Smart meters and PV installations

Hi - we’re keen to have a smart meter installed but I have been told that having a solar panel system means that’s now possible. Is that correct?

I have solar PV and a bulb SMETS2 meter and other than the fact the meter isn’t automatically sending readings back yet it works fine the lack of automatic readings is not an unusual problem). Our metered I ports are the same as they were prior to switchover. The ihd even shows when we are exporting so we can run around turning stuff on.

One thing to be aware of, if you do go to a smart meter you may stop getting your 50 percent assumed export and instead get the actually measured export. I believe bulb will have to make this switch for us at some point.

Hi there @Brads

Smart meters are compatible with PV arrays, so you can have a smart meter installed.

In fact, a smart meter can separately record your import (consumption from the grid), and your export (export to the grid), which makes it a bit more advanced than a regular analog meter. You will be able to see both readings (IMP and EXP) on your smart meter and in-home display.

If you receive Feed-in Tariffs, this also means that your export tariff can be metered. If you do not have an export meter, your export amount is estimated to be 50% of what you generate. With a solar panel installed, Bulb can pay you more accurately what you exported back to the grid :slight_smile:

With a solar panel installed, Bulb can pay you more accurately what you exported back to the grid :)

So you could be worse off if you export less than 50% of what you generate, for instance because you use a lot during the day or have a battery. Unfortunately you’d need an export meter to find out!

Hi this is good information as we had a bulb smart meter installed yesterday and have solar panels. I have a couple of questions please. 1. When the image is of a pylon and and a green arrow is that when we are exporting to the grid? 2. How can I see readings linked to solar panels ie how much we have exported? 3. Our FIT tariff is with EON, will this continue and will BULB let EON know our true export for payment? 4 I take it the smart meter can’t read our FIT meter ? Thanks very much Marie

I’d like the answers to all your questions as well! I can add, though, that I have now read about the Smart Export Guarantee, which, if I understand it correctly, means that the export of new solar panels will in future be metered. If that is the case, it may be extended to existing panels, which will then have smart meters forced on them, but perhaps not, since the export tariff is all that new panels will get, whereas existing ones will go on getting the (much more significant) generation tariff, plus the smaller deemed export payments. Bulb offers the chance to swap from FiT to metered export payments (https://help.bulb.co.uk/hc/en-us/articles/360025359271-Export-payments-alpha-trial), but I get the impression that that will leave you much worse off unless you are only getting one of the more recent, low FiTs.

I’d still particularly like to know the answer to MarieVW’s question 3: “Our FIT tariff is with EON, will this continue [now that we have a smart meter] and will BULB let EON know our true export for payment?” Could bulb answer for that for us, please, as you are pushing smart meters again?

Hi @Consument

To clear that up, your FiT payments will remain with the current supplier following a meter exchange unless you switch it to us. Otherwise, you’ll continue submitting them readings and taking payments from them.

If you did want to sign up your FiT payments to Bulb you could do so here, we’d love to have you onboard: Bulb account :sunglasses: :sunny:

FiT arrangements are entirely independent from your energy supply arrangements (though you can choose to use the same supplier for both as long as they support FiT [not all do]).

If both are with the same supplier and you have a smart meter, then I believe the export portion of the FiT would be based on actual export (read from the smart meter), rather than deemed (at 50% of generation). You would still need to submit quarterly readings from the FiT meter (which measures the overall power generated) for the generation component of the FiT. If your FiT and energy supply are with different suppliers, then I’d expect that you’d have to provide export readings manually (if it was worthwhile!) to the FiT supplier.

Regarding your previous post about the Smart Export Guarantee, my understanding is that as long as you have a smart meter, SEG can be operated in tandem with a FiT arrangement - but you have to give up the export portion of the FiT (because that’s subsumed into the SEG - you would need to tell the FiT supplier [I believe]). This may or may not be beneficial, depending on what export rate you’re already receiving on the FiT scheme vs the rate you can get under SEG. One useful feature of SEG is that if you increase your generating capacity and export more, the SEG payments will increase in line with the additional exports.

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Thanks, stevefoster. Unlike Curtis_at_bulb (above), you’ve addressed the correct question!

Bulb say that “a smart meter might be able to record your generation export” and that they then “can pay you more accurately for what you export to the grid” [my emphases], but there’s no promise that you will have a choice, so I will assume, like you, that I will be paid for actual rather than deemed export if I get a smart meter and transfer my FiT to bulb. This aligns with what I was told in 2018 by the Green Hub at EDF, who were my supplier then and still pay my FiT. (And they agreed that, with my pattern of use, I almost certainly export less than half of the power I generate and I would therefore be worse off with a smart meter.)

I can also quite believe that EDF might be able to get hold of the export figures from a bulb-installed smart meter, with or without my agreement! So I don’t think I’ll take the risk of getting a smart meter even while keeping my FiT with EDF.

The only situation I can think of that might make a smart meter worthwhile for me is if bulb roll out their Smart Tariff, and the lower cost of off-peak power outweighs the lower export FiT. But it would probably be a gamble, and irreversible, and at the current Vari-Fair and twin Smart rates, and even without knowing the hours, I very much doubt it would pay off.

A Smart meter has no effect on your FIT contract, that is a signed agreed deal that only changes if you authorise it. Just leave it with your current supplier.

SEG , if I have no Smart meter as Arran has no Smart meters, will Bulb accept 3 monthly readings from a non communicating Smart meter functioning as an export meter? The normal meter will continue to give power use readings.

@Ralkbirdy Welcome back! You’re right, the smart meter won’t affect your FIT contract.

@Consument We’ve actually got a community Q&A with a member of the solar team on this thread. If you’re still looking for some clarification on anything, Katie will be able to help out :slightly_smiling_face: