Smart Meter Roll-out

Roll-out Rules

The rollout of Smart Meters has been slower than required and the government has introduced two schemes.

In the schemes SMETS 1 meters counted towards the targets until 15th March 2019 and customers are allowed to refuse a Smart Meter when offered.

ARS
The first and current government scheme to require suppliers to install smart meters is known as "All Reasonable Steps" or ARS. This means suppliers are required to forecast the number of installs for the year ahead and then they must meet that target by using All Reasonable Steps to install at customers’ premises. The suppliers forecast should be such that they can reach 97% of premises by the end of the scheme. The end date has changed a number of times as the bullet points below show. A few suppliers have been fined for not achieving their own targets.
  • 30 November 2012 - Legal obligation established on energy suppliers to take all reasonable steps to install smart meters
  • 16 March 2019 - Only SMETS 2 meters now count towards suppliers' target
  • 31 December 2019 - First deadline to complete
  • 31 December 2020 - Deadline extended due to slow progress
  • 30 June 2021 - Deadline extended due to Covid-19 delays.
Post 2020 Rollout
Under the new scheme the government sets an annual milestone for each supplier based on a straight line so that they eventually reach a coverage of between 85% and 100%. The allowed tolerance to meet the set target will grow over the 4 years with a maximum tolerance of 15% in the final year.
  • 1 July 2021 - Legal obligation on energy suppliers to install smart meters to government targets
  • 31 December 2024 - First deadline to complete
  • 30 June 2025 - Deadline extended due to Covid-19 delays.
New and Replacement Obligation
This related obligation requires energy suppliers to use smart meters for all new metering points and all meters requiring replacement. Although it is subject to all reasonable steps, Ofgem have said it is reasonable for a supplier to charge for the installation of a conventional meter if a smart meter is refused.
  • 30 June 2019 - New and Replacement Obligation (NRO) established.

Installation Rules

The Smart Meter Installation Schedule (SMIS) is a set of rules and standards laid down by Ofgem to be followed when installing a new smart meter. This is managed by the Retail Energy Code Company.

It was developed to deliver the Licence requirement for Suppliers to follow an approved installation code of practice when installing the first smart meter for domestic and micro-business customers. The specific Licence conditions are:

  • Domestic: Condition 41 of the Standard Electricity Supply Licence and Condition 35 of the Standard Gas Supply Licence.
  • Micro Business: Condition 42 of the Standard Electricity Supply Licence and Condition 36 of the Standard Gas Supply Licence.

All suppliers must sign up to this Schedule.

Note that until 31st August 2021 this was managed by ElectraLink and the standards were known as the Smart Meter Installation Code of Practice (SMICoP).

Number of Meters on DCC

The Data Communications Company (DCC), which was set up by the government to manage Smart Meter communications on behalf of suppliers, reported the number of Smart Meters live on 7th May 2022 as:

Number of Meters on DCC
SMETS Version Number %
SMETS 1 8,557,411 43%
SMETS 2 11,538,746 57%
Total 20,096,157 100%

The figure above only includes SMETS 1 meters transferred to DCC. Many SMETS 1 meters still remain on older management systems.

Operating as Smart or Dumb

Many customers have noticed that their SMETS 1 smart meters lose functionality when changing suppliers. This is because different unlinked systems have been used in the past to manage SMETS 1 meters. When a new supplier took over a SMETS 1 meter they usually could not operate it and therefore it went "dumb" or operated as a traditional meter.

This should now be addressed with most SMETS 1 meters moving to the DCC systems and becoming Smart again. The improvement in the percentage of Smart Mode meters has been very slow at less than 1% per quarter but the most recent quarter is better showing a 3% improvement.

SMETS 1 & 2 Meters Operating Mode
Mode Number %
Smart (smart mode) and advanced meters 23,594,000 85%
Smart (traditional or dumb mode) 4,184,000 15%
Total 27,778,000 100%

These figures are from BEIS (Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy) for the Domestic and Non-domestic markets as at the 31st December 2021.

Check your own Smart Meter

Citizens Advice have developed a tool to tell you what type of smart meter you have in your home and if it's working in smart mode. The tool can also tell you if your meter should work in smart mode after switching supplier.

Access the tool here: Citizens Advice Smart Meter Checker.

2G and 3G networks to close by 2033

The government and UK mobile network operators have agreed to phase out 2G and 3G mobile networks by 2033 in order to free up bandwidth for 5G and future 6G services. This includes Telefónica (O2) who provide the Smart Meter communications for the Central and Southern regions of the UK.

This change will require the replacement of communications hubs on the Smart Electricity Meters in the Central and Southern regions of the UK. To this end the DCC plan to have 4G single band Communications Hubs available in 2023, with dual band to follow in Q2 2024.

(Page updated: 2022-05-07)

Questions & Answers


What is the SMETS1 end date?
The government are keen for all SMETS (Smart Meter Equipment Technical Specifications) smart meters to interoperate on one system so customers can switch suppliers easily. To encourage this they are discouraging suppliers installing the older SMETS1 meters and incentivising them to move to the new SMETS2 meters. If suppliers wanted the installations to count towards their government targets they could not install SMETS1 meters (or upgrade firmware to SMETS1) after 5th December 2018. Note that some suppliers had a special dispensation and were able to carry on until 15th March 2019.
Additionally due to the extra complexity of prepayments meters, the end date for them was 15th March 2019.
However, suppliers can still install SMETS1 meters if they wish, but it will not count towards their government targets. They may do this to use up old meters stocks or where the customer does not yet have a signal from the new DCC system. (Updated: 2020-02-09)

When will my SMETS1 meter operate again?
The upgrade and transfer of SMETS1 (Smart Meter Equipment Technical Specifications) meters into DCC's systems is planned to occur between June 2019 and the end of 2022.
For more information see Enrolment and Adoption on DCC's website.
Provided your meters are on the list of meters which can fit into this process on table SMETS 1 Meters for adoption by DCC they should start working again during that transfer period. (Updated: 2021-12-06)

Does my SMETS1 meters have to be replaced?
In early 2018 the government and industry agreed to build interfaces which allow the earlier SMETS1 (Smart Meter Equipment Technical Specifications) Smart Meters to be moved to the new DCC system supporting SMETS2 meters. This means that, although you may have lost Smart functionally when you changed supplier, when it is enrolled into the new DCC system that functionally will come back, and you’ll be able to change suppliers without technical problems. The process of moving the meters across system is called enrolment and adoption.
See our Technical page for a list of SMETS1 meter types that can be upgraded. (Updated: 2021-12-06)

Can I lay a cable to help join the devices together?
The meters and IHD (In Home Display) can only be joined through a radio link. This applies to all three standards of meters pre-SMETS, SMETS1 and SMETS2. However, one or two suppliers may be able to offer a zigbee booster, this is similar to the wireless booster you can buy for your home broadband and just plug into a power socket.
Our recommendation would be to let your supplier sort it out, as a communications hub (868MHz) with better reach will be available to suppliers to install with SMETS2 meters where needed from mid 2020. (Updated: 2020-02-09)

Can smart meters be upgraded?
Smart meters can have a firmware upgrade just like your computer or mobile phone. The upgrade will be used to fix faults and add new functionality and should be carried out in the background with little impact on the customer. Indeed this feature is being used to allow SMETS1 meters to be upgraded for the SMETS2 systems; this will allow them all to interoperate. (Updated: 2019-10-21)

My supplier says my signal is too weak?
Smart meters communicate through mobile communications and so the signal strength is an important factor to consider for installation.
For SMETS1 meters the installer will usually test on site and make a decision there and then whether to install. If there is not a sufficient signal they will usually walk away.
For SMETS2 there are more options. The communications are provided by the Data Communications Company (DCC) and suppliers can check that a premises has communications before visiting a site. Once on site they can check with a signal checking device if the signal is strong enough in the meter location. If it isn’t they can fit a number of different aerials to try to boost the signal. If that doesn’t work an external aerial or an alternative mesh communications method is available in some areas. Even then they can leave the meter de-commissioned and ask the DCC to get the communications working. (Updated: 2017-02-01)


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