How do smart meters work?
- Do smart meters and the in-home display cost anything to run?
It costs less than £1 per year to power the portable in-home display (IHD). It has been designed to be as energy efficient as possible. It's a requirement that the IHD only uses a maximum average of 0.6 watts under normal operating conditions. As a point of comparison, an LED lightbulb uses 11 watts.
The power supply to the smart meter itself is handled by the energy supplier, meaning customers are not charged for this.
There are significant benefits for people using an in-home display including them being able to take steps to reduce their energy use and save money.
- Who is responsible for the battery in the gas smart meter?
Your energy supplier is responsible for ensuring that your smart meter continues to operate at the point that the battery needs replacing.
We understand that energy suppliers remotely monitor the battery life of their gas smart meters and the majority have configured their meters so that if the battery drains completely, the household remains on supply as the valves remain open.
In some instances, and depending on the age and type of meter, when a battery completely drains the supply is stopped. If this occurs we advise consumers to contact their energy supplier who will treat the matter as an emergency to restart your supply.
- What is the life span of a smart meter?
- Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the government department responsible for the smart meter rollout, states that smart meters must have a lifespan of 15 years. For traditional meters, a lifespan of 20 years is assumed based on advice from BEIS.
- How does my smart meter send the data to my supplier?
The communications hub, which is always installed with the smart metering system in the home, connects the meter to the energy supplier via the secure smart data network (also known as Wide Area Network, or WAN). Different communications hubs will be installed, depending on which part of Great Britain you live in. In the north of England and Scotland, communications hubs will use long-range radio waves. If you live in the central and southern parts of England, or Wales, your communications hub will use cellular and wireless mesh technology. The DCC is responsible for establishing and maintaining the secure smart meter data network, irrespective of where you live.
The communications hub also links your smart meters to your in-home display through the Home Area Network (HAN). This is entirely separate, so your smart meter only sends information in near-real time to your in-home display - and not to the supplier. Most homes (70%) will have a standard communications hub that has a 2.4GHz frequency for the HAN. Some homes (for example, blocks of flats) will need a more sophisticated communications hub that can also use an additional frequency of 868MHz. There is no additional costs for this, your energy supplier will provide you with the technology you need to benefit from smart metering.
- How accurate are smart meters?
- Very accurate. By law, all smart meters have to be certified by the Office for Product Safety & Standards to prove their accuracy.
- Do smart meters use your Wi-Fi?
No, smart meters do not use the Internet or Wi-Fi. They use their own dedicated smart data network to communicate with your supplier.
- Will my smart meter interfere with my Wi-Fi, radio equipment or other devices in my home?
- All smart meters installed as part of this national rollout comply with UK and EU product safety legislation, which includes directives for Radio Equipment and Low Voltage, respectively covering the correct use of radio spectrum and emissions. As such, smart meters should not interfere with other appliances/equipment in your home.
- Do smart meters use 5G?
- The SMETS1 and SMETS2 meters in Great Britain work on 2G and 3G. They do not and will not use 5G.
- Who is the DCC?
- The Data Communications Company is in charge of maintaining the secure smart data network that smart meters use to communicate your energy readings to your supplier. You can find out more about them here.
- What if the DCC network goes down? Will my electricity be disconnected?
You will not be disconnected in the unlikely case that the national communications network for smart metering goes down. No energy supply is lost if this network goes down, as the communications network does not affect the gas and/or electricity supply to your premises.