What are the differences between a Smart Meter, a Prepaid Meter and a Conventional Meter?
Smart meters, prepaid meters and conventional electricity meters all measure electricity usage. However, smart meters and prepaid meters have a number of differences that add up to more than a few benefits.
So if you have ever wondered what the differences are between smart meters, prepaid meters and conventional meters, then keep reading.
What Advantages Do The Different Meters Offer?
Smart meters are becoming more and more common. They communicate directly with the utility (Eskom or Municipality) and give in your meter readings, so no more meter readings are required. They are also used for commercial properties like shopping centres, wherein they are charged different rates at different times of the day, so for example in the evening their rate is higher (when demand is higher) than during the day.
Prepaid meters on the other hand benefits for end-users are the fact that unexpected bills can be avoided. You see, prepaid meters allow users to budget their electricity usage because they are able to monitor their usage.
The ability to monitor electricity usage means usage patterns can be observed and users can gain an understanding of what appliances and usage patterns affect their consumption the most. This gives them more control over their electricity usage and means they can budget for electricity each month with the less likely hood of being surprised by a larger than normal bill.
How Do Smart Meters, Prepaid Meters and Conventional Meters Differ?
By comparison, a conventional meter simply records overall usage and does not allow for monitoring. A conventional meter requires a meter reader to read it each month and simply displays a reading. From this reading, a bill is constructed after the electricity is consumed.
Smart meters are more sophisticated in that they not only measure usage but also communicate to the energy monitoring system and as such, meter readings are collected directly by the utility. They also allow for more sophisticated tarriffs to be set up by the utility (this affects commercial users, where more is charged at times of the day when grid usage is at peak). Most smart meters still work on the billing system (after the reading is sent electronically to the utility, a bill is sent to the consumer), however, there are some smart meters that incorporate prepaid meter technology.
Prepaid meters allow for electricity to be prepaid which means the user can control their electricity bill. Hence no meter readings are required. The user has paid for their electricity in advance of use, so it also eliminates the need for bills.
How Do Prepaid Meters Work?
Prepaid meters work using electricity tokens or vouchers. The consumer purchases a voucher from a vending outlet such as Pick n Pay and then loads the tokens specified by the voucher on to their smart meter.
This is done by entering the voucher pin using the meter’s keypad. If the token is valid then a credit of KWh is added to the meter as credit and electricity usage is deducted from this credit until it is exhausted or topped up.
Once the credit is used up the meter stops the supply of electricity. Thus smart meters allow a greater degree of control and drastically reduce tampering, make meter reading more efficient and also manage connection and disconnection of supply.
Are Smart Meters Accurate?
Smart meters are computer-controlled and are specially calibrated and tested to comply with international standards. Smart metering technology has been in use for many years now in many countries and has been proven to be effective and reliable at managing electricity consumption.
What Information Do Prepaid Meters Display?
Prepaid meters allow consumers to view the following:
- The rate of electricity consumption
- Low electricity unit alerts
- The number of units still available
- The date and time
Where Can You Buy Electricity?
Prepaid electricity can be purchased from many convenient locations including:
- Major retail chains like Pick n Pay, Checkers, Shoprite, and Spar
- Petrol stations such as BP, and Engen
- Banks such as Nedbank, ABSA, FNB, and Standard Bank
- Online from Unipin, EasyPay, Prepaid24, and MyPrepaid
JKNV Energy is a Professional Prepaid Meter Supplier, Installer and Vending Solutions Partner
JKNV Energy stocks a wide range of prepaid metering products which cover all the needs of landlords, body corporates, property managers. We can also handle the installation of one or hundreds of meters and offer vending solutions suitable for any need.
Get in touch with us for all your metering needs. We are happy to answer all your questions and discuss the solution that will best fit your needs.