Smart meters (again?)

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DaveReading
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Re: Smart meters (again?)

Postby DaveReading » 14 Oct 2020, 9:00am

DaveP wrote:The prospect of waking up in the morning to find that the porridge hasn't cooked

I recall as a student cooking porridge overnight, based on a misunderstanding of my mother's culinary technique.

It wasn't a great success. :(

kwackers
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Re: Smart meters (again?)

Postby kwackers » 14 Oct 2020, 11:00am

DaveReading wrote:
DaveP wrote:The prospect of waking up in the morning to find that the porridge hasn't cooked

I recall as a student cooking porridge overnight, based on a misunderstanding of my mother's culinary technique.

It wasn't a great success. :(

I quite like cold soaked porridge.

kwackers
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Re: Smart meters (again?)

Postby kwackers » 14 Oct 2020, 11:22am

DaveP wrote:According to a couple of articles that I have read in the last month or so, Smart meters (possibly the next generation) are being touted as a way for electricity providers to manage the situation that will result when we have all been weaned off gas / solid fuel heating options and fossil fuel powered transport. Apparently the published timetables for these changes are so tight that it will not be possible to increase generating capacity fast enough to keep pace with the new demands. Power suppliers will be able to turn off high consumption equipment and impose a form of rationing.
Personally, I think that if we have to endure interrupted supplies to make ends meet thats one thing - but I would like to be given a rota, The prospect of waking up in the morning to find that the porridge hasn't cooked, the storage heaters aren't warm and the car isn't going anywhere today because some algorithm has randomly picked my postcode for special attention is a bit scary.

Depends where you read those articles.
I remember similar articles going back several years that cited 2020 as the year when we'd start seeing blackouts due to shortages. Not only did it not happen but we even closed older generators and didn't replace them.

Energy use has been declining for years in this country rather than going up.
The grid says they can cope and I've no reason not to believe them.
There is the proviso (I suspect) that for high use equipment (cars and heating) that smart devices along with smart meters are the way forward. (It's why you can't get a grant for a car charger unless it's smart - not that I think anyone still manufactures dumb chargers).

I doubt that the use of smart meters adds anything to the power control scenario.
If things ever became that desperate they'd just have rolling blackouts like the olden days. Turning off entire areas doesn't require smart meters.

Long before we got there though, you'd expect Agile tariffs to be a thing and pricing to be used to control use.
Storage solutions and more renewables have so far easily filled the holes left by missing generation. Electricity is also one of the easiest things to move around the globe, far easier than moving gas and oil and yet we do those two with no problems.
Last edited by kwackers on 14 Oct 2020, 12:58pm, edited 1 time in total.

sjs
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Re: Smart meters (again?)

Postby sjs » 14 Oct 2020, 12:31pm

Littgull wrote:
sjs wrote:
pwa wrote:
We need them to be fully qualified and competent after their training, not before.


My meters were installed by a pair of trainees under the supervision of a much younger but evidently qualified person. When the power was switched on he found that the live and neutral had been connected the wrong way round.

This is termed a 'cross polarity' and as such is classed as a 'dangerous occurrence' under the R.I.D.D.O.R (Reporting of Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations) 2013. Such incidents are legally required to be reported to the Health and Safety Executive (H.S.E) by the metering installer company/ electricity supplier. This enables the H.S.E to investigate the incident and if lack of competency is found then H.S.E will take enforcement action.


Well to be fair the error was spotted within about a minute by the competent one doing his checks. It does explain his state of panic though. I bet they never reported anything; I certainly never heard any more about it.

GranvilleThomas
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Re: Smart meters (again?)

Postby GranvilleThomas » 14 Oct 2020, 1:13pm

pwa wrote:
GranvilleThomas wrote:The most worrying thing about all this smart meter 'campaign' for me is that the people installing the meters do not necessarily have any kind of electrical qualifications.

I am a radio ham and an electronics/computer enthusiast but I have no electrical qualifications and I certainly would not want to go around installing a device like a smart meter, that if installed incorrectly, has the potential to burn someone’s house down.

I assumed that the installers would be electricians at the very least. However I could not find any of the smart meter recruitment companies asking for much at all. The main requirement seemed to be having a driving license.

The following is taken from the logic4training website one of the main recruiters on behalf of the energy providers:

Smart Meter installer training
You don't need any specific qualifications to start training as a Smart Meter installer though some employers may prefer you to have a minimum of four GCSEs or equivalent. Qualifications in maths, English, science, design and technology or electronics would all be useful.
http://www.logic4training.co.uk

Smart gas meter installers have to be by law (because they will have to break into a gas way, to complete installation) Gas Safe Registered, which is fair enough, but no formal qualifications for the installation of electric meters, 'just' a certificate of competence from whichever energy company you will be working for.

The installer courses seem to vary in length as well, with EDF for example stating a course duration of 9 weeks and some other courses, like the one from 'South Lanarkshire College' lasting 20 weeks.

Maybe working for the HSE for ten years has made me a bit paranoid :lol:

We need them to be fully qualified and competent after their training, not before.


I know what you mean but ideally I would like to see both. In other words, train already qualified competent electricians to be able to install smart meters competently.

Maybe that was the original idea but no electricians were interested because the pay was too low?

pwa
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Re: Smart meters (again?)

Postby pwa » 14 Oct 2020, 1:38pm

GranvilleThomas wrote:I know what you mean but ideally I would like to see both. In other words, train already qualified competent electricians to be able to install smart meters competently.

Maybe that was the original idea but no electricians were interested because the pay was too low?

If our electricians were recruited for this, there might then be a shortage for everything else we need electricians for. And surely we want employers to take untrained people and give them new skills. That is how it should be. Identify someone who can be trained, then invest time and money in making them competent in a new skill area.

GranvilleThomas
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Re: Smart meters (again?)

Postby GranvilleThomas » 14 Oct 2020, 1:50pm

pwa wrote:
GranvilleThomas wrote:I know what you mean but ideally I would like to see both. In other words, train already qualified competent electricians to be able to install smart meters competently.

Maybe that was the original idea but no electricians were interested because the pay was too low?

If our electricians were recruited for this, there might then be a shortage for everything else we need electricians for. And surely we want employers to take untrained people and give them new skills. That is how it should be. Identify someone who can be trained, then invest time and money in making them competent in a new skill area.


Yes your right of course, it's just that it used to take a 4 year apprenticeship to become a qualified electrician.

Maybe things have changed and I am just getting old, but I worry when people complete a short course with no previous electrical experience and are them deemed to be safe and competent to install potentially dangerous equipment, like a smart smart meter in a house where people have to sleep at night.

I suppose when someone rich and famous dies they will change the requirements.

kwackers
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Re: Smart meters (again?)

Postby kwackers » 14 Oct 2020, 2:31pm

GranvilleThomas wrote: Maybe things have changed and I am just getting old, but I worry when people complete a short course with no previous electrical experience and are them deemed to be safe and competent to install potentially dangerous equipment, like a smart smart meter in a house where people have to sleep at night.

I suppose when someone rich and famous dies they will change the requirements.

TBH I think swapping a meter is money for old rope.
4 years of training for an electrical qualification is all about all those edge cases, rules and other associated stuff.

Swapping a meter is none of those. The meter is already there, the cables are either moved over or swapped for different lengths of the same stuff.
You could show someone how to do it in a day.

If there's anything that concerns me its more the physical side of fixing the new meter - I've little confidence in most tradespersons ability to fix something in place so it doesn't subsequently fall off...

PDQ Mobile
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Re: Smart meters (again?)

Postby PDQ Mobile » 14 Oct 2020, 2:31pm

kwackers wrote:Depends where you read those articles.
I remember similar articles going back several years that cited 2020 as the year when we'd start seeing blackouts due to shortages. Not only did it not happen but we even closed older generators and didn't replace them.

Energy use has been declining for years in this country rather than going up.
The grid says they can cope and I've no reason not to believe them.
There is the proviso (I suspect) that for high use equipment (cars and heating) that smart devices along with smart meters are the way forward. (It's why you can't get a grant for a car charger unless it's smart - not that I think anyone still manufactures dumb chargers).

I doubt that the use of smart meters adds anything to the power control scenario.
If things ever became that desperate they'd just have rolling blackouts like the olden days. Turning off entire areas doesn't require smart meters.

Long before we got there though, you'd expect Agile tariffs to be a thing and pricing to be used to control use.
Storage solutions and more renewables have so far easily filled the holes left by missing generation. Electricity is also one of the easiest things to move around the globe, far easier than moving gas and oil and yet we do those two with no problems.

As a initial statement, I am totally in favour of renewable energy.
I have supported it all my long life.
And I have lived with the aim of consuming less, a "small is beautiful" philosophy. Quite successfully too.

But you make it sound as if electric vehicles are carbon neutral.
They are not carbon neutral.
Around 50 percent of the UK's energy comes from non renewable sources. 15-20% from nuclear. If there is one thing that nuclear isn't is that it is cheap. Not when decommissioning is taken into account. And it has other issues.

Wind is great - when it blows. (Especially offshore)
And solar is great, in summer mostly, and when the sun shines.
If you can run your vehicle on them, on a small scale basis great but I doubt the capacity of a stand alone installation for most peoples 6-10k miles per annum.
Hydo is great and reliable. The UK has only around a measly 1GW of installed capacity.

Lithium batteries have questionable heavy metal issues, source extraction issues and any new vehicle has considerable carbon costs in manufacture.

Electricity is transportable yes, but not without significant losses, sometimes very significant, in damp and wet conditions.
The further you move it the more you lose.

I cannot see the motorways of Britain filled with leccy vehicles just yet. There is simply not the generating capacity on top of winter demand IMV.

Leccy has an important part to play. Especially in urban areas but I do not think it a panacea for every present transport evil.
Smaller ICE vehicles still have a role I think. Reducing the numbers of SUVs and the 3 litre plus monsters would give considerable benefit in the shorter term IMHO.

kwackers
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Re: Smart meters (again?)

Postby kwackers » 14 Oct 2020, 2:59pm

PDQ Mobile wrote:But you make it sound as if electric vehicles are carbon neutral.

Do I?
Not as far as I know I don't, I've never claimed such.

Most of Britain's renewables are wind based, one of the things about wind is it still blows at night which causes issues.
Charging cars at night is a great thing because it uses power which otherwise wouldn't get used and prevents the cost of shutting generators down.

In fact the problem you have is you're talking about our energy mix as an average, charge at night and that energy mix doesn't apply in the same way, in fact the reason the prices are so low is because they can't usually give the stuff away.

Ultimately storing surplus energy to move vehicles around is a good thing right? I'm sure you'll agree.


The whole lithium battery thing is somewhat overplayed these days often based on 10 year old surveys and tech.
Some of the worst offending metals like cobalt have fairly low percentages - well below mobile phones, rechargeable tools along with their 'non-recoverable' use in refining fuel for IC engined cars.

There's a lot of movement on recycling car batteries - you'd be mad not too, 200kg or so all in one place? Last I saw some of the commercial plants where hitting 95% recovery rates.

So of course EV's are not carbon neutral, but over their lifetime they're a lot better than IC cars.
In truth nothing we consume is carbon neutral - not even bicycles.


PDQ Mobile wrote:And solar is great, in summer mostly, and when the sun shines.
If you can run your vehicle on them, on a small scale basis great but I doubt the capacity of a stand alone installation for most peoples 6-10k miles per annum.

10,000 miles a year is about 2.5MW. A 4Kw system typically produces 3.5MW a year. (And the trend is for bigger (6.5Kw) systems and battery storage to soak up any surplus).
Obviously in the winter things are less good but overall private solar makes a pretty big dent in electricity usage - and it's fairly predictable too which is something energy companies love.

Losses on transporting electricity are significantly less than transporting oil or gas.
They can also be reduced. China for example is building 1MV power lines to move power around the country at reduced losses.
We already import electricity from other countries so nothing new is needed.

Ultimately though losses are merely a number, they can be gotten around by adding more solar panels or wind turbines. Somewhere in the world there is wind and sun to be harvested.

PDQ Mobile wrote:I cannot see the motorways of Britain filled with leccy vehicles just yet. There is simply not the generating capacity on top of winter demand IMV.

The important bit in that statement is "IMV". The national grid says they can cope, most EV's charge overnight (and infrequently at that) when the grid has a problem with surplus.

EV sales are the only thing that's continuing to climb against a general decline in car sales.
IMO they're very close to a tipping point particularly as most folk buy cars on PCP and if you include the running costs they simply cost less per month to own and run.
Throw in the company car incentives for BEV's and for a lot of folk they're a no brainer.

They've still got a fight on their hands, some folk resist any change and look for reasons not to engage.
But in the end more money in folks wallets will always win.

GranvilleThomas
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Re: Smart meters (again?)

Postby GranvilleThomas » 14 Oct 2020, 3:09pm

kwackers wrote:
GranvilleThomas wrote: Maybe things have changed and I am just getting old, but I worry when people complete a short course with no previous electrical experience and are them deemed to be safe and competent to install potentially dangerous equipment, like a smart smart meter in a house where people have to sleep at night.

I suppose when someone rich and famous dies they will change the requirements.

TBH I think swapping a meter is money for old rope.
4 years of training for an electrical qualification is all about all those edge cases, rules and other associated stuff.

Swapping a meter is none of those. The meter is already there, the cables are either moved over or swapped for different lengths of the same stuff.
You could show someone how to do it in a day.

If there's anything that concerns me its more the physical side of fixing the new meter - I've little confidence in most tradespersons ability to fix something in place so it doesn't subsequently fall off...



I am certainly willing to bow to your superior knowledge, all my electrical/electronic knowledge is from the hobby side of it and all low voltage, low current :)

kwackers
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Re: Smart meters (again?)

Postby kwackers » 14 Oct 2020, 3:31pm

GranvilleThomas wrote:I am certainly willing to bow to your superior knowledge, all my electrical/electronic knowledge is from the hobby side of it and all low voltage, low current :)

As is mine (although I do have a degree in Electronic Engineering).

We both know though that simply moving four wires - albeit "thick" wires across from one place to another is more about mechanics than electrical engineering. You don't even need to work out the correct wire since you've only got one roll of the right type.

As I said, I'd be more concerned the unit didn't fall off the wall afterwards.

GranvilleThomas
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Re: Smart meters (again?)

Postby GranvilleThomas » 14 Oct 2020, 4:40pm

kwackers wrote:
GranvilleThomas wrote:I am certainly willing to bow to your superior knowledge, all my electrical/electronic knowledge is from the hobby side of it and all low voltage, low current :)

As is mine (although I do have a degree in Electronic Engineering).

We both know though that simply moving four wires - albeit "thick" wires across from one place to another is more about mechanics than electrical engineering. You don't even need to work out the correct wire since you've only got one roll of the right type.

As I said, I'd be more concerned the unit didn't fall off the wall afterwards.


Well there is a 100 amp fuse (cut-out) leading up to my meter, that's a lot of current to play with if you are mainly concerned with mechanics - you might end up with a hair style like a 70's afro.

kwackers
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Re: Smart meters (again?)

Postby kwackers » 14 Oct 2020, 5:10pm

GranvilleThomas wrote:Well there is a 100 amp fuse (cut-out) leading up to my meter, that's a lot of current to play with if you are mainly concerned with mechanics - you might end up with a hair style like a 70's afro.

Nah, my welder puts out well over double that...

The current is irrelevant as long as the terminal screws are tight enough - which takes us to mechanics again.

GranvilleThomas
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Re: Smart meters (again?)

Postby GranvilleThomas » 14 Oct 2020, 5:45pm

kwackers wrote:
GranvilleThomas wrote:Well there is a 100 amp fuse (cut-out) leading up to my meter, that's a lot of current to play with if you are mainly concerned with mechanics - you might end up with a hair style like a 70's afro.

Nah, my welder puts out well over double that...

The current is irrelevant as long as the terminal screws are tight enough - which takes us to mechanics again.


Well I hope the installer knows how to remove the 100 amp fuse safely, because there's no other way to isolate the meter - I don't think a strictly mechanical approach will enhance their long term career prospects. :)