Broken meter nobody contacting me

Hi All

I contacted Bulb a few days now to say my economy 7 Meter is broken die to it not switching my heater and boiler not coming on overnight. They told me i had to have my meter changed but the one they would change it to would NOT be economy 7, and because of this my heater and boiler would not switch on automatically. I have bee waiting to hear back from them for a few days now and nothing. What is the best way forward.

I have exactly the same problem. My 2 rate economy 7 meter entered ‘fail safe mode’ last September (LCD screen goes blank) and these meters are now defunct. A smart meter will probably not work with economy 7 (don’t think Bulb have them anyway) and a one rate credit meter means you will not benefit from cheap rate electricity at night. I complained to the ombudsman and got a goodwill payment from Bulb but still have no meter six months later. I can only suggest you either wait for a suitable meter or change supplier to someone who caters for prepayment (I assume this is what you have). I will change next month to a supplier who caters for prepayment only (eg Boost). You will probably pay more but you will get a replacement meter. Hope this helps a little!

Why would you assume that? The OP didn’t mention prepayment.

Smart meters work with Economy-7 no problem at all. In fact, they can handle up to 48 different rates changing every half an hour (e.g., Octopus Agile). What they don’t do is have the fifth output terminal to directly control a switched circuit that is timed to be powered only during the off-peak rate. If someone such as the OP needs that, then they have to have their local electrical installation updated by an electrician, at their own cost, to provide the necessary timeswitch and contactor. Then a standard 4-terminal meter can be installed.

Hi I don’t have prepaid meter it has been working fine for the last 3 years since I had the smart meter installed, it has been working fine since I have been with bulb (December 2019) it has only been the last week that it has stopped. Bulb knows there is a problem with the meter they want to change it but it will not be to a economy 7 meter, this is what they have told me

Well considering my meter broke in September and no one from Bulb has ever mentioned a smart meter I think that speaks for itself. They told me to change supplier to a ‘Big Six’ - again self explanatory really. They offered me a credit meter but as the ombudsman decision said they should not do this as I will not have access to cheaper off peak electricity. As I live in a council owned property it is not my responsibility to mess with the fuse box or pay someone to do so. I do have a 5 cable meter, thus the problem.

You would have access to off peak electricity via Economy 7, because smart meters can do Economy 7 with no problem at all. What they can’t do is switch a circuit on and off for you via the 5th terminal. Your local electrical installation needs to be updated so that the switching is done via a separate device, and not require 5 terminal meters that are no longer manufactured.

Agreed. In your situation I would be talking to the council about the problem, because they need to handle the changes to make the electrical installation compatible with modern electricity meters. Lots of people are going to have similar problems and they will need to deal with it sooner or later. The electricity supplier can’t do the work on their own, which is why you’ve hit the stalemate and no one can do anything. Have you reported the faulty meter to the council and informed them of the problem with only 4 terminal meters being manufactured these days?

The clock that switches to the E7 circuit stopped working last November. The meter “jammed” on night rate 24/7. I advised Bulb who said that they can’t replace my set up until they get E7 smart meters. As it stands they’re happy for me to supply night-rate figures until they can effect a replacement. I’m not fussed as I’m being charged the lower rate for ALL my usage. However, as I use very few units during the day, I’m only “saving” around £3-£5 pm. Probably explains why Bulb aren’t too fussed. It would have been a different story had the meter been jammed on day rate!!

I’ve got all the above in writing just in case of any comeback.

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It’s not a matter of “getting” E7 smart meters. As I’ve said above, all smart meters are capable of 48 different rates changing every half an hour. Economy 7 requires only two rates. There is no such thing as specifically “E7 smart meters”. The reason Bulb weren’t installing smart meters for E7 are twofold:

  1. They didn’t have the software in place to handle the remote configuration of the SMETS2 smart meters from the default single rate to dual rate.
  2. Some properties have electrical installations designed to require an externally switched circuit that is powered only during the off peak period. These are typically used to switch on storage heaters of the type that don’t have their own individual timers, and require a meter with a second output making a total of 5 terminals rather than the usual 4.

Problem 1 has largely been resolved. There have been reports on here of Bulb installing smart meters and those meters being correctly remotely configured for dual rate after installation. For properties that don’t require a dedicated off peak switched circuit and have a typical 4 terminal meter, there should be no reason not to replace the meter. There is one caveat to this, which is where a property wants a multi-rate tariff but is in an area with no signal thus making it impossible to remotely configure a smart meter. Unless the supplier is somehow able to preconfigure a meter off site before installation, I don’t see as there is any solution to thus problem yet.

Problem 2 is unlikely to be resolved unless/until manufacturers start making 5 terminal smart meters. Currently the only way out of this problem is for the owner (or the landlord in case of rental) to update the property electrical installation to not require a special meter that no longer exists.

I think in your case @Anton59 you must have a normal 4 terminal meter? Since your meter is stuck on night rate, if you had a switched circuit powered at night that would mean it also would be permanently powered and costing you a fortune. There shouldn’t really be any reason why your meter can’t be replaced now. If Bulb still can’t do it because their smart systems are still rubbish, then another supplier would more than likely be able to do it.

Thanks for your reply. Makes sense!!

I do have a 5-wired meter and, yes the night circuit is permanently on. However, the storage heaters are fairly advanced in that they only charge up according to the demand courtesy of the set timings. They start to charge at midnight and stop when they’ve reached the required charge - always well less than the E7 seven hours. They then don’t draw any further charge until the next midnight.

That may be the answer to getting the meter replaced. The heaters do have some form of timer. Incidentally, it’s the separate clock that’s broken. The meter is fine. As the clock is broken, the meter remains on night rate.

I think that would be the best solution. Get an electrician to change your installation so that the night circuit is permanently powered and then a normal meter can be used.

Of course, I do understand that you have absolutely no incentive to do that while you’re getting cheap electricity, especially with the complications of who is legally allowed to work on different parts of the installation and what needs to be disconnected first by whom before anything can happen. :upside_down_face:

You’ve hit the nail on the head! Given the cost of rewiring the meter, etc against cheap-rate units, guess what I’m opting for?

Hi Jody,

Thanks for posting, I’m Adam an Energy Specialist at Bulb.

I also work closely on our Trustpilot reviews page and believe you’ve emailed me there too with your full account details. I’m going to reply to you there more fully as I might well need a photo of your metering set-up. But if you are without heat then you should also call our emergency line on 0300 303 0635. In the meantime, your meter should have a Boost function that will allow you turn on the heating for an hour at a time. This should help in getting you at least some heating in the short term.

Please keep an eye out for my email and let me know there if you have any further questions.

Thanks,

Adam

Originally I had one meter outside (only adding up night units) and another inside adding up day units. In 2008, Eon replaced the two meters with one dual rate meter inside the flat. I had to play piggy in the middle between the council and the electricity company to get either of them to reconfigure the wiring for the ‘new’ meter. They both kept passing the buck saying that it was the responsibility of the other, so unfortunately I can see the same situation arising again. In April, my wiring and fuse box is due for a ten year safety check up so I might ask their advice.

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