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How do Smart meters actually communicate

posted by johnw | 3 weeks ago


I am having problems with my smart Gas meter not sending readings, but I am getting some strange answers from Customer Services on how these meters actually work. Here are 2 paragraphs from the same response:

"Our gas meter is not communicating with your In-Home Display, and is therefore not sending gas readings to us.  You are able to read your gas meter manually, as you sent me a photograph of your meter showing the current reading, so your meter is not faulty."



"Smart metering works by the gas sending a reading to the electricity meter and then the electricity meter sends both reads to the IHD, and from there they get sent to us.  Occasionally, due to the location of the gas meter, the signal between the meters is not strong enough for the gas meter to communicate.  This appears to be the issue in your home."

If you believe para 2, then para 1 is not true. The gas meter does NOT communicate with the IHD, The electric meter does that.

According to the guy who fitted the meters para 2 also appears to be untrue. He said the meters are fitted with SIM cards just like mobile phones are, and they send readings in the same way eg using mobile data technology. In that way Internet connections, routers, Wi-Fi etc are not required at all.

From previous communication with Customer Support they seem convinced the IHD is an itegral part of this communication system, but mine is in a cupboard somewhere, not even powered up. I can't find any reference on the internet to the IHD being the sender of meter readings.

Can anybody throw any light on this. Thanks


Top answer

posted by Davc | 3 weeks ago
Re: How do Smart meters actually communicate

Hi, I like simple factual questions like this, and both your replies were slightly wrong.  The gas meter is battery powered for safety, so it does not have the power to transmit by phone and it sends its signal by a short range radio signal to the electricity meter.  The electricity meter uses the mobile phone network to send occasional gas and electricity readings to SP.  You can set the frequency of updates from monthly to daily or half hourly. The electricity meter also sends live short range radio signals to your IHD.   The IHD is for your convenience and is not involved in the smart meter transmission process.

The short range radio signal is similar to wifi and bluetooth, but is actually a low energy system called Zigbee.  Your home wifi network is not involved at all.

First generation meters send their data to your provider and do not work if you switch provider. Second generation meters send their data to a government database and so work no matter who your supplier is. First generation meters will eventually get switched to transmit to the government database.

As the smart meter process is well under way now I am surprised that SP staff are still a bit vague about how it works. Of course consumers don't really need to knowthe details,  but it helps to understand when things do not work correctly.

posted by Davc | 3 weeks ago
Re: How do Smart meters actually communicate

A Picture of the Smart Meter setup:  See attachment sp.jpg



posted by johnw | 3 weeks ago
Re: How do Smart meters actually communicate

Thanks Davc.

This all makes sense, and hopefully the Customer services staff will see how misleading their information is.