Smart meter installations: Where we’re up to and what’s next. — Bulb Community

Smart meter installations: Where we’re up to and what’s next.

We started installing smart meters in member’s homes in February. Since then, there’s been a lot of discussion in the community. Questions have included everything from when you’ll be invited to book an installation to whether there’s anything you can do to make the installation go smoothly, and what to do if your In-Home Display (IHD) isn’t getting data.

I’ve tried to answer the most frequent questions below. If there’s anything I’ve missed, pop your question at the end. I’ll do my very best to answer.

Smart meter installations are going well
Overall, Bulb’s smart meter installations are going well. We’re on track to meet installation targets set by Ofgem and the majority of installations have been successful. We’re able to communicate with the majority of your smart meters and send accurate statements.

By the end of this quarter, we expect to have installed around 10,000 second generation smart meters. The rate of installations will ramp up between now and 2020.

Members are experiencing problems with the In-Home Displays
While on the whole, things are going smoothly, some members have experienced problems with their In-Home Displays (IHD). An IHD is a small device that shows information from your smart meter. It displays the amount of energy you’re using and the cost in real time. We’ve explained more about what they are and why you’re offered an IHD on the blog.

Once installed, the IHD can take up to 48 hours to start showing data. But some members have found that even after waiting, the data doesn’t show. The most common errors that members have reported are:
  • The IHD only shows information for one fuel, even when there’s a smart meter for both gas and electricity
  • The IHD shows a message that says ‘Waiting for data’
  • The IHD shows a message that says ‘Connection lost’
We’re sorry if your IHD isn’t showing any data. We know it’s frustrating, as having energy data to hand is one of the advantages of having a smart meter.

What to do if your IHD isn’t working
If your IHD is still showing an error after 48 hours, there’s a few checks you should make before contacting us. We’ve written a guide on what to do if your IHD isn’t working.

If the guide doesn't help, please send us your details using this form.

We’re fixing IHD errors
We’re working hard to fix the IHDs that have already been installed. This is a manual task and our team are fixing issues individually, in the order they were reported. It can take up to 4 weeks for us to fix your IHD from the time you let us know it isn't working. Thank you for your patience while we get everything up to speed.

In the meantime, your smart meters should still be working as expected and sending meter readings to your account automatically. So you will be getting accurate bills.

As well as troubleshooting the IHDs already installed, we’re working with industry partners to prevent these errors occurring in the first place. As we ramp up the rate of installations we’re expecting to see fewer and fewer errors.

Smart meters errors
Some of members are having trouble sending meter readings from their smart meters. These members will receive statements that show ‘estimated’ meter readings.

There are two main reasons for this:
  1. The smart meter is working but our billing system isn’t processing the readings. We’re working on this bug and we’ll be able to send accurate statements shortly.
  2. The smart meter has not successfully been commissioned. This means the engineer hasn’t been able to connect your meters with the central communications hub. In this case, we’ll be in touch by email to arrange a follow-up appointment with an engineer.
What to do if you think your smart meter is not working
Currently, we cannot update your statements with accurate smart meter readings remotely, so keep a record of your meter readings. If you’d like to email them to us we’ll add them to your account. Or just take a photo and send it to hello@bulb.co.uk.

We would’ve liked longer to prepare for smart installations. Delays in technology meant we couldn’t start our rollout until 2019. These delays affected every supplier. Ofgem targets mean we must continue installing smart meters. We’re doing everything we can to reduce the number of errors. You can read a bit more about our smart meter rollout on the blog.

We’re inviting some members to book installations
If you’re still waiting for an invitation to book a smart meter installation, hang tight. We’re inviting members in specific regions first. Here’s how that breaks down for different members:

I’m on the smart meter waiting list
f you’ve signed up for the smart meter waiting list, we'll get in touch when we're ready to install smart meters in your area.

We first need to check your area for:
  1. Signal cover
  2. Engineer availability
Members who haven’t signed up to the smart waiting list will still have the opportunity to have a smart meter installed between now and 2020. And it’s not too late to sign up to the waiting list.

If you joined the waiting list a while ago but haven’t heard from us yet, we’ve explained why in our help centre.

I’m in the Northern region
We’re currently experiencing issues connecting smart meters to the central communications hub in the North. Looking at installation numbers of other suppliers, it seems like we’re not the only ones. This means that if you’re in the Northern region, you might need to wait a little longer before we can install a smart meter in your home.

I have a first generation smart meter
If you have a first generation smart meter (SMETS1) installed by your previous supplier, we’ll be able to communicate with it by 2020.

The Data Communications Company (DCC) is the organisation responsible for linking smart meters with energy suppliers and network operators. They’ve announced plans to enable all SMETS1 meters to communicate through the same network by 2020. This means there’s no need to replace SMETS1 meters. By the end of 2020, they’ll be able to communicate with any supplier.

But for now, you’ll need to enter your meter readings manually. Starting from summer 2019, we’ll contact members with first generation smart meters when we know we can read their meters remotely.

I have an economy 7 meter
We’re not quite ready to start installing economy 7 smart meters. These meters require a different configuration, which we’ve not fully set up yet. We decided to focus on one-rate meters first, rather than juggling two types of meters in these early stages.

If you would like a smart economy 7 smart meter, you’ll need to wait a little longer.

I have a prepayment meter
We’re not currently offering smart prepayment meters. We will start offering smart prepayment meters later in 2019.

If your previous supplier installed a smart prepayment meter, it will loose smart functionality when you switch to Bulb. This means anyone who joins us with a smart prepayment meter will be placed onto a pay monthly agreement.

How to make your smart installation a success
some reasons why the installation might not go ahead as planned. We’ve made a list of things you can check before you book, to help increase the chances of a successful installation:

Check your meters are accessible. This means they’re not behind a panel, wall or cupboard, they’re not more than 8ft (2.5m) above the ground, and they have about 2ft (60cm) of space around them. If we can’t get to your existing meters, we won't be able to install a smart meter just yet.

We also ask where your gas meter is, to make sure that we have the right equipment available to complete the installation.

Check your electricity meter isn't in a metal box. Some meters are stored inside a metal box. This disrupts the signal that enables meters to send readings back to Bulb. If your meter is in a metal box, we won't be able to install a smart meter.

Check your gas and electricity meters are less than 32ft (10m) apart. Smart gas meters can only send their signal a short distance, and they need to be able to talk to your electricity meter to send readings to your Bulb Account. If they’re further apart, we won't be able to install smart meters yet.

Check you can get to your gas boiler easily. The engineer will check your gas supply by turning your gas back on, and re-lighting any pilot lights. If they can’t get to your boiler for the final safety check, they won't be able to install your smart meters.

Check that you have access to the main fuse switch for electricity. This is where you can turn off the electricity supply for your home. If you live in a flat, it could be behind a locked door, so you might need to contact the building manager in advance to ensure you have access on the day.

Check that someone over the age of 18 will be available to stay home for the entire appointment. And that the engineer, who will have heavy equipment, will be able to park close by. The installation itself can take up to 3 hours.

You can read more about what to do to prepare for your smart meter installation on our help centre.

Comments

  • The smart meter is working but our billing system isn’t processing the readings. We’re working on this bug and we’ll be able to send accurate statements shortly.

    Hi Eleanor, I have an elster smart meter that was working previously but no new electricity readings have appeared on my usage page since the 10th April. Is this related to the issue mentioned above? I've noticed delays of a few days previously, but this is approaching a week of no new readings on the usage page.
  • @Eleanor at Bulb

    Can you confirm which of these two is affecting me?
    • The smart meter is working but our billing system isn’t processing the readings. We’re working on this bug and we’ll be able to send accurate statements shortly.
    • The smart meter has not successfully been commissioned. This means the engineer hasn’t been able to connect your meters with the central communications hub. In this case, we’ll be in touch by email to arrange a follow-up appointment with an engineer.
    I've just been told today by support that you've corrected all the bugs with your billing system and are now looking into whether there is a hardware fault with the Landis & Gyr meters or EDMI bridges and I'll need to wait and see what happens.

    My questions
    • What is the exact issue causing you not to receive meter readings? Be as technical as you like
    • Is it affecting only some brands?
    • Is it affecting only some communication technologies like long range radio in Scotland?
    • Why does the EDMI bridge clearly show a working connection and the IHD receive updates (e.g. the recent gas price change) if the DCC to meter comms are not correctly working?
    • Is the half hourly data lost or is it stored somewhere? How much from installation to now will be recoverable?
    • If I had a wifi CAD, would it help? Can you use the data from them yet? (I have the non-wifi version but have been [romised a wifi one will be sent out - still waiting!)
    • How do you intend to compensate customers? I and others would potentially like to switch to the smart tariff and save money but cannot until this is fixed as you arent receiving the data
  • edited April 17
    tkerby said:

    Is the half hourly data lost or is it stored somewhere? How much from installation to now will be recoverable?

    In theory the meter will retain all of this information:
    How much data is stored on a Smart Meter?
    The specification for these Smart Meters requires 13 months worth of consumption data to be stored at the highest level of detail, which is at half hourly measurement intervals.
  • @mowcius the question is whether bulb will manage to pull it through the DCC. I can see it being possible with a WiFi IHD but most existing devices seem to pull live and summary data only
  • edited April 19
    @Eleanor at Bulb
    I had two Smets1 smart meters installed by npower and they could only read them intermittently meaning I had to send readings to them.

    The first time round the gas meter didn’t always send readings so they replaced all their meter equipment and the second lot didn’t always send electricity readings.

    Would I be able to either have a Smets2 meter installed or the Smets1 removed?
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