Smart Meter vs own setup


I’ve recently moved into a new home, where there are currently dumb old electricity and gas meters installed. I’ve been thinking about getting a smart meter but none of the UK electricity companies that I called were able to tell me if they can install one, and what model of IHD. They all say “You have to be a customer first for 6 weeks, then we can tell you whether you are eligible for a smart meter”. That’s so dumb!

Now from further talks with some of their customer services it seems like SMETS2 meters are probably available in my area and the likelyhood of me getting one is quite high. I also found one or two companies which are apparently rolling out Chamaeleon IHD-6, which is one of the latest ones and the one that I’d like to get.

However one thing holding me back from signing up with one of them, is that I also don’t like yet another device in the house that communicates via radio waves, in particular if it’s a mobile/3G connection (apparently in the north of UK, where I am, they use a mesh network, and only in the south they use 3G - but some of the provider’s customer service told me they use 3G - probably they don’t know what they’re talking about). Also I like to have access to the data (which those companies don’t fully give you, or not at all), and also I would not mind to keep the data private (i.e. inside the house, not sharing it with supplier and all the companies they partner with).

So it occurred to me - can’t I just buy and install my own smart meter with IHD and install it after, behind the dumb meter from the supplier? Would I be allowed to do the same for the gas meter and “link” them together, like the electricity companies do?

Also, then I found this website - which seems to be a great DIY solution. However I’m no electrician and I don’t want to assemble things myself - I want to buy and use something “ready”. I don’t mind having to pay an electrician to install it. Perhaps OpenEnergyMonitor is not the “ready-made” solution that I’d like, or is it?
And OpenEnergyMonitor does not have a solution for gas, does it?

I am also thinking that if I am to get my own smart meter (if possible) or OpenEnergyMonitor solution, at some point within the next two years, the UK energy company will probably come knocking at my door to install their smart meter, as they have government quotas to fulfill and eventually every property has to have a smart meter. Then I’d have two monitoring solutions, which would be pointless, and it also means I’m getting connected to the 3G or Mesh network sooner or later anyway.

Any thoughts and input would be much appreciated. Thank you very much!

Welcome, Fred, to the OEM forum, and the seasons best wishes to you.

Answering the easy one first, you don’t need an electrician to install the OEM equipment, provided that you have access to the “meter tails” - these are the two (of the four) single cables that come out of your meter and go into your consumer unit. You will need a double mains socket within reach of the meter.

The assembly required is then to plug the current transformer into the emonPi, then clip it onto one of those tails, plug the a.c. adapter into the emonPi and plug it in to the mains, then plug the d.c. power pack into the emonPi and plug that into the mains. There’s a picture in the Guide (Home Energy section) showing the current transformer clipped onto one of the tails. That the electrical side done. There’s the software to do, but that’s in the Guide too.

As you say, the gas side is trickier. If your gas meter is in a co-operative mood, it will have a small magnet inside the ‘fastest’ wheel showing the numbers. If you’ve got an ordinary magnetic compass, you should bee able to detect it with that. If you’ve got that magnet, then you can put a magnetic reed switch close to that wheel, and connect it into your emonPi. That’ll count revolutions that you can convert to m³ or whatever. If you haven’t got the magnet, then the practical answer is the gas man cometh to fit another meter.

My worry about smart meters is data security - either they won’t let you get your own data (or they will, but at a cost) or there’s a security breach somewhere along the line and the criminal fraternity can deduce without too much difficulty when you’re not at home and thus pay a visit. History shows that no data is guaranteed to be secure.

I wouldn’t worry too much about a meter phoning home using the mobile or any other network - the field strength where you are won’t be anywhere close to the field you experience from an ordinary mobile phone on your ear.