According to a recent official report by the government, there are around 30.3 million smart meters installed in households across the United Kingdom, making up 56% of all electricity meters.
Whether you have a solar panel system installed or you’re considering one, you might be wondering if the smart meter and solar panels can be combined, and in this guide, we’ll help you find out more about that.
Keep on reading for more information about smart meters, what they do, as well as their pros and cons, so you can decide whether you should have them installed in your home.
What Does a Smart Meter Do?
Smart meters are advanced electronic devices that are used to measure and record the exact amount of energy consumed. These devices are designed to replace the traditional meters that estimate the energy consumed rather than recording it precisely.
The device does that by measuring the current and voltage flow at much shorter intervals, which are typically around 30 minutes or less.
The device allows energy providers to accurately measure your electric consumption in addition to providing homeowners with more information about their energy consumption, which can help them stay energy-efficient by regularly monitoring their consumption.
The device shares the information it stores with energy suppliers wirelessly through a wide area network (WAN), which saves you the hassle of recording the consumption yourself and submitting it to the energy supplier.
Do Smart Meters Work with Solar Panel Systems?
The short answer to this question is yes! Besides regular grid power, smart meters can also work with your solar panel systems.
By connecting your solar panel system to the smart meter, it’ll be able to measure and record its readings separately. The meter will then let you know of various readings, including:
- The amount of energy that your system generates and consume
- The amount of energy imported from the grid
- The amount of excess energy that you’re exporting to the grid
Will Any Smart Meter Work with My Solar Panels?
One thing you should know here is that not all smart meters are equal. When smart meters were first released to the public, they had a few issues that caused them to behave weirdly.
These issues were mainly happening because the older ones (SMETS1) operated wirelessly through 3G mobile networks, including
- Lack of compatibility with solar systems
- Recording errors after switching suppliers
To combat these issues, a new generation of smart meters was released (SMETS2), which fixes these two issues in addition to adding several energy-saving features.
This means that only the second-generation smart meters will work with solar panel systems. If you already have a first-generation smart meter, don’t worry, as the government is working on migrating all older smart meters to the latest generation.
How Does Connected Smart Meters to Solar Panel Systems Benefit You?
Now that you know more about smart meters, you might be wondering how they would benefit you as a solar panel system user. In this section, we’ll walk you through the advantages associated with using them.
One of the main problems with the traditional meters is that they’re not accurate and rely on estimating consumption rather than measuring the current you use. As a result, you might get overbilled for your consumption or electricity you didn’t use.
By having a smart meter fitted to your house, you’ll only pay for what you consume, which can save you a lot of money in the long run.
Of course, this applies to your grid electricity consumption and not your solar power energy.
Saving Energy with Real-Time Monitoring
Since smart meters are more accurate at reading your energy consumption, they can help you have a better understanding of your energy consumption habits, whether it’s from the grid or from your solar panel system.
As a result, you’ll be able to make informed decisions about how to reduce your energy bills. Monitoring your solar panel energy consumption can also help you figure out situations and methods to save more energy and reduce your carbon footprint further.
Gaining Access to Smart Meter Exclusive Tariffs
To encourage more households to install smart meters, some energy companies apply exclusive tariffs to smart meter users only. If you still rely on grid energy considerably, this can greatly reduce your energy bills in the long run.
They’re Necessary for SEG and Feed-in Tariff Schemes
Smart meters are not mandatory to install. However, you must have them installed if you want to benefit from solar power energy export schemes like Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) and Feed-in Tariffs.
These schemes help you export excess energy back into the grid, which can offset your energy bill considerably.
Things to Keep in Mind About Smart Meters
Before getting smart meters, there are some points that you need to keep in mind.
They Rely Heavily on Mobile Signals
Since these meters communicate through mobile data and WAN networks, they must be installed in a spot with a good signal.
In other words, they won’t work properly if you want to live in a location where there’s no proper coverage.
You Still Need to Do Your Energy-Saving Yourself
As you can see, smart meters are simply tools that you can use to monitor your consumption and effectively reduce it. They don’t reduce your energy consumption automatically or provide you with cheaper electricity.
Their Terms Might Vary from One Carrier to Another
Although the government is endorsing many incentive programs and schemes to encourage the installation of smart meter plans, some of their terms are still dependent on your carrier.
This means that you may go on a lengthy waiting list to have your smart meter installed. Luckily, these issues shouldn’t be a problem with most big energy companies, and you can switch suppliers easily even after having the meter installed.
Some Might Consider Them a Privacy Threat
Since smart meters share your energy consumption information wirelessly with your supplier, some homeowners raised privacy concerns about them.
Smart Meter Solar Panel FAQs
How do I get a smart meter?
All energy providers in the UK are required to provide smart meters to their clients. Simply contact your energy provider and inquire about smart meters to have their installation arranged at a set date and time.
How much do smart meters cost?
Technically, getting and installing a smart meter is free of charge. Yet, you still technically pay for its costs, as its expenses (including installation and maintenance) are absorbed into the energy bill.
Is it easy to read the smart meter?
While there are different models of smart meters, they usually have the same layout. Smart meters will usually display various information with clear labels, including separate readings of the power imported from and exported to the grid.
Is It Worth It to Get a Smart Meter with Solar Panels?
This wraps it up for this guide about smart meters and how you can use them with solar panels. As you can see, smart meters are excellent tools that will help you monitor your energy consumption effectively and avoid estimation problems.
Besides that, smart meters can reduce your energy bill in various ways, including measuring your excess energy if you’re on SEG or Feed-in tariff schemes, so they’re definitely worth the investment, even if you’re almost completely off the grid!