Caving Cottage electricity supply question

Peter Burgess

New member
I have a simple question for anyone who manages a caving club cottage. We are in the process of having an electricity supply laid on, and we have to decide whether we want the meter located inside or outside. Inside would be simpler but there is the matter of having the meter read. I have no knowledge of what power companies will expect, but we obviously would prefer not to have to arrange to let someone in whenever a meter reader needed to see it. Is it possible nowadays for a supplier to accept, for example, a photo of a meter reading which we could provide at our convenience? Otherwise it might be simplest to have an external meter box.
 

Les W

Active member
Meters must be read at least once a year by the supplier, however they often are not as the suppliers representative always calls during working hours. Supply companies generally make estimates and you have the ability to correct the estimates with your own reading which can be done online or over the phone. Ultimately the supply companies are supposed to be fitting smart meters that don't need reading as they communicate down the power lines or via the internet and all the information is collected automatically...

I would suggest that you put the meter where it suits you and let the supply company sort it out.
Worst case is you might have to arrange for access at some point perhaps once a year, or less...
 

Les W

Active member
When a meter reader cannot gain access he will put a card through the door for you to fill in with your estimate. If you ignore the card they will make their own estimate, based on general usage of a similar property. This will normally be high!
You can then contact the company by website or phone to give them your reading.
If they really must gain access then they will have to jump through your hoops but it is unlikely to be more frequently than once a year and probably a lot less...

As an aside, why is it more difficult to have the meter outside?
It just needs a box and a submain into the property to the fuseboard.
This arrangement should not be any more awkward than bringing the supply directly in and means you don't need to find a home for the meter.

I thought you had a generator so why can the meter not go in a box outside the generator shed then feed the submain from there to the supply cable already inside?
Are you thinking of keeping the generator (I would)? Then you will need to take the incoming supply cable to a change over switch fitted between the incoming supply and the generator supply so it would need to go somewhere in the generator shed anyway in that case...
 

bograt

Active member
If its a new supply from the mains the supplier should fit a smart meter which reads itself.
 

Peter Burgess

New member
Thanks again, Les. I think the inside option is preferred only because of the exposed nature of the site and the risk of the cabinet not coping with the weather and any unwanted attention.
 

Peter Burgess

New member
bograt said:
If its a new supply from the mains the supplier should fit a smart meter which reads itself.
Not being familiar with the technology, I would ask what if there is no comms in the area, neither line telephony nor mobile signal.
 

Mark Wright

Member
My mum has just had a smart meter installed and they just wave their reader over the underground meter at the top of her driveway. No telephone or internet connection required.

Mark 
 

Ian

New member
The standard meter box will have a drain in the bottom so won't have an issue with weather. The modern electronic units won't ice up either so shouldn't be an issue to mount outside.

The issue of vandalism can't be overcome though since the box is usually plastic - but since it isn't locked (simple T key required) and there is nothing of worth inside it is unlikely to be vandalised.

If you mount it inside the electricity supplier will require (legally binding requirement) to eyeball the meter every 2 years. This is usually during normal working hours so someone would have to be there at a mutually agreed time. If you don't give them access then they could cut you off.

Don't bother with the smart meter if you can. They don't save any money, all they do is let you monitor your usage in real time. If you turn off lights etc then you are already reducing your usage.
 

Bottlebank

New member
Ian said:
The standard meter box will have a drain in the bottom so won't have an issue with weather. The modern electronic units won't ice up either so shouldn't be an issue to mount outside.

The issue of vandalism can't be overcome though since the box is usually plastic - but since it isn't locked (simple T key required) and there is nothing of worth inside it is unlikely to be vandalised.

If you mount it inside the electricity supplier will require (legally binding requirement) to eyeball the meter every 2 years. This is usually during normal working hours so someone would have to be there at a mutually agreed time. If you don't give them access then they could cut you off.

Don't bother with the smart meter if you can. They don't save any money, all they do is let you monitor your usage in real time. If you turn off lights etc then you are already reducing your usage.

I had a look at smart meters a little while ago and reached the same conclusion, but also it seems you have some liability for them as well.

Not sure exactly what, but I agree best avoided.
 

Peter Burgess

New member
Mark Wright said:
My mum has just had a smart meter installed and they just wave their reader over the underground meter at the top of her driveway. No telephone or internet connection required.

Mark 
I guess they could also wave their meter over the wall if its mounted inside.
 

martinr

Active member
Peter - what is it costing you to have elec laid on? I ask because my club have wanted for a long time to upgrade their (low amperage) elec supply which presently runs under our neighbour's forecourt with a wayleave,  but the cost has been prohibitive (cost of trench, cable and high volt to low volt transformer). I cant recall the figures but it was many ?thousands
 

Maj

Member
Straying off topic a little I know:-
Not cheap, particularly if a new transformer required. I inquired about electric to my field. But I would have had to pay for the new higher capacity transformer on the pole in the field across the road, although I would never own it, just pay for it  :eek: . The  chap said he would go away and write up a quote, so asked for a ball park figure in case it wasn't worth the effort of calculating a quote. Reluctantly he agreed to, when I pushed for a +/- ?500 price. Can't remember the price now, but it was high enough for me to say don't bother about a quote.
 

nickwilliams

Active member
martinr said:
Peter - what is it costing you to have elec laid on? I ask because my club have wanted for a long time to upgrade their (low amperage) elec supply which presently runs under our neighbour's forecourt with a wayleave,  but the cost has been prohibitive (cost of trench, cable and high volt to low volt transformer). I cant recall the figures but it was many ?thousands

IME, if you need a new transformer you won't get any change out of ?10k. As has already been said, you will be expected to pay for it but you won't actually own it once its been installed. If it's a ground mounted transformer then the Board will also expect you to give them the freehold of the land it's on (or buy it on their behalf from anyone who owns it).

I think the smart meter Mark Wright is referring to is for water, not electricity.
 

martinr

Active member
nickwilliams said:
IME, if you need a new transformer you won't get any change out of ?10k. As has already been said, you will be expected to pay for it but you won't actually own it once its been installed.

I know! That's why we have not been able to do it

nickwilliams said:
If it's a ground mounted transformer then the Board will also expect you to give them the freehold of the land it's on (or buy it on their behalf from anyone who owns it).

It would be pole mounted, with about 400m of new trench along the public highway (which is a B road)

I first looked into this some 20 years ago, even then they were asking  well in excess of ?10k. I was hoping Peter had found an economical solution that I had not heard of but I was wrong :(
 

Mark Wright

Member
I've just checked with my mum and it is as Nick suggested, a smart water meter she had installed. I should listen more carefully to the stories my mum tells me.

Mark
 

martinr

Active member
ttxela said:
We could always get a coin meter and a big stack of 50p's

The old MCG (wooden) cottage had a coin meter and a shilling. There was no lock on the coin box; when the electric ran out you took the shilling from the box, and inserted it in the coin slot again.
 
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