In 2016, the government announced plans to rollout smart meters to every home in the UK giving every UK business the chance to get on board by the end of 2020. We explore the differences between the two most common utility meters, smart meters and AMRs and which might best benefit property developers and managers.
The great meter rollout
The initial deadline for the government rollout of smart meters and AMR technology has been pushed back due to coronavirus. Energy suppliers now have until 2021 to take ‘all reasonable steps’ to install them in homes and SMEs.
2025 is now the hard deadline for installations in larger businesses. This presents an opportunity to become better acquainted with these devices before adopting them in your own properties.
The major benefit of both AMRs and smart meters is that they provide a reliable and thorough understanding of utility bills for users, suppliers and property managers. In turn this leads to fewer miscalculations and disputes, as well as empowering end-users to better manage their consumption.
The two types of automatic meters
AMR (Advanced Meter Reading) devices fall into three categories; advanced meters, data loggers and gas-embedded meters. The common factor is that each can automatically communicate their findings to your energy suppliers, removing the need for manual meter readings. The difference lies in how each is able to do this.
- Advanced meters are modular reading devices that connect directly to your existing meter.
- Data loggers use a similar process but don’t need to be attached to the original meter and are supported by transporters on larger commercial sites.
- Gas embedded AMR devices are integrated directly into the meter itself.
Older versions of AMR require a secondary device that is responsible for collection and transmission of that data. Newer models are able to send the consumption data directly to suppliers by piggybacking on a local mobile phone network.
In most cases, energy usage readings are available on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. This clears up some of the billing process for consumers while also providing greater flexibility with tariffs as lower demand periods can be reliably established by suppliers.
Smart meters fall into two categories and are separated by their labelling under the Smart Metering Technical Equipment Standard (SMETS). Smart meters installed prior to 2018 are likely to rely on a 3G mobile network to communicate with suppliers (SMETS 1), and newer models go through a dedicated network that doesn’t share bandwidth with other devices (SMETS 2).
Smart meters are usually installed by a supplier to replace an existing energy meter and automatically updates the supplier with regular readings. They work out how much energy is used, the cost over time and the cost per hour.
What’s the difference?
The major distinction between AMR and smart meter devices is the amount, type, and regularity of the data they send.
While AMR communication is one way – consumer to supplier – the smart meter feeds back information to the user too. This is beneficial because the data pool of a smart meter is much richer and more actionable as a result.
AMR will only send kWh data and possibly peak demand data on a monthly basis. smart meters give a picture that includes cumulative kW use, daily usage, peak demand, and time of use.
Which of these is most suitable for your needs depends on your supplier’s discretion. The government has released guidelines to all energy suppliers in order to navigate those differing needs for all domestic and small business customers by the end of 2021.
How can metering help you?
The commercial applications of automatic metering technology are obvious: reduced energy waste, greater efficiency, better informed budgeting etc. However from the domestic viewpoint, and specifically that of property managers, they are less direct but no less potent.
Take billing disputes for example. Mainly, they are caused by a lack of information, often at the supplier end, leading to miscalculation and unhappy residents.
This is where metering comes in; providing real time data to suppliers based on current usage rather than historical patterns means that customers will only be charged for the units they’ve actually used rather than those they were predicted to.
Welcome Energy provides an expert AMR installation service of heat meters, as well as hot/cold water, electricity, and gas meters. Our meters are compatible with a variety of network platforms and can be established already fully connected to our billing and management systems. If you are looking for help in managing your billing process or simply for stronger data sets to support it, get in touch.