Millions of UK smart meters may have to be replaced

Posted: May 3, 2017 by oldbrew in Energy, government, Incompetence
Tags: ,

‘Smart’ meter [image credit:]


Existing not-so-smart meters could be a big problem in the UK when a new system is introduced later this year, since they can’t handle a change of supplier.

Six million smart electricity and gas meters installed in homes since 2012 may have to be replaced to make them work with a new communications network which was switched on in November but is still not being used, Paul Lewis Money reports.

Despite that, energy companies are busy installing more of them to try to meet a government target to get one in every home by the end of 2020.

All the meters installed so far are an early design called SMETS1. They use existing mobile phone networks and the communications system is specific to each supplier. That means if you switch your fuel provider to get a cheaper deal – it is Government policy that you should – then the smart meter will almost certainly go dumb. Then it has to be read manually either by the householder or a meter reader.

Some people have complained that reading a dumbed down smart meter is much more difficult than reading a traditional meter designed to be read by a human. Instead of a visible dial with numbers turning round buttons have to be pressed in the right – and forgettable – order. 

The upgraded smart meters – called SMETS2 – have been delayed partly because a new £3 billion communications network was not ready for nearly a year after the planned date. It went live in November 2016. But five months on energy suppliers are still testing it with the new smart meters. They had to be extensively redesigned after security concerns and discussions with GCHQ. 

If all goes well fitting the new meters will start later in 2017. Those meters using that network should be able to work with all suppliers and allow switching supplier to be easier and quicker. 

But the Data Communications Company, part of Capita which is responsible for the new network, could not tell me when or indeed if the old SMETS1 meters would be connected to it. A spokesman told me that the consultation on how that might be done had not even begun. He said it would “go live in the next few weeks”. The consultation that is.

He could not confirm a date for the start or the end of that consultation still less for when SMETS1 meters would be connectable or indeed if that would ever happen. He agreed it was possible that SMETS1 meters would have to be replaced with SMETS2 meters.

Continued here.


  1. oldbrew says:

    Paul Lewis writes: ‘In 2017 most major suppliers and some smaller ones have put up the cost of electricity by 10% to 15% and each of them blames that rise in part on smart meters.’
    [post updated 30/04/17]

  2. Bitter&twisted says:

    Not so “smart” then?
    Now who would have thought such a thing?

  3. oldbrew says:

    Where’s the masterplan? Drinking sessions in breweries spring to mind 😐

  4. rishrac says:

    Water here is as expensive as electric. They have smart meters here that you can go online and see the usage. ( it’s also a semi arid environment). If want a green lawn or a garden watering is necessary as the soil doesn’t retain it for long. Also known as Colorado concrete. So I looked on line and the amount used during a snowstorm just the other day, ( remember snow, a thing of the past) which by the way resulted in a 25% loss in wheat in western Kansas and livestock losses, when are calves born?? oh spring! … was as if I had watered the lawn. So you call the friendly utility company and the standard reply is ” you must have a leak”. ( and the rest of the time it doesn’t).

  5. ivan says:

    Since Crapita (as it is known in the industry) is involved with the network you can guarantee that it will be late (as it is), with only 25% actually working at any one time, not have full country wide coverage and will end up costing 10 times the quoted figure. This is based on other government projects they have been involved with, in fact I can’t recall any project they have been involved in coming in on time and budget.

    This whole ‘smart meter’ stupidity is only being undertaken to cover up the large short comings of the renewable power generation ‘industry’. Remove preferential treatment of renewable energy, including subsidies, and make them quote on a guaranteed supply like coal and gas fired generators and watch the subsidy farmers flee the market.

  6. Saighdear says:

    Och munn! do I want to contribute to this debate….. Getting really really fedup with all this “Smartness” nonsense. Smart adverts etc, – NOTHING is smart at all…. I browse for things – research etc, nothing to do whatsoever with what I AM REALLY Interested in – so all those Junk adverts ….. Oh Smarten up folk – and smell the FRESH Coffee – It’s BOGGING! Our Meter is out in the Barn – have to climb up a ladder to read. No Mob reception up in there, Cannot tell me anything I don’t already know etc etc. Why the extra cost. Already a have a dumb donkey Wart on the wall beside the meter – illuminated and acts a Warning Beacon for the Pidgeons , drawing a LITTLE power multiplied by the millions of other Wall Socket Wartz – wasted power world -wide – it all adds up. Sio what can / WILL a smart meter do for me? …. and IF as stated you have to press buttons to read the meter …? FORGET it . Just another scheme dreamt up by Wannabees
    It is high time that Wannabees and Snowflakes were set out in the Sun.

  7. waterside4 says:

    Please tell me what is the legal situation wrt with these dumb meters?
    Can anyone refuse to have one?
    I should think it will be like the tv tax, where the guvment will pass laws to make them compulsory.

  8. oldbrew says:

    Ofgem says:

    Smart meters aren’t compulsory and you can choose not to have one. If your supplier says you must have one, contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline [see link below].

    Choosing not to have a smart meter installed may mean, in future, you don’t have access to all the available tariffs on the market, some of which could be cheaper.

    It is possible to have a smart meter installed and to request that your supplier turns off the ’smart’ functionality so your usage data and information isn’t automatically sent to your supplier. You can then get this turned back on if you want to in the future.

  9. waterside4 says:

    Thank you Mr Oracle.

    These websites never cease to amaze me with their level of knowledge and (in the majority of cases)

  10. Bitter&twisted says:

    I have refused my supplier entry to my property to install one of these devices.
    I got an apology from said supplier.
    More people should do this.
    National Refusal campaign?

  11. oldbrew says:

    Date: 06/05/17 Katie Morley, The Daily Telegraph

    Last night consumer experts described the smart meter roll-out as a “cock up” while sources at major energy firms admitted the cost was “spiralling” despite customers receiving “sub-par experiences”.