Digital electricity meters will be mandatory

Most buildings in Germany are still equipped with an analog electricity meter. The digits turn quietly, clicking, and once a year a reading appointment is made with the supplier. But the old Ferraris meters have had their day. Digital electricity meters and intelligent measuring systems are now mandatory, old systems have to be replaced little by little.

Why digital electricity meters?

In new buildings and for operators of renewable energy systems (such as photovoltaic systems, small wind systems, etc.) Digital electricity meters have long been part of everyday life. The law on the digitization of the energy transition makes these modern measuring devices mandatory for all households, and under certain conditions there has even been an obligation since 2019 to retrofit an intelligent measuring system, i.e. a smart meter.
The reason for the law is that renewable energies that are only available in fluctuations are to be integrated into the power grid.

A must for every household

Legislators differentiate between digital electricity meters, also known as "modern measuring devices", and intelligent measuring devices, i.e. smart meters. The latter facilities have a communication module. This enables data to be transmitted in both directions (i.e. from the electricity meter to the utility and vice versa). The mandatory installation of smart meters in certain areas was decided in 2019. However, this obligation will only be implemented when three independent providers can offer tested smart meters. This is not the case yet.

The simpler, digital electricity meters are becoming mandatory for all households, regardless of electricity consumption. Digital meters record the current meter reading and save daily, weekly and monthly values for the past 2 years. Modern measuring devices do not send the values automatically. The meter operator can query the data at the time of billing. Annoying reading appointments on site are no longer necessary with the new meters.

Advantages and disadvantages of the smart meter

In contrast to simple meters, smart meters can transmit data in both directions. Devices such as washing machines or electric heaters can be used better with variable tariffs without having to install separate night-time electricity meters and connect them in a complicated way. However, since data is being transmitted, smart meter systems can be attacked from the outside. Software and technology are strictly checked by the Federal Institute for Information Security (BSI) so that no security gaps arise.

Who does the installation obligation affect?

In the private sector, the installation obligation affects three groups:

  • More than 10.000 kWh / year: since 2017
  • More than 6000 kWh / year: from 2020
  • Operators of power generating systems with more than 7kW installed capacity: Since 2017

Operating the new meter can cost around 10 euros per 1000 kWh / year; these costs are borne by the household. There may also be one-off costs for installing a suitable, new meter.

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