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Will a Smart Meter Work with Solar Power?

If you began reading this blog post with another question in mind, you’re not alone. Rather than wondering if a smart meter will work with a solar PV array, you might instead be wondering: “What is a smart meter?” When you dig deeper, you’ll come to find that smart meters are really only smart for the electric company.

Smart Meter Myths and Misconceptions
When states first rolled out smart meters, there were a lot of myths, misconceptions, and glitches. We’ll address two of those misconceptions in this blog post.

First of all — no, the microwave radiation emitted by smart meters probably won’t fry your brains, give you cancer, or cause other horrible health problems. Any evidence of the danger of EMF (ElectroMagnetic Frequency) radiation is inclusive, but a smart meter emits no more — and probably less — radiation than your smartphone. And it’s not like you’re going to spend hours sitting in front of your smart meter soaking up EMF waves.

Solar Arrays and Smart Meter Glitches
So, smart meters are probably as safe as any other technology we use today in terms of EMF radiation. But will they work with your solar array? When the technology was first introduced, smart meters did not always work with solar panels.

Smart meters are basically computers, and they hadn’t been programmed to know what to do when electricity was fed back into the grid. Instead of “spinning” (of course, there’s no dial to actually spin) backward to give users energy credits, they kept going forward — twice as fast.

This led to disturbing moments as new solar homeowners promised lower electric bills got bills double the usual amount instead. That glitch, however, was fixed quickly with new programming, but not before rumors about smart meters’ incompatibility with solar arrays spread, further fueling people’s dislike of the devices.

Be aware: If you use solar energy, the smart meter issued to you should have a sticker reading “net” — this means the meter has been programmed to run backward and credit you in kilowatt hours for the electricity you feed back into the system.

With the new programming in “net” smart meters, not only do the smart meters work fine with a solar installation, but a solar PV array helps you make sure your meter is working smartly for you.

Stay tuned as we show you how to leverage time-of-use billing with a smart meter and a solar installation.

Post Written by
A full-time freelance writer, Dawn frequently covers energy efficiency, green living, and topics like LED lighting and whole home control systems for a number of blogs and technology trade magazines. Dawn is proud to live in New York as the state vies to beat out New Jersey as the East coast top dog of solar energy and is waiting for the Solar Renewable Energy Certificate legislation to pass before installing solar panels on her Long Island home.

3 Comments

  1. Ten things to know about smart meters and solar and a video piece on how to read your smart meter can be found on the Heliopower.com site: http://www.heliopower.com/node/908

  2. [...] more up-to-date information on how that digital dial is spinning — although we’ve seen reports of early problems with smart meters running twice as fast, instead of backwards, when they’re not programmed to [...]


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