A Solar Smart Meter is a device that measures the electricity you get from the grid and then automatically transmits the information to your energy provider for billing purposes. It also measures the electricity that your solar power system produces and any surplus electricity that goes from your home to the grid.
Knowing what a solar smart meter is and what it does will help you get a clear picture of how your solar system produces electricity and how you use it.
Should you be interested in knowing more about solar smart meters?
Yes, you should if:
- You have a solar power system installed or plan on installing one
- You’re tired of getting estimated bills from your energy provider
- You want to save money by saving energy
This post covers most of the things you need to know about solar smart meters.
What are solar smart meters? What do they look like? How do you know you have one? Why do you need one? Do you need Wi-Fi to use one? How do you read a solar smart meter?
Read on to find answers to these questions and more.
What is a solar smart meter?
A solar smart meter is a bidirectional meter added to a solar power system to measure the energy production of the system and energy consumption in a house.
It measures energy from the electricity grid to your house and automatically transmits the information to your electricity supplier. It also measures energy produced by your solar system and the excess energy going from your house to the electricity grid.
You need a solar smart meter so that your energy provider can get the exact amount of electricity you consume. That way, you pay for what you use instead of paying a high estimated bill that your electricity provider would have otherwise sent to you.
What does a solar smart meter look like?
Solar smart meters look like big white digital watch cases. They usually come with a white face and an LCD – the liquid crystal display found in digital watches.
The Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) is one feature that generally differentiates smart meters from analog/ traditional meters that usually come with a dial.
You know that you have a solar smart meter if meter readers no longer visit your house to take readings.
The “smart” part is their ability to communicate with your energy provider. This communication includes the transmission of your energy reading. So, there’s no need for someone to visit your property to take meter readings physically.
Do you need Wi-Fi?
Solar smart meters use a Wide Area Network to transmit energy information to your energy supplier. So, they do not need Wi-Fi to function and will not interfere with one.
However, some of the In-Home Display devices that the solar smart meter communicates (to help you understand and optimise your energy consumption) can be connected to Wi-Fi.
What does a solar smart meter do?
A solar smart meter helps you get a clear picture of how electricity is generated and used. It does this by measuring solar electricity production and home consumption.
- It measures solar energy production from your PV system.
Solar smart meters work with solar panels to measure the electricity that your solar system is producing.
With analog meters, you do not know the amount of electricity produced. You simply know that you are producing more energy than you use when your meter spins backward. Also, you simply know that your system is producing less electricity than you use when your meter spins forward.
But a smart meter added to your solar system will show the exact amount of electricity produced by your solar system. When the meter also measures what you use, you can know how much more electricity you need.
- It measures your electricity consumption.
The basic function is to measure the exact amount of electricity that a home uses. This is so that you pay for only the electricity that you use.
If the electricity produced is not enough in a home with a solar system, the grid supplies the balance that you need. So, the meter measures your home electricity consumption from both the solar power systems and the grid.
- The solar smart meter measures surplus electricity exported to the grid.
If the electricity that your solar power system produces is more than you use, the surplus electricity can be exported (sold) to the grid.
The meter can measure the exact amount of electricity going from your home to the grid. With this, you will know the feed-in tariff that you’ll get for excess electricity that your solar system produces.
- It also measures avoided CO2 emissions.
With a solar smart meter added to your installation, you can know the actual harm avoided. This is because the smart meter calculates the avoided CO2 emissions based on your production.
Solar energy is a clean energy source because it does not produce greenhouse gasses or air pollutants. When using a solar power system, you simply know that you generate electricity without adversely impacting the environment.
What a solar smart meter can’t do?
It is said that a solar smart meter can help you save money by reducing your energy consumption. However, you should note that the smart meter in itself will not reduce your energy consumption.
Rather, by showing you how you consume energy, you can then create an energy management system that helps you save energy.
How to read a solar smart reader
Electricity readings end with ‘KWH’. So, when finding your electricity reading in a Solar Smart Reader, simply lookout for a number with KWH below it.
For example, when using the Fronius Smart Meter (50KA-3 version), the LCD is an 8-digit screen.
A smart meter is read from left to right. So, simply read the numbers on the LCD from left to right, ignoring leading zeros and any number after the decimal point.
So, if the LCD shows the number “0002120.5” below the KWH, your reading is 2120 kWh.
You’ll notice that the Fronius Smart Meter shows a letter under “KWH”. This is either “T” or “R”. Press the “>” button on the meter to reveal your electricity reading. The number that has a “T” is your imported electricity reading, while the number that has an “R” is your exported electricity reading.
A solar smart meter measures the electricity production of your solar system and consumption by your home.
It effectively puts an end to estimated billing because it’s the electricity that you use that’s transmitted to your electricity provider for billing purposes. It shows you how you use electricity in your home, which can help you save by managing electricity better.
Also, it helps you optimise your feed-in tariff because it measures the surplus power that your solar system sends to the grid.
If you want no more estimated bills or you want savings from your electricity production or consumption, a solar smart meter is a must-have. Nectr is committed to helping Australian homeowners save with solar power.
Contact us for these products today, and start saving on your electricity.
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