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Types Of Solar PV Net Meter

NSW NET Metering

 

Adding Clarity To Solar Power Net Metering

The aim of this page is to add clarity to the different types of Solar Power Net Metering, available in  NSW. Other States may be using some of these highlighted NET meters and notes will reflect this.

Important to note is the fact, not all metering solutions will do the maths on imported / exported power in the same way. Therefore a householder with little knowledge of the NET metering types, can end up exporting most of the generated power back to the grid, with hardly any of the generated electricity offsetting imported electricity costs.

It is the electricity offsetting that makes the biggest return each year on any solar power investment, in the current Net Metering NSW environment, NOT the exported power! As we can see here:

 

Every 1 kW of exported power     @ 6 cents = $85     @ 8 cents = $114

Every 1 kW of offset electricity     @ 30 cents = $427     @ 35 cents = $500

The above is based on 1 kW supplying an average of 3.6kW per day

 

A householder with good 'sunny hour usage' is going to make a far higher return on investment, by offsetting electricity at 30 cents plus per kWh, than exporting it at only 6 or 8 cents per kWh!

Many householders report not making the expected return after the sales hype! An understanding of electricity offsetting and metering is crucial to maximising your investment! A failure in understanding either, could result in little financial return!

 

 

Monitoring Unlocks Reasons Why Correct Metering Is So Crucial!

We have helped many clients to discover the reasons, of why their solar pv system was not making the most money for them. Reasons that have come to light after analysing generated, imported and exported power. At the time of sale, certain financial returns are discussed. Only for the householder to see less than the desired return. The metering can affect your financial return greatly!

When generated solar power along with electricity consumption is monitored, you have all the information required to maximise the return of investment. When these figures in kilowatts do not supply the desired financial return, the type of metering installed is of the first concern.

 

Electricity Consumption & Solar Power Generation Graph

 

With realtime data you will be able to see when to use more power, or when to use less and know what you have imported  / exported based on the maths. If you have beneficial metering installed then you will see a return close to this value. When there is a large difference this can point towards a non-beneficial meter installation.

A lot of the following NET metering information on this page has been discovered due to clients monitoring solar power and electricity consumption. The monitoring supplying answers to clients questions, when the maths simply did not make sense. Maths that was costing the client! See our ONLINE ELECTRICITY MONITORING page for all the information.

 

HowToChooseAnElectricityMonitorBanner

 

 

How To Maximise Your Solar Power NET Metered Investment

To maximise any solar power investment you firstly need to make sure you understand:

    1. Your total sunny hour electricity usage. What appliances use electricity during the sunny hour and how electricity offsetting occurs and at what rate?

    2. How NET metering works? Making sure the meter installed is of the type that benefits you first with the maths and not the electricity retailer.

    3. That a single phase inverter can be installed on a three phase supply and when the correct poly-phase meter is installed it will benefit you first!

    4. Your total imported power and consumption.

    5. Your exported power, how to minimise this return to the grid, to maximise financial return.

 

 

Single Phase Inverters On Three Phase Supply

We have to say the current situation at the time of writing [January 2014] of finding clear cut information on the installation of single phase inverters on a three phase supply, is a Solar Power Mine Field. Finding the information on how all of the available import / export meters compute the imported and exported power in this scenario, has been a long journey.

It makes you wonder why this was not regulated from the start. There certainly would have been far less confusion, a far less lack of knowledge on the correct and best choice for the householder. Where there is little regulation in the area of import / export meter installations, where the information is not so clear, easily available, or offers to many choices, the householder runs a risk. Especially with the industry being full of stories on how different types of meter can affect the return on the solar pv investment greatly.

How many times have we heard of a householder not making the desired financial return? ONLY to find they are over generating, not offsetting the electricity correctly or the installed metering is not maximising the financial return?

 

At the end of the day it would be great to see standards applied affecting all electricity parties in NSW. Making the information on what types of meter and how they compute the bill more clear! Having this knowledge passed on to the electricity retailers from the electricity distributors, whom tend to be the main contact point for most householders.

One thing we have learned during this time, is the electricity retailers are often totally confused when asked technical questions. Simply put they do not necessarily know the type of meter the distributor is installing and how it affects the billing with solar power installed. It would be good if the electricity retailers at least new what hardware was installed on site and had access to the systems to check this, whilst on the phone. And further new how their software worked in detail!

The exercise that started this investigation off was a simple question, asking for more information on a solar power system feeding in generated power on one phase of a three phase supply. We discovered very quickly there were many different opinions on how the financial return was calculated.

We would like to thank all of the parties we contacted for detailed information.

 

 

Where Householders Can Get Caught Out!

3 Phase Inverter Sold When Not Necessarily Required

If you are connected to a 3 Phase supply, you only need a 3 Phase inverter if your inverter is 5 kW or more. Unless it is proven there is some imbalance on the electricity supply to your house by the distributor.

The correct choice of import / export meter will work out the maths on the exported / imported power over all phases, beneficial to you the householder. You will only need a 3 Phase inverter really if you are going over 5 kW. Add the correct polyphase meter and the exported electricity on one phase will be calculated correctly in relation to the summed import electricity on ALL phases. Electricity offsetting in this environment will be maximised. Householders being talked into installing 3 Phase inverters is commonplace.

Solution: Install A Beneficial Polyphase Meter

 

1 Phase Inverter On A 3 Phase Supply With ONLY NET Metering On That Phase

The scenario is this, you have a three phase supply where there is a peak electricity meter on each phase. So what happens if you install a single phase inverter, onto one of these phases and only install NET metering on that phase?

Well even if you had the inverter installed on phase with the most usage, you are still not offsetting all of the electricity you could be. Why? Because you can only offset on that particular phase, meaning you can only use the solar power from that phase and only export power on that phase.

There is no magic wand here to make the meters talk to each other. This is a common scenario which can take place due to lack of knowledge of behalf of the installers, or cost cutting exercises on behalf of the customer [often due to lack of knowledge] or the solar business.

Solution: Install A Beneficial Polyphase Meter

 

Summary Of Discussion With Distributor

The EDMI ATLAS 2000-1010 Mk10 is a good example of a polyphase net electricity meter, with beneficial maths for the end user. Offering the best financial return for generated power by offsetting the generated power across ALL three phases.

The EDMI Atlas 2000-1010 Mk10A electricity meter is able to measure how much current is flowing in each phase and in what direction. Imported 'power registers' for each phase, will only increment when power is imported.

Where power is exported on one phase, the import power counter for that particular phase will not change, instead the export register [040] will be incremented.

Importantly this polyphase meter records the total imported power SUMMED across all phases, in one register and the exported power [whether on one phase or three], recorded in another register, to be OFFSET against the TOTAL imported power.

Both of the above registers [Import and Export] are itemised on your electricity bill as separate line items. The exported power noted as a credit.

NOTE : Generated power consumed is NOT shown on any electricity bill nor itemised by the meter. You will ONLY Total Consumption by installing an Energy Monitoring Solution.

 

    March 2017 : Ausgrid's METERING INSTALLATION REQUIREMENTS : Read this to make sure you are not being fooled by an electricity retailer. See especially section 6.7.4 quoted:

    All Ausgrid E3/E3c meters add the instantaneous (maximum every second) power flow (magnitude and direction) in each of the three phases. The resultant, depending on the dominant flow, is accumulated in the import or export kWh register. This approach achieves the consistency across the different network connection configurations and credits the customer for the full value of any generation. This is particularly important in examples such as single phase embedded generation systems connected to three phase supply. In such an example, the single phase generation will offset any consumption in the other two phases.

    This is also why a single E3/E3c (rather than multiple E1's) is mandatory for any embedded
    generation connected to multi-phase installations, as detailed in Table 5.

 

1 Phase Inverter Installed On Off-Peak Phase Or Phase With Little Use

Solar Net Metering - Three Single Phase Meters With Poor Electricity Offsetting We have seen this occur, where each phase had it's own separate import meter. The phase with solar connected had an import / export meter connected. Now for electricity offsetting to occur there has to be generated electricity being used instead of imported. When on one phase only, especially off-peak which operates at night most of the time, NO electricity offsetting can occur. Therefore all electricity is exported back to the grid at 6 to 8 cents per kWh. In a case such as this where the three meters are not swopped out for a polyphase meter, the solar connection should be on the phase with most use. Not ideal as there is still a loss due to not offsetting all of the imported power.

On our recommendation this monitoring client had his metering changed to a Secure Sprint polyphase meter, with a separate HW off-peak meter.

Solution: Install A Beneficial Polyphase Meter

 

Offsetting Hot Water Off-Peak Power

We can say 100% this will not occur in any solar power NET metering scenario. Even if the solar is connected to the same phase, the hot water is connected to the off-peak circuit via either a different meter, or through different circuits in the same NET meter.

The bottom line is, your hot water is not using peak electricity! Peak electricity CAN ONLY be offset. Off-peak electricity is a completely different tariff rate and structure and therefore we can state the following:

YOU CANNOT OFFSET YOUR OFF-PEAK HOT WATER!

 

The technicalities of NET metering are:

  • 3 Ph NET meter type E3 tariff structure 21
  • 1 Ph NET meter type E1 tariff structure 21
  • 1 Ph NET meter type E2 tariff structure 23 / 19 With Time clock or relay to control OPI / OPII

Solution: Focus On PEAK Power ONLY! Off-Peak II In The Daytime Is Still On A Different Tariff!

 

Generating Excess Power For Only A Small Financial Return

As discussed earlier, the annual financial return of 1 kW of exported power.

Every 1 kW of exported power     @ 6 cents = $85     @ 8 cents = $114

With such little return it does not necessarily pay to invest in additional hardware, unless of course you have the extra money / or are interested in offsetting the cost of some of the imported kWs, by the 6 or 8 cents. Whilst this exported power rate may change, it could also disappear, so we would say beware!

Maths: 1 kW X 3.9 [Sydney] X 365 = 1424 kW X 0.06 = $85

Solution: Only Install A Solar System To Match Your SUNNY HOUR Usage

 

5 kW Solar Power Inverters In NSW

The 5 kW Inverter Ruling came about during 2013 for various reasons. One being to try and balance the loading of solar power when fed back into the grid on a suburb by suburb basis. Having to much power is certain areas of the grid is not good practice.

The ruling simply states if the solar system to be installed, is to have a total inverter rating of 5 kW or more, then either a three phase inverter or three single phase inverters, must be installed.

Realise this that there are two areas of concern here to abide by the ruling.

      1. Additional voltage rise calculations

      2. How is the system metered

For some reason the above created a a lot of confusion at the time amongst various players in the solar power industry.

What is NOT allowed is a 5 kW Inverter with only 4.75kW of panels installed. This was being offered as a work around by some businesses at the time. Only resulting in headaches for the householder further down the path. It is the RATING of the inverter that is crucial!

Solution: Make Sure You Understand The Ruling

 

 

Electricity Distributors Supply The Electricity Meters

In NSW there are three main electricity distributors. The type / model of electricity meter you are offered by your distributor will depend on what they are currently marketing or simply have available at that time.

The electricity retailer will offer you billing rates based on different tariff types. Such electricity tariffs as flat rate, block / tiered rate or Time Of Use. Different meters support different tariffs. Not all meters support the same tariffs. Note not all electricity retailers offer the same tariffs, for the same meter!

Digital electricity meters are often supplied from the manufacturer with generic software. The distributor then installs software to suit their metering arrangements and the electricity retailers billing software.

As you can see it all starts to get very complicated, very quickly. And it is this list of variables which can in some cases lead to confusion and differences in metering and billing.

There are three main electricity distributors in NSW.

  • Ausgrid
  • Endeavour
  • Essential Energy

If you are not sure who your electricity distributor is, then click on this ELECTRICITY DISTRIBUTOR MAP OF NSW to easily find out.

 

 

Important Facts About NET Metering

To help you to understand NET metering remember these facts,

  • The NETING of the power, occurs in the appliances and not in the meter
  • Think of the meter as a pipe, where power can only flow one way at once
  • Separate phase values [polyphase meter] will be SUMMED by the meter's software. The result being either an import or export of electrical power. NOT ALL meters calculate the same way! It is in your best interests to make sure the meter you have installed works out the offsetting in your favour! Otherwise you run the risk of exporting more electricity
  • The meter is bi-directional, but not at the same time. Think hard about this, as people get confused when working out the maths on import / export examples

 

 

Where NET Metering Differs From GROSS Metering

Gross metering is where you are paid for every kWh of electricity generated, with no relation to what is used under the roof. The power your appliances use is made up 100% of imported electricity. So the electricity bill will be the same with an additional credit for the generated power fed back to the grid.

Gross metering occurs BEFORE the house load. Typically a gross kWh is worth 60 cents.

Net Metering  is where you are paid for every kWh of electricity generated that is NOT used by your appliances first. The power your appliances use is made up of generated and imported power. Only the excess / not used power is fed back to the grid.

Net metering occurs AFTER the house load. Typically a net metered exported kWh is worth 6 cents. The generated power used by your appliance first, could be worth anything upwards of 25 cents per kWh. In Sydney peak power on a TOU tariff is already worth 53 cents per kWh.

NET metered solar systems are lucrative where you have 'sunny hour' usage. As this power is generated on your roof, offsetting that cost of imported power.

 

 

3 Phase [Polyphase] Electricity NET Import / Export Meters

 

Three phase metering uses what is commonly known as polyphase meters, meaning they meter more than one phase.

To maximise electricity offsetting which maximises your return on investment, you need to have a beneficial polyphase meter installed. Even if there are three single phase meters, these need to be replaced by ONE polyphase meter.

The polyphase meters we have researched that compute the imported  / exported power beneficially to the householder are listed below. This research is based on feedback and research results done by the electricity distributors, Endeavour, Ausgrid and Essential Energy.

Read this February 2014 statement update on AUSGRID'S IMPORT / EXPORT TOU METERS

 

 

Landis & Gyr EM5100

Landis & Gyr Solar NET Polyphase Meter  EM5100Meter ID Prefix

    Ausgrid : AMX
    Endeavour
    : ???
    Essential Energy : None

Tariffs Supported By Meter Hardware

    Flat Rate [Y]
    Block / Tiered Rate [Y]
    TOU Rate [ ]

Tariffs Offered By Electricity Retailers

    Energy Australia
    AGL
    Origin Energy
    Dodo [M2 Energy]
    Power Direct
    ERM Energy
    Momentum Energy
    Aus. Power & Gas
    Lumo Energy
    Sanctuary Energy
    Simple Energy
    Click Energy
    Red Energy

See Essential Energy's Operation & Installation Manual [Mar 2013] for the Landis & Gyr EM5100 ELECTRICITY METER

 

 

Secure Sprint

Solar Net Meter Polyphase Secure SprintMeter ID Prefix

    Ausgrid : PRW
    Endeavour
    : ???
    Essential Energy : None

Tariffs Supported By Meter Hardware

    Flat Rate [Y]
    Block / Tiered Rate [Y]
    TOU Rate [ ]

Tariffs Offered By Electricity Retailers

    Energy Australia
    AGL
    Origin Energy
    Dodo [M2 Energy]
    Power Direct
    ERM Energy
    Momentum Energy
    Aus. Power & Gas
    Lumo Energy
    Sanctuary Energy
    Simple Energy
    Click Energy
    Red Energy

See Essential Energy's Operation & Installation Manual [Mar 2013] for the SECURE SPRINT ELECTRICITY METER

 

 

EDMI Atlas 2000-1010 Mk10

EDMI Atlas Meter MK10AMeter ID Prefix

    Ausgrid : EET
    Endeavour
    : ???
    Essential Energy : ???

    Energex QLD : ???

Tariffs Supported By Meter Hardware

    Flat Rate [Y]
    Block / Tiered Rate [Y]
    TOU Rate [Y]

Tariffs Offered By Electricity Retailers

    Energy Australia
    AGL
    Origin Energy
    Dodo [M2 Energy]
    Power Direct
    ERM Energy
    Momentum Energy
    Aus. Power & Gas
    Lumo Energy
    Sanctuary Energy
    Simple Energy
    Click Energy
    Red Energy

 

Elster A1100

Solar Power NET MeterMeter ID Prefix

    Ausgrid : Not Offered
    Endeavour
    : ???
    Essential Energy : ???

Tariffs Supported By Meter Hardware

    Flat Rate [Y]
    Block / Tiered Rate [Y]
    TOU Rate [ ]

Tariffs Offered By Electricity Retailers

    Energy Australia
    AGL
    Origin Energy
    Dodo [M2 Energy]
    Power Direct
    ERM Energy
    Momentum Energy
    Aus. Power & Gas
    Lumo Energy
    Sanctuary Energy
    Simple Energy
    Click Energy
    Red Energy

 

 

Other Common Net Metering Questions

    Question : Will the output from my solar system offset the controlled load off-peak electricity costs, where they occur during the sunny hours of the day, as with the off-peak II tariff?

    Answer : NO! Your OP is a separate circuit and tariff. We are not talking about Time Of Use Off-Peak here, but an off-peak circuit that is controlled by a ripple controller and itemised on your electricity bill as a 'controlled load', either CL1 or CL2. You can also have in some cases a controlled load on a TOU electricity bill.

    Where the costs of hot water can be offset, is where the hot water is placed back onto the peak tariff and a timer is installed. Thus the hot water is only active during the sunny hours of the day, powered by the solar system.

     

    Question : Why is it I am being told I have to switch to a Time Of Use tariff?

    Answer : Because your existing electricity retailer either only offers that now you have opted for solar export, or they want to make you switch to the TOU tariff. Suggestions are you inquire with another electricity retailer.

     

    Question : My electricity retailer is not offering any financial return for the exported power, what can I do?

    Answer :Suggestions are to inquire with another electricity retailer.
     

     

    Question : What is the difference between a Smart Meter and an Interval Meter?

    Answer : To keep it simple think of it like this. An interval meter is a meter that records real-time power readings, accumulating these readings in a software register at a set interval. For example every half hour.

    If an interval meter comes with additional options where the power used can be monitored, or functions of the meter accessed remotely by the provider, then we would class it as a Smart meter. Victoria in a lot of cases has Smart meters. The above net meters for NSW are all interval meters, with none having these remote options installed or active at the time of writing.

 

 

Monitoring Your Generated Power & Total Consumption

Net Metered Solar Power MonitoringThe icing on the cake for any solar system is the monitoring system. In a net metered environment this is crucial, as otherwise you have absolutely no idea of whether your consumption has risen of fallen after installing solar.

Remember your electricity bill before solar shows you the total imported power. After solar power is installed the only addition on the electricity bill is the power you did not use and fed back into the grid. In a net metered environment this power is often worth little and you would benefit more from using this sunny hour power.

Unless you are visiting the inverter on a daily basis you are not going to know of any issue or the generated power. You certainly are not going to know your total consumption. You therefore really are blind without any solar power monitoring system installed. Remember net metered maths is:

 

Total Consumption = Import + Generation - Export

 

Of The Four Above Elements How Many Do You Know? : If it is only import and export off your electricity bill then you sure are blind as to what is really happening. You only have 50% of the information!

Call our office now for help in installing net metered monitoring.

 

Aussie Home Energy : Helping Add Clarity To Australian Electricity Net Metering

 

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