• retrotecchie's Avatar
    Level 92

    The arrangement for your storage heaters sounds fairly conventional in as much as there are two separate circuits. I'm prepared to wager that you also have two immersion heaters in your hot water tank if you have electric water heating. The lower element is fed via the timer switch and only operates on off-peak electricity. The upper element is fed from a conventional 'always on' circuit via a switch that allows you to 'boost' the tank if required during the day,

    Likewise, the storage heaters will often also have two circuits. The timed off-peak circuit for the main heating and an option to boost them from the always on circuit during the day if need be.

    Now let me open up a right can of worms for you! There should be four big heavy duty wires going to the time switch. L and N from the meter and then the L and N outputs to the second consumer unit for the heating. So far so good...pretty standard for E7 heating, you have a couple of thinner wires between the time switch and the meter? If so, your problems all become very clear.

    That time switch not only controls a set of 100A contacts to switch the heating itself, but actually send an auxiliary control signal to tell the meter itself whether it should be recording on peak or off peak units. That is to say, the time switch is also what is known as a ratechanger. More crucially, as seems to be the case, if the time switch fails, then so does the ability for the meter to switch between peak and off peak units.

    So, unless an identical rate changer timeswitch compatible with your particular meter is fitted, your system as it stands is basically scrap.

    Those devices and the compatible/complimentary meters have been obsolete since the mid 90's.

    Here is what I would do if it was my installation:

    Get E.On Next to replace the old meter with a new smart meter. That will sort out the metering issue. Meters are available with five terminals with an internal 100A contactor which can be programmed for E7, with the fifth terminal giving you the switched Live for the heating circuits. The single Neutral coming out of the meter would need a Henley block to split off a second Neutral for heating.

    However, success for people with storage heaters seems to be rather mixed...some folks have been left with no heating or hot water because although the meter itself works as a two rate E7 meter, the technicians can't always figure out the auxiliary contact programming.

    But assuming they do get it right, it's the solution to the problem that requires minimal work.

    Your idea of replacing spurs with conventional 13A sockets and using plug in timers will work with a straightforward four terminal E7 meter, but any slippage of time, e.g. during a power cut or anything could affect the synchronisation of heating times with the E7 off-peak times. That is to say, you have no synchronisation with the meter, but you do have time control of each individual heater. You would still need the L and N coming from the new meter to be split using two Henley blocks in order to feed both the main and the heating consumer units.

    If it was me doing this, rather than use 13A plugs and plug in timers, I would use a hard-wired immersion heater timer that fits a standard back box and retains the existing storage heater cable. Such timers are designed to switch high current heating loads...plug in timers will do the job but they need to be very heavy duty.

    A third option is to simply replace the meter and then fit a new heavy duty timeclock such as a Sangamo. This may need a little tweaking with the wiring. but will effectively do what your current setup is supposed to do. Again, the meter tails will need splitting, then the timer can be installed in line with the second consumer unit.

    Bottom line...your meter can't change tariff by itself, it needs the switch signal from your timeclock/ratechanger. And if the timer is kaput, so is the meter, by definition.

    In your situation, because it is a ratechanger timeswitch controlling the meter as well as the heating, it IS an integral part of the metering system and IS the responsibility of E.On Next to remedy.

    Exactly the sort of job I would do myself, just for kicks, but I never came across this exact setup with Southern Electric...they either used Radio Teleswitch, or dual (Black and white) meters and a standard timeclock.

    You might be able to infer from my username that obsolete stuff, and how to try and keep it working, is something I'm interested in. This is very solvable, but if the meter technician is a youngster, possibly born after your house was built, then I'm not surprised there has been a lack of understanding on their part. They've probably never used a Betamax video recorder or dial-up internet, either.
    Last edited by retrotecchie; 06-11-23 at 01:59.
  • retrotecchie's Avatar
    Level 92

    Incidentally, and to anyone wondering how the logic for having a time switch to control the meter rates works,...

    Most mechanical timeswitches like plug in dial timers or old school central heating controls rely on a synchronous AC motor to regulate time using the mains 50Hz frequency as a time base for the clock. However, in the event of a power failure, the clock stops working. Completely fine for something that the user can adjust in the event of a power cut, but no good for maintaining a reasonably accurate schedule for E7 metering.

    A ratechanger time clock has a separate 'mainspring' which is wound when the power is available so that in the event of a power failure, the clock will still run and maintain reasonable accuracy. The spring is usually good for about 15 days of autonomy.

    The clock as well as the Off Peak and Peak Rate times could be adjusted by the electricity board, as they do drift a little, and monitored as part of the standard reading procedure for such installations back in the day, but not something that would be done by a meter reading subcontractor today. The legacy systems needed legacy management and this stopped once the boards were broken up and the electricity industry was privatised.

    It is estimated that there are still 1.3 million Radio Teleswitch systems in the wild, but goodness knows how many of these very short-lived mechanical meter/timeclock combinations. With complex electric storage heating systems being pretty much abandoned for different schemes after the demise of cheap Magnox nuclear electricity, it's only a relatively few systems north of the Border and South of Oxford still in service, but many have been replaced years ago. If we still had regional boards responsible for supply and maintenance, this would have never been an issue.

    Back in the 80s, before modern electronic electricity metering became a 'thing', mechanically driven timer/meter combinations were very much 'state of the art' until Radio Teleswitch took hold. .
    Last edited by retrotecchie; 06-11-23 at 13:38.
    Don't shoot me, I'm only the piano player. I DON'T work for or on behalf of EON.Next, but am willing to try and help if I can. Not on mains gas, mobile network or mains drainage. House heated almost entirely by baby dragons.
  • meldrewreborn's Avatar
    Level 91
    @retrotecchie has supplied you with his assessment of the situation. You haven't yet posted the photographs you indicated you would (when you post look for the symbol 3rd from the right in the menu box above the text box - the one that looks like a mountain range with a star).- we're not pressing you, only trying to help.

    The photographs would bring more certainty to the diagnosis and possibly elicit more definitive recommendations for you to work through.
    Current Eon Next customer, ex EDF, Zog and Symbio. Don't think dual fuel saves money and don't like smart meters. Chronologically Gifted. If I offend let me know by private message, but I’ll continue to express my opinions nonetheless.
  • PeterT_EONNext's Avatar
    Community Team
    Hi @Tullynessle

    I can see that it's been a few weeks since your appointment was scheduled for your meter change. Did you have an update on this for us at all?

    Would be great to hear what's happened since you last posted, I hope everything has since been sorted for you 🙂
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  • Tullynessle's Avatar
    Level 4

    I am most grateful for your long and detailed reply. I am a retired mechanical engineer not electrical, but I am pleased to see my thoughts about the way forward were not crazy.

    Unfortunately it is now 3rd January and still Eon Next have accomplished nothing. The Ombudsman told them what to do on 20th September. They were given till 4th October to accept or not. They accepted and were given 28 days to comply. Nobody turned up at my house during this time, and then they asked for an extension, which the Ombudsman gave them. Neither Eon Next or the Ombudsman informed me about the extension, or asked for my views on an extension. When by 1st November still nothing had happened. I phoned the Ombudsman to ask what they were doing to push Eon Next into action, only to be told "oh we just have them another 3 weeks extension". Again nobody in Eon Next or the Ombudsman had considered it necessary to consult me. I was not a happy bunny and complained to the Ombudsman telling them nobody was telling me anything, I was literally sitting in the cold, and I felt they had let me down badly.

    A heavy hitter working as a "Coach" for various Ombudsman organisations then replied saying he understood my frustration and my complaint was being considered at the highest level. He then replied a second time to tell me the Ombudsman had done everything by the book!

    Then on 2nd November Eon Next informed me a technician would be arriving on 24th November. He didn't turn up. He phoned me on the day to say he was "too busy".

    Then I got a text telling me a technician would arrive instead on 19th December. Again nobody turned up. The text included a link for tracking the appointment. When I clicked on the link, it informed me the appointment had been cancelled with no explanation.

    I told Eon Next and the Ombudsman (and my MSP. My MSP has been writing letters in support to the CEO of Eon Next and the Ombudsman). So the next day a lady in Eon Next's Ombudsman liaison team emailed saying she would look into the no show but she would now be away until 28th December and would then arrange another appointment. On 28th I informed her the deadline for action was that very day after two extensions and the Ombudsman would not give any more extensions (I had phoned the Ombudsman to confirm this.)

    So now it is 3rd January, still with zero progress, and still silence from Eon Next. I have been waiting since 19th May.
    I am a veteran, I am in my seventies, I have an autoimmune system condition so the NHS class me as vulnerable, and I am on the Priority Service Register. But, have Eon Next taken any notice?

    By the way (1) I gave feedback to the Ombudsman saying I believed my complaining to them was a complete waste of time.

    By the way (2) I emailed Ofgem back in November explained my situation and asked if they could take action against Eon Next for failing to abide by a performance standard for energy suppliers. They avoided a direct answer referring me to the Ombudsman. But they also revealed something rather shocking. The Ombudsman's decisions are legally binding, but they have no enforcement powers! If an energy supplier does not carry out actions required, you the customer can take them to court - not the Ombudsman of Ofgem! In other words, as the Chinese would say, the Ombudsman is a paper tiger.

    My 72nd birthday is in February. I have no reason to think Eon Next will have fixed things by then.
    Last edited by Lee_EONNext; 03-01-24 at 13:20. Reason: Community Guidelines
  • Lee_EONNext's Avatar
    Community Team
    @Tullynessle sorry to read this is still going on, the best thing to do would be to contact customer services to get your appointment re-arranged. They should also be able to advise on why the previous were cancelled.

    It's really difficult for us to comment on what's happened without seeing the letter from the Ombudsman, now my experience in complaint, Ombudsman and Directors Office, if the Ombudsman rule we have to replace that meter by a certain date, that is to happen and most certainly you should of had someone be in touch making sure this has happened etc.

    The Ombudsman, again in my experience if you contacted them to say your resolution has not been implemented they will re-open the complaint and contact us asking why etc and rule again, possibly advise we need to do extra.

    Can you pop me a DM with your account details please? I would like to just review the final ruling letter, it's difficult for the regular customer service teams to intervene if there is an open Ombudsman complaint as we have specific people dealing with those types of complaints, I can see if I can get this moving but getting a visit booked as above, it's best to contact the team as our replies here can be sporadic.

    Thanks - Lee
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  • meldrewreborn's Avatar
    Level 91

    You'll see that I've created a poll on the way Eon Next has handled this complaint (based solely on the facts as listed by @Tullynessle).

    The poll is here :
  • Lee_EONNext's Avatar
    Community Team
    @meldrewreborn I would need to give the complaint a once over before casting my view on this, as soon as I get the account details I can review what's happened etc. I am very concerned at this stage that an Ombudsman ruling has not gone ahead, however I do need to check everything.