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Old 03-08-2024, 04:57 AM   #1
hazel
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A warning for anyone who has a solar meter


When my solar panels were put in in 2012, I naturally assumed that the meter which measures their output actually runs from that output. Neither the installers nor the man from the electricity supplier who came to check that everything was correctly installed saw fit to explain to me that the meter measures solar electric output but runs on mains power. In fact it has its own trip switch in the main circuit breaker box (another thing no one told me).

At the beginning of this month, I received the usual notification that it was time to read the meter. To my horror it was completely blank and the indicator light was also off. After some frantic googling, I checked the circuit breakers one by one and found that there was indeed one labelled "Solar" that had switched off. I switched it on again and now the meter works, but of course I have no idea how long it had been off.

Naturally I emailed the electricity company that gets credited with my generated power (a previous supplier, not my present one) but only got mechanical replies. It would be nice if they could credit me with an estimate based on the same quarter over the ten previous years, but I don't hold out much hope.

If anyone here has solar panels, I advise you to check once a week that your feed-in meter is actually working. I will be doing so from now on.
 
Old 03-08-2024, 08:00 AM   #2
hazel
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This is hilarious! Look at the answer they sent me:
Quote:
Hi valued customer,

Thanks for getting in touch with us.

Perfect the read have been submitted.

If there's anything else we can help with, we're here to support you. Remember that you can always: Visit our Help Centre you'll find lots of handy answers quickly in there)
Contact us via our online chat (Mon-Fri 8am-6pm, Sat 9am-1pm)
Or pick the brains of our *** community

Thanks,
Callum
Note the "valued customer" address and the general bad grammar. I give up!
 
Old 03-08-2024, 09:42 AM   #3
enorbet
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Hello hazel. Sorry to hear about your dilemma with the electric service. Do you know how the "Solar" breaker became "Off"? It does make sense that the meter requires mains power but it surely seems like there should be some warning when mains power to it is interrupted, even a simple LED would suffice. An alert sent to your email or phone would be even cooler.
 
Old 03-08-2024, 09:57 AM   #4
hazel
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I don't know when it happened. istr that there was a short power cut some time ago and that is usually what causes the solar meter's switch to trip, according to what I read. It must have been weeks ago now because I have only a hazy memory of waking up and finding out that my bedside clock (which runs off the main ring circuit) had stopped.

There is a red LED on the meter, but of course you can't normally see it because it lives in the cupboard under the stairs. From now on I will have to check it visually every week. Yet another thing to worry about!

It doesn't "make sense" to me that the meter requires mains electricity to function. The main meter is powered by the electricity running through it. Why is the same not true of the solar meter?

Last edited by hazel; 03-08-2024 at 10:11 AM.
 
Old 03-08-2024, 10:18 AM   #5
rclark
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With the breaker tripped you were not using any Solar energy so even if meter was on that side it would not be registering as no energy is 'moving'. So I don't see why Power Company would credit you as you weren't using the energy available. Just one of those live and learn events to check the breaker now and then. No biggie.
 
Old 03-08-2024, 10:21 AM   #6
hazel
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rclark View Post
With the breaker tripped you were not using any Solar energy so even if meter was on that side it would not be registering as no energy is 'moving'. So I don't see why Power Company would credit you as you weren't using the energy available. Just one of those live and learn events to check the breaker now and then. No biggie.
Thanks for the explanation. Presumably that also means that the grid was not receiving any surplus energy from me either. But what then happened to the output of the panels? It must have gone somewhere.
 
Old 03-08-2024, 10:32 AM   #7
rclark
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But what then happened to the output of the panels?
Think of it as an unplugged battery. It has 'potential' energy waiting to be used, but goes nowhere.
 
Old 03-08-2024, 10:49 AM   #8
Jan K.
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Quote:
Hi valued customer,

Thanks for getting in touch with us.

Perfect the read have been submitted.

If there's anything else we can help with, we're here to support you. Remember that you can always: Visit our Help Centre you'll find lots of handy answers quickly in there)
Contact us via our online chat (Mon-Fri 8am-6pm, Sat 9am-1pm)
Or pick the brains of our *** community

Thanks,
Callum
This sounds exactly how an AI would respond?
 
Old 03-08-2024, 11:25 AM   #9
hazel
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jan K. View Post
This sounds exactly how an AI would respond?
No, it doesn't! ChatGPT tells lies but its grammar is faultless. Only an ignorant human being who has never written anything longer than a tweet writes like that.
 
Old 03-08-2024, 12:02 PM   #10
wpeckham
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hazel View Post
No, it doesn't! ChatGPT tells lies but its grammar is faultless. Only an ignorant human being who has never written anything longer than a tweet writes like that.
Actually it feeds out what has been fed in. Current "AI" is just a language database with self adjusting deep mining algorithms using cumulative input keys to drive the queries. IF you feed it enough proper English it will generate proper English output. They have been feeding it the internet!
 
Old 03-08-2024, 12:29 PM   #11
enorbet
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hazel View Post
From now on I will have to check it visually every week. Yet another thing to worry about!
Might be wise to not worry too much about something that pretty much passively makes you money for small effort. That's literally leverage. Cost/Benefit, right?

Quote:
Originally Posted by hazel View Post
It doesn't "make sense" to me that the meter requires mains electricity to function. The main meter is powered by the electricity running through it. Why is the same not true of the solar meter?
Unless you have a bank of batteries for power storage, I'd assume mains power is more continually and uninterruptedly more reliable and doesn't drain solar power which, despite the fact that meters use very little power and also because of it, should be something of net gain, albeit minor, but a gain nonetheless. Meters commonly don't have any real load, just miniscule thermal losses.
 
Old 03-08-2024, 02:07 PM   #12
rokytnji
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My pole fuse on transformer going to power line feed will trip the breaker when a Bird gets fried up there.

My electric company will replace the fuse.
Not reset breakers.
That is my responsibility.

Maybe that is what happened Hazel?
 
Old 03-08-2024, 03:21 PM   #13
jefro
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Wonder if you can put a led somewhere to see it on?

I know in Arizona one can produce a lot of power. How much can you get in England? From watching tv show "Cheap Irish Homes" it seems to rain every day.
 
Old 03-08-2024, 05:56 PM   #14
rkelsen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hazel View Post
If anyone here has solar panels, I advise you to check once a week that your feed-in meter is actually working.
Over here, the solar inverters can (optionally) be connected to your WiFi.

If you choose to do that, you will have a network interface you can log into (via a web browser on a PC or phone on the same network) to check the performance of your system as it is generating power. You get real time information about how much power you're using/storing versus how much you're sending back to the grid.
 
Old 03-09-2024, 12:09 AM   #15
hazel
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rokytnji View Post
Maybe that is what happened Hazel?
Yes, it must have been a glitch in the main power supply. And it must have happened months ago near the beginning of the quarter.
Quote:
Originally Posted by enorbet View Post
Might be wise to not worry too much about something that pretty much passively makes you money for small effort. That's literally leverage. Cost/Benefit, right?
I've made a lot from it over the years. I broke even in 2022. And fortunately the lost quarter was a winter one, so not a lot of profit lost. But I'm still annoyed.
Quote:
Unless you have a bank of batteries for power storage, I'd assume mains power is more continually and uninterruptedly more reliable and doesn't drain solar power which, despite the fact that meters use very little power and also because of it, should be something of net gain, albeit minor, but a gain nonetheless. Meters commonly don't have any real load, just miniscule thermal losses.
No, I don't have storage attached. That's quite an expensive option. What I don't use goes into the grid.

Last edited by hazel; 03-09-2024 at 12:12 AM.
 
  


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