What Are Smart Metres and How Do They Work?

Date Jul 24, 2020
Blog category Power
By Val Soriano

An electricity meter helps you to keep track of how much power you’re using. It uses signals to send this information to your power retailer, so they can also see how much power you’ve been using.

In New Zealand, there are a range of different models of electricity meters that can be installed in your property. Read on to find out more about smart meters in your home.

What’s the difference between an analogue and a smart meter?

An analogue meter - also known as a ‘legacy meter’ - is the older, more traditional type of electrical meter. It requires a meter reader to visit your house to record how much electricity you’ve used since the last reading.

Smart meters are a modern version of the analogue meter, as they offer better features to help you keep track of your household electricity usage. It doesn’t require manual reading - instead, it records your energy consumption in half-hour intervals and then sends the data to your power company each day.

How do smart meters work?

Smart meters work by sending data back to your retailer - this is done in one of two ways:

GPRS - Smart meters can communicate with your retailer using ‘GPRS’, which is the same network that cellphones use. It sends this network to send your meter readings throughout the day, as well as at the end of the day, to your power retailer.

Radio mesh - Smart meters can also communicate with your retailer by using the ’radio mesh’ network. Your data is bounced from meter to meter, and then to an aggregation point, which is usually mounted on a power pole. Once your data reaches this point, it’s then relayed to your retailer.

How do I know if I have a smart meter?

Smart meters are usually installed in the same location as the old analogue meter - typically on an exterior wall of your property. Smart meters have a white face and a LCD display (similar to the display used in digital watches and portable TVs). 

Many electricity companies have online features that will tell you if you have a smart meter at your property. Otherwise, you can call them directly to find out.

What are the benefits of a smart meter?

  • You’ll get more accurate bills, reducing the need to estimate your energy usage
  • Some power providers offer online forecasts of what your power bill will look like (based on your smart meter records)
  • You won’t need to provide access to a meter reader anymore
  • Some providers will give you access to free online tools where you can easily monitor your usage and bills in one place

Looking for further ways to keep track of your energy usage? Check out these other great options for measuring electricity consumption.

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