Smart Meter Installation: What To Expect
Having recently experienced the move from traditional energy meters to the much talked about new wave of smart energy meters I thought it would be useful to jot down our experiences of the installation so you have an idea of what to expect when your changeover happens. Our installation was carried out by British Gas – you may have seen their spiffy new television adverts talking about the new wave of smart energy meters – if you use a different energy provider your installation experience may be somewhat different.
First off, the installation was pretty quick, taking around two hours during which the electrical supply needed to be switched off which was something of a struggle for the kids who were planning a session on the Xbox – fortunately the iPad was charged which made life a bit easier.
At the outset we were given a general outline of the installation procedure to be carried out by the engineer which involved: switching off the supplies, fitting the electricity smart meter, fitting the gas smart meter, getting the devices to talk to each other, getting the devices to talk to the home unit, waiting around an hour for the energy provider systems to provide the tariff information to the home unit.
The electricity smart meter was installed first and incorporates the clever technology which collects readings, talks to the home unit, and sends information to the data collector using a pre-installed SIM card. There is not much to see from the unit itself as all the relevant information is available from the home unit. The particular unit installed was the Landis + Gyr E470 Residential Smart Meter.
Once the electricity smart meter was installed the gas smart meter was up next which sends its information to the smart electricity meter which then sends the data onwards. Again the unit was a Landis + Gyr model – in this case the Libra 310P. The gas smart meter installation took a little longer than the electricity smart meter installation as the physical connections were a little more complex.
The engineer described the key difference between this new smart gas meter and the older meter in the sense that the older meter measured the flow of gas as it was “breathed in and out” whereas the new style of gas meter essentially “listens” to the gas and measures its wavelength. If that makes sense to you then well done – I just smiled and nodded in a knowing, yet not knowing, kind of way.
From what I can ascertain from the set up the data collection and link between the gas meter and electricity meter is battery powered (the unit states a battery type of L+G 90-10929). In order to see the usage reading on the gas smart meter you have to physically press a button which is presumably designed to save on battery life. That said, the readings for the electricity and gas smart meters are available from the home unit so it is unlikely a visit to the units will be required.
During the gas change-over the engineer enquired what gas appliances were in operation in our home to which we replied the main boiler and the gas fire in the living room. Post-installation the engineer performed a safety check on both appliances.
The last part of the installation was the home unit. The home unit supplied is not the pebble shaped one shown in the adverts (the adverts do have a message saying something along the lines of “future model shown”) however the energy provider suggests the only real difference, other than a physical redesign, is that the pebble shaped unit allows the setting of budgets directly from the unit.
The Landys + Gyr model supplied looks a little busy, has a lot of buttons, and includes an at a glance view of energy usage (both gas and electric), three traffic lights for load usage (and a fourth blue light for messages), and historical usage information. I will talk more about the home unit in a future article.
Finally, the engineer talked us through the operation of the home unit and answered any questions we had – one of which was how much the home unit costs to run to which the engineer told us it would be around 5 pence per month. The engineer also explained that the period of time between updates to the home unit, from the energy meters, is around 15 seconds for electricity and 30 minutes for gas usage.
Around two weeks later an energy provider engineer arrived to inspect both both units and to enquire that various checks were made post-installation – it was good to see this kind of follow up.
Overall, the implementation was quick and trouble free. I will be updating our progress with the new smart meters over the next few months but if you have any questions or queries about our experiences, or would like to add your own experiences, please get in touch.