The different types of energy meters explained

What are smart meters and other meter types?

Standard meter

This is the most common type of electricity meter and uses a mechanical display to show your readings. You'll need to take a reading of five black numbers from left to right - ignoring any red numbers (if present).

Dial meter

Look like small traditional clocks but are slightly more complex. When reading your dial meter, always remember that dials next to each other go around in opposite directions.

Read the numbers on the dials from left to right, ignoring the last red dial (if it is present), or any dials without figures or hands. If the needle is between two figures, write down the figure the dial has just passed.

The reading now needs adjusting to make allowances for any small variations in the pointer positions. If the figure is directly over the figure, say 5, write down that figure and underline it. Look at the figure underlined.

If one of those numbers in the sequence is followed by a 9, reduce the underlined figure by 1 (so the underlined '5' becomes '4').

Digital meters

Use the first five figures on the digital display and ignore any last figure that begins 0.1. You may need to press a button to get the figure to display.

Economy 7

There are two types of Economy 7 meter. The first type has two displays - the top row is for 'day rate' electricity marked 'Normal' and the bottom row, which is marked 'Low', shows 'night rate'.

Prepayment meters

There are several types of prepayment meters. Standard prepayment meters can be single or two-rate (with two rows of figures, as with Economy 7). Token meters are read as digital meters.

To take a meter reading, you will usually have to press a button on the meter (often blue). This will change the display from showing the remaining credit to showing the actual reading. From there on, it's just like taking a normal meter reading.

When taking an electricity meter reading, always check both displays. The second type has a single row of numbers that shows 'day rate' electricity. To provide a reading for 'night rate' electricity, press the red button.

Automated Meter Reading meters (AMRs)

AMR means Automated Meter Reading or sometimes Advanced Meter Reading. These AMR meters are more advanced energy meters that are capable of measuring and storing energy usage for multiple time periods.

There are three types of AMRs:

  • Advanced meter – contains a remote reading device.
  • Data logger – provides remote reading equipment on larger sites.
  • Gas embedded meter – contains a remote reading device.


Less advanced AMRs require the data to be collected by a portable collection device that is either used next to or within the vicinity of the meters located.

More advanced AMRs can now send meter consumption data and readings via GSM/GPRS communications used by the mobile phone network automatically to the energy suppliers. This energy usage data is then used to create bills and manage energy demand.

Data from the AMR meters are commonly sent daily to the energy suppliers so you would only need to read them if something blocks the GS/GPRS communications.

Smart meters (SMETS1 &SMETS2)

Automated Meter Reading meters and Smart Meters are similar, but they operate using different technologies. AMRs have a SIM within them that transmits data over a mobile network, whereas Smart Metering Equipment Technical Specifications (SMETS) meters use a communications hub. Smart meters are only being installed in domestic and small businesses and are being rolled out to all homes and small businesses by 2025.

Smart meters have many benefits, all of which are designed to make things easier for you:

  • The meter automatically sends your meter readings to us.
  • Your bills will be accurate, rather than estimated - so no more paying for energy that you do not use.
  • You will be able to monitor how much energy is being used, which could help you reduce your consumption and save money.
  • SMETS2 meters have the highest data security.
  • Free installation. 

If you would like to find out more about how a smart meter may benefit your business, click here

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