Couple questions about electric key meters manufactured after 2013

I have been fitted with new meter as the old one stopped working. Now the previous one before ran out of the credit used audible warning so we knew that we running low. This new meter without any beep warning goes itself into 5 Pounds debt and then switch off the electricity (as it should) when runs out debt credit. Now obviously I can see on display what’s going on but it was more convenient as sometimes we can forget to check. It won’t be a big issue but the meter switch the electricity off after all the debt credit use not before. Now imagine this scenario, that your electricity will be shut during the night or bank holiday. With the old one you needed to pull and insert back the key to activate the debt credit. No problem. But this new one already used all the debt credit and you are out of luck. So my questions are:

  1. Is it possible to set it somehow to reenact behaviour of the previous meter or it is a feature of this meter even it is the same type, just this has been manufactured in 2013. The old one was in 2011.

  2. What is the policy for rechecking electric meter as I have suspicion that this new one is eating our credit much faster. The meter correctly applied tariff change in October though.

  3. Does Bulb offering prepay “smart” meters as a step up from “dumb” meter or only smart meters tied to your bank account.

Thanks for your time

Hi @EastLondoner,

Thanks for getting in touch with us about your meter query.

So I was looking into your account to better understand your situation, you have a meter that begins with the letter S and has a H in the middle.

These meters automatically activate your emergency credit if you run out of normal credit on weekends and overnight, this is known as ‘friendly credit’. This is great for people who may have electrical medical equipment that needs to remain on.

So your meter doesn’t sound faulty, but if you do believe that it is eating up credit quickly, there are some tests you can do to check your meter is recording usage correctly.

The first test I would recommend is called a Creep test.

Creep test:

  1. Take a photo of your meter readings
  2. Turn off your electricity at the fuseboard
  3. Wait 10-15 minutes
  4. If the meter readings do increase, recording usage when there shouldn’t be any then chances are there is a fault with the meter and we may need to send out an engineer to check it out.

The second test I can also recommend is a trace test whereby you can hire a private electrician to come to your property to see if there are any appliances draining more electricity then there should be.

We can replace your meter but it would cost you £120 to put in the same as your previous meter (unless your meter is found to be faulty).

Meters are rarely ever faulty though, 93% of all meters tested are deemed to be within statutory limits, I wouldn’t recommend doing a meter accuracy test unless the tests above are performed.

But to answer your third point, yes we do offer smart pay as you go meters! These are free to install, we do need to install them as credit first before changing your tariff over to a prepay tariff.


I think question one would mean having to contact the meter manufacturer and ask them.
Question to is I have key and card meters and us a Geo Minim to read the cycles of the currant used. This is sent to a moniter in my bedroom so I can constantly check the meter without having to go to cupboard downstairs works flawlessly its like having a smart meter except I get the readings and how much I have used.

Geo Minim

Ahh I see you have an answer from Trevor I will butt out now :slight_smile:

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Perfect answer Trevor, that is interesting feature of this meter. Thanks, I learned something and I will definitely perform suggested tests! Now, presumably I would like to go ahead with installation of Smart PAYG, but before I do official request, what is the current time frame during ongoing pandemic approximately?

Yes, I think you have Smart PAYG. This Geo Minim, you bought it separately or is it included with the meter installation?

And I agree with you, Smart PAYG sounds like the best of both worlds. I don’t see much benefits in current SMETS1,2 as it seems that we are still in early adoption and current problems need ironing.

edit: Oh I see, you included Amazon link. Well thanks for inspiration it looks like good investment. :slightly_smiling_face:

Bulb’s Smart PAYG requires one of those SMETS1 or SMETS2 smart meters.


I brought it desperately I found it easy to install and help me with my pre-payment spreadsheets that I made up.

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lol Separately :slight_smile: Must do something about my spell checker lol

Steve thanks for input. So do I understand it correctly that in this case SMETS1,2 can operate in two regimes? One is PAYG and the second is billing monthly, right?

During my request of a new electric key meter, I’ve been offered SMETS, but because of the feedback on this forum regards to SMETS I backed off. It makes sense to me simply to switch to PAYG and cancel monthly billing. So unless the SMETS are locked in one regime or it is super difficult, why people keeping monthly billing when the overall sentiment is pretty bad. Or is it just drop in the sea and majority of the customers are happy and arern’t voicing their positive experience here, which is likely the case?

It is actually super puzzling, because I found information about Smart PAYG on Bulb’s main page after Trevor said that it is possible. It is just very well positioned out of sight. And I could’ve had SMETS installed already, instead I going to request another visit from engineer within few months.

I understand that there is incentive for representatives to push monthly billing but maybe promoting PAYG first and monthly billing second can avoid a lot of struggle on both sides? But hey I am just customer, I don’t have any insight apart of my own guesses.

Woah I thought that I am the biggest stickler on this planet :smile:

That is actually amazing honestly. Is the main purpose transparency between the tenants? As I cannot imagine myself to do this :sweat_smile:

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Yes I have my kids here living with me I have a room to myself they have the run of the house.
Took a few months to work out who was using what electrically wise then I just knocked up the spreadsheets to keep an eye on the meters Electric & Gas they pay half the bill its my daughter and her husband and one grand daughter everything works out well :slight_smile:

It seems to be that way, yes. Given how new Bulb’s Smart PAYG is (it was only launched very recently), I was surprised to read that they reckon to support both SMETS2 and SMETS1 - I’d figured it would be SMETS2 only (since Bulb had waited for SMETS2 before they began installing smart meters themselves), with SMETS1 support “soon” (noting that Bulb have a very different meaning for that word than the rest of us commonly expect :wink:).

Traditionally, prepayment meters meant both a higher standing charge and higher unit rates than for billed meters. So, as well as the inconvenience of having to physically top up the meters, you paid more for your fuel. OTOH, you couldn’t run up a large unexpected bill.

However, I see that Bulb’s standard unit single rate for electricity is actually a smidge lower for PAYG/Smart PAYG (for my postcode at least) right now, although there is still a higher SC (~£25pa more). The E7 rates are trickier - there’s a higher day rate on PAYG (vs billed), but a lower night rate, though the differences are small - the SC is still higher on PAYG though (~£25pa again). Gas has almost identical unit rates, but once again, PAYG has a higher standing charge (~£28pa more than billed).

This implies that single-rate electricity customers with low consumption would be better off being billed (because differences in unit rates are almost irrelevant if your unit consumption is very low, so the lower SC wins out), but for customers with very high electricity usage PAYG probably wins (where the SC premium is outweighed by the unit saving). If you’re on E7, it’s complicated because the unit rates change in different directions, so the balance between day/night usage has to be factored in (meaning there’s not a simple answer). For gas customers, it’s straight-forward - PAYG simply costs ~£28pa more.

Personally, I’ve only ever experienced monthly/quarterly billing and have paid by DD for as long as I can recall. In theory, the DD method allows for annualised smoothing of the cost, though implementations have tended to be somewhat variable - I do remember always having to fight Eon to not slash my DD in late summer (!) nor to raise it sharply in spring (!) as the seasonal gas usage swung up and down (inversely to the temperature). Bulb used to do better at keeping the DD level, but seem to have lost the plot all around of late (which is why I switched away recently).

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Thanks for clearing it up for me. I forgot about different tariffs based on different types of billing. :slightly_smiling_face::+1:

@EastLondoner as far I have heard here on the forum bulb do not operate SMART PAYG yet they change the SMART PAYG MODE TO CREDIT MODE AT THEIR END Best thing you can do is ask someone @bulb admin they will explain it , The Geo Minim was the best route for me until they supply PAYG SMART METERS THAT WORK IN PREPAYMENT MODE. I am using prepayment meters with a key and a card saves me from any bills without me knowing about it.

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Yeah thanks for patience with me guys, I think I finally got it :sweat_smile: so basically Trevor said it at the beginning:

But to answer your third point, yes we do offer smart pay as you go meters! These are free to install, we do need to install them as credit first before changing your tariff over to a prepay tariff.

@EastLondoner I did not know that it must have just happened or they have just activated it if this is the way you intend to go will you keep me updated :slight_smile: and let me know how it works for you.

@cherryp47 Oh definitely, I am proponent of having full control and always will be. I do not need other subjects to do it for me. It is not that I bashing now or not trusting it is just that mistakes happen and then you have to go through all those complaints which really doesn’t helping anyone especially Bulb. I have with them only positive experience but boy was I scared to give them control :sweat_smile:
So I don’t know if that wasn’t possible for technical reasons, but as I dug out it start happening around 2018 for all companies. I wish that Bulb pushing it a little bit more through their campaigns that people are aware of this option. I sent the request already and yeah I let you know, but don’t expect it anytime soon :wink:

You finally managed emojis to work :laughing:

edit: I understand that you will get better tariff with subscription model based but I would rather pay slightly more to have PAYG
And generally this is a good read if you interested, so apparently you will be able still top up your meter via pay points as well:

@EastLondoner What with all the ruckus going on in the forum about the hike in tariff price and DD’s being charged more for winter usage I think I will stay with my pre-pay meters at least I know where I am financially. And the Geo Minim is exactly like a smart meter just does not send readings my key does that every time I top up also the gas card does the same. lol I just like to think I am in control.

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exactly @cherryp47
Hold on so you have classic “dumb” meter? So how can Geo Minim read the data then? :open_mouth:

edit: Oh, I just reading now how it works. I can’t appreciate enough for your involvement in this discussion. Now how is the accuracy? Thank you!

@EastLondoner This is the clever bit the Geo Minim has a clamp that hooks onto the red thick wire coming out of the meter the clamp reads the currant magnetic pulses in the wire it keeps count with thee flashes of the red light.

There is also a battery box connected to the clamp wire that hold four AAA Batteries these keep it going for a full year. The monitor the smart reader screen can be moved to another room the unit with the batteries in sends a signal every time it senses a pulse in the currant going through the thick red wire to the meter. This is what the monitor used to show you how much electricity is being used All you do is put in the right tariffs and scale charge in the settings day date and time and off you go for a full year of readings.

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