23 February 2021 Innovation, Metering, Smart Meter Rollout

What does the 3-Phase smart meter mean for the smart energy revolution?

Customer holding smart meter

During August 2020, we became the UK’s very first installer to fit 3-Phase SMETS2 smart meters for domestic and business energy consumers.

The installations, the first ever being at the home of a Good Energy customer, and the second at a small business supplied by SSE just two weeks later, marked significant milestones in the UK’s energy system transition and provided a game changing new development for the UK smart meter rollout.

But why exactly does the three-phase SMETs2 smart meter represent such a breakthrough for our smart energy revolution?

And what does it mean for the Automated Meter Reading (AMR) technology already used by many business consumers who are supplied with three-phase electric power? We explain below.

Firstly, what is 3-Phase electric power?

Three-phase electric power is a type of polyphase system (the method of distributing alternating-current electrical power) and is most commonly used to provide heavy loads of electricity, such as those used by industry, business or very high energy-consuming homes.

What is a 3-Phase electric meter?

The 3-phase electric meter is used for measuring the power of three-phase electrical supply, most commonly for commercial use. Currently, consumers using three-phase electricity have not been able to get a digital smart meter installed, however some business users have been able to take advantage of AMR technology – such as three-phase advanced meters – to log their electrical consumption.

In 2018, the UK Government ruled that energy suppliers are allowed to offer SME and larger business consumers a choice between an AMR advanced meter and a smart meter.

What does this mean for domestic consumers? Do I need a 3-phase smart meter for my home?

With the availability of the new polyphase SMETS2 smart meter, it is now possible for high volume and complex electricity users to join the smart, clean, green energy revolution.

Most UK households have what is known as a ‘single phase’ meter, connected at 230 or 240 volts via two wires. But there are hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses across the country that operate on a three phase connection, connected at 400 or 415 volts by three active wires, or ‘phases’, and one neutral. These sites have a different kind of connection because they use higher loads of electricity, and/or have a more complex home energy set up — such as solar panels, battery storage or an electric vehicle charger. Until now, such homes and businesses have not been able to use the latest smart metering technology.

Given the clean energy system of the future will rely on smart homes like these to self-generate and share their power as part of a smarter grid, that’s a problem the energy industry needed to fix and we are proud to say that we have been integral to developing a solution for the market: the new 3-phase SMETS2 smart meter.

Importantly, as a second-generation smart meter this new technology will allow customers to connect to the secure nationwide network run by the Data Communications Company (Smart DCC), enabling seamless switching between energy suppliers.

If you do not currently have a  3-phase smart meter, but are planning on investing in a smart home energy system such as solar generation or an EV charger, you may require a meter upgrade. If you contact your energy supplier, they will be able to advise you on your needs.

What’s the option for my business? 

Whilst the ultimate benefits of smart meters are similar to those offered by an AMR device, the Government ruled in 2018 – in the interests of maintaining a competitive marketplace – that non-domestic customers (with the exception of microbusinesses) will continue to be able to enjoy the flexibility of choice between the two technologies.

The new availability of the 3-Phase SMETs2 smart meter will now extend that choice to business consumers who use 3-phase electric supply, and that can only be a good thing for the smart energy revolution.

So, can I get a 3-Phase smart meter installed now?

If you use three-phase electricity at your home or business, you’re now able to benefit from having a three-phase smart meter (SMETs2) installed at your premises. As the UK’s leading smart meter installer we are now working with out energy supplier partners to roll out the devices across the UK.

Contact your energy supplier today to book an installation.

Some more frequently asked questions

What is the difference between AMR and smart meter technology?

Despite their similarities in terms of benefits, AMR devices and smart meters perform differently and utilise distinct technologies.

Whilst the ultimate benefits of smart meters are similar to those offered by AMR, the Government ruled in 2018 – in the interests of maintaining a competitive marketplace – that non-domestic customers (with the exception of microbusinesses) will continue to be able to enjoy the flexibility of choice between the two technologies.

The imminent availability of the 3-Phase SMETs2 smart meter will now extend that choice to business consumers who use 3-phase electric supply, and that can only be a good thing for the smart energy revolution.

What’s the benefit of a smart meter for my business?

If you are not already using an AMR device at your business, by getting a smart meter installed you can join the smart energy revolution, opening up a world of opportunity to reduce your energy consumption, and therefore helping cut costs and carbon emissions.

A smart meter helps you understand your business energy usage, and when used with an energy management platform (such as SmartVision Pro), you can monitor, track and take action to lower your usage.

Through digitising the country’s energy consumption, SMETs2 smart meters are also helping introduce innovative new tariffs, products, and smart technologies. In coming years, smart meters – for example through facilitating electric vehicle charging – will help encourage more flexible energy usage, thereby supporting decarbonisation and a more efficient grid.

That’s why smart meters won’t just help your business, they’ll also play an important role in achieving the UK government’s target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

If you have 3-phase electric supply, you can register your interest to get a smart meter or AMR device installed by contacting your energy supplier.

A trusted energy partner

At SMS we are making businesses smarter, partnering with energy suppliers to install smart meters and AMR devices at non-domestic premises. We also serve UK organisations directly through our independent Smart Metering & Data services, as an accredited Meter Operator, Meter Asset Manager and DCDA provider.

Besides metering, we additionally work with industry and the public sector to reduce carbon emissions to net zero through our Smart Energy Services. Find out more.