Can my SMET1 smart meter be upgraded?
It was agreed by the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy to upgrade these meters by April 2023. This would connect meters to the DCC for more accurate readings. Homeowners are advised to contact their suppliers for a date on their upgrade.
Will smart meters save money on household energy bills?
Smart meters will help you understand how much energy the house consumes. This knowledge will help the bill payer make decisions how best to use energy and on where to save money.