Anyone had a Smart Meter fitted at home?

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Welly
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Anyone had a Smart Meter fitted at home?

Post by Welly » Mon May 20, 2019 8:58 am

Recently been doing my annual negotiations with Energy Suppliers :frown:

British Gas came up cheapest on U-Switch so chose them but I had a real job getting a decent deal with costs coming in high all-round.

Reading the small print the day before my 14 day cooling off period :o and I was 'obliged' to have a Smart Meter fitted within 3 months or "do one" :frown:

Jumped straight on the phone and cancelled the agreement.

I've done some research into smart meters and have a less than favourable view on the whole idea of them. My mother had loads of trouble with her smart meter billing and I've heard many others have too. Seems the energy provider can vary the charge rate according to the time of day so they'll increase the rate at peak times (say 18:00 to 20:00) when working families get home and start preparing dinner etc :frown: there's also concerns over the meters harvesting personal date to sell on to whoever wants it.

Energy costs have risen this year and I believe this is to pay for the SM programme which is totally unfair.

Has anyone here had a SM fitted and seen the bills drop?
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Re: Anyone had a Smart Meter fitted at home?

Post by steve_earwig » Mon May 20, 2019 9:48 am

We have one, but we've also got solar panels. The buggers here lopped off the feed in tariffs just as we were installing so we're not getting the big money we were expecting. Seems they'd rather spend the money on a coal-fired power station instead :evil: We were paying them and then getting money for our power we were feeding in (although at a greatly reduced rate as most of the charge is calculated using the the number of kwh consumed for using the infrastructure at something like 4x the charge for the power). However, since the end of last year we don't seem to be paying (or receiving) anything. It's bizarre.

Anyway, enough griping. From what I've seen "smart" meters (has anyone else noticed that the word smart no longer has anything to do with actual sense?) are remotely programmable so your supplier can (and will) tap into it and fiddle with the tariffs however and whenever they like (oh no, surely they wouldn't do that :roll: ) Also they're measuring apparent power, rather than the old fashioned electromechanical jobbies, which basically means anything with a poor power factor (inductive load thingy) will suddenly be costing you a shed load more. Things like led bulbs, which have an appalling power factor, suddenly look a lot less attractive and you'd be better off with incandescents. Which you can't buy any more, ho ho. Now, who could have seen that one coming?
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Re: Anyone had a Smart Meter fitted at home?

Post by Welly » Mon May 20, 2019 10:55 am

Very interesting, I've almost gone 'full led' at home but haven't noticed the reduction in electricity use I was expecting :frown:

What do you mean about LED's having a poor power factor?
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Re: Anyone had a Smart Meter fitted at home?

Post by Bailes1992 » Mon May 20, 2019 11:02 am

We've had them fitted in our current house and our last house.

We got sick of our energy suppliers changing our direct debit amount without asking and ending up with a ton of credit or getting letters threatening to cut out services because we were behind. :roll:

With the smart meter we get a nice little screen that allows us to see how much we are using in real time (the building services engineer in me loves this), how much in units and/or cost we have used today and also has the ability to look back over time passed to compare it to.

With the smart meter real-time meter readings can be taken so we have agreed with our current energy supplier that they just DD the exact amount we have used the previous month. It's quite stress-free and I love a gadget!

Power factory is where the current and voltage waveform gets skewed and you end up with peak voltage leading or lagging behind the current. As the 'maximum' in the wave forms are hitting their peaks at different times it creates an in-efficiency.

Most quality, branded domestic LED lamps will have measured in the internal circuitry to correct this power factor.
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Re: Anyone had a Smart Meter fitted at home?

Post by steve_earwig » Mon May 20, 2019 11:18 am

Edit: Gah! You got in their first Sam.

It seems to be where the actual load is out of phase with the voltage, so peak demand is not occurring at the same time as (ac) peak voltage and actually increasing the current draw. It's why psu's and electric motors give their power rating in kva, rather than kw. Incandescent light bulbs have a very good power factor of almost 1:1 ('cos they're so simple) but things like led's have a lousy power factor of around 0.5:1, depending on how they convert the power into something they can use. Obviously what you get charged will depend on how your consumption is measured, a "dumb" meter just uses the power flowing through the coil to push the clock around, whereas a "smart" meter can see a lot more of what's happening. Tbh it's probably fairer to the providers, measuring what you're actually using but, at the end of the day, a lot of the stuff we're buying is misleading us about how much power it actually uses.

Smart - smart manufacturers, smart suppliers, smart retailers. Dumb consumers.
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Re: Anyone had a Smart Meter fitted at home?

Post by steve_earwig » Mon May 20, 2019 11:23 am

Bailes1992 wrote:
Mon May 20, 2019 11:02 am
Most quality, branded domestic LED lamps will have measured in the internal circuitry to correct this power factor.
I don't think it's just led bulbs we have to worry about, there's just been a hell of a lot of them sold on the "this'll save you a packet" boast. Is there actually any way of telling if they've been measured properly?
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Re: Anyone had a Smart Meter fitted at home?

Post by Bailes1992 » Mon May 20, 2019 11:51 am

steve_earwig wrote:
Mon May 20, 2019 11:23 am
Bailes1992 wrote:
Mon May 20, 2019 11:02 am
Most quality, branded domestic LED lamps will have measured in the internal circuitry to correct this power factor.
I don't think it's just led bulbs we have to worry about, there's just been a hell of a lot of them sold on the "this'll save you a packet" boast. Is there actually any way of telling if they've been measured properly?
The incandescent to LED improvement is immediately obvious. For starters there is a significant decrease in heat output (incandescent lamps are ~2.5% efficient, you loose ~97.5% of the power used in heat). As a general rule an LED will draw just 10% of the current compared to a incandescent equivalent. While I don't think you will see your electric bills take a huge drop, but you may notice a few quid a month if you do them all together in one go.

There's also the fire safety factor too. Your lamps will operate much cooler and the lighting circuits will only be running at 10% of the load they would be running at fitted out with incandescent lamps.

I can't remember the last time I installed an incandescent, halogen or even fluorescent luminaire anywhere. LED's reach total light output instantly and never require lamp replacement.
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Re: Anyone had a Smart Meter fitted at home?

Post by Bailes1992 » Mon May 20, 2019 11:55 am

steve_earwig wrote:
Mon May 20, 2019 11:23 am
Bailes1992 wrote:
Mon May 20, 2019 11:02 am
Most quality, branded domestic LED lamps will have measured in the internal circuitry to correct this power factor.
I don't think it's just led bulbs we have to worry about, there's just been a hell of a lot of them sold on the "this'll save you a packet" boast. Is there actually any way of telling if they've been measured properly?
Purchase an LED lamp of the same lumen output and colour as your current incandescent lamp. Visually you should be able to tell if you are getting the same level of light.

You can then use a clamp meter to compare the current draw between the LED lamp and incandescent lamp.
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Re: Anyone had a Smart Meter fitted at home?

Post by steve_earwig » Mon May 20, 2019 12:39 pm

I was hoping for a way to tell before actually buying them. Ok, I'll go along with them being more efficient but not as efficient as advertised, plus they're not exactly cheap to begin with and don't seem to last all that long (even the GE marked ones, which turn out not to be anything to do with General Electric :roll: ). Incandescents used to last for years and years and hey, if one goes pop who cares? They're cheap as chips.

Never had an incandescent come anywhere close to starting a fire but I don't trust these led's. I see that many of the voltage supplies in them reference to mains so I certainly wouldn't go near one when it's live.

When I started fitting led's they seemed to be a lot dimmer than what I was used to, even going by the stated equivalence on the packaging, and I was looking forward to dimming lights to go along with my dimming eyesight. Now I'm ok with them, I figured out the easiest way is to divide the lumens by 10 to give the wattage you're replacing and it seems to work out more or less.
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Re: Anyone had a Smart Meter fitted at home?

Post by steve_earwig » Mon May 20, 2019 12:41 pm

Btw if anyone wants any incandescents, the local supermarket here still has them :supafrisk:
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Re: Anyone had a Smart Meter fitted at home?

Post by GingerMagic » Mon May 20, 2019 12:46 pm

I keep getting letters from Scottish Power regarding my opportunity to save* money on my bills by having a Smart* meter fitted - as they are in my area and it's in my interest to get one.
I will keep politely declining this option - I'm not remotely interested in gadgets at all, and the cons certainly outweigh the pros.
Until such time it's proven reliable, correct, stable and trustworthy then it can do one.

I'm halfway through converting my house from incandescent to led - then I'm sure I'll be better off per month due to kids, lights, laziness...
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Re: Anyone had a Smart Meter fitted at home?

Post by steve_earwig » Mon May 20, 2019 1:02 pm

Just replace the light switches with motion sensors :supafrisk: :supafrisk:
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Re: Anyone had a Smart Meter fitted at home?

Post by Welly » Mon May 20, 2019 1:39 pm

I've had a lot of GU10 lamps fail 'early' one lasted about 6 minutes and literally POPPED - loud enough for us all to rush and see what it was.

I've noticed the face of the LED 'bulb' is cool but some of the control stuff/circuit gets quite warm behind it.

Standard house lighting Twin & Earth is 1.0mm sq or 1.5mm - will they reduce this further with LED lighting?

Regards the smart meters I can see now all the 'attractive' tariff's are the SM ones so we're almost getting rail-roaded into having them :frown:
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Re: Anyone had a Smart Meter fitted at home?

Post by Bailes1992 » Mon May 20, 2019 2:13 pm

LED's really are a case of 'you get what you pay for'.

Despite being a fully trained electrician, I don't do 'cash jobs'. :supafrisk: However, if I did I would pick one of the following brands for domestic lighting...

Phillips, Verbatim, Robus, Aurora or LAP.

I've fitted hundreds, possible even thousands of LED lamps of the above brands and can count the amount of failures on one hand.

In my house I have GU10's pretty much throughout with Verbatim LED's. I have 44 installed and not one has failed!

Like I said, In work I can't remember the last time we installed a fluorescent luminaire, let alone halogen or incandescent. If they were so troublesome or not value-for-money then consultants and clients wouldn't specify them.
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Re: Anyone had a Smart Meter fitted at home?

Post by Bailes1992 » Mon May 20, 2019 2:17 pm

Welly wrote:
Mon May 20, 2019 1:39 pm
I've had a lot of GU10 lamps fail 'early' one lasted about 6 minutes and literally POPPED - loud enough for us all to rush and see what it was.

I've noticed the face of the LED 'bulb' is cool but some of the control stuff/circuit gets quite warm behind it.

Standard house lighting Twin & Earth is 1.0mm sq or 1.5mm - will they reduce this further with LED lighting?

Regards the smart meters I can see now all the 'attractive' tariff's are the SM ones so we're almost getting rail-roaded into having them :frown:
Smart meters aren't going to save you money. What they will do is make you more informed about the energy you use. Whether you decide to use that information to reduce your energy usage is completely up to you.

Our tariff is fixed, we don't have different prices for different times of the day.

For power circuits 1.5mm² is the minimum cable size allowed under BS7671. 1.0mm² is allowed but for lighting only. This is down to volt-drop (3% maximum allowed for lighting) and the mechanical strength required to pull in/install the cable. I can't see them reducing this further any time soon.
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