SMETS1 and SMETS 2: Everything you need to know about different types of smart meters
19 November 2021 | Matt Mostyn
Smart meters can help you to cut your bills, and reduce your household’s carbon emissions.
Plus, there’s no more need for those pesky monthly meter readings, as all your energy data is sent straight to your energy supplier.
The government wants all energy suppliers to install smart meters into all British homes by 2024. It’s all part of the effort to create a smarter energy grid, which helps deliver more efficient, reliable, low-carbon energy to Britain's households. At OVO, we’re fully on board with that.
SMETS smart meters explained
SMETS is the acronym for Smart Metering Equipment Technical Specifications. The number afterwards shows which “generation” your particular meter belongs to. Second generation (SMETS2) meters are the current industry standard.
That’s why we’re installing SMETS2, to replace SMETS1 meters (as well as the older “non-smart” meters too) – the UK’s first industry-standard smart meter.
SMETS1 smart meters
SMETS1 meters were the first generation of smart meters, which energy suppliers started to install in 2013. They were fitted with the same kind of 3G sim card that you could find in a mobile phone, so they could update the supplier at set intervals.
The problem was, if you changed supplier, many of these types of meters stopped sending automatic readings.
SMETS2 smart meters
Since then, we’ve seen the launch of the next generation of smart meters, named SMETS2. These have all the same energy-saving features of the last generation.
But the added bonus is SMETS 2 smart meters are cross-compatible with other SMETS2-ready energy suppliers. The software used in these smart meters is able to exchange and make use of information from other SMETS2 meters. So if you switch supplier, you won’t need a meter exchange, and you won’t lose your smart meter features.
Is there a SMETS3 smart meter?
No there isn’t, but there are different types of SMETS2 meters, one of which is a 3-Phase SMETS2. This is a smart meter for “heavy load” energy users, who use a lot of electricity. These are usually industrial or commercial users, but it can include very high energy-consuming homes.
You might be a “heavy load” energy user if your home has solar panels, battery storage, or an EV charger. Until now, these homes, as well as businesses using high volumes of electricity, haven’t been able to use smart metering. But now, you might be eligible for a 3-phase SMETS2 meter!
What is a smart grid and why is it important?
The nationwide installation of smart meters is an important part of the shift away from standard electricity grids towards a “smart grid”. This uses digital technology to let network operators predict much more accurately how much electricity is needed. This way they can better match supply with demand.
The shift to a smart grid could bring many potential benefits. Not only could it lead to big improvements in how electricity is generated, distributed and consumed, but it’s also great news for the environment. That’s because a smart grid takes us another step closer to a low-carbon energy system, powered by renewable energy and green technologies.
The more of us that have a smart meter, the greater the benefits, says Ofgem2. The government agrees, saying that the smart network benefits depend on a critical mass of next generation SMETS2 meters being installed.
How do SMETS2 meters work?
A smart electricity meter measures the electrical current flow and voltage at regular intervals, and then adds this up to work out the power used. Similarly, gas smart meters measure the gas flow at regular intervals. This information is then automatically sent to your energy supplier, and also to you.
This means you’ll never need to submit a meter reading again. And because smart meters can send frequent data (up to every half hour), there’ll be no more estimated bills.
Smart meters communicate through two wireless networks: the HAN (home area network) and WAN (wide area network).
- The HAN network allows the smart gas meter to communicate with its paired smart electricity meter and to your In-Home Display unit.
- The WAN network sends the data out from your home to your energy supplier. It also allows you to see your energy use in your online account, so you can see how much energy you’re using, and when.
Another great thing about SMETS2 smart meters is that they can communicate both ways. This brings benefits to both you and your energy supplier. With 2-way communication, some situations that once would have needed a visit from an engineer, a power shut-down, or a meter change, can be done remotely and easily. For example, if you’re changing your tariff, changing your mode of payment, or implementing a new product, you won’t need to wait in for an engineer, or be off supply at all.
To find out more, read our guide on how a smart meter works to save you money.
SMETS2 smart meters – why get one?
For starters, because we’ll install them at no cost to you. Then there’s the fact that you’ll be able to more easily spot patterns in your gas and electricity use, so you can find out where to make savings.
It also means no more meter readings or estimated bills. And finally, it helps you to waste less energy and cut your carbon emissions.
SMETS2 smart meter benefits
While SMETS2 meters offer many of the same benefits as SMETS1 meters, they contain the most up-to-date technology to help make life easier – especially if you ever want to switch suppliers.
SMETS2 smart meter benefits include:
- Free installation
- Meter readings sent automatically, so your bills are always accurate
- The highest standard of security for your data
- See how much energy you’re using (in real time, while you’re using it), either online or via your In-Home Display (IHD)
- See how much energy different appliances use, and how much they cost, which could help you cut down what you’re spending
- Ability to switch to other suppliers without changing your meter
Read more about how to get a smart meter
How SMETS2 smart meters can be used to monitor those we care for the most
Studies are also being done into how, in the future, smart meters could prove themselves very handy in certain scenarios. With the express consent of individuals who decide to opt in, smart meters could monitor daily routines such as cooking dinner or boiling the kettle.
That could be useful if an elderly relative is showing signs of dementia, as changes in electricity use can show unusual patterns in eating and sleeping. Or, if a relative is dangerously under-heating their home in winter, that could also alert you, to help keep them safe3.
Also, during the Covid-19 lockdowns, vulnerable and shielding members could have their prepayment meters managed and looked after by OVO. So they could be topped up remotely, without having to go out to the shop as they did in the past.
SMETS1 or SMETS2 – how to tell which smart meter you have
If your smart meter has a device on top of it marked Telefonica/Arqiva/WNC/Toshiba, with 2 to 5 LED lights on top, then you have a SMETS2 meter. IF it doesn’t have a device marked as those, it’s more likely to be a SMETS1.
But the only way to be 100% sure is by contacting your energy supplier.
The rollout of SMETS2 meters began in 2018. If your meter was installed before then, it’s likely to be a SMETS1 meter. But because suppliers continued using their stocks of first-generation meters after 2018, it's possible you have a SMETS1 meter, even if it was installed more recently.
There’s nothing wrong with that, if so. SMETS1 meters have all the same energy-saving features as SMETS2. The main issue is simply that it might lose its “smart” features if you ever decide to change suppliers.
If we installed your smart meter, please contact us via your online account and we'll help you find out which type you have.
Got any questions around smart meters? Read our comprehensive FAQ Smart meters page.
How to upgrade to a SMETS2 smart meter
If you have a SMETS1 meter, a remote software upgrade will enable it to work across the same network used by SMETS2 meters. The good news is that “remote upgrade” means it will just happen automatically.
We plan to upgrade and migrate all meters onto the SMETS2 network, where the Data Communications Company (DCC) is responsible for protecting your data. But there might be some meters where this is not possible. If this happens in your case, we’ll contact you to arrange an appointment to replace your SMETS1 with a SMETS2.
The update doesn’t change the way we use your smart meter data in any way. We’ll still be the only people that can see how much energy you’re using, and when you’re using it. And we can only see your data with your approval. Read more about our data security in our smart meter safety guide.
How to get a SMETS2 smart meter installed for free
The easiest way to get your SMETS2 smart meter is to book a smart meter appointment online. Usually, you'll be able to choose an installation slot within the next 8 weeks. Simply log in and select an available appointment time and date.
With an OVO smart meter, you’re guaranteed a great installation experience. That’s because the 2020 Uswitch Energy Awards rated us best energy supplier in 5 categories, including Best Smart Meter Experience.
How to read your smart meter
Normally you don’t have to read your smart meter at all, because the readings are sent automatically. But you may have to read it if:
- You’ve just switched supplier, you’d need to send the first reading yourself
- You’ve switched supplier and they say they can’t connect to your meter, which might happen if you have an older meter
- You want to check your meter reading yourself to see if it’s changed
For a full explanation about how to read your smart meter, head over to our step-by-step guide.
Finally, find out everything you need to know about the Landis+Gyr (L+G) smart meter. It's one of the UK’s most popular – and some might say confusing to identify – smart meters!