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How do Smart meters actually communicate

posted by johnw | A year 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 | A year 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 | A year ago
Re: How do Smart meters actually communicate

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



posted by johnw | A year 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.  

posted by BACK2BACKTREBLE | 12 months ago
Re: How do Smart meters actually communicate
How do you get a smart meter

posted by Grumpabill | 12 months ago
Re: How do Smart meters actually communicate

Had two Smart Meters, Gas and Electric fitted around three months ago. Apart from a period of around a week or so the automatic readings just do not register on my online account meter reading page. When I check my page daily I am invited to enter my readings manually as the columns are blank. Have elected to have the readings set to record automatically  every half hour, the recommendation from Scottish Power. Despite calls to SP Energy on quite a few occasions the situation remains the same. My last call suggested I change my online password, nothing changed.

Come on S. Power, you surely can do much better than this to a long standing loyal customer. My sheer frustration is palpable and I am quite frankly receiving no joy either with explanations or rectifications.  Grumpabill.



posted by ronandliz | 12 months ago
Re: How do Smart meters actually communicate


Just spent 30 mins on the phone to SP.  Robyn was very helpful and checked with lots of people.The readings are going automatically to them but I can't see them in my online account. So it's a key for the gas and a stepladder for the electricity  and enerting the actual readers.

On a good day, the screen shows "readings successfully retrieved or something similar",  now there is nothing! The consumption graphs (smart meter version are not operational) ... appraently they are doing some sort of upgrade. However, we have had this problem before and a string of emails in Jan and Feb this year.  The interesting thing is that regardless of whether they are retrieved or entered by me the BILL shows  (actual) for electricity and (smart) for gas????

They seem to think that the fall back of a 3 monthly bill is OK ... in fact were surprised when I pointed out that I always had monthly bills.

How long will the problem persist?  For me it has been at least 11 days this time!! Are all smart meter retrieval line to online accounts broken??

Liz and Ron

posted by ronandliz | 12 months ago
Re: How do Smart meters actually communicate
In house display is of some use but it is just picking up a signal from the meters and it seems to make no difference if you turn it off ( for example while away on extended holiday) -- I only find mine of use for comparing today's use with yesterday's and watching for unexpected use

posted by Davc | 12 months ago
Re: How do Smart meters actually communicate

Hi Ron you are right you can turn off the ihd if you like it does not take part in sending out readings. But the ihd is very useful to you if you need a manual reading because it avoids ladders etc. So if your meters are not sending data use the ihd for a reading and send it in by phone. 

posted by bgf | 12 months ago
Re: How do Smart meters actually communicate

You think you have problems! I had my smart meters installed by SP sub contractors on 30th Nov. Comment from installer was sorry I can't commission these at present as the computer system is down- I'll be back, he never returned and neither did anyone else despite ringing both SP and the subcontractor

. Spent hours on phone and email to SP eventually told that meters would not work as they were too far apart! A cynic would ask why install them in the first place? SP have been estimating my bills and still have the old gas meter serial number as their point of reference on my bill despite it being removed in Nov.!