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Can Smart Meters And Solar Panels Work Together?

Smart meters could reduce the UK’s countrywide emissions by 45 million tonnes

Second-generation smart meters can be paired with solar panels

Homeowners need a smart meter to access the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG)

The government is encouraging all UK households to install a smart meter, in a bid to reduce nationwide emissions, create a better environment for green technology, and make it a better idea to pay solar panel prices.

Smart meters can save consumers up to £250 on their annual bills, while reducing countrywide carbon emissions by 45 million tonnes.

These handy devices can even be paired with solar panels, which can lead to even more savings and a lower carbon footprint – and we’re here to show you how.

Already familiar with how to pair a smart meter with a solar panel system? You can skip the reading and crack on with buying yourself the perfect set of panels. All you have to do is pop your details in this short form, and our suppliers will be in touch with free quotes for you to compare.

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Smart meter reading

What’s on this page?

Is it true that smart meters and solar panels don’t mix?

When smart meters were first rolled out to the public, there were certainly a few teething issues. Thankfully, this isn’t the case anymore.

Today, companies provide ‘second generation smart meters’, which have been designed to overcome issues that frequently arose in the previous devices.

First generation smart meters with solar panels

First generation smart meters – also known as SMETS1 – were the first wave of smart meters on the market.

Energy suppliers started installing these types of smart meters into properties back in 2013, fitting them with the same kind of 3G SIM card that you could find in a mobile phone. This type of SIM card allowed the smart meter to update the supplier with the household’s energy consumption at set times.

However, these smart meters typically went ‘dumb’ (stopped recording data) whenever a consumer changed energy suppliers – a fault that discouraged a lot of people from investing in a smart meter.

Homeowners also weren’t able to pair first generation smart meters with solar panels.

Second generation smart meters with solar panels

Thankfully, manufacturers made a lot of improvements to smart meters over the years, resulting in the second generation smart meters (SMETS2) that we see more commonly today.

SMETS2s have the same energy-saving features that the first generation of smart meters had, with the added bonus of being cross-compatible with other energy suppliers. This is ideal for any homeowners wanting to switch suppliers when moving house or trying to find a cheaper tariff.

After the success of launching the second generation of smart meters in 2018, the government launched a nationwide campaign to encourage all households to get one installed.

These smart meters are also compatible with solar panels, which can help people save even more on their energy bills.

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How do smart meters work with solar panels?

Unlike a traditional meter, a smart meter can show a household’s electricity consumption in real-time. This means when smart meters are hooked up to a solar panel system, they can take regular readings of how much energy the household is using from its solar panel system, and how much it is importing from the grid.

And to make things even easier, smart meters send readings to the household’s supplier automatically.

Thanks to smart meter’s in-home displays, it’s much easier for customers to see how their energy consumption changes throughout the day, which can help them understand how to cut back on costs.

Do you need a smart meter for your solar export tariff?

If a homeowner wants to use the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) to export surplus energy to the grid, they need to have either a smart meter or a separate export meter to take readings every half an hour.

Pairing a second-generation smart meter with solar panels will also mean that the homeowner is more likely to get paid more accurately through the SEG, thanks to the device’s ability to take automatic readings every half an hour.

You can find out more about this on our Smart Export Guarantee page.

Man on roof installing solar panels

Can you have solar panels without a smart meter?

Although smart meters are useful for solar panel owners, they’re not mandatory – you might just make life harder for yourself if you don’t get one installed.

Having a smart meter hooked up to your solar panel system will mean you won’t have to take regular readings to see how much energy your solar panels are generating. The smart meter will do the hard work for you.

Smart meters are also more likely to provide accurate readings on your energy consumption and will help you manage and understand your energy bills a bit better.

Are there any potential issues with smart meters and solar panels?

Despite the number of benefits that come with having a smart meter – especially when it’s paired with a set of solar panels – there are some drawbacks to them.

For example, a Uswitch survey, carried out in 2019, found that roughly 39% of people said their smart displays had simply stopped working.

There have also been concerns regarding smart meters exposing the grid to cyberattacks, which could result in power outages. However, cybersecurity experts have frequently reassured the public that smart meters have a high level of cybersecurity and can avoid this issue.

If you want to learn more, head to our page Are Smart Meters Good?

When it comes to potential issues with hooking up your smart meter to your solar panel system, there isn’t much to report on. Arguably the most frustrating part of the process is actually getting the smart meter installed, which can mean having no electricity in your property for a few hours.

Do we recommend getting a smart meter with your solar panels?

Yes, it’s 100% worth installing a smart meter with your solar panels.

Although this won’t directly save you money, it can give you a better understanding of your system, as it’ll show you how much your electricity consumption is reduced by the energy your solar panels generate. 

Installing a smart meter will also mean you don’t have to manually provide readings, which is much easier for everyone involved.

And if you’re hoping to sell some energy back to the grid through the Smart Export Guarantee, you’ll have to get a smart meter fitted.

To top it off, smart meter installation is completely free. It’s a no-brainer.


The UK’s relationship with smart meters got off to a rocky start – devices kept going ‘dumb’, there were concerns about cyber security, and users weren’t able to connect them to solar panels.

Today, however, is a different story.

Smart meters can now help homeowners reduce their energy bills by tracking the amount of electricity and gas they’re consuming. And when paired with solar panels, smart meters can even help homeowners sell energy back to the grid.

Interested in buying a set of solar panels to save on energy bills? Speed up the process by using our quick comparison tool. All you have to do is pop your details in this short form, and our suppliers will be in touch with free quotes for you to compare.

Written by:
Beth has been writing about green tech, the environment, and climate change for over three years now – with her work being featured in publications such as The BBC, Forbes, The Express, Greenpeace, and in multiple academic journals. Whether you're after a new set of solar panels, energy-saving tips, or advice on how to reduce your carbon footprint, she's got you covered.
Reviewed by:
Charlie has been researching and writing about the home energy market for over five years, and he has been the editor of The Eco Experts since 2021. Charlie's thoughts on solar panels have seen him featured in various publications, including The Times, Ideal Home, and Grand Designs Magazine. Ever since he can remember, Charlie has worried about the planet, and he one day dreams of owning a solar power farm.
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