Why smart meters may not be so smart

Smart energy meters seem like a great idea. Not only do you, the consumer, get a real time reading of how much gas and electricity you are using, but your energy company also receives automated meter readings that should lead to accurate bills without the hassle of reading the meters yourself.

Your energy company will also offer to install smart electricity and gas meters for you free of charge, so it seems to be a win-win situation and you are even helping the Government meet its target for all households to be using smart meters by the end of 2020.

So why do I not want smart fitted now? Why do I want to wait until 2018 to benefit from these technologies?

SMETS version 1 meters

Let me introduce you to the acronym SMETS, which stands for Smart Metering Equipment Technical Specifications. SMETS is an industry standard that specifies how smart meters work, and most importantly how the meter connects to, and communicates with your energy supplier.

SMETS version 1 meters contain a SIM card that connect to your energy provider via 3G in a similar way to the way that your mobile phone works.

So the SMETS 1 meter can be set up to contact your energy company at a set interval – once a day, once a week, or even hourly if you need that level of resolution with your energy usage reporting.

That sounds good, but the problem is that when many consumers have switched energy supplier, they have been told that the new company cannot read the data from their smart meters. Some of the newer, smaller, companies such as Bulb cannot read data from smart meters at all!

Some suppliers like Bulb are offering great savings and you can even earn money too.

This is not the end of the world, and is definitely not a reason to not switch to a better energy deal, but it does mean that your smart meter suddenly becomes dumb as far as sending reading to your new energy supplier.

You have to resort back to taking manual readings and sending them to your energy company. Back to the bad old days, though you do still get the real time readings if you are looking at ways to cut your energy bills, or are obsessive about how much energy your household is using at any one time.

If you have smart energy meters installed in 2017, you will be supplied with SMETS version 1 meters. Read on to see why this is not something that I want..

SMETS version 2 meters

So now let me introduce you to the latest version, SMETS version 2 meters.

SMETS version 2 meters still give you real time monitoring of energy usage, but the major difference between them and the version 1 variant is in the way that they communicate with the energy suppliers.

Instead of using 3G sim cards, SMETS version 2 meters communicate over a Government data network so they are more compatible with a wider range of energy provider. In fact so far 40 energy companies, including smaller energy suppliers, have signed up to this new specification.

Switching energy suppliers will be far easier when you have SMETS version 2 meters installed.

It is also very likely that your new company will be compatible with your meters so your smart meters remain smart, even if moving from a ‘Big Six’ supplier to a much smaller company.

I don’t want SMETS version 1 meters but DO want SMETS version 2 meters

Although SMETS version 1 meters might be converted to the SMETS version 2 specification, most will have to be replaced. Imagine how long that is going to take?

You see, once you have your smart meters installed, even though they will be SMETS version 1, you have helped fulfil the Governments’ pledge, even though your meters will become obsolete in early 2018 when the SMETS 2 specification and Government data network is rolled out.

There will be no hurry for anyone to come along and either upgrade your meters to version 2 specifications or replace them for the new models.

You will be stuck with your old style meters which will become dumb when you switch, whilst everyone else, from 2018 onwards, will be getting the latest meters that remain smart whichever energy supplier they use.

I am saying NO if my energy supplier wants to install SMETS version 1 meters

Switching energy supplier is quick and easy and is something that I would encourage everybody to consider.

Say No

I like the idea of smart meters, but I want my meters to remain smart for years to come. SMETS version 2 meters will make it even easier to switch energy supplier – even switching the next day!

If my energy supplier wants to install version 1 meters, I will say NO! So should you!

Be in the know about this controversy

Not many people know about this SMETS version controversy. They are willingly allowing their energy company to install the older version meters, without realising that they will be lumbered with meters that become obsolete meters as early as next year.

I am saving money by switching energy deals, but I don’t want to let obsolete energy meters hamper switching in the future.

You should be smart by asking which type of meter is being installed and wait until you are told that you will be the proud owner of SMETS version 2 meters.


  1. Hi…I have a smets 2 smart meter. I am on economy 7 but I cannot get a night time reading in the daytime ..only when it is on economy 7 hrs..12.30 till 7.30 am..so if I want a meter reading I have to go out in the dark and read my meter during those hrs…can I ask how is this smart ? Have contacted eon who fitted it and they were not helpful at all .

  2. I had my Smart meter installed by my supplier in September 2018. I was told it was the more modern type and I would retain full functionality when I switched.

    My supplier then went under. tariffs went up so I switched to a big 6 supplier. As soon as I switched I lost all “smart” functionality. My new supplier told me that I have a SMETS 1 not a SMETS 2. They also said that in December 2019 (or later) SMETS 1 meters will regain functionality.

    Finally they said that even if they replaced my SMETS 1 with a SMETS 2 now it wouldn’t work (I don’t understand how that be the case).

    I have some questions –

    If my old supplier fitted a SMETS 1 in September 2018 were they in breach of any regulation agreement or requirement?

    Should my supplier have accepted my switch if they knew I had a SMETS 1 meter (the old provider should have informed them) without telling me it wouldn’t work properly afterwards?

    Is my new supplier telling the truth when they say that even if they physically fitted one of their SMETS 2 meters in place of the SMETS 1 it wouldn’t work? If this is true, why?

    If all customers have a right to ask their supplier to fit a SMART meter, have I got the right to ask my new supplier to fit a SMETS 2 (they haven’t paid for the SMETS 1 so they are not out of pocket)?

    Thanks very much.

    • Hi Mark. Thanks very much for sharing your experiences with your (so called) smart meter. It just shows what a mess this smart meter roll out is.

      Unfortunately, we cannot give you any advice about your questions, however I hope that you resolve this situation quickly and without too much hassle.

  3. I have been told by my supplier that they cannot fit a SMETS 2 meter at my house because I am an Economy 7 consumer (Day rate tariff and lower rate Night tariff for storage radiators). They claim that only the SMETS 1 meter is able to read both registers.
    Also any others who may be on E7 tariff it is worth checking that the night register is recording the off peak units. Mine “Day” and “Night” readings were crossed when I changed suppliers and according to an official meter reader this quite often happens. Although for a long time my supplier said this could not happen.

    • Thank you for your useful comment. I had a crossed meter reading with economy 7 and it took ages and a lot of hassle to resolve, as the energy companies don’t think it can happen, but it definitely does!

  4. So… 2019…EDF arranged to install mine this morning. Part way through, they sent an urgent message to the engineer… All engineers… To say stop installing SMETS 2 with immediate effect and revert to SMETS 1…no more info at that stage, then another message as he explained would have to take off one already just installed (I have dual fuel, same provider). The second message said due to reported customer issues…but not what. Sounds still not a fully viable smart meter solution…

  5. I have recently been contacted by EDF (my supplier for dual fuel) asking if id like a Smart meter fitted…my initial thought was “yes please” and I got it booked in for early in January.

    I was then asked if it was a version 1 or 2 meter which initially meant nothing to me but a quick google leads me to a load of other sites and this one….and long story short, I have called EDF to ask what version they fit, they have confirmed it would be a Smets1 and I have therefore cancelled the install until they can fit a SMETS2 for me.

    After a bit more reading I have also found out that SMETS1 meters can have some issues if you have a solar installation as well ( which I do) so another good reason for me to hold off.

    Whilst I agree that these smart metres and displays aren’t going to magically save you any money…they definitely can make SOME people more aware of how much energy they are using.

    I have had a GEO Chrous PV monitor sitting on our kitchen worktop for nearly 7 years now and it has definitely made us more critical of what we were using and when…and whilst we might not view it in the same way anymore…it has definitely helped to make us more sensible with our electricity usage and more importantly, to use our solar production more efficiently.

    I will still look forward to having a meter fitted as it will mean I no longer have to worry about meter reading, but for now, I will continue as I have been. But when the day comes that I am charged for exactly what Im using without giving manual readings each month and not being overcharged with an excessive DD leaving me with a large credit sitting with EDF for months on end, I’ll be far happier

    • A helpful comment, Jon. Thanks. Personally I feel that you made the right choice in waiting until a SMETS2 meter can be installed (though it looks like being a long wait!).

  6. I’m quite confused.

    I’m on a prepayment meter because that’s what I inherited from the previous owner of my house. It’s very annoying and I want to get it swapped for a credit meter, but until recently EON wouldn’t do smart meters in my area at all. They are now – but they aren’t yet doing SMETS 2.

    They are however saying that SMETS 1 meters can be upgraded to SMETS 2 with a simple software update. Looking online, this appears to be true – but presumably for SMETS 1 meters that have more recent hardware. It’s even been mentioned in Parliament (not that this really means much).

    So I’m now unsure if there’s any advantage in waiting for the SMETS 2 meters to become available, as I can’t find out if there are any meaningful hardware differences between the current SMETS 1 meters that are software upgradeable to SMETS 2.

    Does anyone know??

    • If you meter is already a smart meter (SMETS1), then it supports both credit and prepayment modes automatically.

      From a consumer perspective, SMETS1 and 2 are very similar. Key difference today is the communication between your meter and your supplier. The hardware may be slightly newer, but you would not notice any difference from your perspective.

      For SMETS 1 it goes directly into the suppliers infrastructure, this means when you switch supplier, you no longer get automated billing, and have to send in meter readings again manually. Your energy display

      For SMETS 2 it goes via the the DCC, and then passed onto your supplier. If you switch supplier, the old one no longer has access and the new one does.

      The Government is looking at adopting all SMETS 1 meters, which would mean they too go into the DCC.

      No one wants to replace or throw away all the smart meters that have already been installed.

  7. I got a smart meter installed on the 17th of Feb 2018.by my dual supplier Scottish gas (we live in Scotland) which is owned by British gas, what type of meter would have they installed (SMETS1 or SMETS2) as since we have had the smart meter installed our electricity costs have doubled despite having 11 solar panels on our South facing roof. It would seem that the smart meter is not compatible with our solar panel system and is not using the power the solar panels are generating.

    In daylight hours when we use the washing machine the power usage spikes costing us about 50 p for a short 30 degrees wash cycle. I contacted customer services a fortnight ago and complained and asked to have the meter checked by an engineer, but so far no electric engineer has arrived.

    I know that they are not supposed to install SMETS1 meters if you have solar panels as there has been problems in compatibility with solar panels

    • Did you get to the bottom of this?
      We have SolarPV, and are considering a tariff that is favourable to electric vehicles, but the tariff requires a Smart Meter…..and your tale fills me with horror: we’ve had our Solar for 8 years, and to think the savings could suddenly halt is not acceptable!!

  8. Hi Chris,
    Time for some clarification from an industry installer..I have installed Smart for over 5 years..should give you a clue as to who i work for.

    Smets 1 or Smets 2 is the question..the bigger question is why the delay..its not a difficult product to manufacture..the reasons are with the smaller suppliers..not with the big suppliers dragging their feet. Many smaller smaller suppliers have not got the infrastructure required to deal with smart meters, including staff with expertise to understand the readings the technology or the back end systems that are used,, that is the main reason for the delays.

    Smets 1 should all be upgradeable so we are told..but if the issues of the last 5 years are anything to go by I would not hold my breath on that. So far the whole roll out has been nothing short of a technical fiasco..with delay after delay..as engineers we have been told since 2014 that Smets 2 will be rolled out in the next six months..still waiting!!…

    My advice to everybody is to hold on to your dumb meters and switch to save..HOLD TIGHT

  9. Around the end of Summer last year I spoke to a nice lady from my electricity supply company and explained to her that I would like a meter installed when the newer version – SMETS2 – is out.

    Yesterday I got a call from a gentleman from the same company saying they’d like to install a smart meter. I asked if the new meter was out I’d have one, he then said but you’re down as wanting a smart meter so I repeated myself again. He then asks me what’s the difference, I said I don’t have the time to explain as I was at work but it seems he couldn’t/wouldn’t tell me whether it was a SMETS1 or SMETS2.

    In the end he was annoying me and was persistent, asking why I didn’t want the meter installed and I said you know what, I don’t want one anymore, please take me off of the list and don’t call me for at least another year!

    • Thanks for your comment. It sounds like your supply company didn’t know the difference between the types of meters, or at least pretended not to know!

  10. Interesting article and views however I tend to disagree. Yes, SMETS2 will facilitate a quick changeover of energy supplier and your meters will / may remain “Smart” however whilst you sit tight awaiting the roll-out – whenever that will be – you’re delaying the opportunity to reduce you’re household energy use and ultimately your energy costs by installing the SMETS1 version.

    By installing SMETS1 you can start reducing your energy costs NOW, the reality being by the time SMETS2 is rolled out and installed you’ll have saved more over the period than any negative impact from a delay in switching energy provider.

    Most providers have fixed term tariffs with no penalty for switching 30 days before the end of the fixed term so plan ahead. Yes you may have to read your meters manually for a time but is this really such a hardship? Also, who’s to say energy providers won’t prioritise SMETS1 customers for an upgrade to retain their business and / or by switching to another supplier you get SMETS2 installed as a welcome. Too many unknowns for me so I’ll concentrate on saving money now and worry about SMETS2 later……..in 2019 : )

      • I tend to think that anyone who believes smart meters will be of any benefit is misguided. People live a lifestyle and if they wished, or indeed were able to reduce their consumption they would do. Once a smart meter is installed how many days will pass before the novelty appeal passes and they go back to their previous lifestyle. Anyway, it only takes two minutes to read two meters and input via your smartphone app. I read my meter monthly and keep a yearly rolling average of three years multiplied by the price. I therefore always know my correct annual and monthly costs.
        I also believe several other countries have rejected smart meters. I also suspect the meter readers wont be too happy either.

        • Thanks for your comment Mike. You raised some interesting points.

          I suspect that smart meters benefit the energy companies more than the consumers as they save the costs of reading the meters manually and also give dynamic usage stats to the suppliers so that they can optimise their forward energy purchasing.

          You sound very disciplined with your monthly meter reading schedule and yes, you are on top of your energy usage and obviously don’t need an automated system. I try and read our meters every month, too, however sometimes it slips my mind and I forget.

          I think many people fail to monitor their energy usage like you do, and I do, to a lesser extent, so having a simplified monitoring system could be of some use, however, as you point out, they would have to modify their usage too, and many won’t, once the novelty wears off.

          • Hi Chris,

            The reason that most people see a saving on their energy bill with a smart meter is not because it is a smart meter and sends data to you utility. Rather it is as you are given an energy display to help you more easily see energy usage for gas and electricity. As it sits there showing you what you are using, people become more aware of what they using and therefore what they are spending.

    • Can we just get this straight – a SMART meter does not save your energy use as Richard says. It’s we that save energy using common sense – if I switch off my CH earlier then I will save energy, my washing machine uses a lot of energy, filling the kettle with only the amount water that I need will save energy, – I don’t need a SMART meter to tell me these things. The advantage of a SMART meter is providing readings directly and therefore more consistent and accurate billing.

    • In what way does your electricity bill go down? If you are savvy enough not to leave lights etc then why do you need a smart meter and how does it save you money? This change appears to me to save the energy company but I’m not at all convinced it does anything for the customer

    • Hi Richard – Can you explain how I will reduce my household energy and therefore energy costs? I keep hearing that my electricity costs will be cheaper when I get a smart meter, but I don’t understand how. Thanks

  11. I have just received a call from my energy supplier, who shall remain nameless, (Although Dorothy had a dog with the same name!) When I asked what type of meter they would be installing, to be fair they did say it was going to be a SMETS1. Until that point, I hadn’t read up on smart meters and didn’t have a clue what types were available, so after being diverted to your website after typing Snet 1 (my fault, I didn’t take down the correct spelling), I found all the information I required. So, long story short, when they ring me back asking if I want a SMETS1 meter fitted, in the good old Dragons Den parlance, it will be a “No” from me!

  12. We are now in 2018 and it would be nice if some of the suppliers pulled their fingers out and start delivering Smets2 Smart Meters. I am getting very cross with the situation.

  13. How will I know if I am having installed a SMETS2 rather than a SMETS1 meter?

    Is there an easy way to tell. I have looked through various sites and have not found the answer to date.

    • Hello David. Thank you for your question. I suggest that you phone your energy supplier and ask them.

      As it is very early in 2018 and the SMETS2 roll out has not begun (I believe), I think it is likely that you will be fitted with a SMETS1 meter, but please check with your energy company.

      • Chris,
        Many thanks I am currently renting a very large Rural house and the Landlord has utilised Utility Warehouse as the Electrical supplier [non gas] rest of house running on oil.

        UW are being quite persistent, I will bide my time the Landlords are aware of their request to change meter. They have been pressing since mid-November 17.
        Is there any reason why I cannot delay until later in the year?


        • Hi David. Thanks for your update. Before we switched to Bulb Energy, we were with Utility Warehouse and they sent around a team to install smart meters (SMETS 1). However, when they arrived, they found that there was an issue with our electrical consumer unit – it was working fine but there was something to do with the earthing that caused them problems.

          So they couldn’t fit the meters. However it was they who told me about the SMETS2 meters, which started my research into them, and these articles.

          The thing is, I had to wait for about three months between receiving the letter from UW and the installation appointment. If you really want to stall, and you can’t switch from UW, then I would make an appointment for three months time and then suddenly be unavailable a week or so before the actual date. That would set the clock back another few months….!

  14. I too am awaiting SMETS 2 roll out in 2018? I have said no to SMETS1. Let us hope there is no delay in the roll out of SMETS2 in 2018; the stories I have read does not make this promising.

    • Yes, it seems that some of the larger utilty companies are dragging their feet in the transition to SMETS2 smart meters.

      There are also serious concerns about the security of the data network that will provide the SMETS 2 connectivity. Apparently GCHQ is being tasked with testing its resilience against hackers. This is all time consuming and looks set to delay the SMETS2 roll out.

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