Can You Install A Smart Solar Meter On A Strata Townhouse? YES!

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Recently we wrote about an instance in Queensland where a solar meter changeover on a detached suburban home had gone sideways. As it happens, another example that caught my attention involved multiple meters in a strata-owned switchboard.

This situation is quite different to a single household installation in the suburbs. However, they are both cases of legacy switchboards that, in a perfect world, would be ripped out and upgraded if it weren’t so bloody expensive.

Mind you, your local electricity network company (DNSP) is often perfectly happy to spend your money insisting you do it.

Happily, there is a cheaper and less wasteful solution.

Q: Can A Smart Meter Be Installed On My Strata Townhouse?

My retailer says no, but an independent electrician says yes! What gives? On the same subject : array.

Specifically, the customer from Sydney wanted to upgrade their townhouse’s electricity meter to a smart meter for solar panel compatibility. After sending photos of the meter and switchboard, arranging coordination between the retailer and DNSP (Ausgrid) and even paying a fee, the meter technician came only to say they can’t install it! It was a lot of cat herding for nothing.

The red arrow shows the meter to be swapped, the one above has already been changed, and one to the left has also been upgraded, with a fuse as required more recently. So for this switchboard, it’s not impossible.

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A: You Were Misled! A Smart Meter CAN Be Installed

Getting bad advice from big companies is both frustrating and confusing, but let’s explain. See the article : DSS launches Alset Solar to develop utility-scale solar vitality on underutilized, unused land.

In the smart meter section of Ausgrid’s electricity meter page you’ll see dimensions and information stating that they don’t perform installations anymore – it’s up to the electricity retailer.

Beware: Webpages can be misleading if they’re not curated carefully, just as DNSP responses can be misleading depending on who’s on the phone interpreting the rules to you – and sadly, some meter installers are lazy too.

No is always the easy answer, and of course, the next option is a full switchboard overhaul, which is easy to recommend when you’re not paying the multi-thousand dollar bill.

This is the basic kit of parts required.

Context Makes A Difference

Submitting closely cropped photos can be helpful to read the numbers on the meters or switchgear, but if the meter installer rocks up to find a surprise like this hole in the wall (see below), you could be knocked back on general principle.

It pays to have a broader context to explain what’s going on. Even if the powerpoint with soft wiring leading to who-knows-where turns out to be compliant, it can still be a sticking point.

Extension cords leading off inside the walls, broken (asbestos?) cement sheet that should be covering a hole are both issues that can put electricians offside and raise further questions.

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The Real Solution: An Adaptor Bracket

Good news! A readily available bracket allows an EDMI Mk7a smart meter to plug into the existing base. This solution is far cheaper than a full switchboard replacement, pushed for by the lazy authorities.

Check out this link for a plug-in base that can easily install a MK7C meter on a standard meter plug.

Fuse on the left, electricity meter installed on the adapter panel, ready for a terminal cover.

The backside of a 3-pin plug that powers your whole house.

Smart Building Services offers a new Mk7C Plug-in base accessory with an integrated industry-standard fuse holder for easy installation. It’s suitable for a Service Protection or Meter Protection fuse assembly, as per the NSW Service and Installation Rules.

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This concern has opened up a broader question about the integrity of the information provided by DNSPs and electricity companies and the solutions they offer. Here at SolarQuotes we often have to correct bad advice doled out by big company call centres.

The bottom line is:  Yes, a smart meter can be installed in this strata townhouse’s switchboard. This won’t always be the case, and as more people want to install EV charging, it may be prudent to bite the bullet and upgrade service connections and switchboards anyway.

Just remember to be vigilant, seek second opinions, and don’t fall for someone else’s easy option. There are often innovative solutions available that fit your needs and budget.

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