Energy providers, CAD devices and manufacturers

Like I suspect a fair proportion of the users of these forums I am a dedicated techie and I have worked in the IT industry for many years. I have been looking at the use of SMETS meters and how they would benefit me as a customer.

I would firstly say that I am quite impressed with what I have discovered in that whilst SMETS is arguably currently being false advertised as a way for customers to save on energy costs the technology has been designed in a way that should eventually help achieve this and in a way that is I feel very forward thinking - especially for anything that involves the Government. Sadly politicians and to a lesser extent the relevant bodies have an appalling reputation for a almost total lack of technical/scientific literacy so this has been a big and pleasant surprise.

Sadly so far the energy industry and even more bizarrely the manufacturers of the relevant devices are proving a major obstacle. In the case of the energy providers this seems to be a mixture of ignorance - perhaps only by senior management, and perhaps laziness. However I cannot understand why the device manufacturers are also proving so much of an obstacle. The obstacles being created by the energy providers and device makers are having the affect of preventing the forward thinking goals built in to the smart meter design and for example would prevent the possibility of using this data to intelligently schedule the use of energy consuming appliances to operate at cheaper, lower energy demand times of day. One of the forward thinking goals is for appliances like washing machines to be able to directly link to the same HAN - Home Area Network used by the smart meters so the washing machine could do this itself. I get the impression Bosch amongst others is exploring this.

(To have access to near real time energy usage data you need a CAD - Consumer Access Device, this can query your meters as frequently as every ten seconds compared to at most every 30 minutes using your energy providers web portal system.)

In theory if one had a CAD and linked it a smart home platform then one could use smart plugs to provide a similar interim way of scheduling appliances intelligently. Indeed to a very small extent this is what Bulb’s link to Samsung Smartthings would hopefully lead to.

There are now (allegedly) a number of CAD devices available. However every single one I have found so far seems deliberately to be locked down so you can only access your data via the device makers web portal rather than locally from the CAD device. This not only might limit the data you can access unnecessarily but also means you are affected by any Internet outages.

Worse still it seems nearly every single one of these CAD devices with one exception can only be acquired via your energy provider, for example the Chameleon IHD used by Bulb (and others energy providers) only sells their products to the energy providers and this includes the version with built-in CAD module. This seems a particularly stupid decision by the manufacturers and indeed in some cases one wonder how they expect to sell their CAD products at all since the energy providers are exhibiting zero interest in this - even if end users like myself and others are.

It should be noted that it is perfectly legal for a customer to buy a certified CAD and a regulatory requirement that energy providers connect it to your smart meters.

Now whilst Bulb are not perfect I would have to rate them as above average in terms of helping their customers in this area. See my earlier comment about Blub linking to Samsung Smartthings.

Has anyone yet found a UK available and certified CAD that supports local access without having to download it back from the device makers cloud service? (Data goes from the SMETS meters to the CAD to the cloud and you then have to download it back from the cloud to your home.)

What CAD devices can be purchased directly by end users? (The only one I found so far is Hildebrand.)

Sadly the Rainforest Eagle-200 is not certified and they appear fat and lazy being that they are happy only being able to sell in North America.

From another thread in these forums I get the impression that the Presciense Mira may be the only UK option with even a theoretical chance at providing local data access. See - https://presciense.com/gateways/mira

Although even here I get the impression that would be more by accident than design. :frowning:

1 Like

Not one. You’ve summarised well the current state of affairs.

Hildebrand are interested only in getting your usage data and not in providing a reliable local usage API. Their customer support confirmed this to me when I talked to them last year. Their monetisation plan is to sell anonymised usage data. They cited that an income stream is needed to keep the cloud service running and they can’t be expected to continue to support customers forever based on the cost of purchasing one inexpensive device. I agreed that was a very valid point, but the irony of them not needing to fund the cloud service if they gave users local access was completely lost on them.

I get the impression Presciense have gone out of business, and even then as you say the local API wasn’t intended to be open and accessible by end users, and they weren’t interested in selling to the public when I contacted them to ask for more information.

I’ve given up with all of this. I don’t see as anything is going to improve any time soon. If you want real time usage data, rather than trying to get anything from the smart meter I’d suggest looking at the HomeEnergyMonitor system running on a Raspberry Pi. It uses a CT clamp, but providing you pair it with the included voltage monitor it should give you real power measurement as accurate as the smart meter. The only real benefit of a CAD is access to data from the gas meter, if you have one, since there’s currently no other way of obtaining the half hourly gas usage.

@Hooloovoo
Thanks for the reply disappointing that it is. :cry:

It is not surprising that Prescience may have gone bust since as I mentioned they stupidly like many other manufacturers refused to sell direct to end users. For the sake of completeness the other CAD products I have found are

  • Chameleon IHD6 as used by Bulb but not sold direct and uses cloud.
  • Geotogether as used by PurePlanet but not sold direct and uses cloud. (PurePlanet do not offer the CAD module either.)
  • Hildebrand Glow, is sold direct but uses cloud.
  • Rainforest Eagle-200 not certified, only supports 2.4GHz in theory might work and in theory you could import from Canada but being uncertified there is almost no chance an energy provider would allow it to be connected.

Yes Ideally I wanted Gas as well although obviously the smart aspect for appliance control is not applicable.

I have previously looked at Smappee as an energy clamp solution and pointed out to them that their current Gas meter solution no longer works with smart meters. I suggested to them they should look at a CAD type solution which they agreed was the logical approach although I will not hold my breath. Their current ‘solution’ appears to have been to discontinue their Gas monitor in the UK. See this Australian page instead.
https://www.smappee.com/au/gas-water

If only Rainforest would get off their behind and get their Eagle-200 certified.

I have contemplated trying to contact the Minister in charge of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy the department responsible for smart meters but obviously the current Covid-19 situation makes this impossible and frankly ministers have zero interest in listening to a mere voter. At best you would be bounced back to your local MP who has practically no knowledge or interest in an admittedly esoteric issue like this.

Note: the new Minister is Chris Skidmore

It is almost tantamount to a conspiracy between the energy providers and device manufacturers to defeat the smets objective with regards to CAD devices.

1 Like