Smart Meter consumer access devices — Bulb Community

Smart Meter consumer access devices

edited July 2018 in About Bulb
Hi Bulb! Can you tell me if your smart meters allow the connection of additional CAD (consumer access devices) such as: https://shop.glowmarkt.com/products/glow-cad-for-smart-meters

I understand that this is permitted as it's my usage data and I would like to record it for my own purposes.
If I purchased this device would it be easy to connect up to your SMETS 2 meters?

Thanks!

Comments

  • Hey @garethp - we're going to be trialling CADs that will be paired at install, but I'm not too sure on the possibility of remote pairing a CAD yet. I've asked one of our SMETS2 pros to look into it and I'll get back to you with an update as soon as I hear back :)
  • edited November 2018
    Any update on this? I'd very much like something the OP has listed to obtain real time usage information on my local network, particularly since I'm now trialling the new Bulb Smart Tariff beta. It is listed as compatible with my Elster meters.
  • I know Bulb are looking at API options for smart meters (see https://community.bulb.co.uk/discussion/comment/22902/#Comment_22902 ) which might be easier to integrate with (using standard HTTPs calls) than having to integrate with Zigbee.

    But the Glow Zigbee device does *look* like it will work - it might worth dropping Glow an email using their 'contact us' page giving your meter model details and asking if the supplier needs to do anything and, if they don't, whether you will be able to just return the device if it can't pair. If it needs supplier setup/configuration, it should be disclosed on the product page in my opinion (as it'll be a compatibility issue) and the fact it doesn't mention it to me implies it should work 'out of the box'.
  • edited November 2018
    AFAIK, all CADs need to be paired to the smart meter by your supplier. Typically you give them the required device pairing details and they enable it.

    The DECC's info on smart meters has always advertised that the public can connect their own devices to smart meters:
    Accessing data via the Home Area Network
    Smart Meters will establish a wireless ‘Home Area Network’ in a consumer’s home. This will be a local ZigBee wireless network (the SM HAN) which gas and electricity smart meters and in-home displays will use to exchange data. Consumers will also be able to pair other devices that operate the ZigBee Smart Energy Profile (SEP) to this network; such devices are typically known as Consumer Access Devices (CADs).
    (page 3.)
    I know Bulb are looking at API options for smart meters (see https://community.bulb.co.uk/discussion/comment/22902/#Comment_22902 ) which might be easier to integrate with (using standard HTTPs calls) than having to integrate with Zigbee.
    The issue with this is there'll likely be rate limits and it's not going to be an instantaneous read. For historical data it'll be fine, but for current/recent data it's not such an ideal solution.
  • edited November 2018
    There's been some fun discussion on the OVO forums about connection and after a load of CS rubbish, they did get their CAD paired.

    https://forum.ovoenergy.com/smart-meter-compatibility-67/can-i-connect-a-cad-to-my-smart-meters-if-ovo-open-the-home-area-network-han-1102
  • edited November 2018
    RichyB said:

    I know Bulb are looking at API options for smart meters (see https://community.bulb.co.uk/discussion/comment/22902/#Comment_22902 ) which might be easier to integrate with (using standard HTTPs calls) than having to integrate with Zigbee.

    That, at best, only gives you the half-hourly data, not the quasi-realtime data available direct from the meter.
    RichyB said:

    But the Glow Zigbee device does *look* like it will work - it might worth dropping Glow an email using their 'contact us' page giving your meter model details and asking if the supplier needs to do anything and, if they don't, whether you will be able to just return the device if it can't pair. If it needs supplier setup/configuration, it should be disclosed on the product page in my opinion (as it'll be a compatibility issue) and the fact it doesn't mention it to me implies it should work 'out of the box'.

    I've done just that, and got a quick reply. In fact, it's possibly the best most comprehensive reply from any company ever. Most impressed.

    I don't want to post the whole reply on here, but in summary, yes it will work with my Elster meters guaranteed. As @mowcius says it has to be paired by the supplier once you've provided them with the device details. Hildebrand (Glow) says that some suppliers have been very helpful, some have been very resistant. The supplier has an obligation to support customers with this under license obligations 49.4(d) & (e) Standard conditions of electricity supply licence (Electricity Act 1989).

    I've emailed Bulb to start a dialogue with them about pairing a CAD.
  • Hooloovoo said:

    I've emailed Bulb to start a dialogue with them about pairing a CAD.

    I look forward to hearing how you get on.

    I suspect you might be the first person to ask so it might take them a while to sort the process out.

  • mowcius said:

    There's been some fun discussion on the OVO forums about connection and after a load of CS rubbish, they did get their CAD paired.

    https://forum.ovoenergy.com/smart-meter-compatibility-67/can-i-connect-a-cad-to-my-smart-meters-if-ovo-open-the-home-area-network-han-1102

    That was the thread I read this morning that started all this off :-)
  • Quick update on this:

    It turns out the Glow CAD cannot work offline. The API that Hildebrand make available is purely for getting the data back out after they have stored it. This means that it can't work without an internet connection, and most importantly it will become a brick if/when they cease to support the services. That's a deal breaker. I just want an Ethernet-Zigbee bridge device that lets me access the realtime data.

    What are the chances of Hildebrand dropping the services? Well they currently run energyhive. They are no longer promoting or selling energyhive-compatible hardware, or making improvements to the existing services. They are shifting from energyhive to their new ecosystem called Glow. How long will it be before they decide Glow needs to be deprecated for another new ecosystem?

    Not only that, but the web dashboard that is mentioned on the CAD page of the Glow shop, linked above, is still under development. Odd they don't mention that in the sales blurb before you purchase isn't it? The new app is called "Bright" and can apparently be found on the Play store, but they couldn't be bothered to give me a direct link. I wonder if any of them have ever tried searching for "Glow" or "Bright" on the Play store? Go on. Give it a try. I'll wait. Did you find it? Because it beats me.

    How disappointing.

    With a bit of luck the Open Energy Monitor people will be able to get something working before long. I've used Zigbee before and it's simple enough. The only real difficulty is getting a device certified to be allowed on the HAN.
  • @Hooloovoo, that is disappointing. Have you looked at the Prescience Mira?

    Admittedly I don't know what data can easily be extracted from it but as it runs on OpenWRT, it might be simple enough to get.

    I also have no idea if an end user can simply buy one or if you have to be an energy supplier. The talk of fully branded apps makes me think it might be the latter.
  • mowcius said:

    @Hooloovoo, that is disappointing. Have you looked at the Prescience Mira?

    No, I hadn't heard of that one. I will make enquiries!

    I suspect since all these devices are intended to be used with a mobile app, that they all require data upload to the cloud. I don't necessarily object to that, I just want to also be able to log data locally offline to ensure continued service long after the manufacturer has got bored of supplying online facilities.

    Since it runs on OpenWRT that's very promising indeed.



  • Look at that. "Local API integration" and "External API integration". Yes! That's what we want. This looks brilliant. I wonder how they intend to sell it since as you say it looks intended to be branded to a supplier of some sort. Anyway, I've sent them an email.
  • Let me know how you get on!
  • mowcius said:

    Let me know how you get on!

    @mowcius I did get a reply, but not a very good one. They said that the devices are not available for retail, and even if they were given it's very difficult to pair a third-party device on the HAN that it likely would never work.

    They did confirm that their devices are P2P, meaning all communication between the app and the CAD occurs on the local network ensuring better continuity and availability than purely cloud-based devices. The internet services are only used for remote access.

    They said the best bet to acquire one of their devices is to speak to my supplier and ask them to consider a trial of their products. Any thoughts on this @SamC at Bulb @Eleanor at Bulb @Selina at Bulb @Daniel at Bulb ??
  • @Hooloovoo, good news on the p2p side of things, not such good news on the availability side of things.
    It's not *very difficult* to pair a third party device though, it's the same process as connecting up an IHD or a gas meter to your Zibgee SE HAN communications hub. I imagine that Prescience devices have been whitelisted by most SMETS1/SMETS2 manufacturers (as there aren't all that many), if they have any supplier customers at all, and then the specific device can be paired via a discussion with Bulb themselves.

    I would be extremely interested in getting hold of a Mira for a trial when I get a smart meter if that's something Bulb might consider?
    I know a number of devices have been trialled in the past - perhaps alternative CADs could be something for the future.

    I could definitely see Bulb being the supplier of choice for anyone vaguely techy if they allow connection of and can supply an ethernet gateway device.
    It's all well and good having an online API, but it's nowhere near as good as being able to extract (almost) instantaneous data immediately from the meter itself.
  • mowcius said:

    then the specific device can be paired via a discussion with Bulb themselves.

    I think this is the "very difficult" part. Not the technical aspect, but the willingness of the supplier to do it. Recall the trouble that guy had with OVO, but he did eventually get it paired.
    mowcius said:

    It's all well and good having an online API, but it's nowhere near as good as being able to extract (almost) instantaneous data immediately from the meter itself.

    The key thing for me is access to the 10s cadence electrical data. Even when Bulb have their API working it'll only be the 30 minute data that gets uploaded.
  • Hooloovoo said:

    I think this is the "very difficult" part. Not the technical aspect, but the willingness of the supplier to do it. Recall the trouble that guy had with OVO, but he did eventually get it paired.

    The suppliers don't really have much of a choice in the matter. They pretty much have to pair it if it's a certified device.
    I'm sure Bulb will be fine for that part (once they've figured out the process).
  • mowcius said:

    will be fine for that part (once they've figured out the process).

    Again ... I think often this will be the "very difficult" part rather than any particular stubbornness. You're right it's in one of the terms of their supplier license that they have to assist with getting devices paired, but that doesn't mean they (or any supplier) will be able to do it any time soon.
  • Going back to this, Hildebrand appear to have an SMETS2 device now (although the store doesn't yet list it).

    https://www.hildebrand.co.uk/our-products/hub/

    This thread is also quite good:

    https://community.openenergymonitor.org/t/a-taste-of-things-to-come-uk-smart-meter-data-access/4820?page=2
  • edited February 14
    mowcius said:

    Going back to this, Hildebrand appear to have an SMETS2 device now (although the store doesn't yet list it).
    https://www.hildebrand.co.uk/our-products/hub/

    They've always had that, and I think they've always stated SMETS1 and SMETS2 compatibility. What's available to buy on the store is a bit odd and they keep changing things. You'll see that the CAD is now a WiFi USB stick, rather than an ethernet device with a separate power supply. I suppose most people prefer this. I don't I'd rather keep stuff that doesn't move wired and leave the WiFi bands free for stuff that actually moves around - basically phones, tablets, and laptops.

    I've given up on Glow/Hildebrand now. I umm'ed and ahh'ed over Christmas and new year, and eventually decided to buy one given the lack of any other options. Then I found out they'd scrapped the ethernet version and it was now WiFi only. They did have a few ethernet units left they could have sent but once those were gone they weren't making any more, so if it failed under warranty I doubt I'd have been able to get another wired unit.

    I asked about the USB connection and Hildebrand confirmed it is for power only, and they've now added a note on the shop page to that effect. What a shame! They could have written out data locally over that. For anyone that doesn't care it would make no difference, and those that do could have used it. When I asked they said it was an explicit decision to do it that way and not allow local capture. Basically they are only interested in forcing cloud usage in order to obtain your power usage data, so they can anonymise and monetise it. As opposed to first and foremost making a device that serves the customer's needs. Something has to pay for the servers. I don't necessarily object to my data going to a cloud service, but it needs to be optional. I absolutely need that data locally as well so that the device continues to work when the cloud services are unavailable, and that should be the default mode of operation.

    I've put this project to bed for awhile now. I'll watch how the technology develops and try again when more products become available.
    mowcius said:
    Yes I've been following that :)
  • I've ordered the latest Hildebrand device and working with them to persuade Bulb to connect it. My only concern at the moment is their API is limited - it's usage and cost for each meter only. I'd really like access to the more detailed register level data to understand my power factor, line voltage and other measurements that the meter does. Logging that should give me some ability to learn which appliances were switched on and what energy they are using. I'd also like to know the NCF and CV values for gas that are fed to the meter
  • edited February 19
    tkerby said:

    I've ordered the latest Hildebrand device and working with them to persuade Bulb to connect it. My only concern at the moment is their API is limited - it's usage and cost for each meter only. I'd really like access to the more detailed register level data to understand my power factor, line voltage and other measurements that the meter does. Logging that should give me some ability to learn which appliances were switched on and what energy they are using. I'd also like to know the NCF and CV values for gas that are fed to the meter

    Thanks for the info! Good to know someone else is trying this. Please do keep us updated.

    What you've said was one of my concerns. I want access to everything the meter can log. I don't need a fancy cloud API or anything like that. Just give me all the data written out over the local network. Ability to have the CAD publish over MQTT, even better.
  • Support team in the app have been keen to help but are getting very confused about the difference between the IHD and using your own CAD. The direct contact for smart metering is smart@bulb.co.uk if anyone needs it. Archie at Hildebrand has been incredibly helpful - promise of a refund if we can't get the connection up too!

    For info, Bulb installed Landis & Gyr E470 Type 5394 with an EDMI Standard 420 comms hub. The gas meter is a Landis & Gyr G470 672. Interestingly the E470 looks nothing like the pictures online. Install went well but they had to manually push the connection as the Long Range Radio in Scotland seems to be seen by the meters as a fallback mode when its the primary connection type. The IHD only connected to electricity initially, then after resetting the settings and forcing the meter to reconnect the HAN it only connected to gas. Second reset on the IHD and reconnect on both meters and they both appeared.

    The gas meter is very slow to commission - engineer left before it did which would allow a customer to abort and enter the engineering menus.
  • @tkerby, interesting that they're installing the E470 in Scotland. The comms hub you've got is the same as what I have on my EDMI ES-10A though.

    I've also seen pictures of the E470 but they didn't appear to be SMETS2 (based on the look alone - would not fit a comms hub). Can you post a picture of how your installation looks? (perhaps on this thread)
  • edited February 20
    tkerby said:

    I've ordered the latest Hildebrand device and working with them to persuade Bulb to connect it.

    I've had a reply about attaching a new CAD to my meter. Basically for my current SMETS1 meter is is too complicated and too much effort to attempt for just one person. That's fair enough and pretty much what I expected. When the meter is SMETS2ified and enrolled in the DCC it'll be much easier for Bulb to add another CAD. Hopefully there'll be a product available by then that works via local P2P unlike the Hildebrand device.
  • Don’t forget they have a legal obligation to make this connection under their supplier license even if the meter is SMETS1
  • mowcius said:

    Can you post a picture of how your installation looks? (perhaps on this thread)




  • tkerby said:

    Don’t forget they have a legal obligation to make this connection under their supplier license even if the meter is SMETS1

    Thanks. Yes I could start on the legals with Bulb, but given that there isn't a CAD available that I actually want to purchase yet (the Hildebrand Glow CAD is no good) it doesn't seem worth the effort yet. Likely my meter will be enrolled in the DCC and the SMETS1 problem will go away before I even get a CAD.
  • I’ve had a chat with the smart team directly by phone and found some interesting things.
    1 - All new smart meters are set to monthly readings at the moment so most wont update for a while after install. They’re trying to process my request for half hourly andnunderstand I need that data to work out if the smart tariff is cheaper
    2 - The energy display in the portal isn’t working at the moment as they’re working on a new solution for the meters they’ve installed. Should be online in the next few weeks. The database has been updated last week for this. They’ll have historical readings to show but probably only monthly.
    3 - No problem pairing the CAD but they’ll need to action this and that could take a bit of time. Their intention was to provide some sort of in home pairing method or local gateway but it looks like the meters don’t currently support this. At the moment it’s going to be a phone process and they’ll consider a web form. They know they are obliged to pair these devices.
  • tkerby said:

    1 - All new smart meters are set to monthly readings at the moment so most wont update for a while after install. They’re trying to process my request for half hourly andnunderstand I need that data to work out if the smart tariff is cheaper

    Assuming the meter has been configured for the three different rates, you should be able to get this info directly from the meter. Mine cycles through R01, R02, R03 which can be written down and logged in the same way as simply R01. Even if the meter only sent data monthly the three rate billing would still work, because it's simply based on the three registers. Half hourly billing isn't essential. On my Bulb dashboard under "energy use" I can see daily readings being logged, and from this I can make tariff comparisons. I don't know if Bulb are logging half-hourly internally.
    tkerby said:

    2 - The energy display in the portal isn’t working at the moment as they’re working on a new solution for the meters they’ve installed. Should be online in the next few weeks. The database has been updated last week for this. They’ll have historical readings to show but probably only monthly.

    Not sure if you're referring to a different portal, but again under "energy use" I'm already seeing a graph showing daily usage.


  • I think that’s all working as you have SMETS1. The data for the new meters needs some changes.

    You won’t get the three rates configured on the meter until you switch to the smart tariff. I’d like to understand whether to switch to that tariff before I switch across.
  • tkerby said:

    I think that’s all working as you have SMETS1. The data for the new meters needs some changes.

    Amazing there is so much difference between the protocols. I wouldn't have expected Bulb to bother getting the energy display working for SMETS1 if it wasn't going to also work with SMETS2.
    tkerby said:

    You won’t get the three rates configured on the meter until you switch to the smart tariff. I’d like to understand whether to switch to that tariff before I switch across.

    Understood. I just took a risk and gave it a try :)
  • Hooloovoo said:


    Amazing there is so much difference between the protocols. I wouldn't have expected Bulb to bother getting the energy display working for SMETS1 if it wasn't going to also work with SMETS2.

    From the sound of it, it's probably to do with how it arrives from DCC. Those of us receiving Bulb smart meters are still considered to be on a pilot scheme apparently!

  • tkerby said:

    From the sound of it, it's probably to do with how it arrives from DCC.

    Surely it's a day of work at most to write a function that maps the data from the DCC and outputs it in whatever format is wanted by their energy display functions. I wish they would concentrate on getting a public API working first, that way we could just get the data and do whatever local analysis we wanted.
  • I would have thought so! I'd love to see an API too. I'm hoping that a meter read also includes the additional registers including real and reactive power. I'd love to look at power factor, mains voltage and frequency etc. Currently, the Glow doesn't grab those either
  • tkerby said:

    I would have thought so! I'd love to see an API too. I'm hoping that a meter read also includes the additional registers including real and reactive power. I'd love to look at power factor, mains voltage and frequency etc. Currently, the Glow doesn't grab those either

    Same here. The simplest way to start would seem to be enabling a way to just download whatever raw data is available as they get it from the DCC. Time can be spent on filtering some of the data and making a more user friendly API later. Just give us the raw stuff and let us play with it.
  • They have said they're willing to email it on request. Not much of an API but I might send them a quarterly request to pull the whole file
  • tkerby said:

    They have said they're willing to email it on request. Not much of an API but I might send them a quarterly request to pull the whole file

    Great! Yeah that's what I was thinking to begin with. Just a data dump once a month/quarter. I wonder if they can do that with my SMETS1 data already.
  • I presume so. This was the note from support
  • edited March 1
    tkerby said:

    I presume so. This was the note from support

    @tkerby I asked about getting a data dump from my meter. Now I know I keep asking complicated and technical questions, but I have to say I'm finding the customer support from Bulb rather poor lately. I either get no reply, or at best a reply that says they'll ask and get back to me but never do.

    I went on Live Chat on Monday February 25 and talked to Pollyanna. She didn't know the answer, which is fine and expected, and she said she'd drop me an email once she'd found out. I didn't get anything back after that, so I followed up this morning with another email asking if there was any news and have received a reply this afternoon from Lydia saying sorry for the wait and asking if I still need help. Well, yes, obviously otherwise I wouldn't have asked?!

    So as yet I'm no wiser about obtaining data.
  • Hooloovoo said:

    I went on Live Chat on Monday February 25 and talked to Pollyanna. She didn't know the answer, which is fine and expected, and she said she'd drop me an email once she'd found out. I didn't get anything back after that, so I followed up this morning with another email asking if there was any news and have received a reply this afternoon from Lydia saying sorry for the wait and asking if I still need help. Well, yes, obviously otherwise I wouldn't have asked?!

    Lydia said on March 1 that someone from the smart team would get back to me on Monday (i.e., March 4) ... that was over a week ago now.

    I get the impression Bulb are massively overwhelmed in terms of smart meter development.
  • Absolutely. I keep getting notes apologising for not getting back to me and dates I’m being given are slipping. For instance it should have been last week that we could turn on half hour meter readings ourselves in the portal but that’s now been delayed three weeks.

    The best person to speak to is Charlie in the smart meter team who has been really helpful although it seems his management are often slow to reply. If you use the phone number in your installation emails to cancel the install then that gets you directly through to them. I won’t post it here as they’re trying to limit the volume of calls.
  • I've just tried emailing the smart@bulb.co.uk address you posted earlier.

    Right now it's difficult enough to get past front line support, who skim read a technical question and send an unrelated (and often completely incorrect) reply. The best one I've had so far was telling me they can't read my meter yet but might be able to do so by the end of the year. They clearly didn't even read the part where I said I'm already on the smart tariff and ... sigh ....
  • Hooloovoo said:

    I've just tried emailing the smart@bulb.co.uk address you posted earlier.

    I see in the Zendesk portal that my message to that address has been directly assigned to @Selina at Bulb who I know works in the smart team. So that does indeed look like the best way of making smart meter related queries.
  • edited March 12
    I think Selina might be a little snowed under right now with issues as I've not had a response for 3 weeks from my direct email, and the email I sent to smart@bulb.co.uk more recently has also been assigned to her with no response yet.
  • mowcius said:

    I think Selina might be a little snowed under right now with issues as I've not had a response for 3 weeks from my direct email, and the email I sent to smart@bulb.co.uk more recently has also been assigned to her with no response yet.

    Yes. I think they need to employ rather more staff!
  • tkerby said:

    The best person to speak to is Charlie in the smart meter team who has been really helpful although it seems his management are often slow to reply. If you use the phone number in your installation emails to cancel the install then that gets you directly through to them. I won’t post it here as they’re trying to limit the volume of calls.

    I've heard back from Charlie.

    He says a data dump by email is not possible due to the early days of the meter rollout. They have been thinking about how to get data to any customer that asks for it, and I should check back in a couple of months as they might well be able to do it by then.

    So as ever there is a disconnect between what front line support are telling people and what is actually possible.

    I know they have rather more urgent things on their plate right now, but some consistency would be nice.
  • I heard back from him yesterday too. Told that I’ve been switched to half hourly meter readings but I won’t be able to see what they are for a while as they have no way to display readings on the dashboard. That means I’m getting a monthly estimated reading at the moment rather than the actual meter data.
  • edited March 16
    tkerby said:

    I heard back from him yesterday too. Told that I’ve been switched to half hourly meter readings but I won’t be able to see what they are for a while as they have no way to display readings on the dashboard. That means I’m getting a monthly estimated reading at the moment rather than the actual meter data.

    Yes, I don't see the half-hourly readings on the dashboard but I do get a daily total reading added for each of the three rates. As you say - SMETS1 devices are getting a little better service right now. The gas reading is rather intermittent though, I often go two or three days between gas readings showing up even though electric is added every day.

    I've written a little Python script that takes a cut-and-paste of the daily data from the dashboard and formats it into something more useful. It's not ideal obviously but at least I can grab a month or so of daily data at a time. At the moment I just do that once a month at the same time as downloading my PDF statement.
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