Smart Meters and Solar Panels: Everything you need to know

Smart meters help you monitor and manage your energy use. Solar panels reduce your energy bills and support a greener future. But can they work together? Can you still benefit from solar without a smart meter? Let’s find out!

Smart meters and solar panels are helpful. But how do they work together? Can you use solar without a smart meter? Will solar lower your bills if you have a smart meter? Could your panels interfere with a smart meter and give the wrong reading? Let’s explore these questions.

If you’re getting solar panels, they can work without a smart meter, but having one installed can be smart. Smart meters and solar panels can team up to help you lower your energy bills and keep tabs on the energy you’re making and using.

In this blog post, we’ll explain everything you need to know about using a smart meter with solar panels, and answer some of the most frequently asked questions.

How do Smart Meters work?

Smart meters automatically track your gas and electricity use, whether you have solar power or not. They do this by measuring the flow of electricity and voltage regularly, then calculating your average and total usage. This info is displayed for you.

Your smart meter can send this data to your energy supplier through a network called the Data Communications Company (DCC). Older smart meters use 3G to transmit data. With a smart meter, you don’t need to manually read and send meter readings. Your supplier bills you based on the data they get, so you pay for what you actually use.

If you have solar panels and they produce more energy than you need, the excess is sent to the National Grid. Your smart meter won’t run backward like an old meter would. Instead, it might show a message like ‘rEd’ or ‘Reverse energy detected’.


Smart Meters, Solar Panels and Energy Export

You may already be familiar with the key advantages of having a smart meter. For example:

• They provide accurate and up-to-date readings on how much energy you’re using
• They help you manage and understand your energy bills
• They help you look after the environment by keeping usage low
• Data is sent straight from the smart meter to your energy company, so you don’t need to submit any readings

Disadvantages of smart meters are few, but some feel more aware of their energy use when they can see it in real-time. One benefit is how they can help you earn money from excess solar energy.

The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) is a government scheme that pays you for surplus energy your solar panels send to the grid. It started in January 2020 and applies to medium and large energy suppliers with over 150,000 customers.

So, How Does the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) Work?

The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) means energy companies pay you for the extra energy you produce instead of you paying them. Each energy company sets its own rates, usually between 2 and 5p per kWh. Your earnings depend on the rate and how much energy you send to the grid.

Before, you needed a separate ‘export meter’ to track your exported energy for fair payment. But smart meters can do this for you. They’re perfect for SEG tariffs because they accurately calculate your energy exports, ensuring you get paid for every kWh you send back to the grid.

How will I know what type of smart meter I have?

The newer SMETS-2 meters started rolling out in 2018. If yours was installed before that, you probably have a SMETS-1 meter.

To check, look at the serial number on your meter. If it starts with 19P, it’s SMETS-1. If it starts with 19M, it’s SMETS-2. The serial number is usually on the front of the meter, but its exact location varies. You can also ask your energy supplier.

If you have a SMETS-1 meter, consider upgrading to a SMETS-2 to avoid compatibility issues. Contact your energy supplier for more information.

Are all Smart Meters the same?

Where things get complicated is that there’s more than one kind of smart meter.

SMETS stands for Smart Metering Equipment Technical Specifications, but you don’t need to remember that. It’s just a smart meter.

There are two types: SMETS-1 and SMETS-2. The main difference is how they send data. SMETS-1 uses 3G, while SMETS-2 uses the DCC network. SMETS-2 meters also have simpler interfaces and some look different.

For the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG), all SMETS-2 meters work, but some SMETS-1 meters might not. So, if you want to use the SEG, it’s better to have a SMETS-2 meter.

Contact Edanhomes today

Even if you have the right kind of smart meter, and even if you love the idea of solar, you may be put off the idea of having panels installed. That’s because it can take a long time to recoup the initial cost of solar panels, which is several thousand of pounds for the average system.

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