Keep smart on meters

Published:  31 August, 2017

NAPIT has responded to recent reports of faulty smart meter installations, which have, in some cases, supposedly led to fires.

In 2011, the government set a target to install around 53 million smart meters in homes and businesses across Great Britain by 2020. Whilst the rollout has been going to plan so far, these recent reports have raised questions about the quality of some installations.

The main benefit of smart meters is that they provide users consistent information on their energy usage and costs. Smart meters are also directly installed by the customer’s energy company free of charge. The government hopes that smart meters will contribute to its environmental targets and improve energy efficiency.

Whilst statistics show that the rollout is on track, there have been recent incidents which have raised questions about the safety of smart meters. In June, BBC Watchdog included a feature on smart meters and instances of house fires. A spokesman from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy said: “In the first half of 2017, there have been only 18 reported installation issues in the fitting of more than 3 million meters during the same period.”

Whilst this fact will be comforting for many people, there is clearly still a small chance of poor installations. So, the question is, what regulations are in place to ensure the proper installation of smart meters?

In essence, everything that someone would need to know about the installation of smart meters is featured in the Smart Meter Installation Code of Practice (SMICoP). The Code of Practice lays out very strict guidelines on the installation process, including the necessity for members to recruit qualified installers and the procedure for fault resolution. The SMICoP website also features a list of all energy companies who can conduct smart meter installations.

Despite the strictness of the Code of Practice, faulty installations do still happen. At this point further issues could arise unless additional steps are taken. These steps would ultimately need to be taken by customers, however there is no reason why tradespeople and industry can’t raise awareness and give advice if asked. The Smart Energy GB website provides a lot of information in this regard, so it is recommended that customers are directed to the website if they have any concerns.

To assist with the issue of faulty installations, NAPIT believes that an assessment and/or inspection programme of smart meter installations would contribute significantly in solving the issue of faulty installations.

Chairman of the NAPIT Trade Association, Frank Bertie, made the following said: “The smart meter rollout will make a massive difference to the way we monitor our energy bills and usage. For this reason, NAPIT welcomes the rollout with open arms and hopes that everyone has a smart meter installed. Despite this, the report of faulty installations and fires did catch our eye. NAPIT hopes that industry and tradespeople play their part to help customers gain an awareness of smart meter installations and the steps they can take to ensure their safety.”

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