Purpose Of A Smart Meter & How They Work

If you’re looking into solar or have just recently installed, you may be considering investing in a smart meter to assist in tracking your energy usage. A smart meter (which is also known as an advanced meter) has the ability to send information to your energy retailer remotely as opposed to having someone come out for meter readings. It also enables households to view their energy usage in real time which helps in managing energy usage habits more efficiently.

How They Work

smartmeterapp

A smart meter records a household’s electricity usage (per kWh) every 30 minutes and then sends this data to electricity retailers for billing. If you have a solar system, the smart meter will measure the electricity being exported by your solar system and any relevant feed-in tariffs or subsidies will be applied.

Each smart meter comes with instructions on viewing the different displays available. Some energy retailers also have easy to understand mobile apps where you can access this information as well as useful tips on managing your energy usage.

A smart meter’s display will give you access to view;

  • The recorded electricity usage
  • Date when the electricity usage is recorded
  • Net amount of kWh imported
  • Net amount of energy you have generated (kWh exported)

In addition to enabling you to monitor your energy habits, smart meters detect power outages which will alert your energy retailer when they occur. This assists with minimising the amount of time you are without power.

Are They Mandatory in Australia?

Whilst smart meters are not mandatory in Australia, under the Power of Choice Reforms in most Australian jurisdictions you are no longer able to purchase traditional meters. This means you don’t need to replace your current meter with a smart meter, but any new meter installed must be a smart meter.

How Much Do They Cost?

The upfront cost of a smart meter can be as high as $500 +, which is a lot to pay when you’re wanting to increase your savings and reduce bills. However, many energy retailers will work the smart meters price into your energy bills so you can pay it overtime.

Already have a smart meter and want to adjust your energy habits?

Learn what household appliances are the biggest culprits to high energy bills!

High Energy Consuming Appliances

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Beginners Guide to Solar Power

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Understanding Batteries

Off-Grid Systems

For some households a battery system can be of great benefit and minimise a home’s reliance on the grid. However, it’s important to understand for a battery to be useful your solar system needs to be generating excess energy for the battery to store, which you can then use at night or when the sun is not out.

When selecting a battery, you’ll want to invest in a system that is most suited to your home and can drive the best return on investment (ROI). Despite a larger upfront cost, a higher quality battery may significantly increase your ROI.

    Battery systems start from $6,000 and costs can vary greatly based on the following factors:

  1. Cycle Life-Time

    The number of times a battery can fully charge and discharge.

  2. Battery Power (kW)

    How fast it can be charged or discharged.

  3. Storage Capacity (kWh)

    The maximum amount of energy a battery system can store.

  4. Battery Management System (BMS)

    An electronic ‘smart’ system that gathers data and manages the battery ensuring it does not overload or operate outside of its safe functioning zone..

  5. Inverter

    Battery systems require their own inverter if your solar system does not have a hybrid inverter.

  6. 'All-In-One Unit’

    A system which includes the battery, BMS and an inverter all in one unit.

  7. Warranty

    Length of time or cycles the battery system is under guarantee.

  8. Blackout Protection/Backup

    It’s important to note this is not a common feature of a battery system and could cost thousands of dollars to include. Blackout protection not only requires additional components but also a specialised installation and rewiring. For grid-connected homes, the cost for blackout protection can outweigh the benefit.

Additionally, if your purpose for adding battery is to go Off-Grid and become completely independent from the grid you will need to ensure your solar system can generate enough energy to power your home and your battery system is large enough to store this energy. For homes in metro areas going Off-grid is not cost effective and is only recommended for those in remote areas with limited access to the grid. Off-grid solar systems with battery start at approximately $30,000.