Bulb and smart meters

We recently launched our smart tariff test. This is a trial tariff for people with smart meters that can send readings to us every half hour.

Lots of you have asked questions about how and when you’ll be able to get a smart meter. It’s complicated, but we’ve answered the most common questions below. If you’ve not seen it yet, it’s also worth catching up with the backstory.

If you still have a burning question, join the discussion below and we’ll do our very best to answer.

When can I have a smart meter installed?
In short, most Bulb members will have the option to request and book in for a smart installation appointment at the start of 2019. We’ll be contacting everyone about smart meters throughout 2019 and 2020.

What’s happening in the meantime?
We want our members to have the best experience possible with their new smart meters. So we’re starting by testing SMETS2 meters with a portion of the Bulb team. We’re looking for a smooth installation experience regardless of the meter location: a low cupboard, a high wall, a flat or house with thick or thin walls. We’re looking for any recurring problems that we can fix before they reach you. And we want to make sure that we can communicate with the meters themselves in a reliable, secure way.

In December, we’ll be installing smart meters in a small selection of member homes. We’ll select members from our waiting list first, but we’ll filter for members in the locations with well-trained engineers.

So while it’s not an immediate rollout, and we know the wait is frustrating, rest assured that we’re working hard behind the scenes.

Can I be added to the smart trial list?
Yes. Just add your details to this quick form and we’ll be in touch when we start installing smart meters in your area.

Why has there been a delay?
Well documented, industry-wide problems have caused delays in both installation and testing.

In addition, there have been meter signal issues in some areas of the country. Suppliers are able to speak to smart meters through mobile networks. We found that mobile signal was too poor in some areas for smart meters to work. We’re working on this.

Will I get an In-Home-Display with my smart meter?
Yes, all new smart meters will come with an In-home Display (IHD). An IHD shows energy usage in terms of pounds and pence, in real time.

We think making energy use more visible will help people to change their energy habits for the better. It was interesting to see how this visibility coupled with our smart tariff worked for our small group of testers. Find out how they managed to save.

What brand of SMETS 2 meter will I get?
We’ll let you know as soon as we can. We’re not ready to announce the brand just yet, as we are still dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s.

We’ve carefully selected our partners to make sure that the meters are high quality and the In Home Displays (IHDs) are user-friendly.

I already have a smart meter, can you read it?
We’ve partnered with a company able to communicate with about one-third of SMETS1 (first generation) smart meters.

We’ll be contacting anyone who’s meter we can read, starting with members who have applied to join the smart tariff. If we can’t read your SMETS1 meter now, we should be able to read it in the future. There’s a lot of government-mandated work to make SMETS1 data more accessible to energy suppliers. Once second-generation smart meters are up and running, there will also be the option to upgrade.

If you’ve signed up to the smart tariff and have a SMETS1 meter, we’ll be able to check whether we can read it within a couple of days. But in the beta phase of the smart tariff roll out you may need to bear with us while we find out, as we have had a lot of applications to the tariff.

Can I join the smart tariff trial?
Yes! It’s quick and easy to sign up. These are some things you should know:

The smart tariff only applies to electricity because gas costs don’t vary throughout the day in the same way.

The smart tariff is not currently available for prepayment meters. We’re working hard to make smart meters available for our prepayment members but have been facing technical difficulties. No supplier has been able to set up a functioning SMETS2 pay-as-you-go system yet. We want to address these issues as soon as we can.

All other members can apply for the tariff. If you have a smart meter and we can read it every half hour, we will sign you up right away. If we can’t read your smart meter then we will have to work on a fix for this issue.

If you don’t have a smart meter, when you apply for the tariff we will add you to our smart meter waiting list. Once it has been installed, we can automatically move you over to the smart tariff.

Can I access my smart meter data?
We’re making a number of changes to your Bulb Account so that you can view all of your smart meter data. Initially, this will be via charts and insights. Shortly after, we want to make your data available to you (and only you) via a CSV download and an API.

If you’re interested in accessing your data via an API we’d love to hear how and discuss our API design with you. Please get join the discussion below or send an email to hello@bulb.co.uk.

Do you know what make of smart meter (SMETS1) you’ll be able to read?
I’m stuck in a situation with my “Liberty Secure” Smart Meter that didn’t go from “pre-pay to dumb” when I switched to Bulb recently.
Due to (shall we say) “uncooperative” neighbours I can’t be my meter replaced easily.

There is a table on the page below that lists model numbers of SMETS1 meters which it claims will be able to be adopted into the SMETS2 system. Don’t know if this matches up with what Bulb have planned.

Hey @Bill_C and @IKnowNothing - @“Selina at Bulb” will be updating the community what’s happening with smart meters shortly. We’ll be in contact with all our members that have smart meters we can speak to shortly.

@“Eleanor at Bulb” Thanks for the update.
Luckily my meter flicked into Dumb mode a few hours ago so it’s not an urgency now.

Thanks for letting us know @Bill_C

Hello Eleanor,
I live in a brand new building that has been equiped with smart reader + remote wireless remote reader from British Gas.
they seem to be the latest generation.
Would they be compatible with Bulb? If yes i would be happy to be part on the Smart Meter Program.
Many thanks

Hi @Vince. We’ll be able to speak to ~1/3 of SMETS1. At this point, I don’t know if we’ll be able to read yours. If it isn’t then we’ll be able to fit you with a SMETS2. I’ve popped your name on the programme.

@“Eleanor at Bulb”, can you (or anyone else) provide a bit more technical info on why only around 1/3 of SMETS1 meters will be able to be read by yourselves?

@Vince, do you have any details on the exact meter? There’s a very slim possibility that it could be an SMETS2 meter but it is unlikely.

@mowcius - I can!

We use CGI as a third party company to read SMETS1 meters and they’re able to read only around 1/3 of SMETS meters.

The problem is they don’t give us any information which meters they can read. In order to check if a particular meter is compatible, CGI has to enrol that meter and check if they can read it. Usually, it takes 1 to 2 days.

We think we found a better way to check which meters are compatible, but we have to test it.

Hello Eléonore,
How can I check the exact model I have? Serial number?

@Vince - yep. Please send us a picture at help@bulb.co.uk and one of our team with take a look for you :slight_smile:

@“Eleanor at Bulb”, Is this not what is meant to be being fixed in the future or are you (/CGI) never going to be able to get info from those other 66%?

Hey everyone,
I’ve just switched from BG and had a smart meter for about 6 months so guessing it’s a newer one? any way to find out, also does this mean Bulb will be able to read them or do i still need to do manual readings :slight_smile:

@mowcius - suppliers must do all that we can to read SMETS1 smart meters. We are trying to speak to as many SMETS1 as we can but we simply can’t speak to them all.

For the 66% that we can’t read, we’ll need to come and fit you with a new SMETS2 smart meter.

@fellsteruk. Even if it’s a new smart meter, it will be a SMETS1. This means that either we’ll be able to communicate with it despite being the old technology or we’ll need to fit a new SMETS 2 meter. You can read exactly what that means here.

We’ll let you know if and when we can talk to your meter but for now, we’ll need you to give us your meter readings.

thanks makes sense now i’ve read that.

@fellsteruk. Even if it's a new smart meter, it will be a SMETS1.
That's not entirely correct. British Gas and OVO at least have installed some SMETS2 meters. People could be joining Bulb with one now.
@fellsteruk. Even if it's a new smart meter, it will be a SMETS1.
That's not entirely correct. British Gas and OVO at least have installed some SMETS2 meters. People could be joining Bulb with one now.

Ive not had my BG smart meter for long how do i check?

@fellsteruk This is something that we’ll be checking for you. At the moment, we’re having to check one by one. We’ll be in contact with you when we know if we can speak to your meter. It is not so much about the age but the central information system your meter uses.