SMETS stands for Smart Metering Equipment Technical Specifications. The number after shows which ‘generation’ of meters each model belongs to. Second generation (SMETS2) is the current industry standard with most installations now being of this type.
The future of home gas and electricity meters is going to involve smart meters. They can give regular meter readings to energy suppliers and end estimated bills. Through the smart-hubs that often come with the meters, we can keep a close eye on our own energy use.
Although consumers can decline a smart meter, many of the best deals on the market now require one. This is less about saving the planet and more because energy suppliers that fall short of government targets face hefty fines.
With the first generation of smart meters, it became possible to forget about providing regular meter readings to a supplier. Fitted with the same kind of 3G sim card that you can find in a mobile phone, SMETS1 meters update your supplier at set intervals.
The accompanying smart-hub, available from many energy suppliers, helps customers keep a tab on energy usage. Not only is this good for the planet, but can be a great way to help save money on bills. You can see exactly how much power that you are using from the smart-hub and pick through that data. That makes it possible to work out which appliances are using the most energy and limit the time they are running.
The promise of SMETS1 fell short of the expectations the industry had of them. Unfortunately, changing energy supplier can turn a smart meter ‘dumb’. Because each company created their own system, many SMETS1 meters can only work with one or two suppliers. When your old suppliers’ smart meter cannot communicate with your new suppliers’ software, the only solution is to revert back to providing manual readings. However, your smart hub will still work, so keeping an eye on consumption will still be a benefit of having a SMETS1 meter.
There will be an update released soon to fix this problem and provide automatic readings even after switching suppliers.
What differences do SMETS2 meters bring?
The upgraded SMETS2 meters have tried to learn from the shortcomings of the previous models. No longer relying on 3G sim cards, these meters use a secured government network to transfer data (known as the DCC).
Changing suppliers should no longer cause meter reading problems for consumers with the upgraded models.
How can I find out which model I have?
It may not be possible to tell which version of smart meter that you have installed just by looking at them. The only way to know for sure is to contact your energy supplier and ask them.
The SMETS1 meters began rollout in 2017 before being replaced by SMETS2 in 2018. That should mean that all smart meters being installed in the UK today are the SMETS2 type. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Energy suppliers had a huge surplus of SMETS1 meters and kept installing them. To combat this, OFGEM stopped SMETS1 meters from counting towards government targets in March 2019. Now any supplier still installing SMETS1 meters risks falling short of targets and receiving financial penalties.
Are energy suppliers currently meeting targets?
No. Unfortunately, for the rise of the smart meter, many people either do not trust smart meters or do not see any real benefit from them. Trust issues often form alongside other arguments of data harvesting and benefits are not always obvious to everyone.
Who can see the data, what is the data being used for, is my data being sold? These are all questions that have sown the seeds of doubt in many consumers minds. Rumours of future capabilities to turn off supply, especially around the subject of electric cars, has caused further scepticism among the public.
Going forward it is likely that things will improve for the energy suppliers. Many are now only offering the best gas and electricity deals to those with smart meters, or those willing to upgrade. This tactic is likely to see good results as using a traditional analogue meter gets more expensive.
I have SMETS1, can I upgrade to SMETS2?
Yes, but it is likely that you will cover the costs of the upgrade. All SMETS1 meters installed before March 2019 already count towards the roll out targets. This takes away any incentive for the energy companies to carry out this work. As a result, your SMETS1 meter is likely here to stay.