So, I eventually took the plunge and went smart. As both my previous energy suppliers Utility Point and Symbio went bust and their replacements EDF and EON Next were pushing SMETS2 smart meters, I took the opportunity to convert.
As my electricity and gas are provided by different companies going smart was a bit dumb – each supplier had to arrange its own visit. I also had been told I’d need two independent smart meters, but as the electricity was done first, at least the gas could piggyback on the electric meter’s communications module.
Both installers were good, COVID regulations compliant, and seemed to know what they were doing. The electricity meter proved problematical as my electric meter is in a pretty much mobile coverage not spot, but at the third attempt the installer managed to get it communicating with their network. The gas installer discovered that the last time anyone had done anything with my meter (almost certainly the UK Power Networks guy who replaced a faulty regulator last year) they’d damaged the test valve, so I’d been leaking gas at a low rate for several months. Luckily the test valve is part of the meter, so has now been replaced.
So all good so far, but . . .
The information management side of the installation is pathetically bad. The EON Next installer left a small in-room monitor “SmartView2”. This shows the meter reading, rate of usage and very limited daily use stats. There’s no facility at all to download the data to process it on a computer and analyse usage and use it to make savings etc. Given that the devices are all ZigBee – essentially an open standard – this is an opportunity missed. But it gets worse . . .
The EDF gas meter installer did use the comms module previously fitted, so that’s good. But he was unsure about the in-room monitor. He thought that the EON Next monitor should work, but couldn’t say for sure. The best he could do was to leave the monitor supposedly communicating and expect me to see if in time it worked. Given that the alternative was to clutter my home with yet another small power-using device, I opted for that. He left saying that it should be connected within half an hour.
Not surprisingly, the gas usage monitoring features of the (not-so)SmartView2 were still dumb several hours later. So I called the number for support on the back page of the user guide the EON Next installer had left for the monitor. After half an hour on hold I got to speak to someone. Oh no, he said, you’re not our customer – we’re EON and you’re EON Next! At least he gave me the correct number, but a shame that EON Next leave a user guide with incorrect contact details. After another 20 minutes or so of being on hold, I spoke to an agent at EON Next. He assured me that there was no way their SmartView2 could display the details of the EDF gas usage. I wanted to be precise, so I dictated a statement to him that would be my record of the conversation “The EON Next supplied SmartView2 device does not support readings for EDF supplied gas meter even these are communicated via the EON Next supplied communications module which EDF have confirmed are being correctly reported to the central network.” He tried to insist that wasn’t what he was saying, but couldn’t point to any part that was inaccurate. So he backtracked on his “no” and said he’d seek the correct answer from another agent who actually knew. To be fair to the guy at EON Next, he did call back after about half an hour and confirm that I could not get gas readings shown on the SmartView2.
Of course, I then called EDF to ask why I’d been misinformed. After the inevitable menu desperately trying to get me to not call them and the apology that surprisingly they’re taking longer than usual to answer calls and another 20 minutes of dire on-hold noises, I spoke to a lady. She said that the monitor should work as that was the point of the SMETS2 systems. If I waited then the system would start to work. She rather undermined her credibility by first saying I’d need to wait 24 hours and then later saying I’d need to wait 14 days. I guess we’ll see.
A possible chink of light was that when I looked at the SmartView2 the next day it was displaying a screen saying I had a message and a gas symbol was attached to the message. Its user interface is so bad that there’s no simple way of actually reading the message from that screen, but persevering though its menu structure I did succeed in reading it – it was a welcome from EDF! This contradicts the statement from EON Next that it couldn’t display anything to do with the gas meter. I still can’t get the monitor to display any gas information, though. And yes, I have restarted the device.
So now, I’m waiting 14 days before following up. Unless, of course, it starts displaying gas information, but I’m not holding my breath.