Your Gross or Net Solar Electricity Meter

by Matt Lasauce on December 17, 2009

in Installation advice,What are the right solar PV cells for you?

This article will identify the type of electricity meter you’ll require for your solar energy system. This will depend on your State’s respective Feed In Tariff Scheme and once the proper meter is installed you’ll be able to properly feed into the grid. For your solar energy system you will either have a Net or Gross Meter installed and it will measure the amount of electrical energy supplied to your residence/business as well as the energy produced by your solar energy system.

Your Meter and Feed In Tariff

As outlined in our previous Solar Choice Blogs, Australian residents feeding solar energy back into the grid will make different amounts of savings from their solar energy systems depending on the amount of money they are being rewarded by their State – also known as the Feed In Tariff Rate.

We have already shown you which policies are in place for each state in Australia to give you a good idea of how much return on investment you will earn. Some States are more lucrative for solar energy producers than others with a Gross Feed In Tariff Rate (NSW and ACT), however some electricity customers can still take advantage of a Net Feed in Tariff Rate (SA, VIC, and QLD) for investment purposes if they have minimal electricity consumption.

After purchasing your solar energy system

Once you have decided that the payback and return is going to be worth the cost of the system and you have already paid an installer to do your installation, what next?

1.  Make sure your electricity wholesaler installs the appropriate meter.

Your metering requirement will differ for the two tariff types: Net and Gross. If you’re on a Gross scheme, make sure its a Gross meter and if you’re on a Net scheme you can use either Gross or Net metering arrangement.

2. Interval vs. Accumulation Meters

For any solar energy installation it is much better to ensure that an interval meter will be attached to your system rather than an accumulation meter because accumulation meters are read over larger periods of time whereas an interval meter can specify a period of time, e.g. every 45 minutes, to calculate energy usage/production of their solar system. This is essential for Net based customers that want to make the most from their panels during the day when they’re out of the house. If however they were on an accumulation meter it is very unlikely they would make any significant cost savings with their solar energy system unless its output capacity clearly surpassed their daily electricity usage.

3.  Net Meters

A net metering system combines the generation of the solar system and the household’s consumption and calculates the net outcome. Therefore it is essential that a meter under such a scheme is an interval based one and read periodically so that the solar producer can capture 30 minute blocks of export to the national electricity grid – rather than it being read at the end of the day, where consumption is normally going to be more than the export.

See the Diagram Below:

Net meter 2

4.  Gross Meters

These meters measure the export and import of your electricity separately. Therefore the Gross Meter actually measures the entire output of your system seperately to your electricity consumption. It is also handy to note that if it is possible to get your hands on a Gross Meter then one should do so because a Gross Metering system can support not only a Gross tariff policy but also a Net tariff policy!

See the diagram of a Gross Meter below:

Gross Metering

Please note the cost of installation (re-wiring) a Gross Meter for a solar energy installation is proportionally higher when the distance from the meter box to the solar energy system is greater.

Solar Energy in your State

Hopefully this information arms you with a good background of what to look for once you have purchased your solar energy system. Your particular meter will be supplied by a level 2 tradesman or electricity wholesaler (otherwise known as a distributor), and all their contact details can be found through other blogs that we have written. If you would like to read further information about such changes in electricity metering then I suggest reading a publication on metering and solar energy which provided some glorious background for writing this article.

This is such a new area of electricity generation from renewable energy sources and so not every electricity wholesaler will have the immediate capacity to roll out the appropriate meter for your solar energy set up. Some are better than others in  Australia whereas some wholeslaers are neglecting the urgency to move forward in making it easier for people to export clean energy onto the grid. Putting pressure on the right party is vital to a quick transformation to a lower carbon driven electricity grid so make sure you get onto your electricity wholesaler to ensure they’re quickly distributing the correct electricity meter you deserve!

Brendan Noakes
Solar Broker
Solar Choice Pty Ltd

© 2010 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Matt Lasauce

Matt Lasauce is the Installer Network Manager for Solar Choice Pty Ltd.

{ 64 comments }

Martin Roberts January 5, 2010 at 12:18 pm

We currently have a Net Meter and want to replace it with a Gross Meter. Our Solar Inverter is approx only one metre from the meter box. We live in suburban Melbourne and have a 1.05kWh solar generation system. Roughly, how much should we expect to pay for supply and installation of a Gross Meter?.
Regards,
Martin Roberts 0411 661 890

admin January 5, 2010 at 3:50 pm

Hi Martin,

The Victorian Feed In Tariff is a net scheme, and because of this you don’t really have to get a Gross Meter (there will be no output difference whatsoever). The important thing is that you have a mater in place that reads at different intervals (i.e. every 30 mins). A level two tradesman can help identify the cost of a change in meter or your Electricity wholesaler which will be one of the following:

VICTORIA
Victoria Electricity
Feed-in Tariffs Terms and Conditions.
1300 136 749

Eastern Victoria
SP AusNet
PV Application Letter.
1300 360 795

Metro & Northern Suburbs.
Jemena
1300 131 871

Melbourne South East, Mornington Peninsula
United Energy Distribution (Jemena Asset Mgt)
1300 131 689

CBD & Inner Melbourne
Citipower
Application for Network Connection of an Inverter Energy System
1300 301 101

Western Melbourne
Powercor
Application for Network Connection of an Inverter Energy System
13 22 06

Kobad Bhavnagri
Solar Energy Consultant
Solar Choice Pty Ltd

NARELLE BROWN January 13, 2010 at 9:47 am

Hi
We put in a 1Kw system in September 2009. Country Energy now tell us we have to change our nett meter to a gross meter in order to receive the benefits. The inverter is some 26 meters from our meter box. Will we have to dig a trench 600m down to wire it up to the new meter system and also can you tell me when the decision was made to change the meters? I am aware the change is from 01-01-2010 but when was the decision made? I am just wondering if the people who installed our system would have been aware that the changes were being brought in.
Regards
Narelle
Regards

Robert February 6, 2010 at 10:39 am

Hello I had a 1kw system installed 12 months back, with a Fronius Inverter located just near the power meter. The old spinning disc meter was replaced by a meter installed at addititonal cost: it is this model: Entity i-credit 400 with and energy austrlia sticker on it.

Is there a way to tell if it’s a gross-feed-in tarrif comaptible meter?

I’m in NSW

admin February 9, 2010 at 2:09 pm

Hi Robert. This meter most likely not be a Gross Feed-In Tariff compatible meter if it was supplied by Energy Australia, as they did not start ordering them until this year and are expecting their arrival in March 2010. You will unfortunately need to upgrade this meter if it does turn out to be only Net compatible when July comes around, in order to take advantage of the Gross Feed-In Tariff.

Peter Went February 27, 2010 at 4:17 pm

We have a 1 kw solar system and yesterday a grid interactive meter was installed. Will you please advise how to read this meter and how power bill will be calculated. The installation is Country Energy Address of system is MERIMBULA NSW. Many thanks Peter Went.

jagadeesh babu June 24, 2010 at 2:27 pm

hello,
recently installed 1kw solar panel on my roof , after installation i make a call my energy (tru energy) retailer and do the agreement for renewable energy.
i still waiting for (2 months) smart meter installation. i have a question, do i need to send the certificate of installtion? usually how long take for meter installtion?
thanks.
jagadeesh babu.

Michael L July 17, 2010 at 8:53 pm

If you have abattery back up system in your Inverter/PV system; then if you are charging the battery of a night from your inverter you pay $0.60/0.66 to charge your battery.
This sholud be charged at the standard retail rate not the export/gross rate.

The system sholud be allowed to be wired to allow the inverter to input power through the input/debit meter while charging the battery from the grid.

After all if i had a standard battery charger on my premises this could charge a battery from the normal input/debit meter at the standard retail rate.

Comment?

admin July 19, 2010 at 10:33 am

This is a very interesting point and because battery installation in cities are not as popular we did not include this in our discussion of gross or net solar electricity meters. Yes, you are correct, you will be charged the normal retail rate of electricity for charging your battery.

In Germany diminishing Feed-in-Tariffs rates prompted some people to invest more in batteries to add security to their return on investment in Solar Panels.

However, before you do purchase a battery pack and attach it to the system we recommend that you talk to some expert installers.

Barry Carter December 20, 2010 at 1:56 pm

I am in a residential resort, and the owner is replacing our old meters with thw new digital dual flow meters at our expense, even though we cannot collect credits as it is on a private grid, and he is not elegible for credits.
we are in Qld.
What recourse have we if we don’t want these new meters if we have to pay for them ?.

admin April 18, 2011 at 2:54 am

Hello Barry,
Your question is a little bit outside the scope of what we usually deal with here. It seems that you’d be better to seek legal assistance regarding this issue.

Mark January 31, 2011 at 9:22 pm

I am Sydney based and currently have a a time of day meter. I pay 31c per Kwh for peak electricty reducing down to Off Peak tarriff of 7.1 c per Kwh. Is it possible to install solar with net metering so that I only pay for what I use. However during the day I will generate more than I use so would like that credited back at the same rate as my ‘Day – Peak tariff, ie 31c. Is this possible?

If I was on one rate for all my power then it is easy but not sure how it works with a time of day meter. Would an interval meter fix this?

admin March 21, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Hi Mark,

Are you on the 60c or 20c feed-in tariff? Depending on what your feed-in tariff is, it would be wisest to begin your calculations there. We have noted in a previous blog entry about feed-in tariffs that the NSW FiT is gross, but a net option is also available. Which one are you currently on? If you are on a net FiT and have a net/interval meter, then you’ve got some calculating to do, but if it’s gross and you have a gross meter, it’s a simple matter of how much you feed into the grid minus what you consume yourself, at the rate appropriate to the time you consume it. Put in other words, if you’re on a gross metering system, you get paid a certain flat rate for every kWh of electricity that you produce, and you get charged varying rates for the electricity that you consume, depending on when you use it. Therefore, if you try to use more electricity during off-peak hours, you will be charged the off-peak rates and save money for yourself.

Nazeer May 3, 2011 at 10:48 am

Hi Admin, As per my research, with gross metering you might have 1 to 1 buyback rate (i.e 20c you pay per 1KWunit usage or 20c you get per 1KWunit generation). Net metering will have premium rate for generation (in excess of your use though), but you have to pay bit higher than the usual 20c rate (i.e 35c , 25c , 09c based on the time of use) for the power you consume over the generation of your solar panels(catch is you dont’ get paid high premium rate for all the generation of your solar panels , but it will be paid if the generated units are more than the consumed units during the interval of 1/2 hr or 1hr). When you do wiring you should have to wire the solar inverter/meter based on the gross or net metering concept. I am sure that the gross meter connection may be used for net meters but not sure about the other way around.

admin May 3, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Hi Nazeer,
A gross metering connection can be used for a net feed-in tariff (net system), but it the results will be less than optimal, as the production will not be kept tracked of with the same precision as it would with a net meter. Also, please keep in mind that with a net metering system you use the electricity that your system generates first, and the excess is fed into the grid. As you point out, that is how you save money with a net meter/net feed-in tariff: by avoiding having to use electricity from the grid, and therefore not having to pay for it.

John Macdonald February 23, 2011 at 12:22 pm

Hi Robert.I am in western NSW. I have had installed a 4.4 kw solar Pv system with 2 x 3.3 kw Grid inverters and soon will put onboard a wind turbine to suppliment Nightime . Wind blows 98% of the time. The house and subsequently the panels and Inverters are some 100m from the power pole where the mains supply is connected and the metering is done. We have a time of use meter on the pole/Box and have off peak all weekend and 10pm to 7am weekdays. The capacity or the PV system even on a cloudy day copes well with the demand of the property and as said the addition of wind turbines catering for night and winter.I have a feeling from discussion previous in your blog that by the time the Gross meter is fitted the costs are going to out way the benefits of any feedback to the grid. I’m feeling maybe I should be happy with what I have or propose to have power wise.Eventually a standalone system is on the cards but battery cost is too high for capacity needed to stand alone. Would the grid inverters still operate with a stand alone inverter system. Or would the anti-Islanding protection shut them down when the Standalone inverters were online.

Michael W Barker March 16, 2011 at 6:48 pm

I live in Kangaroo Flat Victoria
On 1st feb 2011 Metro Solar installed Panels.
2 weeks later the inspector came to check and have it working.
On this day 16th March still awaiting for paper from AGL for Tarriff.
Then that is signed goes back to them and then to Powercor for installing a meter. Now that I have read this document I am more concerned as I had to go out to Powercor today to stop the Smart meter instillation happening. Now that I have read this page I am more concerned than ever like its like an explosion time. I need some help with this as I am new to this

admin March 21, 2011 at 10:58 am

Hello Michael,

What kind of a meter have you got at the moment, and why would you be concerned about having a Smart meter installed?

Manoj April 13, 2011 at 4:42 am

Hi,
I live in Western NSWand I am in the process of installing 1.5kw panels. However, I am not sure which type of meter I should put. I currently have Peak Any Time meter, so that I am charged a flat rate by Tru Energy. I am a bit conflicted whether I should sell all the generated power to the Grid or use for household and sell to the Grid. What are my oprions? Please help…

admin April 14, 2011 at 12:58 am

Hi Manoj,

Having a net meter allows you to keep better track of and control your own electricity usage, potentially helping you to save money. With a gross meter, the time of day that you produce solar power and put it into the grid is not kept track of, just how much you have put in cumulatively, so it’s a bit more difficult to keep track of exactly how much electricity you’re using and when.

ALEX April 13, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Im ordering a 2.88kw sysyem to be installed with a 3kw inverter , now 20c not 60 c am i better off with a net meter or a gross meter.im getting mixed advice we are not home during the day for 2-3 days the other 4- 5 washing machine ,tv ,vacume ext ,i have changed from gross to net but i can still ring and change before installation in 2-3 weeks time?please advice on the best meter i should have installed,i live in tweed heads nsw,

regards Alex Cornacchione 0410 595 186.

admin April 14, 2011 at 1:34 am

Reply to Alex on blog

Hi Alex. The NSW tariff is ordinarily a gross Feed-in Tariff, but small-scale electricity generators like yourself may also opt for a net metering setup and a Net Feed-in Tariff. (Please see question 21 in this NSW Department of Primary Industries FAQ about feed-in tariffs). I presume you have opted for the Net Feed-in Tariff?

The cap of 300MW for installed residential solar in nsw is quickly being approached and it is uncertain whether the feed-in tariff scheme will be extended or not. In the case that it is not extended, having a net meter will put you in a good position to actually measure how much electricity you are putting back into the grid and for which you could be paid. You will not be making a mistake if you put in a net meter.

The net and gross Feed-in Tariff rates are the same at $0.20.

Contacts for the electricity retailers in NSW are as follows:
* Endeavour Energy (formerly known as Integral Energy) customer contact number 131 002.
* Ausgrid (formerly known as EnergyAustralia) call centre number 131 535.
* Essential Energy (formerly known as Country Energy) ‘energyanswers’ number 1800 ENERGY or 1800 363 749.

John April 18, 2011 at 9:35 am

Hi Robert,

If there is a blackout or the substation failed during the day, can I run my electrical appliances on either Gross or Net Meter

Thanks

John

admin April 18, 2011 at 11:34 pm

Hi John,
Thanks for the comment. Since a net meter feeds into your house first, you would be able to run your appliances if a substation went out and the sun was shining and your system was producing power. You still wouldn’t be able to run anything while the sun wasn’t out, however, unless you had a battery bank. Be careful, though: running appliances without a regular, dependable supply of electricity could potentially cause problems for your appliances, which have prescribed voltage and amperage requirements.
Gross meters feed first into the grid; the exported electricity is later credited to you on your bill, but ultimately you are drawing all of your power from the grid, and therefore you will have no power in the event of a power outage.
For safety reasons, solar power systems, on gross or net meters, are disconnected from the grid in the event of an outage–power being fed in could potentially injure electricians working on blown transformers, etc, to restore power.

Nazeer May 3, 2011 at 10:51 am

Hi John

You got a very good point mate.

Andy July 3, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Hi admin
My 1.5KW system was installed in 25 march 2011 and the application was submited in march by solar company. Because of one of the field was not fill in and even resubmited in early April….. long story. I am not eligible for the solar bonus scheme ceddits (NSW). Any way I still need connect the net/Gross meter. Think carefully, in my case No $ can get from Endeavour Energy (AGL) . However during the day I will generate more than I use on some period of the day. So is gross metering better ? If under gross metering is total generate minus total use. In this case all generated energy will be counted. If under net metering those extra generated energy will not be counted. Is that true?
I am not sure is my thinking correct? OR both Net and Gross metering are same under NO bonus scheme.

Thanks
A poor Andy

admin July 4, 2011 at 11:56 am

Hi Andy,
Sorry to hear about your predicament. Even a small error can cost lots when it comes to bureaucracy.
Your thinking is correct: Even without the Solar Bonus Feed-in Tariff Scheme, you can feed into the grid and be paid for your surplus electricity on either a gross or net meter. However, the way that your surplus electricity is measured will be different: with a net meter, you can see very clearly with the one metering setup how much electricity you’ve fed into the grid and when, whereas with a gross meter, you actually have to look at two different meters to determine your net exports.

Andy July 4, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Thanks Admin
Is that mean I can use either one (net or gross) can get the same bill amount in my case? Because my thinking is should use gross meter. Please give me the clear answer (1. Gross, 2.Net 3. Either one is same) in my case.

Thanks
Andy

admin July 11, 2011 at 5:02 pm

Andy,

Please keep in mind that you cannot choose your meter totally freely–your choices are limited by what your electricity provider will accept.

As it turns out, by government decree, all meters for grid-connected homes with solar power in NSW will eventually be changed over to net meters, although the change-over may take a few years to complete. In any case (no Solar Bonus), in your case a net metering setup is good because a net metering setup would allow you closely monitor and control your electricity usage throughout the day in interval blocks: When you know your panels are producing power, you can choose to run devices such as your washing machine which would cost you more money if you were to run it in the evening, on the shoulder or peak-rates.

I would advise speaking directly to your electricity provider to get the answers to the following questions. Once you have these questions answered, you will be in a much better position to understand where you stand with regard to your billing.

-What type of meter/meter configuration do you currently have in your home? (That is, if you don’t already know.) Do you have two separate meters that measure your electricity import and export, or do you have one meter that spins backwards when you are feeding electricity into the grid?

-At what interval does (or do) your your meter(s) keep track of how much energy you have consumed–30 minutes, 5 minutes, 1 day?

rosette schram July 6, 2011 at 11:07 am

what is the most favourable and current choices for meters in solar power

is it currently the net tariff feed meter of the gross meter to get the best benefits for the general public i work in the solar industry and do a lot of promotional work and marketing

admin July 11, 2011 at 5:15 pm

Hi Rosette.

Thanks for your comment. I can’t tell you exactly which one is better for sure, but there are a few things to take into consideration when making a decision:

-How closely do you want to monitor and control your electricity production and use? Net meters with short, discreet intervals are good if you want detailed data on your generation and consumption. You can potentially save a lot of money by strategically using electricity when your panels are producing electricity on a net metering setup. You can’t do this on a gross metering setup.

-If you have a net metering setup, what intervals is your use measured at–30 minutes? 5 minutes? Daily? Instantaneous?

Keep in mind, though, that some electricity retailers/state governments don’t allow feed-in customers a lot of options with regard to their meters–it would be a good idea to get in touch with the retailers who provide for your area and ask what the options are.

Kerstin July 6, 2011 at 12:38 pm

Hi Admin,
we are contemplating of whether to install a 3kw system for a household that needs about 6kw to run. Since NSW has dropped the feed-in tariff on 29.04.11 we are now being offered a NET Meter. What advantages do we actually get with that? we are home in afternoons and w/ends. They say we use what we produce, but we only produce most during the day when not home.?? Can you please explain. Thank you.

admin July 6, 2011 at 3:11 pm

With regard to your inquiry, a 3kW system in NSW will, on average, produce around 12kWh/day, this will therefore exceed your current usage. As far as the benefits of a solar installation in NSW go, at this stage the solar bonus scheme, which regulates the amount paid for excess production being fed back into the electricity grid, is on hold. What this means is that any systems installed at this point in time (not already signed onto a feed in tariff) will not be eligible for any compensation for power produced not used directly on the property at the time of production.

Due to the cancelation of the Solar Bonus Scheme, the incentive to install solar has been reduced. However, there are some positives of the situation. First and foremost, following precedent set by other states around the country, it is expected that the state government will introduce an updated scheme on the basis of a one for one net feed in tariff. This will essentially have the same benefits of a 20c gross feed in tariff. Secondly, with the reduction in bookings for installations across the state, and the country there is a massive over supply of components and labour. What we are seeing from these factors is very highly competitive pricing and minimal lead times. These factors make an installation in the current atmosphere a very attractive option.

If you would like more information or have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Solar Choice directly on 1300 78 72 73 or fill out a free solar system quote comparison request.

adam July 10, 2011 at 5:20 pm

I have just had installed a 1.5kw system and was told everything was included.The installer told me I needed an upgrade to the meter box as it has chipboard that the digital meter is installed to.Do I just replace the chipboard with a piece of hardwood.The switchboard at the solar company did not have an answer but gave me a quote of $800.00 for someone to come out and do the job.Any ideas???

admin July 11, 2011 at 2:14 pm

Hi Adam,

Where are you located? I ask this for two reasons.

-Some installers charge travel fees, which might explain the high price to have your panel and meter replaced if you are located somewhere remote. Keep in mind that you may not necessarily have to have the meter done by your solar system installer–a level 2 electrician should be able to do it for you.

-Depending on your state and power company, you may be able to have something arranged through your power provider.

Anna July 10, 2011 at 7:32 pm

Hi, We signed up for a 3kw system on the 24th of April and an announcement in NSW came out on the 28th of April to end the bonus credit scheme. Regardless of what date we signed, our solar company didn’t lodge our forms to Endeavour Energy until June 17th (after a tonne of phone calls and stress!!!!). So we missed out on the credit scheme. My first question is, can we complain about this? and perhaps prove we signed before the 28th of April? And my 2nd question is: we finally got the system up and running on supposedly a net meter. However i have 2 meters in my box, one that is marked “export” and flashes at night when the solar system is offline and the 2nd meter which is marked “import” which is flashing when the solar system is in use. Is this clearly not a gross meter???? And how do I read this? It seems to get updated when the solar system goes offline for the day. How can I read my consumption for the day? Thanks for your help, Anna

admin July 11, 2011 at 5:37 pm

Hi Anna,

Question 1:
Sorry to hear about the problem with your solar installer. That sounds frustrating. I can’t recommend any specific avenue for redress for your missing out on the feed-in tariff, but might want to take it up with NSW Fair Trading.

Question 2:
Keep in mind that a gross meter does support a net feed in tariff–so your meter might be a ‘gross’ meter, although you will probably eventually have to change over to a net meter.
Relatedly, your retailer should be able to tell you if/how you can read your daily energy use with your meter.
Electricity meters are a bit complicated to understand, and depending on your electricity retailer and the age/make of your meter, how they function can differ.
If you want to post a picture of your meter for us, or tell us what type of meter it is, we can try to help you out with a more detailed response.

In order to better understand your own situation, I would recommend getting in touch with your electricity retailer: they should know best how your meter measures your usage and how your meter is read. You might want to ask this question, if you don’t already know the answer:

-At what interval does your meter measure electricity generation and consumption? 30 minutes? Instantaneously? Daily? The shorter the interval, the more detailed data you are able to control your electricity consumption and therefore how much you pay on your electricity bill, especially if you are feeding in to the grid without a the benefit of having a feed-in tariff and you want to maximise the benefit of your solar panels.

I hope this is helpful!

Lyn July 12, 2011 at 3:07 pm

We managed to get our 1.5 system approved in time to get the 20c rebate which AGL boosts to 28c. We are on a gross metre.
Previously I was on a system which charged a flat rate of 0.1868 but after the new metres were installed the rates became based on time used. Consequently peak hour charges are 39.52 which is far more than the rebate of 28c. Actually I was informed this would be over 50c but on the bill I just received it is less. (I’m sure it will go up substantially in the near future)
If I am paying more for peak hr than I receive in rebate would I be better with a nett metre?

admin July 12, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Hi Lyn,

In your case, since you are on a gross feed-in tariff, you will receive 28c for each kilowatt-hour that you feed into the grid regardless of what time of day you feed it into the grid.

Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I understand that your rate schedule is as follows:
peak- 2pm til 8pm
shoulder- 8pm til 10pm
off-peak- 10pm til 7am

It is most sensible to use electricity from your panels when electricity from the grid is at its most expensive–peak time. With a gross metering set-up (regardless of whether or not you are on the gross or net feed-in tariff), your electricity goes directly into the grid before you can use it yourself, so you don’t have a choice. Yes, you get paid for the electricity that you feed into the grid, but you do not have a choice to use your electricity first.

If you had a net-metering set-up, however, you could closely monitor and control your solar electricity production and, for example, running electrical appliances when the sun is out and powering your panels–in this situation power produced by your panels would automatically go to your house first to be consumed by you. If there was any excess (i.e. you produced less than you were using for that specific interval), that would be fed into the grid and you would be paid your per kWh FiT rate for it.

Essentially, having a net metering system allows you more control over how you use your electricity than a gross metering set-up. This is an especially important thing to consider if you are worried about electricity prices going up–by producing and consuming your own electricity during peak periods you are effectively getting a ‘peak-rate’ tariff, possibly more if you are also feeding in to the grid.

You might also want to ask AGL how they bill you–as it stands, it is possible that your production is simply being subtracted from your consumption. If so, this is less than ideal.

Andy July 14, 2011 at 10:17 am

Thanks Admin
I check with Endeavour Energy. He told me the net meter is count by second. But how to get paid or count the usage need to contact the retail (AGL in my case). I called AGL and get a good news (answer). The following is from their web site :
In some cases, customers are not eligible for government feed–in tariffs. In these cases they are paid a rate for each kWh of electricity fed into the grid under the Buy Back scheme. This is similar to the feed–in tariff scheme in that you are paid for each kWh of electricity fed into the grid, however the Buy Back scheme rate per kWh is lower than the government scheme.
Eligible customers may be able to transfer from the Buy Back scheme to the feed–in tariff scheme. Please contact AGL on 1300 377 118 for further information.

AGL still count the surplus energy under net metering .

Debbie August 11, 2011 at 10:50 am

Hi Admin,

I’m in Victoria. My distributor is United Energy and retailer is LUMO. I have recently installed a 1.5 Kw solar system and am still waiting for UE to reconfigure the smart meter that they had installed a few months ago. At this point I have to decide whether to apply for premium feed-in tariff with LUMO.
I found out from UE that mine is a net meter and info from LUMO indicates that I have a choice between all-time-use electricity rate and time-of-use rates. Of course the peak rate for time-of-use is much higher than the all-time rate. I estimate that the solar panels can only produce about 1/3 of my gross yearly consumption. In this case is premium feed-in still good for me? Will I lose the 1-to-1 credit when I choose premium feed in but don’t produce any surplus energy at the end of the day?

admin August 15, 2011 at 10:40 am

Hi Debbie,

I hope I’m understanding your query correctly.

Both the standard and premium feed-in tariff are net tariffs, which means that you only get paid when you feed your surplus energy into the grid. Only solar power systems are eligible for the premium feed-in tariff, whereas all types of renewable energy (hydro, wind, biomass) are eligible for the premium tariff. The biggest difference between the two tariffs is the rate. If you have the option, the premium tariff is quite obviously the better choice at the moment–unless you pay 60c/kWh for your electricity!

On the other hand, if you’re not feeding into the grid at all, then it wouldn’t matter which tariff you were one. In that case, the benefit of having the solar system in the first place would be the offset to your power bills (the more you produce and consume in-house, the less you have to buy electricity from the grid.) It is to your benefit, therefore, to time your electricity usage to ensure that you are feeding into the grid if you are on the premium feed-in tariff and on an all-time-use plan. This way you can feed your surplus into the grid during the day at the premium rate, and consume electricity in the evenings on an all-time-use rate (as opposed to a peak rate.)

Remember that with net metering, it’s always important to keep track of the timing and volume of your electricity consumption in order to obtain the greatest benefit!

Hope this has been helpful. For a bit more info you can read about Lumo’s solar energy buyback scheme by clicking here.

GARY KAUFMAN August 24, 2011 at 12:09 am

I live in Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, Mexico and installed a 1.5 KW system. For a awhile the electrical Co. CFE left the old style meter which you could see spin backwards all day, but about 6 months ago installed a digital meter and even though you can see the arrows mark in reverse the digital read out numbers do not mark in a reverse manner. The numbers just stay still for most of the day but do not mark in reverse. Am I losing all my credits and losing more than 50% of the benefits of having a solar system??? The electrical Co. here does not have much experience with solar nor does the Mexican Utility Co. offer any credit programs

admin August 24, 2011 at 9:27 am

Hi Gary.

We usually only answer questions about Australian meters! But I’ll give this one a go anyhow…

Unless there is some kind of an electricity buy-back scheme (such as a feed-in tariff), either from the government or from electricity retailers, then it won’t matter whether or not your meter is actually tracking how much you feed back into the grid. You still, of course, have the benefit of savings on your electricity bill when you use electricity that your solar panels produce directly, but unless there is some kind of buy-back scheme, you wouldn’t be getting paid for that electricity anyhow–it would be flowing into the grid for free, so you may as well use it yourself.

I don’t know how your new meter calculates electricity inflow and outflow compared to how your old meter used to do it. If it is the case that the ‘wind-back’ of your meter isn’t being calculated, although I wouldn’t say you’ve lost half the benefit of having a solar power system with the installation, it seems apparent that you may have lost some of the benefit. If it was the case that you were benefiting by the old analog meter ticking backwards, that benefit may have just been a fluke in the first place.

Have you considered contacting your electricity provider directly and asking how the new meter is read?

gary kaufman January 26, 2012 at 4:52 am

Hi,
Well after several months of complaining to the Electrical Co. They finally sent out 2 Electrcial Engineers and explained to me how to read the new digital meter. There are 3 read outs:
1. Accumilated Elecrical use
2. Accumilated Elecrical production of my solar system that fed back to the grid
3. The production of my system at the precise time
They also explained that the employee who was reading the meter was not not logging in the production numbers and deducting that sum from my use number!!!!!!!!
Which means that they owe me a credit for several months
I evidently was the 1st customer here in state of Baja California Sur to have a solar system and also tied into the grid as well and the electrical co. was not prepared to handle this new system

Cheryl August 29, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Hi,

We have installed a 1.5 system thru Origin. Our meter was changed over by United Energy, it says it is a co generation meter. Is there any way I can find out how to read it? I would like to be able to see what we are generating and what we are using etc:

cheers
Cheryl

Roger Kitney December 19, 2011 at 8:34 pm

Hi Admin,
Are you able to tell me if W.A. has a gross or Net feed in system? My inverter (A latronics) produces around 4.5KwH on a good day ( from a 1Kw solar array). The amount of power shown on the EM1000 meter (Channel 47 shows -2Kwh). I understand from the information brochure Synergy have provided me that Ch 7 shows the power I have imported and Ch 47 is the exported power. It appears to me that the reading at ch 7 is Net i.e. what I have imported minus what I have produced. If so this is a rip off as they say that I should export all I generate and be paid 47 cents for each unit and then import what I use at a cost of 20 cents per unit to me. Can you enlighten me.
Thanks
Roger

admin January 10, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Hi Roger,

Thanks for the comment. Western Australia has always had net metering and feed-in tariff systems. It is indeed possible to time your electricity use to ensure that it is all exported to the grid (e.g. by turning off all of your appliances during the times when your solar system is producing power), but if you do not make every possible effort to do so, your electricity retailer will simply subtract your generation from your consumption. This seems to be what is happening with you.

It is possible, however, that your installer presented you with the best-case scenario in their sales pitch to you–i.e. how much you would stand to benefit financially if you exported all of our solar-generated electricity to the grid. Generally speaking, households with solar do not export all of their generation, but rather consume some of it before it is exported.

About the rate itself: Unless you signed up before 30 June 2011 and are receiving the 44c/kWh feed-in tariff formerly offered by the state, or signed up between 1 July and 1 August 2011 and are receiving the 20c/kWh FiT, the only feed-in tariff rate that a Synergy customer is eligible for is 7c/kWh, unfortunately. Nothing more than this is on offer at the moment. I assume you are on the 44c (+ retailer contribution = 47c/kWh) rate?

I hope this has been helpful.

Roger January 28, 2012 at 6:10 pm

Thanks Admin..I appreciate your answer , it is as I expected..you have confirmed what I beleived i.e. we use our power first and any left over is exported into the grid. At least I ‘m on the full full feed in tariff as my system was installed at the end of 2010.
Regards
Roger

Peter Kroon February 20, 2012 at 10:04 am

It most certainly seems that the installation of a solar system is well worthwhile except for the payback for the installation .
I have a 4Kw system installed and am waiting and waiting for someone to change my meter so I can start receiving that benefit .
Why does it take so long to have the meter changed . I don’t believe that they have too many to do or that they are over worked .
In my experience it does not take very long to do and am sure they can do quite a few in a day .

Colin March 11, 2012 at 10:49 am

I am in NSW, and am currently looking at getting solar. We use very little power throughout the day; and our energy supplier is not offering any FIT.
I am currently on n old single spinning meter…
1) Since i am not looking at getting any Nett or Gross FIT’s; is there still a reuqirement for me to get my meter changed?
2) When i get solar installed – Can i start immediately using the power I generate to reduce my energy bills? – or do i need to wait for the new meter to be installed? or wait for grid connection? (i.e. is there a benefit in delaying the install of a new meter)

admin July 26, 2012 at 8:26 pm

Hi Colin,

1) According to this factsheet, small-scale electricity customers are not yet required to have a smart meter (smart meters allow net metering) installed in NSW. You will want a net meter, however, if you’re going to have solar installed, so that your solar power goes first to your home and only the excess is exported to the grid.

2) Provided you’ve got a net meter in place solar power should be saving you money as soon as the system is up and running by reducing the need for you to buy power off the grid.

For more details you’ll want to speak with your installer–they’ll know best how to go about it.

Gavin Andrews March 30, 2012 at 6:45 pm

Hi,
Wondering if you can help me. Had a 3.5kw system installed in November last year. Just received my first bill from Origin Energy (I’m in nsw).
I have both a import meter and a separate export meter.
On my bill it is showing that I am being charged for both meters the import and the export? This cant be right…

I have gone from having a $300 billet up to a $700 bill?
This doesn’t make sense to me. Have they done something wrong?
My readings are 1483kw imported.
And 860kw exported.
And also a off peak usage of approx 400kw.

My understanding was I paid for the difference between the import and export meter?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you.

admin April 2, 2012 at 10:35 am

Hi Andrew,

Sounds like an error. You should be charged for import only and credited for export. You should contact your retailer immediately and have them sort it out. Your system should definitely be making money for you, not making your bills more expensive! The export meter could be installed incorrectly.

Best of luck!

Sandi May 27, 2012 at 1:17 pm

Hi There
I have had a 3kw system installed. I have three meters. One is marked “Net Solar”, one “Net Domestic” and the other according the the installer is still my off peak meter. My net solar reading is higher than net domestic.
The problem is, that I have noticed that my Off peak meter sometimes turns durning the day. Not backwards. Why is that!

admin May 28, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Hi Sandi,

That’s something that you may want to speak with your electricity retailer about! Good luck with it!

catherine May 31, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Hi,

I have just received my first account after having solar installed.
Tarriff 11 Kwh
previous reading 73523 current 73866
solar reading 0 current 1109 1452

Tarriff 33
previous reading 16465 current 16562
solar 0 380 477

I have been charged for a total of 1929 kWh. Should i be paying for my solar production? I thought i would only be charged for the difference between previous reading and current as was the case pre-solar.
I was credited for 467 Kwh (for 60 days), put into the grid.
Average daily use is 21.4

Usage still seems extremely high, but down from 32 per day on the old meter, i think it was stuffed..we dont use air-con, heating or electricity for cooking, and very little running during the day.

admin September 6, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Hi Catherine,

I’m afraid we can’t answer this question for you as any issues with your energy account and billing should be taken up with your energy provider.

Many energy retailers provide you with extra information on energy efficiency which may help you to identify appliances that may be driving your energy usage up e.g. if you leave you TV/DVD/digital box on standby this can have a significant impact on your power usage and energy costs.

Good luck.

milan August 8, 2012 at 9:31 pm

hi, just had a system 3Kw installed and now must talk to my provider(tru Energy) for a new contract on electrical bills through my solar panels and was wondering whats a ball park figure i should be asking for??thanks Milan.

admin September 6, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Hi Milan,

The deal you will receive from TRUenergy will depend on were you live, if you let us know we can advise you further or you can check out our information on feed-in tariffs across Australia at .

If you reside in Victoria you have until 30 September 2012 to have your system installed and all the paperwork submitted to ensure your receive the 25¢ per KWh feed-in tariff after this it will reduce to 8¢ per KWh. You can get more information in our article about the change

Good Luck

markand August 30, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Hi,
I’ve got 1.5KW solar system installed at my place in NSW(West) and i’ve found out that it’s net meter.
I wanted to know that what is the best way to make use of the solar power maximum that is produced by the panels? is it using it most during day time when it’s producing it or is it at any time?

thanks

admin September 4, 2012 at 6:31 pm

Hi Markand,

Your system will be producing power from morning to evening (if it’s north-facing and there is no shading, that is), but the peak will be around mid-day, when the sun is shining its brightest.. This is when you’ll want to run most of your loads.

rod horder November 30, 2012 at 8:06 pm

hi,
i’m in sydney NSW and just had my meter installed today. I’m confused. In the electricity box there are 2 meters, the one marked ‘dom’ says 10 and the one marked solar says 3. The meter guy said deduct the 1st 1 because thats where it starts. Meaning my numbers today are 9 and 2. The inverter shows how many watts i produce every second, and also shows how much i produce every day, todays total was almost 7kw produced. It is a 1.54kw/h system, so i’m pleased with its performance, however I cant figure out how much money i will save. Meter guy said that I should use as much electricity as I can while I am producing it. I want to make sure that the electricity I produce and use is my own and i”m not being charged, and if I use more than I produce then I get charged. This is because I know that integral energy give you 7c per K/w but charge you 24c per K/w. If all my K/w I produce are going into the grid first at 7c and then I get charged the usual 24c for each K/w, then I have wasted my money. I will only be saving 49c per day, meaning it will be 2 years before I recoup my outlay and the bills wont seem to be much different anyway. Do you know if the K/w I produce I can use myself and then get charged for any excess afterwards with the endeavour energy split meter described? And what do you think those numbers mean? I think the meter installer said one is import one is export? If my fears are realised and i only get 7c for every K/w can I disconnect from the grid completely and connect to batteries?

Solar Choice December 4, 2012 at 10:37 am

Hi Rod,

The 9kW is what you’ve used from the grid, you also used 5kW of solar energy and fed 2kW back to the grid.

I’ve been doing some calculations based on the information you gave me and you should be saving around $700 a year or just under $2 per day. This takes into account the 24¢ per kWh you save by using 70% of the solar energy you produce (generate 7 kWh per day and use 5kWh), plus the money you get off what you buy back from the grid.

If your system cost just under $5,000 then it will take a little under 7 years to pay off the system. As the price of energy is expected to rise this will effectively speed up the payback time.

I can see from our records that you didn’t go through us, and from what you’re saying your energy use would be approximately 15kWh per day? If this is the case you would actually benefit from a larger system to offset more of your energy, unless you are out of the house for most of the day and have no means to use the additional solar energy. If you have oversized your inverter you may be able to add additional panels but your installer should be able to help you with this.

We hope this information helps.

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