APIs

Have Bulb got (or have plans for) any public APIs (Application Programming Interface) to allow developers to publicly get things like tariff rates and, once authenticated, usage figures for authenticated users?

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@RichyB, this has been discussed and it sounds like they would like to (they now have a Bulb Labs team…) but as of yet it’s not been given a timescale on the Open Roadmap.

I’m interested in your considered use case for unauthenticated tariff rates though. As every energy supplier would have a different API for this and most would most likely not offer it, I can’t think of what you’d do with it.

If the tariff rates could offer a historical lookup facility (i.e. a date range or a single date), it’ll be brilliant for comparing bills: yes, your bill with “rival supplier” during those dates was £xx.xx, with Bulb it would have been Y (so ignore any price rises either company may have done). It’ll also make it easier when Bulb do have a “price correction” (as Bulb’s prices do sometimes go up [once that I’ve seen] as well as down [at least twice]) for people to see how it’ll affect them rather than having a whole bunch of people ask for the different prices per region, VAT and ex VAT prices etc etc.

Just having “current prices” will make interesting things - not just price comparisons, but also “live bill estimates”: I believe that Bulb has to “officially wait” for the “industry regulator” to “approve meter readings” [this could be totally untrue, but various statements have led me to feel this is the case], whereas a developer could easily make an app (or Alexa/Google Home integration) which when given your latest meter reading, it’ll instantly be able to say “Since [last meter date], you used £xx.xx worth of gas - that’s a saving of £YY compared to last week: well done!” or something like that.

I’m sure other suppliers have their tariff information available somewhere - it may be hard to find and may not be accessible via API - but why shouldn’t Bulb be an industry leader (the same way fin-techs like Monzo seemed to introduce “freezing cards” a couple of years ago and now all the banks are introducing similar items).

[Cheers for the indication to the Open Roadmap : I don’t think I was aware of it before now for some reason!]

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Since [last meter date], you used £xx.xx worth of gas - that's a saving of £YY compared to last week: well done!
I'd love to just see this implemented in the Bulb systems as standard. Plenty of energy suppliers take a monthly direct debit and then either bill the account from meter reading to meter reading, or using estimates if you don't submit readings often enough.

The situatiuon where Bulb only uses your readings if they’re close enough to your payment date has always seemed a little odd to me.

No doubt with the smart meter rollout later this year, most of this is unnecessary though as readings will be daily and automatic (by default).

@RichyB and @mowcius great shouts here.

@mowcius just one note, we do use the reads no matter what day of the month a member gives them. It’s just that if they give a read of, say, 1500, on March 05, but their billing period goes to the 15th, we’ll estimate some usage for the period March 05 to March 15. (Agreed that this won’t be much of a thing once the member in question has a smart meter.)

Regarding the insta-update on meter readings, this is another idea on the vaunted roadmap. :slight_smile:

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@mowcius just one note, we do use the reads no matter what day of the month a member gives them.
Ahh yes, I should have been clearer in my comment. They make the estimates on your bills more accurate, but they're not used directly in calculating your bills.

@RichyB - hello, I run Bulb Labs, so I’m really interested in your use case here. Providing our tariff information over an API is something I’d not considered, but is a great idea! We’ll let you know as our thinking develops around this…

Hi,

I would be interested in this, I’m not a bulb customer but thinking about it. My computer systems read my meters every 10 seconds and have the ability to report. Up till now I have normally used scripts that either pretend to be a web browser or send an email weekly.

I prefer email as it allows me to state that its an automatic reading.

It would be great if it was possible to submit these readings automatically using an API or even be able to setup a webhook that will reply with a JSON document with current readings and I would definitely use bulb if this was possible.

And yes, I know ‘smart’ meters have this functionality, however, they rely on (and are limited by) the providers systems to give that information back to you and you don’t normally get as much detailed information.

I’m also not too fussed on the contractor being sat on my line or the RF source I don’t control.

Does this sound like it could be a reality soon?

Thanks,

Matt.

Hey @matt01 - I’ve sent this over to TomT as I’m sure he’ll be able to give you a far better answer than I could! And your ideas will be super useful for him to hear :slight_smile:

And yes, I know 'smart' meters have this functionality, however, they rely on (and are limited by) the providers systems to give that information back to you and you don't normally get as much detailed information.
SMETS2 meters running Zigbee SE1.2 can (at least in theory) connect to all sorts of devices that should be able to give you your meter information locally rather than relying on your supplier's systems.

Something like the Prescience Mira might be interesting to you: https://presciense.com/gateways/mira

@mowcius that is all way over my head in terms of software/api’s. If you find anything useful let us know! Maybe we can release some smart tools, all pun intended, that can innovate the way we manage our energy.

And yes, I know 'smart' meters have this functionality, however, they rely on (and are limited by) the providers systems to give that information back to you and you don't normally get as much detailed information.
SMETS2 meters running Zigbee SE1.2 can (at least in theory) connect to all sorts of devices that should be able to give you your meter information locally rather than relying on your supplier's systems.

Something like the Prescience Mira might be interesting to you: https://presciense.com/gateways/mira

Hi,

Looks interesting, I have just been looking at some company’s device that does ‘auto switching’ by using a device that connects to smart meters but they are saying about ‘Pairing Requests’ and its looking like providers would have to accept pairing requests for devices. I’m not sure if this is using the Zigbee protocols or something else but it feels like an unnecessary complication to me. It also seems like a lot of providers will have the ability to refuse a pairing requests for devices they either, don’t like, don’t have a financial interest in or are ‘custom built’ (because, you know, security) also I would of thought already paired devices will de-pair on a provider switch.

https://kb.thelabrador.co.uk/troubleshooting/how-do-i-install-the-labrador-retriever-device

What do you think?

Also, still not comfy with the contractor I don’t control in the line, at the moment it takes lots of money, time and a court involvement to cut a line where as with a ‘smart meter’ you just send it a message.

I have had a situation where the provider estimated a meter reading above what it was and when I corrected it their system assumed the meter had gone around the clock past 0 and attempted to bill me 30k for the years usage. This was resolved by me freezing finance and giving them as long as they need to sort it out. When it was sorted I paid for the actual usage. If I had a smart meter I could just see their system’s logic seeing that the 30k bill hasn’t been paid and cutting the line automatically, making it my problem again.

Maybe not now, but give it a few years.

Thanks,

Matt.

attempted to bill me 30k for the years usage

I should also quickly say, that wasn’t Bulb, it was another provider. :slight_smile:

@matt01, there are certain procedures energy providers have to go through to even think about cutting people off (at least right now) but I understand your concerns.

There’s a reason why I’m with Bulb though. I trust them to approve any pairing of devices to the Smart Meter and I also trust them to be generally decent people if I ever have any issues.

As I understand it though, the pairing setup is going to be a little different and a little more flexible with the new smart meters. I believe the device you linked is designed to work with current 1st generation meters, rather than SMETS2 meters.

Hi,

I would be interested in this, I’m not a bulb customer but thinking about it. My computer systems read my meters every 10 seconds and have the ability to report. Up till now I have normally used scripts that either pretend to be a web browser or send an email weekly.

I prefer email as it allows me to state that its an automatic reading.

It would be great if it was possible to submit these readings automatically using an API or even be able to setup a webhook that will reply with a JSON document with current readings and I would definitely use bulb if this was possible.

And yes, I know ‘smart’ meters have this functionality, however, they rely on (and are limited by) the providers systems to give that information back to you and you don’t normally get as much detailed information.

I’m also not too fussed on the contractor being sat on my line or the RF source I don’t control.

Does this sound like it could be a reality soon?

Thanks,

Matt.

Digging up an older thread here!

I would also be interested in a way that I’d be able to programatically submit meter readings. A ‘proper’ API would be ideal, however even if this is just with a simple POST request to an endpoint that will allow the bare minimum of information (an example might be a pre-defined token on a per account basis, the meter number or type? and the new reading) would be acceptable.

I’m not sure on the specifics of matt01’s system but I run something that sounds like it might be quite similar. My electricity meter’s pulse led triggers an interrupt on a micro controller (in my case a ESP8266) which then in turn publishes an update to a home automation system in the house (MQTT is used as the transport). This allows me to generate graphs at very granular precision (as the meter is 1 pulse per watt hour). Being able to take this data and submit it frequently would give me the same experience as a smart meter, without some of the other headaches associated with it (my major concern is around inductive / capacitive loads and the difference in billing cause by the difference in Reactive and Actual power, but thats another conversation for another time :smile: ).

My Gas meter is similar, but its on a lower precision due to it being an analogue meter, and relying on the ‘hall effect’ rather than a flash, but with a very similar outcome.

Whilst there can be a slight variance with the actual meter reading, this is usually within sub unit numbers (eg, my electricity reading has never been more than 100WH different to the meter (i suspect its lower, but my meter only shows it to 1 decimal point precision), and the gas is 0.01m^3, both of which I’d probably be able to put down to battery replacement!

I’d be very interested in if there is any appetite for having an API (or simple page) implemented like this, as it would allow me to rid my self of my frequent meter reads!

I'd be very interested in if there is any appetite for having an API (or simple page) implemented like this, as it would allow me to rid my self of my frequent meter reads!

The only API discussion is here, and it’s related to extracting smart meter data from Bulb. I’ve not seen any discussion on an API for data going to Bulb, and I doubt there ever will be given the development time required and the handful of customers that would make use of it.

The only way to rid yourself of frequent meter reads is to get a smart meter, I’m afraid.

Hi TomT_at_Bulb. Are you still around? I’m a geek and had my smart meters fitted today (January 2020) . I (stupidly) thought that I would get access to my own data, but seems not to be the case. Has anything further developed since this thread was last visited? I’d likean API call that just gives me my own meter readings…

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Still no progress on this yet. But there are more and more of us asking to export our data, as is our right to do so. I currently have an automated email firing off on the 1st of every month asking for last months data to be exported. Bulb have managed to give me the 12 months of half hourly average power use for my first year on the smart tariff, albeit it with some bits missing where the connection must have failed. I suggest everyone start doing this so that the demand for data access is clear.

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Hi @turbotas

There was a user - @solarspider1 who posted on here a few months back that he’d used SmartThings Energy Control to obtain his “raw” meter readings. It’s a partnership with Bulb which provides per-minute electric meter readings and per 30 min gas meter readings to your smartphone…

Don’t mean to bust your bubble but my understanding that unfortunately Zigbee SE1.2 (Used by our wonderful SMETS1 & 2 ) meters and Zigbee HA (Home Automation) profiles are quite different and (I understand) not interoperable - have a look at - https://people.ece.cornell.edu/land/courses/ece4760/FinalProjects/s2011/kjb79_ajm232/pmeter/Zigbee%20Smart%20Energy%20Profile%20Specification.pdf
True they rely on a similar underlying Zigbee network transport layer but are quite different from a Security perspective because it was designed to support features such as in home payment mechanisms and protect the data flowing through them.

Most HA devices don’t support SE capabilities and the meters (I understand ) are restricted from support HA profile in the specifications from the UK Government - On device direct access data ports are also disabled for security (unlike in some Nordic countries).