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    • CommentAuthortony
    • CommentTimeJan 8th 2014 edited
     
    There seem to be a lot of different definitions of what a smart meter is!

    To me it is something that can automatically adjust my power usage, switch on appliances when the supply company wishes.

    It is not a remotely readable meter or one that only gives information.

    What do you think a smart meter is?
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeJan 8th 2014
     
    Last time I looked (2 years ago?) the government was working on a smart meter standard. To me a smart meter is one that meets that standard so it's not tied to any one electricity supplier. Do they exist yet?
    • CommentAuthorJamster
    • CommentTimeJan 8th 2014
     
    This is timely - I'm just wondering if I should ask for a remotely-readable meter to be installed on our new build so I can avoid a the big plastic box on the outside of the stone skin for the new house! Do they really do nothing more than allow remote meter reading? Can I access it too so I can check on power usage from an ASHP for example?

    So A), Should I ask for one for either accurate reading or aesthetic reasons, and
    B) Am I likely to get one? Supply to site at moment is with N Power; we're in Durham.
    • CommentAuthorjamesingram
    • CommentTimeJan 8th 2014 edited
     
    I'd say it's currently "a remotely readable meter or one that only gives information"

    I'd like it to be one that charges a different amount relative to demand , this would create the need for automation of appliances ( I think this would have to be organised by the user to be practicable ) like you suggested
    This would then reduce spikes in demand and remove the need for the over generation safety factors built in by the national grid and supply generators and hopefully reduce primary fuel consumption by 20%+
    • CommentAuthorEd Davies
    • CommentTimeJan 8th 2014
     
    I'd agree with James Ingram: for me the key is variable pricing to make best use of grid capital resources and fuels/pollution.

    Also, the information should be available on current prices (probably directly from the meter) and on forecast future prices (maybe through the meter or maybe elsewhere) so that people can optimize their own usage as they please but that should be a private matter between them and their appliance manufacturers rather than direct control from the generators because that would just add more rules and make everything more complicated and restrictive.
    • CommentAuthorTriassic
    • CommentTimeJan 8th 2014 edited
     
    I have a smart electric meter and all it does is allow the energy company to read my meter without coming to my house and physically reading it. I also HAD a 'smart' gas meter but it only lasted 6 months before it packed up and was replaced by a dumb meter, so the meter reader still comes every 6 months.

    In my opinion a smart meter should interface with my home PC, or smart phone, to allow me to see how I'm using energy in real time. The only way I have access to the current 'smart' data is to log onto my on-line Energy Supplier account, which gives aggregated data for a week, or a month, or a year, so not very smart!!

    Jamster - As far as I'm aware you still need the external box to put it in!
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeJan 8th 2014 edited
     
    To the best of my current knowledge we only have the Half Hour billing meters (though BG have installed some of their own design).
    We don't yet have half hourly pricing (still restricted to standard, E7 and E10 plus some strange Scottish ones).

    There is a big question mark over the security at the moment as the proposed design was hacked into in a few hours apparently.
    The white goods manufacturers are also bringing up problems with reliability (even soap powder people).

    Nice idea in theory, but a lot more to it than just load shedding and shifting. It is more than just frequency sensing as future loads are already predicted and the future frequency is already predicted (if you know that in an hours time load is lower, you start turning off well in advance which lowers the frequency, so you can get low load and low frequency).

    I wish there was more available but there does seem to be only a lot of theoretical stuff, no actual approved hardware yet.
  1.  
    Posted By: SteamyTeaThere is a big question mark over the security at the moment as the proposed design was hacked into in a few hours apparently.


    Do you have any citations for this? My understanding is that the remote readable meters use some kind of encryption so I'd be surprised if this is true. Some people in our community are concerned that remote-readable meters will be used by thieves to determine when people are away but I think this is somewhat paranoid. Others are scared of the RF emissions :(

    We currently have a remote-readable meter, but it's not a smart meter as it's only a unidirectional connection for reading.

    Paul in Montreal.
    • CommentAuthorTriassic
    • CommentTimeJan 8th 2014 edited
     
    Posted By: SteamyTeaThere is a big question mark over the security at the moment
    But if you buy your beans from Tesco and have a loyalty card they know how many you bought.

    Who cares if the neighbour (or anyone else for that matter) can see how much electricity or gas I'm using? Personally I'd make all the data public, it might even help people start saving energy!!
    • CommentAuthorEd Davies
    • CommentTimeJan 8th 2014
     
    Triassic, ST's talking about the security of half-hourly pricing. You would seriously care if your neighbour could tell your meter to charge you £100/kWh if you happen to annoy them.

    And, no, I don't think making electricity or gas use public is appropriate.
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeJan 8th 2014 edited
     
    Paul
    Was a bit in the IET comic a few months back. The IEEE were apparently concerned
    Bit about the conference in 2012 here:
    http://smartgridsherpa.com/blog/a-summary-from-the-iet-smart-metering-conference
    and para 41 here:
    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmenergy/161/16106.htm

    The problem with the security is not how much you you but when you use it. This can show when your property is empty.
    It is also useful information for energy companies when they want to poach business. So not the same as Tesco Club Card information at all.
    • CommentAuthorTriassic
    • CommentTimeJan 8th 2014 edited
     
    Posted By: Ed DaviesYou would seriously care if your neighbour could tell your meter to charge you £100/kWh if you happen to annoy them.
    But wait, surly the meter only takes a reading and transmits that to a central computer and that is the place where the pricing formula is applied.

    Posted By: Ed DaviesAnd, no, I don't think making electricity or gas use public is appropriate.
    It is already public, in part, as part of the EPC system.

    Posted By: SteamyTeaThe problem with the security is not how much you you but when you use it. This can show when your property is empty.
    But I can find that out by siting outside your house or via Facebook.
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeJan 8th 2014
     
    Posted By: Triassicthe meter only takes a reading and transmits that to a central computer
    Via the handheld device that the meter reader/van uses, then via the metering companies computer system, then probably though a third party or 3 before it gets to your energy billing company. Metering, distribution, billing and supplier are often separate companies.
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeJan 8th 2014
     
    Posted By: TriassicBut I can find that out by siting outside your house or via Facebook.
    You can, except I am not on facebook, and criminals would rather target effectively than not, sitting outside one house is not the best use of time. It is also useful to know when the neighbours are out too.
  2.  
    <blockquote><cite>Posted By: SteamyTea</cite>Via the handheld device that the meter reader/van uses,</blockquote>

    The systems here do not necessarily require a van - they use the cellphone networks to transmit the data. We have a "dumb" remote-read gas meter that does require a drive-by, but the smart electrical meters do not need this as far as I understand, as they transmit in the 2.4GHz range, and all the clueless people are terrified of being microwaved to death.

    The security issue is such that a thief could target a whole neighbourhood remotely and find out which dwellings are empty, without all the usual tedium of staking them out. But I still think that's a pretty unlikely risk myself.

    Paul in Montreal.
    • CommentAuthorTriassic
    • CommentTimeJan 8th 2014 edited
     
    Posted By: SteamyTeasitting outside one house is not the best use of time.
    Recent experience would suggest otherwise, a few houses were done locally, the thieves just sat in a car park on a working day and waited. As a result 2 houses were robbed in broad day light. In another example a local guy put on Facebook a daily update of his holiday, at the same time thieves using a removal van emptied his family home. I can't for the life of think thieves would be bothered trying to pinch the data, its rather too hypothetical for me.

    My smart meter works as described by Paul, a cell phone chip in the electricity meter and a wifi link to the gas meter, with the combined data being transmitting back to base.
    • CommentAuthorEd Davies
    • CommentTimeJan 8th 2014
     
    Posted By: TriassicBut wait, surly the meter only takes a reading and transmits that to a central computer and that is the place where the pricing formula is applied.
    Yes, you're probably right. Still, you wouldn't want a man-in-middle attack on that link saying you'd used hundreds of kWh more than you had.
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeJan 8th 2014 edited
     
    One method they have discussed is to use the broadband that is installed in most houses, but that has problems as to who pays for the broadband for the houses that are not connected. The wireless approach will miss out a lot of rural properties, and rural here can be a couple of miles from a town. The Lizard Peninsular has very poor mobile coverage, Penwith is not much better.

    I am not sure if the UK is being over cautious with it all, but we don't have a good track record of large IT infrastructure projects. An RAF (WW2) friend of my Father's went to work for the NHS when it started and ended up, for 30 years, trying to get an IT system that worked set up for them. When he retired in the 1980's he said, "what a waste of time, they will never get it working". Good job he had a hobby.

    I have heard about the 2.4GHz paranoia going on in the USA, tinfoil hats are the answer.
    http://www.badscience.net/2005/12/just-keep-wearing-the-hats/

    I like Ben Goldacre almost as much as I liked his mother in 1976:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qze2RwY4owQ

    Triassic
    They could have done a few more houses if they had access to some decent data.

    I don't actually think that it is a huge risk, but the commercialisation of my usage by a government, or a third party, narks me a bit. My contract is between my energy billing company and myself.
    • CommentAuthorTriassic
    • CommentTimeJan 8th 2014 edited
     
    Posted By: SteamyTeaMy contract is between my energy billing company and myself.
    The problem is that there are a number of independant companies between you and the energy billing company. The meter reader (G4S here), Local transmitting company (Electricity NW), National Grid (transmission and meter owner), no doubt with some thought I could go on. It's got to the point that rather than being an integrated business it is so fragmented that even the wages are dealt with by a private company.

    Sorry the question was what is a smart meter - answer - As we make the transition to a low carbon economy, smart meters have a vital role to play. Consumers will be given the information they need to fully understand and manage their energy consumption effectively, save money and reduce carbon emissions. This will be central to help tackle climate change and to deal with consumer concerns about the rising costs of energy.

    Source - https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/ofgem-publications/63541/smart-metering-prospectus.pdf
  3.  
    Posted By: SteamyTeaThe wireless approach will miss out a lot of rural properties, and rural here can be a couple of miles from a town.


    Really? There's places in the UK with no cell coverage?

    Paul in Montreal.
    • CommentAuthorTriassic
    • CommentTimeJan 8th 2014
     
    Posted By: Paul in MontrealReally? There's places in the UK with no cell coverage?
    I live in a rural house and we only get coverage upstairs, a friend has to walk about 100m up a hill at the back of his cottage to get a signal, not good in wet and cold weather. The bank had him on hold for ten minutes yesterday, he was not best pleased as it was raining!!
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeJan 9th 2014
     
    Posted By: TriassicThe meter reader (G4S here)
    And your not concerned :rolling:

    Posted By: Paul in MontrealReally? There's places in the UK with no cell coverage?
    When I lived in a village in Hertfordshire, not 5 miles from Watford and less than a mile from the M25 I had no coverage. My parents who live close to the Prime Minister's Country Residence have no coverage (a real downer when you leave your child in the local pub).
  4.  
    Posted By: Paul in MontrealReally? There's places in the UK with no cell coverage?

    There are loads of areas with no coverage, especially so in Scotland.

    http://ukmobilecoverage.co.uk/
    • CommentAuthorTriassic
    • CommentTimeJan 9th 2014 edited
     
    Posted By: SteamyTea
    Posted By: TriassicThe meter reader (G4S here)
    And your not concerned
    Best thing is the meter reader visited this morning, he walked past the two external meter cupboards to put a card through my letter box to say he could not gain access to read the gas meter, I was in at the time (maybe he forgotten his meter cupboard key?!. You do wonder at the quality of some of the staff!
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeJan 9th 2014 edited
     
    Posted By: Paul in MontrealReally? There's places in the UK with no cell coverage?
    He's being ironic - I think?!
    I value greatly the absence of mobile signal where I live, also the silence from traffic, the pitch-dark at night and no Wifi! However broadband struggles to get 1MB and phone lines fail frequently so am considering satellite, provided that doesn't create 'always' on' radiation. Must also check the landlord's interconnected smoke alarms, also door bell - are those irradiating us? Also rebuilding as much as poss of my computer into a remote box in the cellar, cos it def brings on my tinnitus, between annual get-aways.
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeJan 18th 2014 edited
     
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeJan 18th 2014 edited
     
    .
    • CommentAuthortony
    • CommentTimeJan 18th 2014
     
    not a problem for smart meters
    • CommentAuthormarkocosic
    • CommentTimeJan 18th 2014
     
    "Smart" meters are half-hourly meters (48 different counters in the meter to count when you used your electricity)

    -with remote read capability (sometimes)
    -with remote reprogramming capability (to change tariffs)
    -with remote disconnect capability (so that some dumb fuck in a call centre can mash the wrong button on the keypad and turn off grandma's life support)

    It's a shitfest inspired by the EU, gold plated by consultants to DECC, manipulated by retail arms of utilities and meter manufacturers, and appears to have Capita as it's data services provider. Think of it as welfare payments for the industries involved, paid for via a bill on domestic energy, that will achieve nothing for the efficiency of the networks.


    Meanwhile, Nest energy services are going about it all the right way:

    http://www.fastcodesign.com/1672408/next-for-nest-building-out-the-smart-grid-one-home-at-a-time

    Having "smarted" heating and cooling via electricity - including all those patents about automatically "optimising how comfortable you can make me for $50/month" or "implementing I'm prepared to sacrifice 0.5 degree days of comfort in exchange for $20" - the next steps are domestic hot water, fridge-freezers, and then you're essentially done.

    They've got a ways to go before they understand the Euro-centric "hydronic" systems and masonry buildings with large time constants - the lightweight insulated sheds with rapid response heatng/cooling systems that they build in the US are *much* easier to control well.
    • CommentAuthorEd Davies
    • CommentTimeJan 21st 2014
     
   
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