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Should I get a smart meter yet?

The energy companies installing smart meters, even if you have solar panels

Should I get a smart meter yet?

Three energy companies have installed more than a million smart meters in their customers’ homes, while none have yet begun a full-scale roll-out of the final version of the meters – these should fix problems suffered by earlier smart meters.

British Gas, Eon and Utilita have installed the most smart meters so far. In total, a shade over 10 million smart meters have now been installed in homes in Great Britain, according to the government’s latest data.

But none of the 27 energy companies we spoke with have yet begun mass installations of second-generation meters, which it’s hoped will be free from the problems of the first-generation meters. This included turning ‘dumb’ when people switched.

Many are currently testing or piloting the latest smart meters and plan to begin installing them widely from this summer.

Read on to find out when your energy company will install smart meters and which companies will install smart with solar panels.

See what you need to know about smart meters.

Beyond British Gas: other energy companies installing smart meters

British Gas is the biggest energy company, so it’s not surprising that it has installed the most smart meters so far. It has installed around 5 million of them – nearly half of all smart meters installed so far.

All of the biggest six energy firms – this includes British Gas, along with EDF Energy, Eon, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE – are installing smart meters and have begun pilot testing and installing SMETS2 meters.

Just 290 SMETS2 meters are installed and working in ‘live’ conditions, Claire Perry, Minister of State at BEIS, said in April.

SMETS2 are second-generation smart meters, which should solve the problems experienced with some first-generation (SMETS1) meters. This includes meters losing smart functionality when customers switch supplier.

Find out more about the smart meter roll-out.

Ovo Energy, Utilita, Utility Warehouse and smaller suppliers

Of the 27 energy companies we contacted, prepayment specialist Utilita has installed the most smart meters, following British Gas. It says that more than 90% of its customers now have smart meters.

Bristol Energy, Ebico, Economy Energy, Extra Energy, Ecotricity, First Utility, Flow Energy, Green Star Energy, Ovo Energy, Robin Hood Energy, Spark Energy and Utility Warehouse have all also begun installations.

Like the Big Six, many said they’re currently trialling SMETS2 meters and plan to roll them out at scale later this year. Bulb, Good Energy, Octopus and PFP Energy plan to begin their roll-outs in earnest with SMETS2 meters.

See our smaller energy company reviews.

Smart meter delays

From 5 October 2018, SMETS1 meters installed by suppliers will no longer count towards their smart meter totals.

But 12 energy suppliers have been given permission to continue installing SMETS1 meters for longer – until 13 January 2019. This is to smooth out companies’ transitions to installing SMETS2 meters, and make sure there aren’t wasted SMETS1 meters.

This means that customers of British Gas, E, Ecotricity, Eon, First Utility, Npower, Our Power, Ovo Energy, Scottish Power, SSE and Utility Warehouse may not be able to get a SMETS2 meter until next year. Combined, these companies supply around 86% of energy customers.

Utilita has filed for a judicial review of the end date for installing SMETS1 meters for pay-as-you-go customers. It is asking for it to be pushed back two years, to 2020. It claims that SMETS1 meters are ‘secure, cost effective, interoperable and provide additional functionality not supported by SMETS2 meters’ for prepayment energy customers.

First-generation smart meters upgrade

If you already have a smart meter, it’s most likely to be a SMETS1 meter. Eventually, the government plans for these meters to be upgraded so that customers do not have problems when they switch suppliers.

The government is currently consulting on how it should do this. It proposes to require all energy companies to either ensure SMETS1 meters work with the wireless communications network (DCC) or replace them with SMETS2 meters.

Smart meters and solar panels

We get frequent queries about whether you can have a smart meter fitted if you have solar panels installed on your home.

Twelve of the 27 companies we contacted said they are currently installing smart meters for customers with solar panels. These include British Gas, Ecotricity, EDF Energy, Ovo, Scottish Power, Spark Energy and Utilita.

See the full list at getting a smart meter installed.

EDF Energy explained that it will fit smart meters if specifically requested by the customer, but both it and SSE advise customers to wait.

SSE said it’s possible to install smart meters in homes with solar panels, but full functionality is not currently available.

Find out what you need to know about buying solar panels.

Have you been refused a gas smart meter?

Which? research has also uncovered that customers with a certain type of gas meter are being refused a smart meter.

Some energy firms are not installing smart gas meters at homes with semi-concealed gas meters (see image below). These meters are located outside the property, in a brown box with a lid, part sunk into the ground. They are often found at newer-build properties.

We reveal what you need to know about gas and electricity meters.

These meters can be trickier and more time consuming to replace than older gas meters. That’s because they are more difficult to access. It can involve the smart meter installer having to replace some of the gas pipe work.

Companies which say they are installing smart meters at homes with semi-concealed gas meters include: Bristol Energy, British Gas, Ebico, Ecotricity, Npower, Ovo Energy, Robin Hood Energy, Scottish Power, Spark Energy, Utilita and Utility Warehouse.

Companies which told us they are not yet installing smart meters at homes with semi-concealed gas meters include: Economy Energy, EDF Energy, Eon, Extra Energy and SSE.

Fed-up with high bills and poor customer service? Use Which? Switch to compare gas and electricity and find a cheaper deal.

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