CHOICE membership

Electrical meter box upgrade and solar

Hi
I am looking at installing air con and as part of that the electrical meter box needs to be upgraded.
My question is is there one box to fit all purposes as I want to install solar later and don’t want an electrician to have to do the job twice.

Thanks

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The box limitation is the number of breakers (and relays) that can be fit inside, so other than assuring you have a few open spaces for future breakers and possibly some relays there is nothing special. If you ring around to some solar companies you can find out the numbers various systems you might be interested in require. The answer should be fairly consistent for string inverter solar systems, but a bit different for microinverter systems. Your sparky might know and be able to advise if he does related installation work.

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I’m very dubious of this ‘meter box upgrade’ line - do you have an old style or new style box? Does it have fuses or breakers or both? Things like physical location and size come into it - I’ve seen and heard anecdotally that the ‘you need a meter box upgrade’ is a great money spinner and easy work for sparkies who are less scrupulous. There are sometimes unseen reasons things need upgrading … and sometimes an upgrade really is necessary …

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From our experience the electrician who install the air con will fix whatever is needed on the old meter box, and when you install solar, your energy supplier will upgrade your meter box to a digital one for no cost after the solar has been installed. That is organised by the company who install the solar.

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thanks everyone, very helpful

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I am about to get solar panels and am researching everything - I cam eacross this post on Solar Quotes blog from a member in the article " Power Of Choice Meter Reforms Result In Powerful Conflicts Of Interest;

"There are some potential conflicts of interest in putting retailers in charge of electricity meters. And I mean conflicts beyond putting the people who charge us for electricity use in charge of determining how much electricity we use:

  1. Retailers have a financial incentive to delay the installation of new meters when households install solar panels because the longer it takes for the meter to be changed and the solar power system to be switch on2 the longer the household will spend consuming only grid electricity. While some people have been able to claw compensation out of electricity retailers because of the long delays they have suffered in getting new meters, many aren’t even aware this is a possibility.
  2. Some meter replacements will cost more than others and so a retailer may decide they’d rather not do it and leave it to another retailer. Taken to its logical conclusion this could result in some people finding it very difficult to get new meters.
  3. Retailers can abuse their power over electricity meter replacements to give an unfair and unethical advantage to their own solar installation businesses and attempt to steal the customers of solar installers when they are forced to call them to arrange a meter change.

While the first two conflicts of interest are potentially serious, it’s the third one that really gets my goat, drags it away, and does terrible things to it before turning it into goat pies. A concerned citizen told me when they contacted Origin Energy to arrange a meter change because they were getting solar installed, they were told they couldn’t be given a date unless they bought a solar power system from Origin. Another person claimed when they rang to arrange an electricity meter change, Origin told them they could beat the price their solar installer had given them."

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It might assist those who can provide relevant experience or comments if you can advise which state and area or region.

EG
We’ve had two solar PV installs in the previous 18 months. One in the city and another regional Qld. No charge for the solar meter upgrade. The meters were upgraded one month after the PV. It can be quicker, but we needed to get an agreed date for each property to insure we could provide access. The distributor Energex in our location, installed the upgraded meter, which is leased from a third party.

The retailers add a daily solar meter charge to the bill which finds it’s way back to the third party as income against supply of the meter. Each state is slightly different. Even within Qld the electricity supply arrangements have varied between the SE corner and the rest of the state. Our installer notified the retailer, different in each instance and Energex the distributor on completion of the install.

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In Queensland and Tasmania (have experience installing in both states), the distribution network provider owns the meter…usually the installer makes the request for new meter if existing meter doesn’t measure export. Retailers only have to change tarriffs (if solar install triggers a change) and set billing system to handle automatic migration of metering data for billing. The later is what I am waiting for and chasing up our retailer so that our new install in Tasmania can go live (existing meters can do export and the network operator changed firmware to log exports).

I am not sure situation in other states. Possibly others can comment.

Edit: Looking at the Origin website, it appears only NSW/ACT has the option for a customer to request a meter change through the retailer…but the retailer request meter then goes to the distribution network operaror for a meter change. In Qld, Vic and SA, all requests must be instigated through the distribution network operator.

I think this falls into conspiracy theories.

Metering change requests come from installers…often after install or after engagement of an install company and deposit paid. There is no opportunity to steal unless a customer (where PV is installed) breaks a contract and looses the deposit. It seems very far fetched and possibly an internet myth.

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