Smart Meters in Ireland 2024

Smart meters fulfill the same fundamental role as traditional meters, but they surpass their counterparts by integrating cutting-edge wireless technology. This enables smart meters to directly convey precise electricity usage data to ESB Networks.

In contrast, traditional electricity meters lack these advanced functionalities. These unwieldy units lack transmission capabilities, necessitating reliance on provided estimated bills and usage, which are prone to inaccuracy when determining electricity usage.

Through a network connection, smart meters efficiently transmit usage data to a local smart meter gateway. Subsequently, this data is uploaded to the cloud, providing accessibility for both customers and providers to view and assess it.

As of now, over 1.4 million smart meters have been rolled out throughout Ireland, signifying that over half of Irish households have adopted this technology and are enjoying its complete advantages.

The Irish Energy Landscape


Operating under the authority of the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities, ESB is entrusted with the construction and development of Ireland's electricity transmission system. Consequently, ESB oversees the management of the country's 17,500 km of electrical power lines, facilitating the connection of homes and businesses to the power supply. Currently, ESB plays a pivotal role in illuminating most Irish homes and businesses when they switch on the light.

With a €150 million financial commitment from the European Investment Bank, ESB initiated its ambitious campaign to introduce smart meters to every Irish home in early 2021. ESB bears sole responsibility for the comprehensive rollout, encompassing both the supply and installation of smart meters. By the end of 2024, every household in Ireland will have the opportunity to receive a complimentary installation of a smart meter.

While ESB manages the installation of smart meters, your individual electricity supplier utilizes the readings to bill you at the specified rate. Notably, there is no ESB user app interface for managing readings. Instead, various electricity providers are tasked with developing integrated mobile phone apps that empower customers to assess and view their usage information along with the associated costs.

The primary advantage of the smart meter lies in the accuracy it provides to consumers. Unlike traditional meters, which consider factors such as past usage, current usage, and the time of year, the smart meter offers a straightforward, up-to-date figure on usage. This ensures that billing is consistently accurate. The peace of mind derived from the smart meter's precision is invaluable, ensuring that hidden or excessive costs are relegated to the past.

Smart Meter Tariffs and Benefits


Smart meter tariffs constitute yet another compelling reason why smart meters emerge as the preferred choice for consumers. These pricing plans empower consumers with an unprecedented level of control, enabling them to establish energy consumption practices tailored to their unique situations. Also referred to as time-of-use tariffs, these plans grant consumers access to discounted electricity rates based on the time of day.

Equipped with built-in capabilities, new smart meters contribute to the establishment of usage regularity. This feature ensures that any cost-saving habits adopted by consumers can be seamlessly programmed into the daily operation of the smart meter. Options such as utilizing energy during off-peak hours or implementing an efficient schedule stand out as effective ways to save money and enhance overall performance efficiency.

An integral component of the Irish Government’s Climate Action plan, smart meters also hold significant promise in terms of environmental sustainability. By placing control of usage in the hands of consumers, smart meters play a pivotal role in drastically reducing wasted energy, thereby striving to achieve a balance between electrical demand and supply. Furthermore, smart meters actively promote the electrification of heat and even transportation, particularly when considering electric vehicles (EVs).

Technical Aspects and Security


In Ireland, the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (CRU) holds the responsibility for managing the data generated by smart meters. Through the establishment of the Smart Meter Access Code framework, the CRU has outlined regulations governing the collection, storage, and access of meter data.

Upon activation, each smart meter system receives a unique Meter Point Reference Number (MPRN), an 11-digit code functioning as a personalized identification number. This MPRN ensures accurate attribution of usage to the appropriate party. While not visibly marked on the meter, the MPRN can be found on your electricity bill or obtained directly from ESB Networks.

Utilizing 2G technology, smart meters transmit usage data to the cloud via a gateway, eliminating the need for manual meter readings by ESB technicians. This data can be conveniently viewed on the platform, allowing homeowners to send information at their preferred intervals for optimal insights into home energy usage. Conversely, the data is automatically uploaded to the system every day around midnight.

The confidentiality of data collected from smart meters is safeguarded under Irish consumer data protection laws. Nevertheless, certain precautions should be taken to prevent unauthorized access to the meter system.

Each smart meter is furnished with a unique SIM number, and ESB, in collaboration with Three, ensures that only pre-approved SIM cards can access the Advanced Meter Infrastructure (AMI) network. Additionally, GDPR regulations mandate that ESB encrypts all relevant information and deletes data when no longer deemed relevant.

In terms of security, the meter employs two-step verification with requirements for robust passwords. It is crucial to refrain from sharing information related to the management and use of smart meters with anyone other than the relevant parties to minimize the risk of hacking or compromise of information.

Time-of-Use Tariffs and Off-Peak Times


Time-of-use tariffs entail potential discounts that can benefit individuals who choose to utilize their electricity supply during periods of lower grid demand. For instance, electricity accessed during "peak time," typically occurring between 5 and 7 pm, tends to be more expensive than electricity consumed between 11 pm and 8 am. The reduced rates during off-peak hours result from a lighter load on the grid, as fewer customers are drawing from their power supply. It is crucial to recognize that these tariff rates are determined by your specific electricity supplier.

Currently, only approximately 1 in 10 smart meter owners are enrolled in a tariff plan. One possible explanation is that under a smart tariff plan, accessing electricity during peak hours may incur higher costs. Therefore, those selecting a tariff plan should be mindful that their rates could rise unless they adjust their usage timing.

Because smart meters monitor electricity usage in real time, the likelihood of being charged an inaccurate amount is virtually eliminated. Furthermore, by offering up-to-the-minute insights into usage data, home and business owners in Ireland gain the ability to adjust their consumption patterns if they perceive excessive spending on electricity. To enhance security, the software supporting smart meter technology undergoes regular updates to prevent any lapses in security.

Night Meters and Electric Vehicles


Night Meters, a category of smart meters, meticulously record electricity consumption during both daytime and nighttime periods. In the winter, nighttime spans from 11 pm to 8 am, while in the summer months, this timeframe adjusts to 12 am to 9 am.

The purpose of Night Meters is to enable consumers to access electricity during the night when it is more cost-effective due to reduced demand. For example, Electric Ireland's night rates differ from daytime rates by approximately €0.09, constituting half the unit price for daytime usage. These meters employ two distinct reference codes, one designated for daytime use and the other reserved for off-peak, nighttime consumption.

Crucially, smart meters support cutting-edge Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) technology for electric cars. This innovative technology allows vehicles to feed surplus energy from their batteries back into the grid during peak hours and recharge their batteries overnight. The advanced reporting capabilities of smart meters simplify the measurement and execution of this exchange. The Zappi Smart EV Charger is the optimal solution. 

This initiative is part of a broader smart meter design aimed at empowering consumers to make informed and economical choices regarding their energy usage. Providing consumers with the option to charge their electric vehicles at night promotes more efficient electricity use, leading to a myriad of environmental benefits.

The Next Generation of Energy Management


With the Irish Government committed to increasing renewable electricity capacity to approximately 55% by 2030, the widespread adoption and utilization of smart grids emerge as an excellent strategy to achieve this goal. While there is still considerable room for growth, smart meters serve as a foundational technology challenging the traditional roles of national grid infrastructure.

By enabling the regulation of use and wireless data sharing, smart meters offer a blueprint for the potential workings of broader electrical grid infrastructure. At the heart of smart grids is the objective of achieving a better balance between supply and demand, maximizing energy efficiency, and reducing the risk of idle waste.

Smart grids also possess the capability to prioritize sustainable technologies like wind and solar over fossil fuels. Ireland is already making significant strides in wind and solar energy, and smart metering technologies provide the means to ensure that energy from these sources is utilized sensibly and efficiently. For more information on Wattcharger's involvement in solar, click here.

Despite being a relatively new technology, smart grids in Ireland have experienced widespread adoption. Those who have chosen to install them through ESB have embraced a more responsible and manageable approach to energy use, tailored to their individual needs.

Given the heightened environmental challenges we face, establishing a system that grants maximal control over personal energy use is more crucial than ever. Smart meters come equipped with future-proof functionalities, facilitating a nearly seamless transition away from fossil fuels.

If you haven't yet installed a smart meter, the best way to begin is by reaching out to ESB network through their website. Additionally, our expert team at Wattcharger is available to address any questions or concerns you may have about the technology. Feel free to contact us using the contact form below.

Blog Author: Adrian Dorney