Do I need a smart meter for solar panels?

Smart meters are designed to show you the exact and real-time consumption of your electricity so that residential and commercial consumers can keep up with their usage and act on it accordingly. Even though some property owners have already invested in smart meter installation in the Northern Rivers, they system isn’t full proof and has some technical issues that is making many people hesitant. Some of these issues highlighted are linked to solar power installation and usage. If you have just installed solar power in Northern Rivers’s local communities, like Lismore solar panel users, or you’re just considering it, you might be wondering how to read a smart meter. Once you know how to do it as accurately as you can, it will be easy to check and see how much you are saving, how much is going into the grid and how to monitor your usage so that you can put in place new behaviours and habits to save on your power bill.

What Are Smart Meters?

Modern smart meters are basically an upgrade of traditional electricity usage meters, and their installation is growing in popularity in the Northern Rivers. This is partly because the government launched a rollout and suggested that all households invest in smart meters. A smart meter can read your exact energy usage in instantly and at regular intervals and automatically send it to your preferred energy supplier. Innovative technology also puts an end to the estimated energy bills because it provides everyone with clear, upfront information on their energy use. They were designed to streamline the process of electrical billing because energy companies can collect data remotely rather than coming out and measuring usage at every person’s household. Smart meters also come with portable monitoring devices which show usage amounts and any faults. 

Do I need a Smart Meter for solar power?

Yes, you do need a smart meter for solar panels and battery units. Even if you already have one, you’ll need to call a professional electrician in Lismore, to reconfigure it, so that it can allow you to send excess solar energy back to the grid. Solar panels need to be paired with a smart meter that can accommodate two-way electricity flows. Many solar panel installers will also offer the installation of the right smart meter as part of the job. The local energy regulator requires that your solar panels must remain inactive until a new smart meter has been installed. A two-way smart meter will allow you to use your own solar electricity before purchasing or using electricity from your retailer if that is a configuration you require. It could also measure the unused solar electricity that is fed back into the grid. This allows your retailer to pay you for your solar exports with a solar feed-in tariff.

How Do Smart Meters Work?

Smart meters are called smart because the communicate with other devices and send that info directly to the supplier. This means that they can also communicate with your solar power unit. Smart meters can be installed during the solar panel installation or even afterwards. Even though it has its benefits, the smart meter will not be able to tell Lismore solar users about how much power the solar system is generating. It is only smart enough to measure a net figure based on the total electricity vs the electricity out. The net metering cannot distinguish solar power generated onsite from power imported from the national power grid. The best way to keep up with power generated by your solar panels is to rely on sources that can generate additional data like a dedicated monitoring system. When information from the monitoring system is combined with smart metering figures, you have a better idea of what is happening and how much you are saving. 

The smart meter is also not able to detect faults in your customized solar system. So, it won’t be able to tell you if it is not working properly or determine how efficiently the system is operating. After you invest in solar power for you Lismore property, it’s critical to know how well it is working in order to maximise its potential. You probably installed them to save money, so you need to put measures in place to avoid any money wasting over time. 

Australia’s regulatory “net metering” also can export all solar electricity that’s above your consumption on a moment-by-moment basis. A basic example it that your solar system may be generating 4000w of electricity, but you’re currently only using 1000w. You can then choose to automatically sell the extra left over power back to the national power grid and receive a credit for each kWh. 

How to read a smart meter with solar power

Learning how to read a smart meter with solar power installed is reasonably easy once you know how it all works. We’ve put together a step-by-step process, but it is very basic, and we can help you with a detailed solar panel monitoring solutions if you give us a call on 0419 001 001. There are many assorted brands and models for smart meters and because of that, this information may not be entirely accurate for your meter, but it will give you an idea of what to look out for

  1. Locate the smart meter on your property
  2. There should be a scroll button which navigates through displays
  3. Familiarize yourself with each display which could have recorded electricity usage, recorded date of electricity usage, the net amount of kWh imported, net amount of energy generated (kWh exported), the amount of kWh Imported Phase A, controlled load of kWh Imported Phase C, the kWh Exported Phase B (Gross Solar Amount).

Keeping track of all this information based on different dates will give you a better picture of how much you use on certain days and what needs to change to maintain consistent use and solar power generation. To save on your electricity bill with the aim of eventually putting your excess energy back into the grid, you should use the readings above to help you know if you need to reduce your electricity usage.

Contact Info

Northern Rivers Electricians you can trust!

0419 001 001

Cave Electrical & Solar
47 Braeside Drive,
NSW 2484

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