Why do electric companies change meters?
Can they do it on their own? or do they need your permission beforehand?
And do you have to accept replacing your energy meter, or can you prevent it?
And if you can decide, then is it good or bad to accept changing the meter?
These question will be answered here in this short guide in order to help you understand why this happens and what you should do about it.
Without further ado, let’s begin!
5 Reasons Electric Companies Change Meters
Certificate or Lifespan of The Meter Has Ended
To be used for recording energy usage, electricity meters must be tested and certified following specific procedures.
The certificate comes valid for a certain number of years when the meter is expected to run at and keep a specific efficiency or accuracy limit defined by the international and local standards and regulations.
The validity period a certificate changes based on the type of the meter (mechanical, digital, …etc.), the manufacturer, the standard followed, and the local regulations.
For example, for a rotating-disk based electricity meter, the certificate might be valid for 10-15 years depending on the country or state, while for solid-state (electronic) electricity meters, it might be valid for up to 20 years or more.
The lifespan of the meter might be longer than twenty years, but once the certificate expires, the meter should be re-tested and re-calibrated if found to be off the acceptable limits of operation and accuracy, or should be replaced with a new, certified meter, and thrown away.
New Standards & Regulations Are Applicable
Sometimes the standards that are followed in a certain country or by a certain energy provider get changed, and that might mean a different accuracy limit or meter technology that is not met by the old meters.
Or it could be something related to safety precautions and requirements, or ratings related to the electricity supply.
This would necessarily mean that a different meter type, class, rating or grade should now replace the old electricity meter, which makes the electricity company replace the meters.
Depending on the requirements of the local grid and the tariff system applied, some meters, especially old electricity meters with a spinning disk, might not be capable of satisfying these requirements.
For example, many electricity companies now charge different rates and utilize different tariff structures, such as the Time-Of-Use tariff structure that charges the same consumer different rates depending on the hour of the day that they consume power.
And old electricity meters can record the time of consuming every kWh withdrawn from the grid, but they only record the total consumption of the month.
This is why energy companies want to install smart meters that would replace the old analog meters.
And in some cases, the reason might be to reduce the electricity company operational costs by changing the current energy meters with ones that have the capability of being read remotely, and even to turn on and off the power supply from a remote distance without having the company personnel to physically go to every meter in person.
Change of Electricity Provider
In some areas, there might be more than one electricity company that compete on the same group of consumers, and each one might different tariff rates and might use a different type or brand of meters from the other.
And if you, or your landlord decided to change from one energy provider to another, then the new electricity company will change the meter with one of its own.
Or sometimes, the electricity company is still the same, but it got purchased by another company that uses a different type or brand of meters and wants to replace all the existing meters with that type or brand.
Stop Unwanted Behavior
Old technologies of energy meters, especially analog electricity meters with a rotating disk, are more vulnerable to being manipulated by consumers who want to consume energy and not pay for it, which makes them try to slow down or stop the meter with a magnet or by other means, in order not to record the actual consumption quantity.
This causes significant and continuous losses to the energy company, especially when done on a large scale, and sometimes it could be hard to find these cases and take a legal action against the consumer.
This is why the electric company might change the meter to another one with a different technology like electronic meters, which are difficult to manipulate by the consumers.
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How Often Should Electricity Meters Be Changed?
The answer to this question varies from one place to another depending on the local regulations, the company needs, and the type of the meter.
Or, if you send a complaint letter for a high electric bill and then it was found that the meter is not reading properly.
But assuming that the regulations and the company requirements didn’t change, the electricity meter should be changed, or at least, re-tested and calibrated when the validity of its certificate expires.
This is normally every 10-15 years for mechanical energy meters and every 20-25 years for electronic energy meters.
Who Is Responsible for Changing Electricity Meter?
Normally, the electricity meter is owned by the utility company, and thus, it is their responsibility to maintain, repair, and replace the electricity meter when necessary.
Conclusion – Should You Accept Electric Meter Change?
Sure, the electricity meter replacement might be necessary for complying with new regulations, standards or tariff structures, to provide more accuracy and safety levels, or to add new capabilities that are needed such as recording the time of using energy, or to offer remote reading and control.
All of these give more convenience, safety, and accuracy, which is useful for both sides; the consumer and the utility company.
In any case, the electricity meter replacement might be mandatory in some cases when it comes to regulations and standards, which means that the electricity company will either change the meter, or cut off the power if you don’t allow them to do so.
I hope that my short guide was helpful for you in understanding why electricity companies change meters at the consumer side and why that is good and you should be fine with it.
If you still need any help or have another question related to this matter, please, tell me in the comments’ section below, and I will do my best to help you out