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Types of Electricity Meters
It’s easy to assume that meter readers and your supplier are always accurate when it comes to measuring your electricity usage. In fact, it’s possible that you might not know which type of electricity meter you have.
In this guide, we’ll give you an overview of the different meter types and how to read them. Then you won’t have to assume that your meter readings are accurate—you can check them yourself!
The accumulation meter (or flat-rate meter) reads your total electricity usage without accounting for the time of day. You will have to use a single rate or block rate tariff for these meters since the meter can’t distinguish when you use the power.
A single rate tariff charges you a flat rate for your energy usage. Block rates charge you for energy usage in blocks. The first block of usage has one rate assigned to it, and the rates may increase or decrease with subsequent blocks.
These meters have the widest variance in displays since you can find them with digital, dial, or cyclometer faces. A meter reader must come to your property to manually read your accumulation meter.
Understanding your electricity usage with an accumulation meter just takes a bit of simple math. Take the reading of your meter from your last billing cycle, then subtract it from your current meter reading. This calculation will give you the electricity usage for a particular billing cycle.
An interval meter reads your home’s electricity usage periodically (usually every half hour), which means you can choose a time of use tariff if you prefer.
Time of use tariffs charge you higher rates for using electricity during peak hours. These hours are typically when most people use their energy, which is why retailers can charge a higher rate.
Using electricity during off-peak hours can save you some money, which is why this tariff is attractive to some homeowners. It is up to the retailer to set their peak and off-peak hours.
Of course, you still have the option of choosing a single-rate or block-rate tariff if you have an interval meter.
These meters have a digital display, making them one of the easiest to read and understand. You’ll also be able to tell when you use the bulk of your energy, so you can better predict which tariff might give you the most savings.
Smart meters are the latest digital electricity meter technology, and they also come with a digital display. Like interval meters, smart meters take a snapshot of your electricity usage every 15 to 30 minutes. They also allow you to take advantage of the time of use tariff if you prefer.
The difference between interval meters and smart meters is their ability to be read remotely. Suppliers don’t need to send a meter reader to your property to get a reading. Instead, they get the data in real time from your smart meter.
This also means that you probably don’t have to check the physical meter to learn your energy usage. Many retailers have online portals that allow you to track your electricity usage if you own a smart meter.
Solar meters require a unique reading since they have to account for both the electricity your solar panels generate and the electricity your home uses.
Most suppliers offer a feed-in tariff to their solar customers. This is a rate that suppliers pay to households that supply the electricity grid with excess energy.
You might not be home at 1:00 PM using electricity, for instance. Your solar panels are still generating electricity, though. Instead of wasting this resource, your home solar system will send this power back to the grid and your supplier will pay you a feed-in tariff. Feed-in tariffs usually appear as a credit on your bill.
If you have solar, you will need to upgrade any meter that doesn’t allow for these readings. Interval meters and accumulation meters won’t read your solar output, which is essential if you have panels on your home.
Show display at 300 kWh
Net meters give you the best indication of how much your supplier will charge you in the billing period.
Have the meters display 100 for delivered and 400 for received
The bi-directional meter provides you with two displays in a single meter. You can cycle through the displays to see how much electricity you’ve generated and how much you’ve used.
Label these “Solar Meter” and “Electricity Meter.” display 100 on the solar meter and 400 on the electricity meter.
Dual meters will provide the same information as a bi-directional with a different display.
Reading Your Meter
Now that you know which kind of meter you have, you probably want to learn how to read it. We’ll take a look at that here.
Smart Meters/Interval Meters
Smart meters and interval meters are the most advanced electricity meter out there, and where most of the electricity meters are heading in the future. They often have multiple readings that cycle every few seconds, with a button that allows you to cycle through them manually.
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Digital Display meters are the easiest to understand out of the accumulation meters. They usually don’t cycle through multiple readings, which means all you’ll have to do is read the meter from left to right and record your usage.
If you do encounter a cycling display, it will have similar characteristics to the meter example we’ve provided above.
The cyclometer is another intuitive meter to read since you’re probably familiar with the layout. It’s very similar to that of a speedometer in a car. The numbers flip as they rise, making it easy to read how much electricity you’ve used on your accumulation meter.
Dial Display Meter
You’ll only find the dial display on accumulation meters, and these are the most confusing to those who don’t know how to read them. There are four to six dials that represent your electricity accumulation, alternating from counterclockwise to clockwise.
Each dial moves in the opposite direction as the one next to it. You will read these dials from left to right.
When the dial falls between two numbers, always read the smaller of the two. If it’s between a nine and zero, always read nine.
Understanding Your Electricity Meter
It’s important to know how to read your electricity meter for many reasons. It can help you understand your electricity usage, which can tell you which tariff could be beneficial for your household needs.
Knowing the types of electricity meters can also allow you to tell if there’s a problem with the reading. Meter readers may have misread the information, or your meter could be faulty and in need of a replacement.
Are you curious about whether or not you’re getting the best deal on electricity? Use our comparison tool to see how your provider stacks up against the competition.