Why do some people say "don't get a smart meter"

A number of people have told me I should never get a smart meter. Is there a reason for this? Is it to do with the V1 versus V2? Is it to do with solar exports? Thanks.

There’s a number of reasons people dislike smart meters and here’s a few I’ve seen. I’m going to try and not comment on the validity of some of them.

  1. SMETS1 restrictions. The ‘current/previous’ generation of smart meters, SMETS1, tend to be ‘locked’ to the installing company/supplier and become ‘dumb’ (unable to report readings/in home display inaccurate etc) if you move to another provider. The ‘new-gen’ SMETS2 meters (which Bulb is still trialing and will be rolling out this year) are multi-provider compatible.
  2. Privacy. Some people don’t like the idea of energy companies/Capita (who provide the ‘backend’ - DCC - to SMETS2 meters) knowing practically down to the minute how much power you are consuming (good indication of when you get up, when the house is empty, when you are cooking dinner etc etc)
  3. Security. Smart meters are electronic devices and therefore can be hacked (it’s currently unknown how easily/feasible though: yes, they use encryption but they have been plenty of insecure encryption deployments in smart devices in the past). So ‘third parties’ could not only get your usage information (see ‘Privacy’) but also have control over your meter.
  4. Control. Smart meters have a relay inside of them to enable the power to be turned off remotely. Handy if you’ve got an electrical issue or handy for the electrical company if your bill hasn’t been paid - not say handy if control has been taken by a third party (‘Security’) or if the billing company makes a mistake and marks you accidentally down as ‘not paid’.
  5. Technophobia. Smart meters communicate using radio waves (to the mobile phone networks) and also provide a ‘Zigbee’ network for in home devices and the like (as used by ‘smart bulbs’ and similar). Some people are scared of radio waves.
  6. Cost. Not just the cost of the meters, but the engineers time to replace the meters (and some people that had SMETS1 meters installed last year, may need to have a SMETS2 replacement meter next year). Somebody has got to be paying for all those meters and it’ll be the customers one way or another.
  7. Environmental. We’re going to be throwing away millions of ‘dumb meters’ which are perfectly functional and work. Hopefully, they’ll be recycled but who knows.
  8. Battery replacements. Batteries in smart meters (especially gas ones) are not user-serviceable and to change the battery requires breaking the tamper-resistant safety/security devices (which report back to the supplier/DCC if the meter has been ‘fiddled with’). Therefore when the battery dies (they currently have an estimated lifespan of 10 years: but we’ve all had batteries which are practically ‘dead on arrival’ and others which have lasted a lot longer than expected), the entire meter has to be replaced by an engineer.

What a thorough answer! Thanks so much.

@RichyB you kind of took all the wind out of my sails. My big issue is definitely the fact they have the relay capable of turning off the supply thta ties to the security aspect, if someone has broken into a common type of meter that means many people can be remotely switched off (saying it can’t be done is naive) and then the environmental aspect as you say. Smart meters should be optional not forced upon you. The reason I left Npower was because without asking me they booked me in to have a smart meter. I cancelled and left for bulb.

FromTheValleys

Smart meters ARE optional! There is no legal requirement to have one fitted if you don’t want one. I’ve had a salesman come to my door insisting that I have one fitted as it is a legal requirement. I soon put him in his place. Then phoned his company to complain.

https://smarterbusiness.co.uk/is-it-compulsory-to-have-a-smart-meter-installed/amp/

And we are paying for them regardless if you have one or not as it is included in everyone’s bill.
That aside the only people they save money for are the utility companies. Most recent analysis suggests the real saving by having one is less than £20 a year in energy costs and only then if you are diligent enough to keep checking on usage after the novelty wears off.

FromTheValleys

Smart meters ARE optional! There is no legal requirement to have one fitted if you don’t want one. I’ve had a salesman come to my door insisting that I have one fitted as it is a legal requirement. I soon put him in his place. Then phoned his company to complain.

https://smarterbusiness.co.uk/is-it-compulsory-to-have-a-smart-meter-installed/amp/

And also https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/consumers/household-gas-and-electricity-guide/understand-smart-prepayment-and-other-energy-meters/smart-meters-your-rights

To try and counteract my ‘reasons why some people dislike smart meters’, they can be positives in:

  1. Reducing running costs. Suppliers no longer need to send out meter readers to get accurate readings (especially from people who can’t/won’t provide readings themselves).
  2. More accurate bills. Provided your meter reading a day or two early? Then you were probably getting an estimated bill - now with the data flowing to the supplier, you needn’t worry as they supplier can get the meter reading just when it is needed for your bill.
  3. Accessibility. A lot of people have no problems accessing and reading their meter, but others may have mobility problems, dyscalculia (‘dyslexia with numbers’), or the meter could be in a hard to access place (too low/high or in another building entirely under control of a nearly absent landlord). Smart meters means you don’t have to worry about reading it yourself.
  4. Detecting problems. Since the meter reports back to the supplier quite frequently, the supplier could notify you (or the local distribution network) if the usage is out-of-standard: left an electrical heater on in your garage for the last couple of days (whistles innocently) - then they could drop you an email saying ‘Check your appliances’. Likewise, elderly and disabled customers could have their power monitored and if it doesn’t have ‘customary peaks’ (i.e. kettle going on, tv usage) for 2 days, alert ‘next of kin/police/social services’ for a check-up.
  5. Customer education. Allows customers to easily see what is using their power/gas and adjust their usage in an intelligent manner (instead of just guessing) - we all ‘know’ filling your kettle to just the amount you need saves power, but if you’ve got an in-home display next to the kettle you can test it yourself and reinforce that knowledge.
  6. Flexible tariffs. Instead of having to get a meter swap to go between prepay, credit, Economy 7 - this can be remotely set by the supplier. Prefer to use a custom ‘smart meter’ tariff which has multiple rates during the day based on ‘grid demand’, then that can be done - allowing you to have cheaper power at lower demand times.
  7. Grid protection. Usually only applicable for heavy users (factories and the like) - under times of ‘unusually high demand’ (winter peak times for example), the supplier/national grid could then turn off the meters remotely to protect the National Grid from overdemand. This isn’t a new thing (the companies already have ‘shutoff’ agreements with heavy users), but it’s usually a manual process where they company is called and asked to cease operations. With smart meters, they can be provided with an ‘At risk’ notification (as they tend to do in the mornings now I believe) and if it comes to it, NG can shut things down and restart things just for the minimum time necessary.
  8. Environmental. I believe it’s easier to integrate ‘feed in’ items such as home solar panels and the like to smart meters rather than having to have multiple meters for it.
  9. Better home control. With smart meters supporting Zigbee, it is possible customers can have their in home systems integrate with it automatically - no need to bother manually adjusting storage radiators or timer switches on washing machines - with an integrated smart home, everything can come on at the cheapest time for you.
  10. Better flexibility for generators. At the moment, most Economy 7 and the like meters in a region are roughly the same time - but those times tended to be based on 60s-80s electrical usage patterns: but we don’t have many coal mines, steel factories, and other heavy usage factories nowadays - and in some areas, most people work 9-5 jobs meaning ‘peak times’ are now 9-5 instead of the traditional 6-2pm for factories. Smart meters will allow these times to be adjusted in smaller regions (or even nationwide) as the grid supply/demand curve changes: ensuring we don’t need too many generators ‘available’ at a time which then go idle 75% of the time.

I had a smart meters (gas/lecky) fitted when I was with EDF (booo!). The lecky meter stopped being smart when I had solar PV panels installed (incompatibility issue). The two meters are still working conventionally (not smart); I’m now with bulb (yayyy!). The other aspect of smart meters is that you get a little display device that shows you your consumption in energy and money terms. I personally found that pretty useless after the novelty wore off (others may beg to differ); for one thing, it was incapable of displaying consumption less than a certain number of watts, so you couldn’t e.g. check the house’s “stand-by” consumption (let alone an individual device’s stand-by consumption). That said, smart meters are the future, and I look forward not to having to read the meters (which I do every month for my personal interest - my brother-in-law even knocked up a spreadsheet table/chart so I can track my consumption month by month over the years). Knowledge is power, as somone once said.

I had a smart meters (gas/lecky) fitted when I was with EDF (booo!). The lecky meter stopped being smart when I had solar PV panels installed (incompatibility issue).

There’s no incompatibility, smart meters can measure both import and export and increment separate registers. If there is something incompatible then it’s the supplier’s crappy software in terms of reading them, not the meters themselves.

When you take your monthly meter reading, if you step through the menus on the meter you’ll be able to log your cumulative export as well as the cumulative import.

A number of people have told me I should never get a smart meter. Is there a reason for this? Is it to do with the V1 versus V2? Is it to do with solar exports? Thanks.

Health and safety, the ability of the State to spy on you, the ability of utility companies to cut off your energy at the press of a button, the potential for your personal data to be compromised and intercepted by intelligence agencies and criminals. Need I go on? Read the very informative information on the following website: https://smartme.co.uk/campaigns-against.html Of course don’t expect any of the utility companies or the Energy Minister to accept the truths contained on the aforesaid site!

And we are paying for them regardless if you have one or not as it is included in everyone's bill. That aside the only people they save money for are the utility companies. Most recent analysis suggests the real saving by having one is less than £20 a year in energy costs and only then if you are diligent enough to keep checking on usage after the novelty wears off.

I agree and I would also add that as most of us provide monthly meter readings to utility companies so we already know what our usage is! It is a pure fiction on behalf of the government and others to call these meters ‘smart’! They are anything but, but like ‘smart’ phones it is clever advertising, implying that other technology is thus ‘dumb’ which is far from true.