Manually reading a Smart Meter

Hi all, Just a quick question to anyone that knows about smart meters? My mum who is with bulb has an issue with her current standard economy 7 meter. Bulb have been very helpful and are looking at replacing it, but have stated that if they can’t they will have to replace it with a smart meter. I know bulb’s smart meter roll out hasn’t been the most successful, but she submits a meter reading every month anyway, so my question is, if they have to give her a smart meter and it doesn’t work like others have experienced, will she be able to still submit them via the app manually or will her bills end up being estimates?

Technically the answer to this question is yes you can submit manually. But currently in practise, it’s somewhat difficult and lots of people are ending up on estimated bills. But it’s important to note that this is not by design, it’s not intentional to prevent you submitting manual readings, the system is just broken. It will be fixed at some point.

The bigger issue is that if she has a smart meter installed, and Bulb fail to communicate with it either through their own fault or due to DCC/signal issues, there will be no way for Bulb to send the two-rate E7 configuration to the meter and she’ll be stuck on single rate. Does your Mum actually need E7? i.e., has storage heaters or something else using a lot of electric over night?

In your position, I would be looking for some written agreement on how Bulb are going to handle the E7 issue if the meter doesn’t work, and how they can guarantee that she wont end up over charged on single rate compared to the E7 tariff.

@Hooloovoo thanks for your response. She is on E7 as the property used to have storage heaters, but doesn’t anymore, so if she did have to go to a single rate meter i don’t think this would cause too much of an issue. I did notice the single rate tariff is cheaper than the day rate of E7 any way so may work out slightly better for her.

Unless approx 40% of her electric use is overnight, which it sounds like it isn’t any more, then yes she almost certainly would have been better off changing to a single rate tariff at the time the heaters were removed.

In which case you’re probably safe to go ahead with the smart meter installation. Worst case you/she might have to phone up to manually submit readings until such time as they can be reliably submitted online. Don’t hold me to that though :upside_down_face:

You may also face issues with Bulb not registering the new meter properly, and refusing your new readings because they are still expecting readings that look like the values from the existing meters. This is a problem that Bulb seem to have that is independent of smart meters and results from any meter change.

Depending on your tolerance for frustration and contacting Bulb multiple times over the same issue, you might consider other options. Not that you have many other options, if the meter is faulty it needs to be replaced like it or not.

@Hooloovoo makes perfect sense. So if after they install a smart meter, if it is turning out to be a pain in the a*se, I am guessing she can just switch supplier and from reading previous posts, if the smart meter doesn’t work with other providers, she can just submit the readings manually to a new provider? My main question really, on a smart meter (not the IHD) are their still numbers moving which allows you to see your usage? From your previous responses i am guessing yes?

Yes, you can obtain the reading directly from the meter itself. It’s often not quite as easy, and requires pressing a few buttons rather than just looking at the display. I’m not familiar with the particular meters Bulb are installing. I’m sure someone else will come along and be able to confirm the exact process for reading the meter. @Pantalaimon @Dan42

In terms of switching, if you get stuck with Bulb not updating the database properly then your new supplier would also still see the old meter details and this would make switching difficult. Happened a couple of times based on posts on this forum.

If everything else goes to plan, but the smart meter isn’t smart, then switching shouldn’t be an issue. In fact, depending on where the fault is within the whole system it’s quite possible that the new supplier could make the meter work where Bulb could not.

Sorry this is probably not boosting your confidence. If it were me I’d just go with it and deal with the potential fallout, especially so if you’re happy/able to perhaps talk to Bulb on your Mum’s behalf if she cannot.

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@darryl5653 unlike @Dan42 we had an older SMETS1 (Elster AS300P) smart meter when we joined Octopus, which was originally installed by SSE in 2017(ish) and while we were with Bulb, they managed to continue to read it as a smart meter. Dan42, had his SMETS2 meter installed by Bulb.

Our SMETS2 meter was installed by Octopus 1 week after our supply started with them, 31st January, and the IHD was working correctly immediately. Octopus have confirmed our installation and have all the details of the new SMETS2 meter and have stated it will take 1 - 2 weeks to configure the meter for their Agile tariff.

One thing to note in this regards, is that Octopus Energy Services operate in the South East of England, and this is another reason why they may have been so speedy and the engineer was not a 3rd party contractor.

In Dan42’s case when he moved over, I believe Octopus were able to ‘adopt’ his meter completely successfully as it is SMETS2 meter and is supplier interoperable. I’m not sure if he has moved over to the Agile tariff yet.

To read our SMETS2 meter, manually, which is this one: Landis Gyr E470 Type 5425, when the screen is not illuminated it shows the kWh meter reading. Pressing the Green A button once, illuminates the display and a character check (all characters are shown). A 2 sec long press enters the meters first section which is the date, each subsequent press shows a different piece of information, press the A button until you get to Total Act import. Leaving the meter alone for about a min returns it to the non-illuminated meter reading.

I believe Bulb are also installing this SMETS2 meter, but with a Chameleon Technologies IHD3+CAD. Whilst Octopus only install the older Chameleon Technologies IHD3. Though I don’t mind this too much as Octopus provide a very nice API.

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It would be great if Bulb did the same

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My switch has been completed and I am an Octopus customer according to an email. My Smart IHD is still working as before but I have had no welcome message as per @Dan42 and it still says supplier Bulb when I look. Maybe it takes a while to get the message although it doesn’t really matter as I’m getting the came info displayed.

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Of course you did. Sorry about that, I shouldn’t have spellcast you into this thread. Getting confused about what tech everyone has got on here! :upside_down_face: Thanks for adding all the info anyway!