Do Smart Meters Work With Solar Panels? Are They Worth It?

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Many households in the U.S now have smart meters installed. These newfangled devices are a step up from analog meters since it means utility companies don’t have to come knocking on your door to collect meter readings here and there.


However, there’s still some confusion surrounding smart meters, especially for solar homeowners. Common questions include, “Do smart meters interfere with solar panels?” and “Is a smart meter really necessary?”

Here’s a simple explanation of how smart meters work and why they might be of benefit to you.

What are smart meters?

A smart meter is a digital device. When it’s attached to your residence, it measures the amount of electricity you use and then sends the information back to your utility company. The utility company uses this information (your energy use) to calculate your electricity bill.


Unlike the old analog meters, which have to be read manually about once a month, smart meters track your electricity consumption in real-time or at predetermined intervals, usually sub-hourly. This enables the utility to calculate your energy use and electric bill more accurately.

What’s the connection between smart meters and solar panels?

To understand the relationship between smart meters and solar panels, let’s first examine how solar panels work. A solar panel’s interior contains photovoltaic cells, which is just a fancy way of saying electronic devices that convert light energy into electricity.


This electricity is then fed onto your electric supply, but it’s free since you’re generating it via solar. But if you have to tap into your supplier’s power, the supplier will charge you for the little you use.


That’s where smart meters come in. Anytime you’re falling back on your utility’s electric supply, the smart meter digitally transmits your usage to the utility. Not only that but as a customer, you can also access details about your electricity consumption. Typically, this is done by reading the digital display on the meter you have on-site.


This allows you to monitor your energy usage, so there are no nasty surprises when the bill finally comes in.

Are smart meters compatible with solar panels?

Smart meters and solar panels have separate functions, so one won’t interfere with the other. Your solar panels will still be able to generate the usual amount of electricity for use. However, before we move to the benefits of smart meters, there have been concerns about the hourly electricity usage information collected by smart meters and whether it violates customers’ privacy.


Smart meters may also come with installation and maintenance fees. One other thing to look out for is how your utility’s smart meter measures and values your solar production. It’s important to stay alert to these issues to ensure you’re getting the most benefit from your smart meter.

Are there any benefits to using a smart meter?

There has been a lot of enthusiasm over smart meter installations in the U.S, particularly on the part of utility companies. But, should you be equally as upbeat if you’re a solar homeowner? Consider the following benefits associated with smart meters:


  • More accurate electricity bills. If you’re offsetting your electricity costs using renewable energy, you’ll want to be billed accurately for the small amount of electricity that you fall back on. That way, you’re sure that any actual savings from using renewable energy are going into your pocket and not the power company’s coffers.
  • You can sell your excess energy. If you’ve got spare solar power, it’s possible to get credited for any leftover energy that’s fed back into the grid. A smart meter can help you calculate your savings and earnings more accurately.
  • It’s easy to regulate your consumption. When the numbers are staring you right in the face, it’s easier to remember to switch off the lights or TV when they’re not in use. This, in turn, lowers your electric bill.
  • Faster response time. Most smart meters transmit on-site electricity usage to utilities in real-time. That means utilities can respond to problems more quickly, resulting in more reliable services and less power downtime.

The bottom line

Smart meters are a form of new technology that can help you further reduce your energy costs. While you stand to enjoy many smart meter benefits, it’s essential to use a reliable and reputable utility company to get the best service and fair compensation as a solar homeowner.




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