Smart meter clock: Rate timings appear to be an hour out since daylight savings

My smart 3 rate meter times are:
Rate (1) 11pm - 7am,
Rate (3): 7am-4pm/7pm-11pm,
Rate (2) (Peak): 4pm-7pm.

Checking my meter today as the clocks went forward on Sunday, 29 May 2020, I see that the smart meter clock appears to have not gone forward by one hour as Rate (2) which normally ends at 7PM, ended an hour later at approximately 8PM. (meter switching to Rate 3).

I cannot find the meters clock to check its time.

This is a SMETS2 smart meter.

Is it GMT locked?

Hi @Pete22,

Thanks for your message.

Just to check, is it the clock on the meter itself you’re referring to or the In-Home Display?

I’ll check the situation at 4pm, when Rate 3 (off peak) should change to Rate 2 (peak). Noting any delay in the change-over.

Re-did my answer for clarity. The In-Home Display always displays the correct time (GMT+1) and tariff. It is the meter itself which is out of step by an hour (still changes in accordance with GMT time. (Since the clocks went forward on the 29 March 2020).

I know that on the 3 tier smart tariff beta, my meter is read every half hour so not unduly concerned. But I notice from my web portal that the three electricity meter rates are recorded. So I was wondering whether there would be a mismatch in timing regarding my eventual billing.

As I’m on the beta trial - thought I should mention any change I witness.

I have advised support of same, and they have referred the issue to the smart team:

“I’m going to check on this with the smart team and see how we can fix this.” (1.04.20)

Billing is done based on the rates recording by the meter, not via half-hourly billing, so you are correct to be concerned. My SMETS1 meter on the smart tariff handled the time change correctly and the switching times remained at local time. I’ve no experience with the SMETS2 meters that Bulb are installing. If the IHD is showing the times of the changes correctly, then you should be ok. Likewise the meter itself should tell you what the current active rate is, so you could always check at, say, just after 7pm, and see directly what it’s using.

The IHD did have trouble when going from BST back to UTC causing it to experience 1AM twice. The daily usage would disappear until the day after the time change. Boggles the mind how Chameleon have designed a device that can’t handle timezone changes. I work with aggregating time series data from all around the world in many different time-zones, and while it’s not trivial, it is a solved problem. There are standard libraries to handle all this stuff. Providing everything has ISO 8601 timestamps it’s straightforward enough.

One of my biggest grievances from my time on the smart tariff beta was lack of any direct communication with the developers. I always had to go through first level customer support, who often at the time didn’t even know the smart tariff existed. My experience, and that of several others I’ve talked to, is that the product is more of an alpha trial than a beta. It’ll be interesting to see if Bulb really do manage to roll it out to production in under 3 months from now as they intend.

Thanks for your reply and input Hooloovoo.

Currently, the IHD’s clock is correct GMT+1, and I can see the tariff charge changes at the correct time. For example: Rate 2 (peak) starts 16.00 ends 19.00.

However, the meter continues to be offset by one hour (on GMT). So on the meter, Rate 2 (peak) starts at 17.00 and ends at 20.00 (GMT+1).

I had assumed the IHD was a dumb terminal, simply reading the meter’s information, but I can see that the rate the meter displays, is the current rate. If I test with a high wattage appliance - the displayed rate is the one that increases which, at times will be at variance with the tariff that the UHD suggests I am on.

Worrying, when I see you say that the meter unit data is used for billing rather than the half hourly reads. I will just have to make the hour 19.00-20.00 a “light usage hour” until this is sorted. Certainly, the most critical hour for me :slight_smile:

Hmm. I would have assumed that as well. It’s lucky that you noticed that the IHD isn’t showing what the meter is actually doing!

Yes, the only true source of data in terms of billing are the meter “registers”, the things that increment and sum up the usage. In your case on the smart tariff, there are 3 registers, even if the meter is read half-hourly. It doesn’t actually matter if the meter is read half-hourly or not. Even a monthly read of the 3 registers is still sufficient for the 3-rate tariff to work. The only time half-hourly billing actually applies is on something like the Octopus Agile tariff, where the meter is configured for the maximum 48 different registers. In this case it’s imperative that the meter is read at least daily, due to the rates changing every day.

Likewise when I was on the smart tariff, I found only a small amount of accidental high-usage during the peak period was sufficient to wipe out any potential savings. I did make a saving overall - for the 18ish month period I was on it my average unit rate was about 11.5p per kWh including VAT. The only way to make any real saving is to have some battery storage that can be charged overnight and used during the peak period.

So why do you think that half-hourly readings are an obligatory requirement of my participation in the smart tariff beta? (Must agree to half-hourly readings being taken).

My assumption was that this would be for billing (in addition to the meter readings also being recorded in the meter reading section of my personal web portal). A secondary check on my electricity usage for instance.

The Smart tariff worked with a SMETS1 meter at that time? Has to be a SMETS2 now.

Needless to say, my meter (GMT) continues to be an hour out of step with the IHD (GMT+1).

They want the data to analyse usage patterns. Half hourly readings are also essential if you want to make the most of your own usage profile, in terms of understanding your own usage and potentially moving use out of the peak periods. You’re right it could be used as a secondary check of course, but as far as I know it’s not.

It’s interesting to note that “half hourly readings” don’t have to be in real time. For example, on Octopus Agile half hourly readings are required for billing, but the data are uploaded only once a day all together.

Yes, it was originally available only to a subset of compatible SMETS1 smart meters, and could not be used with Bulb’s own SMETS2 meters.

Solved this one, the meter rate timings remain on GMT, so in Spring, when the clocks move forward, the tariff timings all change by an hour. My IHD continues to be out by one hour ( on GMT+1 ).

Well that makes no sense at all. I know that’s how it worked with old E7 due to fixed clocks that couldn’t update with timezone changes. The peak rate period aligns with peak usage, as expected by the definition. Are Bulb saying that everyone now cooks their dinner an hour later in the summer? I use my electric oven at the same local time, about 6pm, year round.

Well I certainly wont be going back onto any tariff that does this. Avoiding the peak 4-7pm period was bad enough. Having to avoid usage all the way up to 8pm is a deal breaker.

As I said previously, the smart tariff originally - at least with my meter - did take into account timezone changes and the rates changed at the same local time all year round. Whether that was intentional or not I don’t know.

Well at least I can have a shower at a civilised time in the morning during summertime!

This is the photo I wanted to post right at the very beginning, but I could never get the exposure right, either the meter or the display would be under/over-exposed and unreadable.

Anyway, this morning (6.05.2020), at 7.50am, I got it right.

In the picture, you’ll see the meter displays the correct rate - rate 1 (overnight - 8.20p/kWh) which is correct for the time of year - applies 12am-8.00am

The “in house display” however is displaying the wrong rate price for the time of day (it changed from overnight (rate 1) to off-peak (rate 3) at 7am). It is showing the off-peak price (Rate 3) of 12.18p per kWh.

For 4 hours of any 24 hour period my IHD displays incorrect pricing information:

11pm rate 1 should be rate 3
7am rate 3 should be rate 1
4pm rate 2 should be rate 3
7pm rate 3 should be rate 2

Since we are told that the whole idea of the IHD is to help us save money, this is a cause of concern because if I had not realised right at the start, I could have run the risk of using high rate electricity thinking I was on a lower rate.

I reported this to support on the 30 March 2020, but the issue remains unresolved.

Hi @Pete22 I’m glad to see you’ve got to the bottom of the discrepancy and it’s good that you’re now aware that your meter has definitely changed to the BST Smart Tariff timings. I can’t see an open ticket around this issue, from your email so have raised this with the Smart team to see if we’re able to get the IHD aligned with the tariff timings.

As you say, the purpose of the IHD is to help track your usage, and this is especially important with a 3 rate tariff, where the variations are significant. I will let you know what the smart team say on this one

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Just seen this thread, and it goes to show just how idiotic these different tariff timings are. Nobody, including Bulb seem to know whether E7 timings are BST or GMT. Or if Bulb thinks it knows we get conflicting advice. If we, as customers, have to calculate when a particular tariff is in force, what is the point of having displays with clocks, which don’t necessarily show the correct tariff in force? Smart meters…??

In another thread we see this:-


Curtis_at_Bulb

2d

Hi @hildamufi

Whether a meter’s off peak times are effected by Summer Time depends on the specific metering setup.


Is there any way we can get a definitive answer about correct E7 times. I know when my E7 times are, but don’t know (still) whether they are BST or GMT.
What ‘specific metering setup’ are you talking about?

Hi @bill6768

When I said that, I meant that the offpeak hours on a meter will vary meter to meter, so when they’re active depends on that particular metering setup. There is no universal answer unfortunately.

It depends on what is called the ‘standard settlement configuration’ (SSC) of the meter. Different SSCs will have different offpeak hours, and some are BST and some GMT. I agree this can make it overly complicated for people to understand when their offpeak hours are, which is why all 2-rate meters we install have the same SSC now.

I’ve had a look into your metering setup and can confirm your meter operates on GMT year round, apologies you’ve had such trouble getting that answer.

Many thanks for what I hope is a definitive answer. Although every customer will presumably have to ask you about their individual setup. A bit clunky!

@bill6768 On some older meters it will show the off peak hours, but it could certainly do with being more universal!

As @CJ_at_Bulb said, on our part we’re reducing the amount of people with different meter set ups. There’s historically been variation by region. For example in Scotland there are a lot more of what we call related meters, that Scottish suppliers have specific tariffs for.

We’re about keeping things simple, so I’d definitely agree with your assessment, the only thing stopping every member asking us is potentially that many won’t think about whether their meter changes to BST or not