How Solar Panels and Smart Meters work together

A recent government initiative in collaboration with energy supply firms involves smart metres. It wants to make the new smart devices available to every family. The British government, most importantly, aims to reduce the nation’s carbon impact in this way.

Smart metres give energy providers precise data on how much electricity a household solar panel installation supplies to the National Grid.
Doing this can help maximise your payments through the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG).

The UK government is presently implementing second-generation smart metres (SMETS2), which are fully compatible with solar panels. First-generation smart metres (SMETS1) had issues connecting to solar panels.

What is a smart meter?

According to the government plan, all homes should have smart metres by the year 2020. Smart metres are essentially an intelligent improvement of the existing gas and electricity metres. A smart metre can automatically report your precise real-time energy usage to your energy provider. This means that the predicted energy bills are ultimately eliminated by the new technology.

Additionally, smart metres provide an in-home display (IHD). This little display makes it easy to see how much energy is being consumed in your home in almost real-time.

Do solar panels and smart meters work together?

Over time, there have been issues with smart metre connectivity between solar panels. Due to the fact that each energy provider has their own proprietary technology, first generation smart metres (SMETS1) could have compatibility concerns with solar panels.

A 3G mobile network was primarily used by the initial generation of smart metres. Another issue with the outdated equipment was that there was no centralised network to control the smart metres, which led to the equipment being “dumb” when switching providers.

Fortunately, with the introduction of second-generation smart metres, everything has changed (SMETS2). This is due to the fact that solar panels work well with all second-generation smart metres, which are currently being implemented by energy providers.

The benefit of having a smart meters installed

Homes with or without solar panels may benefit from smart meters for various reasons.

No guesswork

Since estimates are no longer needed,  your smart meters will give your energy supplier accurate metre readings to possibly reduce your energy costs.

Keep on top

Clear sight of how much energy is being consumed in your home and how much that usage will cost is provided by an in-home display (IHD).

New habits

Better energy habits can be encouraged by viewing your usage almost in real-time on the IHD, which can help you save money on your energy costs.

What is the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG)?

The Feed-in Tariff, which expired in 2019, has been replaced by the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG). Homeowners that produce renewable solar energy may be compensated by their electricity provider through the SEG. Each unit of electricity provided to the National Grid is the basis for the tariff.

It was predicted that about 50% of solar energy produced during the Feed-in Tariff period was delivered to the Grid. Therefore, any home supplying the National Grid with more energy than that could have been underpaid.

In the future, homes will be compensated more correctly for the amount of electricity they send to the grid thanks to smart metres and the Smart Export Guarantee.

As part of the Smart Export Guarantee, UK energy providers with more than 150,000 clients are required by law to compensate their clients for each unit of electricity generated by solar panels and exported to the National Grid. The tariffs set by energy providers are completely up to them. Suppliers with less than 150,000 clients have the option of joining the SEG.

Getting a smart meter

In the UK, second-generation smart metres are currently being installed. If they haven’t already, your energy provider should get in touch with you to make one available.

By 2024, your energy provider must offer you the chance to update if you have a first-generation smart metre (SMETS1).

With a smart meter, am I able to change energy providers?

If you have a smart metre, switching to a new energy provider should go more smoothly. Once the transfer has been done, a second-generation smart metre can send data to the new supplier instead of the old one.

However, homeowners with first-generation smart metres have reported difficulty while switching energy providers. The IHD not functioning or the energy provider not receiving metre readings are examples of potential problems.

If you have a smart metre, you can still transfer energy suppliers if you decide to do so after comparing SEG pricing.

Is there a different method to utilise surplus solar energy?

Energy can also be stored in a solar battery as an alternative to exporting it. You will be able to consume more of the energy produced by your solar panels as a result. Extra energy produced by solar panels during the day will be stored in the solar battery. This will enable the use of electricity when the solar panels aren’t producing energy, such as in the evening or at night.

With a solar battery, am I still qualified for the SEG?

Even if you have a solar battery, the Smart Export Guarantee may still pay you. But not all tariffs will cover the cost of energy that has been kept in a battery. This is due to the possibility that the energy is not produced by renewable solar energy but rather fossil fuels. So it’s important to review the conditions set by your energy provider.

What is the prices of solar batteries?

A solar battery storage system may cost anything from £800 to £10,000, and in some cases considerably more. The manufacturer, model, storage space, and any other features will all affect the pricing.  To find out more about solar battery storage read more about it here.

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Frequentyl asked questions about Solar Panels

Is my home suitable for solar panel installation?

Whether your roof faces south, east, or west your home is perfect to have solar photovoltaic panels installed. North facing roofs will not receive as much sunlight and therefore won’t be as efficient. The pitch of your roof should be between 10 – 60 degrees,

Do I need to get planning permission to get solar panels installed?

Having solar panels installed in your home is classed as a “permitted development”. You only require planning permission if you live in a listed building or area of outstanding natural beauty.

Can I put up my own scaffolding?

In most circumstances we will insist on putting up our own scaffold, to ensure the safety of you and our solar panel installers, however there are exceptions when scaffold is already in place for renovation works or a new build home is being built, but that scaffold would have to meet with our safety standards.

How long does it take from consultation to install?

Our lead time from consultation to solar panel installation is around 4-6 weeks, unless you need an application to your local network – then it can take a little bit longer.

Is it worth getting a smart meter?

Smart meters offer a range of advantages and drawbacks, so it’s important to carefully consider whether getting one is worth it for you. Here are some factors to consider:


1. Eliminating meter reading costs: With a smart meter, you no longer need to manually submit meter readings, saving you time and eliminating any associated costs.

2. Enhanced billing accuracy: Smart meters provide real-time information on your energy usage, leading to more accurate bills. This eradicates the need for estimated bills and reduces the chances of billing errors.

3. Better control of energy consumption: Access to real-time energy data empowers you to make informed decisions about your energy usage. By understanding patterns and trends, you can identify areas where you can save energy and reduce costs.

4. Improved safety standards: Smart meters adhere to stringent safety standards, providing peace of mind that your energy usage is being monitored reliably and securely.


1. Signal issues: In some areas, weak mobile signals can affect the performance of smart meters. It’s important to check the signal strength in your area before deciding on installation.

2. Limited impact on cost savings: While a smart meter provides information on energy consumption, it does not magically reduce your bills on its own. It is still up to you to make the necessary changes and adjustments to your energy usage to see financial savings.

3. Lack of supplier support: Not all energy suppliers may offer smart meters or support their use. Ensure that your supplier provides compatibility and support for smart meters before pursuing installation.

Whether a smart meter is worth getting depends on your specific needs and priorities. If you value accurate billing, the ability to monitor and control your energy usage, and the potential for exclusive tariffs from suppliers, a smart meter may be a beneficial investment. However, if signal issues are prevalent in your area or you are sceptical about your ability to make changes to save money, the advantages may not outweigh the disadvantages. It is essential to consider these factors and weigh them according to your specific circumstances before deciding whether to install a smart meter.