SMETS2 SMART Meter - Wi-Fi Range

Good Afternoon,

A few months ago I was in contact with Dan at Bulb regarding the compatibility of the SMART meters with solar PV. I see that the SMETS2 meters are now proven to work with those of us who have solar PV systems fitted which is good news.

The next hurdle for my location is the range that the remote display will work from the meter itself? My meter is approximately 40 meters from where I’d like the display to be. In between there are two 75cm granite walls and the outbuildings and I am pretty certain that the wi-fi simply won’t ‘reach’.

I used to have an old efergy meter system which on a good day used to work if the remote was pressed up against the Utility Room window. When I fitted the Immersun unit (which I use for diverting exported electricity to the heat store) I had to buy the Immersun booster and install the CT (Current Transformer) at the meter and then run 40+ metres of CAT5 cable to a point on the near side of the outbuildings (where the booster was based) so the Immersun base unit could ‘see it’.

I am pretty confident that if I get a SMETS2 meter fitted I will need a booster so my question is does ‘the industry’ have a solution in hand for this as there will be others in a similar situation?

Regards

Richard

@linesrg, from a number of discussions I’ve had on these forums so far, I’m not sure Bulb are entirely sure themselves.
Just to clarify one point first though, they’re not WiFi rather ZigBee, but still on the 2.4GHz spectrum so will have the same limited power and range as WiFi.

SMETS2 meters should in theory support intermediary devices to extend the Zigbee SE2 network but nobody has yet confirmed the smart meter models that may be trialled/rolled out and exactly what their capabilities are.
In theory, a wired bridge for the SE2 network would also be possible, to allow you to extend the range as much as you like, but I’ve not seen one yet.
I doubt the industry (not necessarily including Bulb though) really cares too much as to whether your in home display will work, but as the gas meter connects wirelessly to the leccy meter in the same manner, a solution to range issues there should be the same solution for the IHD.

Rest assured that as soon as the meters appear there will be people (myself included) trying to figure out what data can be extracted locally and how these devices can be used most positively by the users who’s homes they’re going to be installed in, whatever we get from the industry!

mowcius,

I had to lash out and buy the Immersun T1070 booster along with a 50mtr reel of CAT 5 cable and run 15metres of 2.5mm T&E so as the Immersun unit CT could be mounted over by the meter to determine if electricity was being exported. I suspect something similar will probably be required for a SMART meter.

I’m attaching a picture of the booster and the location of the Immersun base unit. The Immersun now has another cable leading out of it so that both immersions in the heat store can be used.


To be honest the Immersun unit in the Utility Room has proven to be within +/ - 4% of the existing DNO meter anyway so I don’t really need another display but it would be nice to have the display showing in the kitchen rather than having to dive out into the Utility Room all the time.

The Comms Hub that is the basis for the Network in your house is physically attached to the electricity meter, and everything (Gas Meter, IHD etc etc) else connects to it wirelessly.

The chances of the Comms Hub being able to connect to an IHD 40 meters away through walls is pretty slim.

I have yet to see ANY tech that suggests they will try to tackle this issue in the first years (it’s a known issue for SMETS2 installs in blocks of flats etc).

And with the frankly unbelievable level of security surrounding everything to do with the infrastructure for this rollout any “in-house” hacks are going to be unlikely also

@Stokie2018, as the communications hub has the facility to pair other ZigBee HAN devices to it (the gas meter and IHD etc.) it’s perfectly possible to connect other devices. Even with the 1st gen smart meters, some suppliers allowed you to pair other devices to them (see this as a basic example). There’s a better example where someone was discussing providing their supplier with the MAC address to pair a generic ZigBee SE HAN device to their communications hub, but I can’t find it now.

It’s expected that this ability will be available with SMETS2 meters and the UK rollout, so we can do things like scrap the cheap supplied IHDs and get fancy toys like this from Presciense. From the demos I’ve seen so far, they’ve been integrating with HolleyTech smart meters but any new meter should be adhering to the same standards and therefore be fair game.

Prescience also already make an OpenWrt based CAD (basically a SE1.2 to ethernet bridge) called Mira which would be ripe for hacking, or just pulling the data from via the web connections provided.

In terms of a booster, as a ZigBee SE1.2 network is a mesh, having something sat in the middle of two other devices to enlarge that mesh should be no problem. I’ve not found something that does just that yet but there’s no reason why it couldn’t exist.
The SE 1.2a spec is an interesting read and clarifies quite a lot. Page 90 specifically provides some information on one option for how blocks of flats could be handled with a single mesh and federated trust.

@linesrg, with any luck the most you’d need would be some power to a booster but in theory there’s nothing stopping devices being equipped with high gain directional antennas to significantly improve the range you could get. They’re just 2.4GHz ZigBee after all.


All in all, with Bulb potentialy being more technologically inclined that most suppliers, and more open to discussion with their customers, if anyone can do fancy things with the SMETS2 rollout to show everyone else how it's done, I'd like to think it's them.

I did notice earlier that the HollyTech meter HAN module is rated at 10mW output power. Considering the max output power of 2.4GHz WiFi in the UK is 100mW and that struggles in larger houses, the OOB range of the 2.4GHz ZigBee on them and similar meters is going to be quite limited.

The difference between SMETS1 and SMETS2 in these scenarios is that the devices and software are brand/supplier specific with little governance in the S1 world, but S2 is hugely locked down and centrally controlled in an attempt to make the infrastructure secure and protected from outside intrusion (think Russian hackers with access to DCC central control and the ability to remote disconnect all SMETS2 meters). The amount of hoops that Energy suppliers have to go through to get certified as a DCC user is surprising and costly (the policy/risk security audit each supplier has to go through is 5 days long as an example!), and every item used within the infrastructure must be certified by DCC and that includes hardware and software. I do hope there will be a level of interchangeability for things like IHD and as they are primarily a read only device but they are connected at install by the engineer, and all items are provisioned in relative real time (assuming that DCC have been pre-notified that that individual Comms Hub is being installed or it will also be rejected in real time).

Interesting times ahead!

S2 is hugely locked down and centrally controlled in an attempt to make the infrastructure secure and protected from outside intrusion
As the devices are being designed to run for upwards of 20 years, they're really not going to be considered secure at the end of their life. I personally suspect there'll be a vulnerability announced within the first year, maybe even before mass user rollout. Things like device certificates do help but someone will find a way around it. They always do.

There must be some easy way to pair new IHDs to the CHs as I can’t imagine they’re going to send out an engineer for an IHD replacement when it gets used as a chew toy by the family dog. They’ll just post one to your like VM do with routers now and have some easy way of linking things back up.

Every time someone moves house, I suspect the IHDs will also “go missing”.

and every item used within the infrastructure must be certified by DCC and that includes hardware and software
Do you have a source for this info? I've read some of the DCC docs but they're about as dry as Weetabix with no milk.

The source is me in this instance, I see the certified device list on a daily basis and users within the SEC and DCC world get notifications every time a new device or firmware is approved (or removed) - you would be surprised at just how small the list is currently. There are actually very few gas/elec meters approved at this point for instance.

And just wait until customers in certain areas are asked to have aerials installed on their walls or roof to be able to connect to the network!

Stokie2018/ mowcius,

So it would be easier to knock my outbuildings down, ensuring the new SMETS2 meter installation isn’t disturbed, and then rebuilding a new 1859 pattern Aberdeenshire stone farmhouse around the new whizzo smart meter??? :slight_smile: Currently (No pun intended) I’m trying to see the advantage in having a smart meter fitted in the first place.
It’s bad enough the idiots at SSE have said I can expand my PV by 1.65kW but because an ‘unapproved’ firm will be doing the fitting they want £586. All I need to do is mount the panels on the roof fit them to a G59/ 3 approved inverter and what do I need an electrician for in the first place. The inverter won’t connect if I don’t get it right and it isn’t that difficult to wire in. It would be an unmetered output on which no FIT’s would be paid (there is a grey area over having to be paid for any units exported I believe).
Now to get back to working out how best to implement the Growatt 5kW battery pack I have…
Any firm out there with solutions instead of headaches feel free to contact me… :slight_smile:
I’m doing (well trying) my bit to save the planet.

Regards

Richard

So it would be easier to knock my outbuildings down, ensuring the new SMETS2 meter installation isn't disturbed, and then rebuilding a new 1859 pattern Aberdeenshire stone farmhouse around the new whizzo smart meter???????
I'd probably recommend getting yourself on the trial list for the smart meters from Bulb as although we don't know exactly what they're looking to roll out yet, the technical challenges that your property might cause seems like an ideal test case to me! If they know you're likely to have issues due to distance, they'll hopefully take that into consideration and be able to test some clever solution at your property.

In that case it’s over to Bulb to rise to the challenge :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

@linesrg we shall get you on the trial list. The IHD will need to be placed near the comms hubs, and that having the IHD 40m away will likely be too far. However, we’ll be working with our IHD suppliers to try and find a solution for cases such as this.