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Thread: Gas meter monitoring

  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by DBMandrake View Post
    Please keep us informed.
    I have now installed my Smappee Gas Monitor. My initial comparison with the Loop Gas Monitor is:

    Pros
    • Provides status reports – Battery level; Temperature; Humidity
    • Batteries are replaceable (2 x AA)
    • Optical sensor lead is 1.4m long – much longer than the ribbon with the Loop gas monitor – and so allows more flexibility in locating the Gas & Water Monitor.
    • Smappee App has a web interface, allowing analysis at your desk, rather than having to squint at a phone screen as the new Loop app requires (although the legacy Loop app did have a good web application).
    • The setup process would tax your granny but most people on this forum would prefer it to the Loop setup as it lets you see what is going on. The calibration process shows the output from the optical sensor as the gas meter dial turns to let you set the trigger point for recording a rotation. (See image).Calibration.jpg



    Cons
    • Neither the Smappee legacy energy monitor nor the Gas & Water has an ethernet port, so there are constraints on their locations. (By contrast, the Loop monitor is ethernet cabled.) The Smappee (legacy) Energy Monitor has to be within WiFi range and within about 2m of the electricity current transformer (CT) (normally near the electricity meter), and the Gas & Water has to be within radio range of the Energy Monitor and within 1.4m of the gas meter.
    • They have very poor radio connection range (using 433.92MHz). The Gas & Water monitor claims “20-30m clear line of sight” but I found it struggled to work at 2m through one thin breeze-block wall. My gas and electricity meters are about 15m apart, the gas meter is outdoors and the electricity meter indoors. I have had to abandon radio connection and rely on periodic manual data downloads from the Gas Monitor using bluetooth from my phone.
    • The Gas & Water’s spec quotes a maximum humidity of 96%. In December, my outdoor gas meter chamber is giving a reading of 100% humidity. The monitor stopped working altogether after about 36 hours, so I dried it out and relocated it and it forgave me and started working again. The optical sensor lead is 1.4m long (and no extension is available) and so I have moved the Gas & Water into the adjacent mower shed and fed the sensor lead through the wall into that shed (just within the 1.4m length) but humidity is still a problem in any outdoor shed. I am contemplating cutting the optical sensor lead to check that it is just a 4-core cable and experimenting with a DIY extension, which would let me thread the cable through my external wall and into my house to bring it into the dry and possibly within radio range of the Energy Monitor.
    • Installation is non-intuitive from the Smappee app. There is no mention of Gas & Water on the Smappee app prior to installation. You have to select “Repeat installation” (as if reinstalling the Energy Monitor), then scan the QR code on the Gas & Water Monitor to get started. Only then does anything about ‘Gas & Water’ appear. And the question “How many digits are visible on your meter (0.0; 0.00; 0.000)?” is asked after fitting the optical sensor and I failed to interpret the question as “How many digits were visible before you fitted the optical sensor?” (which is what they meant) and so had to repeat the whole installation after getting some alarming consumption data.
    • The optical sensor does not fit my meter. It is a little bit too long and so fouls the edge of the clear plastic bezel around the meter display (see photo)20201215.jpg. The sticky pads supplied are not very good anyway but, because I could not get the sensor to lie flat against the screen, I have had to resort to cable ties to hold it in place. (See photo.) Because my meter shed is enclosed and dark (when I close the door) it works OK as no light leaks in through the gaps but others may struggle with this set up.
    • Granularity of data is only hourly. With Loop the real-time indication showed the consumption in the preceding 15 minutes which was helpful (e.g. to check the boiler’s full-power output).
    • Consumption is reported in m3 only. Loop enabled reporting in kWh, which is more helpful in recording expenditure on home heating and comparison with electricity consumption.
    • The app has no cumulative meter reading indication (for remote meter reading). I liked being able to sit at my desk and read my gas meter in the legacy Loop app and copy that to my online energy supplier account at the end of each month. Now I’ll have to go out into the cold to read my meter.



    It is a hobby-horse of mine that modern devices are too readily designed to be battery-powered and wirelessly connected when this just creates a huge hassle for maintenance and for configuration. I much prefer connecting devices with ethernet cables which can also provide power (PoE). That is how my CCTV cameras work and they are fine and need no maintenance or batteries. (My moans about the Evohome home heating controls, which have battery-powered wireless thermostats relate.) The Smappee Gas & Water Monitor appears to be in this category. Is it really not possible to get an ethernet connected gas monitor? The rest of the Smappee products appear to have moved to being all wired together, and the Genius now has an ethernet port, where the legacy Energy Monitor had none. That is a big improvement but it seems that the Gas & Water Monitor is the only Smappee component that now relies on a wireless connection.

    Thus, I do now see the limitations of the Smappee legacy Energy Monitor and why Smappee no longer markets it. Because the legacy unit has no ethernet connection, it is restricted to a location where it can maintain a WiFi signal. Also, having just one CT input, the app struggles to differentiate appliances from the legacy Smappee monitor to track consumption. I am therefore minded to investigate migrating to the new Smappee Genius, which does have an ethernet port and which allows a daisy-chain of multiple CT inputs that would allow me to monitor several circuits separately and so give greater differentiation to the appliance consumption recorded. If I can’t extend the Gas & Water optical sensor lead (to let me bring the Gas Monitor indoors) then I could run an ethernet cable to my workshop (which is a breeze-block construction outwith the main thick stone walls of my house and so has no WiFi) which adjoins my external mower shed and which should allow me to install the Genius there to maintain radio contact with the Gas & Water monitor. I would need to run a CT bus cable to the Genius also.

    It might be worth it!
    Last edited by Edinburgh2000; 17th December 2020 at 01:59 PM.

  2. #22
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    Just picked up this thread - I'm in same boat. My Loop was fantastic as I have LPG which there is absolutely no monitoring for. I therefore had a standard (now old-fashioned) dial meter put in line which Loop read perfectly! Now no alternatives.

  3. #23
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    It’s surprising just how unique the Loop monitor was. Nothing I’ve heard here is showing a reasonable alternative, depressing really. I was curious as to how well my (slow) insulation improvements were going to be for the house but seems I’m going to have to rely on the quarterly bill to alarm me periodically instead.

    Not quite sure why they even bother with the electric monitor, I mean, does anyone’s electric bill fluctuate more than a few quid a month? I know mine doesn’t and there’s not much room for improvement even if I did watch it like a hawk and turn off every light in the house when not in use.

  4. #24
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    I emailed Loop about the general mourning of the demise of its gas monitor and I was pleased to receive a prompt and sincere response, explaining that the root cause of the discontinuation of the gas monitor is the roll-out across Great Britain of smart meters, rendering the optical readers redundant. The email from the Loop Support Team included:

    “Discontinuing with gas was a difficult decision but for a business of our size, we simply have to focus on future-proofed products and build our business around them.

    It has become increasingly problematic for us with the smart meter rollout. Whilst the operation of our electricity monitor is unaffected by the installation of an electricity smart meter, our gas monitor is not compatible with gas smart meters due to its method of operation. This is a shame as it's a great piece of kit and is a differentiator. The simple facts were that to make it work with our new, secure, scalable platform would have required months and months of work at the expense of all the other developments we need to make to the new product.

    Even though we're a small team, we would have happily undertaken that work had the Government's commitment to smart meters not meant the widespread removal of old-style gas meters in the not-too-distant future. It's this bigger picture that has rendered the product prematurely obsolete, which is a real shame. It is no longer something we could build a business around.

    Clearly we understand that gas is a fundamental component of a household’s energy usage profile, so we are investigating other, future-proof ways to obtain that data. Nationally we need to make the move from non-renewable gas boilers to renewable sources of heat – we want to be part of that solution so we’re not turning our back on gas, it’s just that we’re no longer able to support this generation of the product and can’t put a timeline on when (or indeed if) there will be a replacement, so it is best just to be honest about it.“

    I am grateful to the Loop team for their frank and honest explanation. I suspect that we on this forum, being more towards the geek end of the spectrum, tend to have non-standard installations or be atypical in other ways. My gas meter is larger than a standard domestic meter and so is not compatible with the standard gas smart meter roll-out. Thus I will not be getting a smart gas meter anytime soon. And others here are exceptions in other ways (with apologies to Jemster for implying that simply being in NI is an 'exception') that make us collectively too small a market for any commercial provider to support. I wonder how long Smappee will persevere with its Gas & Water monitor?
    Last edited by Edinburgh2000; 4th January 2021 at 03:39 PM.

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Edinburgh2000 View Post
    I emailed Loop about the general mourning of the demise of its gas monitor and I was pleased to received a prompt and sincere response, explaining that the root cause of the discontinuation of the gas monitor is the roll-out across Great Britain of smart meters, rendering the optical readers redundant. My correspondent's email includes:



    I am grateful to the Loop team for that frank and honest explanation. I suspect that we on this forum, being more towards the geek end of the spectrum, tend to have non-standard installations or be atypical in other ways. My gas meter is larger than a standard domestic meter and so is not compatible with the standard gas smart meter roll-out. Thus I will not be getting a smart gas meter anytime soon. And others here are exceptions in other ways (with apologies to Jemster for implying that simply being in NI is an 'exception') that make us collectively too small a market for any commercial provider to support. I wonder how long Smappee will persevere with its Gas & Water monitor?
    Hehe no worries about NI. Mind you, if Loop had their heads screwed on, and took Geography lessons, they'd actually have been able to exploit the NI market as the only UK region that doesn't have a Smart Meter roll-out. We also have a large percentage of gas boilers here. Win-Win you'd have thought.

    Our regional lack of smart meter roll-out is disappointing, I've had similar response from Loop expressing regret and citing the on-going cost to keeping the old system. I have to say that aspect of it I do find a little surprising - they never had any on-going subscription model providing revenue, so storing this data and providing an API to access it has, from day one, been a per-user cost. I'd be interested to know how their business model ever covered it. I can only guess it was based around a revenue from people switching to new energy providers because of Loop but I've never used that portion of the software as they couldn't be bothered adding NI energy provider data in to the mix.

    Overall, it's just a shame nobody could make a gas monitoring product that was entirely self-contained. Relying on external servers instead of caching, say, a years worth of data on the box and allowing retrieval/archiving was always going to be a dead-end street for the consumer. As they've gone this way with the electric as well, there's no reason to stick with them. I poke the app every couple of days waiting for it to die. Eventually I'll hold a ceremony and bury the dead equipment in the local recycling plant. Not the positive contribution to the environment promised.

  6. #26
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    I would have thought from a business perspective there is opportunity in Niche markets. They obviously don't see it like that.

  7. #27
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    I wonder if they’re having second thoughts.... I note we are well beyond 19th December and yet the gas monitoring is still running.

    (I know... I shouldn’t have said anything...)

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jemster View Post
    .... I note we are well beyond 19th December and yet the gas monitoring is still running.
    That's interesting. My legacy account has now been closed.
    Loop login 3.jpg
    And if I try a password reset it denies I ever existed.
    Loop login 4.jpg

    I have no web access to Loop any more. I do, however, have an account on the phone-only app, for electricity only. Maybe if you did not take up the offer to migrate to the new app, then your account has been left to wither on the vine?
    Last edited by Edinburgh2000; 6th January 2021 at 09:02 AM.

  9. #29
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    Perhaps that's the case - I didn't migrate, didn't see the point to be honest.

    it is actually logging readings still, so not just the account that's been left hanging, the server-side is still running. Not placing bets on how long it'll work though...

  10. #30
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    As of yesterday my old loop monitor is still working on the phone app - I've been too busy to install the new one yet and also haven't migrated my account. Sounds like that might have been a good thing. I wonder how long until they do cut off the old account ?
    Last edited by DBMandrake; 12th January 2021 at 09:50 AM.

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