So you installed solar panels – fantastic! But you’re not quite ready to start saving with solar just yet. First you’re going to need a new electricity meter. That’s right, you’ll likely need a new solar meter to record the energy you import and export. So, what is a solar meter? This article walks you through solar meters – what they are, where to get one, and what they cost.
What is a solar meter?
Traditional electricity meters can only measure electricity that flows one way. That is, from the grid into your house. Solar meters, however are bi-directional, which means they can also measure the electricity that your home exports to the grid.
If you have an old accumulation meter, then you will need to upgrade to a smart meter. If you already have a smart meter, then it will need to be configured so that it can measure the power you export.
Once your solar meter is set-up, you can start earning credits with a feed-in tariff to help reduce your power bill.
Gross metering v Net metering
Some households on government-funded solar feed-in tariffs of 60c/kWh might have their solar meters configured to gross metering. This setup means that all the electricity produced by your panels is sent to the electricity grid. This makes sense when the feed-in tariff is more than the usage rates you pay for electricity. This is how customers on bonus solar tariffs often turn a profit on their energy bills.
However, after solar schemes in most states ended in 2016-17, many customers had their solar meters switched to net metering. Net metering is the standard meter setup, whereby customers consume the power produced by their solar panels and simply export anything left over. Given that standard feed-in tariffs are generally no higher than 12c/kWh – depending on where you live and your retailer – it’s much harder for households to turn a profit from their energy consumption.
How do I order a new meter?
Once your solar panels are installed, you should call your electricity retailer to find out what else is left to do. If you need a new electricity meter, your retailer will let you know and can help you arrange the installation.
How much do solar meters cost?
There are additional charges for upgrading your meter to solar. Costs range from about $60 to $300, depending on your state, installer, and the complexity of the upgrade. Customers who need a simple reconfigurations or minor upgrade will pay the least, while those with an old or three-phase meter are generally stuck paying the most.
What is a solar meter charge?
Solar customers in Queensland do not pay for a solar meter upfront, rather the cost of installing and maintaining the new meter is covered by what’s called a ‘solar meter charge’. Solar meter charges are daily charges that are similar to but separate from daily supply charges. They generally cost around 5 to 7 cents per day, which is slightly higher than standard metering supply charges.
Finding a good solar company
Setting up solar can be a bit of run-around, but the potential bill savings make it worthwhile. In this article, we have explained some of the basics to help you understand solar meters. If you’re having trouble with your solar meter installation, then reach out to your electricity retailer and they can help you the rest of the way. For this reason, it’s important to make sure you’re with a reliable company with trusted advice and great customer service. See what other solar customers say about their retailers with Canstar Blue’s solar satisfaction ratings.