This meter shows that the customer has delivered 15,170 kWh to the utility grid since it was installed.

How to Read a Solar Net Metering Bi-Directional Utility Meter

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When you get a grid-interactive solar electric system installed in Southwest Florida, FPL or LCEC will replace your standard meter with a bi-directional meter. This meter records electricity flow in both direction — to an from the electric grid — and the net amount of energy consumed since it was installed. This process is known as Net Metering, and it allows the utility to bill you for just the net amount of energy you consume.

There are a few different meter styles, but they all work essentially the same way. There is a LCD display that shows dots moving to the right when you are receiving electricity from the grid, and to the left when you are delivering electricity to the grid. The speed the dots move indicates the rate at which electricity is flowing. Here is how you can read the numerical parts of your meter display, which rotates between various readings:

This meter shows that the customer has delivered 15,170 kWh to the utility grid since it was installed.

This meter shows that the customer has received 15,170 kWh from the utility grid since it was installed. This is utility energy use in excess of the solar energy produced and consumed at the time of production.

DEL (of DL):  This is the kilowatt-hours of electricity delivered from the grid since the meter was installed. It indicates energy delivered to you in excess of solar energy production.

REC (or RC): This is the kilowatt-hours of electricity you sent to the grid since the meter was installed. It indicates energy produced by your solar energy system at times in excess of what was used in your home or business.

NET (or NT): This is the net amount of energy consumed from the grid. It represents the total delivered minus the total received since your meter was installed.

To determine your monthly usage, just like a standard meter, you need to look at these numbers relative to your last meter reading, which is shown on your bill. The numbers do not reset at each meter reading, but they tally up the cumulative electricity flows since the meter was installed.

There may be other numbers listed on the meter, which typically indicate demand, which is the maximum amount of power consumed consistently over a given time-frame, usually 15 or 30 minutes. Residential and small commercial customers do not have to worry about demand, as demand charge is not a component of the way they are billed. This is sometimes denoted as MAX (or MX).

In addition to reading your meter, your bill or bill insert (LCEC) will have valuable information about your cumulative net meter, delivered, and received readings. It will also tell you how much, if any, electricity you have banked for future use.

 

Comments

  1. The explanation says the del and rec are in Kw-hrs and show the total energy since the meter was installed. But the picture shows Kw, which has to be power (not energy) being currently consumed or delivered. Please correct.

    Does the Kw-hrs display show the net (delivered – received), total (delivered+received) or only delivered energy?.
    Is the Kw-hrs display programmable by PF&L to show net, total or delivered energy.

    The verbiage under the picture of the meter is confusing. I do not believe the meter can know how much the local solar panels have generated, so only net, total or delivered can be displayed. Please reword.

    1. Author

      The meter cycles through several displays. The one shown in the image shows kilowatt-hours delivered (the large numbers). The .859 kW figure is the instantaneous power draw.

      As the meter display cycles, it shows delivered, received, and net.

      You are correct that the utility cannot see total consumption, nor the solar power/energy generated. I changed the wording from “addition to” to “excess of” and now it should be more clear.

  2. On my meter it shows the peak kw but it resets once a month instead of 15 or 30 min.
    Is there some way they can change it at fpl

    1. Author

      First, peak KW has nothing to do with solar production. This is a measure of maximum usage (demand) during the billing period, and corresponds to how much you are billed for demand when you are on a demand tariff. It shows you the most power you have consumed consistently during any 30 (or 15) minute period. This is the necessary and intended operation of this measurement and it cannot be changed. I’m not sure why you would want it to be changed.

  3. On the demand (MAX) on an old meter it would show the kw used every 1/2 hr.
    On the new bi-directional it shows the amount every month.
    It doesn’t really matter but can fpl make it update on the half hr like the old one.

  4. For the first time since our net meter was installed, and I turned our system on November 14, 2014, we have made more energy than we have used in total. I was pretty excited to look at our net meter this evening and see the negative amount displayed; however, it was not negative. It cycled back to the largest number the meter can display. Please tell me that our electricity supplier is not going to charge us for 99,995 kW/hr’s?!?!

    1. Author

      That’s fantastic, Jeff, and congratulations! I think they will figure it out, but if you get a big bill (over $10,000) I’m sure you will be able to resolve it wit a phone call.

  5. I live in southern Florida. The days are mostly sunny with very few cloudy days. The REC on my solar meter has not exceeded 64 for 2 weeks (Feb.17 to March 3). Is there something wrong?

    1. Author

      It’s possible that something is wrong, but it is equally as likely that you are just consuming all of the solar energy you are producing at the time it is being produced. If your solar energy system is small relative to your energy needs, you might never send energy back to the grid because you are consuming all of it. This is particularly likely for pool homes or other homes that have steady and continuous power needs throughout the day.

  6. Got a net meter that was set at 3000kw at the start guy said this would be compensated.or all add up..i dont see how this should of been started there.

    1. Author

      I think you mean 3000kwh, but it doesn’t matter. They will record the starting figure and you will just pay based on the net change from the starting point.the meter doesn’t ”zero out” after each billing period. You are just billed based on the comparison of ending value minus starting value.

  7. A FPL inspector recently explained to me that my monthly bill will be based upon kw-hrs received (RC) and not on the net amount consumed (NT). He went on to advise that the amount delivered (DL) to the grid would be “sold” and credited at a discounted rate per calendar year. What you are describing here would amount to a reversible meter and, if I am correct, a bit misleading.

    1. Author

      @John, the inspector is wrong. You are billed based on the net amount consumed. If your net amount at the end of a calendar year is negative (you produce more than you consume), you receive a credit based on the COG-1 tariff, otherwise known as the avoided cost rate, or colloquially known as the wholesale rate. That only applies if you “over-produce” on an annual basis, and has nothing to do with monthly billing. Here is a copy of my most recent bill with annotations explaining how it works.

      FPL Netmetering Bill

      Or you can download in PDF format.

    2. Author

      Another quick note – a bi-directional meter is reversible. It “spins” in both directions. In one direction it records RC. In the other direction, it records DL. Then it calculates and displays the net amount (NT).

  8. It may work mechanically by being bi-directional but if am I correct on my billing question above?

    1. Author

      No, you are not correct. The inspector you spoke with doesn’t know what they are talking about. You are billed based on the Net figure on your meter. Upon reading the meter they take the current Net amount and subtract the prior Net amount to get your current period billed usage. See my prior comment with a copy of my bill for a further explanation.

      1. Author

        I should also note that another thing the inspector told you is not correct. The Delivered (DL) figure is the amount of energy the utility delivered to you, not the amount of excess solar energy you delivered to the utility. Received (RC) is the excess solar energy that was received by the utility from you.

  9. Thank you for the explanation. This is a new system for me and was a little concerned about what I was told when contracting the placement of the panels versus what was later told by the inspector. I got the (RC) and (DL) mixed up on my own. I look forward to studying my first bill.

    1. Author

      No problem. There is no shortage of shady contractors out there. But we have our fair share of issues with utility companies, too. You just got some bad information.

      Just today I had our local electric Co-op tell a mutual client that they don’t need $1M of liability insurance for a Tier 2 (over 10kW) Interconnection – that only the contractor does. That is absolutely false. The homeowner needs the liability insurance required to enter into an interconnection agreement. The contractor only needs to have the statutorily required insurance coverage (far lower), and that has nothing to do with the interconnection application or process.

      The utility companies’ customer service reps are notoriously undereducated about the process. If you have a reputable solar contractor, they are your best source of true and accurate information. We do this every day!

  10. My new bidirectional meter does not have a net reading (or perhaps I am misreading something). It has DEL and REC, MAX and the 88888 test screen. Is it simple to say my net is DEL – REC? or should i return to school 🙂

    1. Author

      You are correct. If there is no NET displayed the calculation is DEL-REC=NET.

  11. On my power panel it shows the 3 numbers rec net and del what does it mean when the net is going up is that good or bad ? My del and del are going up around the same amount but the rec is not doing anything

    1. Author

      If Net is going g up it simply means you are consuming more electricity that you are producing. If it goes down, you are sending excess electricity back to the grid. If Rec never goes up, you are always consuming all of the electricity you are producing, when you are producing it.

  12. Hello, this may sound like a silly question… but here goes.. I have a pool home.. is it better to run the pool off the solar panes during the day, or should I run it off the grid at night? Now I know the first response is… what’s the difference?
    My thinking is that the panels will have less of a load and send back more electricity to the grid, this giving me more to work with at night..
    sounds silly, but still questionable.. Thanks

    1. Author

      It makes absolutely no difference. The net amount of energy used will be the same. Most pool pros would prefer that you run your pump during daylight hours for sanitization reasons. Also, pump noise at night may be a concern.

  13. Does it matter if you use one of your appliances during the night( when you are not producing) as against the day when you are producing Energy from the sunlight. My question for you, would it consume the same amount of energy?
    Thanks

  14. I had a new bidirectional meter installed recently: it reads:Max 9.64 khw. Rec=66 and DEL=490.
    What am I to make of theses numbers since this will be my first bill? It only 14 days so far. What does the Max represent?
    I looked at my usage on FPL app and I am scared,literally at the figures projected as my monthly bills. It’s $88,256.25 and daily usage $3,675.25. As of today’s date $25,725.32 ? Are theses bills for real? So I call FPL? Last time I called they said that they haven’t got a bill for me yet?

    1. Author

      Elijah, don’t pay attention to the FPL projected figures on your first one or two bills using the online system. The numbers are completely inaccurate for some reason, and FPL has acknowledged this issue. Max is just your maximum power draw and is irrelevant for purposes of determining a residential utility bill. REC means the utility has received 66 kWh from you when you were producing excess power. DEL means they have delivered 490 kWh to you when you needed extra energy or at night. The net result is that you will be billed for 424 kWh, or about $45 in electricity. Projected out for 30 days that would be about $96 plus your ~$8 customer fee and taxes. It sounds like you are doing fine depending on what size system you installed and how much energy is was projected to cut off your bill.

      Note that the REC and DEL figures are cumulative since the meter was installed. Both numbers should continue to rise over time.

  15. Jason, First, thanks for the explanation. My Net Meter was installed last week. We were not home for a couple of days and the the readings this AM were: DL 00058. RC 00065. (When the meter was installed both readings were zero).

    I agree with your advice to Ken, but only if he is buying power from a utility that is required to provide one-for-one credit for power produced vs power purchased.

    My electric provider is SECO and, unlike the investor-owned utilities, they give me credit on my power bill for the value of the energy I send to their grid. They value my kWh at the same rate as they pay for power from thier commercial providers. In other words, I buy from SECO at the retail rate ($0.0928 per kWh), and they buy from me at wholesale ($0.0763 per kWh).

    This means it is cheaper for me to maximize the use of my power and minimize the use of SECO’s power. If I had a pool pump I would run it during the day. Likewise using other “controllable” energy using devices (washer, dryer, dishwasher, etc…).

    1. Author

      Hi Dale.

      Thanks for your input. This site and blog are specific to Southwest Florida where we do business. The Florida Net Metering Rule provides for one-for-one credit at the retail rate for investor owned utilities. Our only local utility providers are FPL and LCEC, the local cooperative. LCEC also provides a one-for-one credit. So long as their annual production does not exceed consumption, our local clients do not have the issue you describe.

      You could look into a battery solution that maximizes self-consumption, but that is a costly proposition, so you have to carefully consider whether there is a return on investment with that strategy. In Florida where utility rates are pretty low and there is no time of use metering, it usually does not make sense today. That doesn’t mean the economics will be the same in the future, however.

  16. My meter shows ” Not in sync” What does it mean? My meter is bidirectional installed by Duke Energy.
    Does “current received” means excess current received by Utility grid?.
    Duke energy is charging me for the difference power consumed and energy received.

    1. Author

      I do not know what “not in sync” means for sure, but that is probably a network issue with your smart meter not transmitting data to the utility. Current received would be energy the utility received from you. It is also from the utility’s perspective. “Delivered” would be energy delivered to you.

      1. Or your example electric bill from April 2018. Can you tell me how many KHh your panels produced? I’m trying to figure out my production vs. what FPL is billing me.

        Thank you,
        Damaris

  17. My current reading is 6105
    my previous reading -4640

    and my KWh used was totaled as 1193

    Does this make any sense to you?

    According to your explanation above – the negative number indicates that I am producing more than what I am consuming (which according to my solar calculator I did) However, FPL billed me $127.22 on this bill.

    Can you explain this to me. PLEASE.

    and thank you!!!!

  18. I do not understand how FPL calculates production and consumption when they claim they don’t know either. Even though on my FPL Bill they report a consumption amount — the math that they come up with after that is very confusing and I don’t know if they are being deceptive or not. Here’s an example:

    1036 KWh produced (# I gave them)
    272 KWh sent back to the grid (on my FPL bill)
    =764 KWh consumend by house
    1465 KWh delivered by FPL
    = 2229 Total KWh consumed === this is where I have difficulty understanding — doesn’t the meter show how much KWh I consumed? Why do they use this crazy math to jack up my energy consumption when my solar energy meter (app) shows that I only consumed 981.1 KWh.

    Can you please help me understand this ?????

    1. Author

      Damarius, your solar contractor should really be explaining this to you, but I will try to help.

      Your meter only knows how much EXCESS solar you are producing (excess solar energy production that was not concurrently consumed by your home).

      Considered another way, your meter only knows how much consumption you have from the utility. It has no idea how much solar energy you use concurrently with production.

      The numbers make perfect sense. Reading between the lines in your question, your previous DELIVERED reading was 4640. Your current DELIVERED reading was 6105. That means the utility delivered 1465 kWh to your home either at night or when you did not have enough solar production to meet your needs. They also credited you for 272 kWh of energy that you sent back to the grid at times when you were producing power but not using it in the home (you did not provide your previous and current RECEIVED numbers, but I understand the difference is 272 kWh). Therefore you were billed for 1465 – 272 = 1193 kWh. So 1193 kWh was the amount of energy you consumed in excess of what your solar panels produced. If your monitoring system says you produced 1036 kWh for the same period, your actual total consumption was 1193 + 1036 = 2229 kWh. You would have had a bill around $250 if you didn’t have solar panels.

  19. But I don’t understand. How is it that I consumed 2229 and produced 1036 but still managed to send 272 back to the grid. I would think that I would have consumed and produced 1036 – not sent anything back to the grid — and then I would have been billed 1465.

    Meter Reading
    Current reading is 6105
    Previous reading -4640

  20. Damaris,

    Because there were times when you were producing power when you could not consume it all in your home, so your meter spun backwards and you sent 272 back to the grid. The meter spins forward or backward depending on which way energy is flowing. When your demand is low and production is high, the meter spins backwards. Do utility records that and offsets it with your net consumption. That’s how net metering works. The numbers appear correct to me.

    If your concern is that you thought your bill would be lower and you don’t think you’re producing enough, that would be a question for your solar contractor. Maybe they misrepresented how much energy your system will really produce. That is a rampant problem in our industry.

  21. Jason,
    I have an FPL net meter on my house for solar power. I’m having trouble finding someone that can explain what the meter is telling me. I understand DEL. REC and TEST, but there’s a MAX and I’ve seen it as high as 10.50KW and as low as 5.29KW. Is this the amount my panels are producing or the amount that FPL is allowing me to send to them? My system is only a 6KW as I’m in a ICF home and My average before panels about 6KW. Thanks in advance for helping if you can.

    1. Author

      Mik: MAX is irrelevant for you. This is the maximum average load (instantaneous power consumption) for the day taken over a 15 or 30-minute interval, depending on how the meter is programmed. This is for customers who are on a demand charge rate schedule (typically commercial utility customers). It has nothing to do with solar production and no usable value for residential customers.

  22. Jason, maybe you can help my conundrum. I had 57 solar panels installed and running since mid-November 2019 and have been studying them ever since. I believe my local power company, Eversource, is charging me for some of my solar production (total energy used by the house) instead of the net amount consumed. Eversource says they only use #4 and #10 numbers on the screen, and don’t use #5 or #7. I believe the OpenWay by Itron meter accounts for Total kW(#4), Total grid(#5), Total solar produced under the threshold of sending out to the grid(#7) and total excess sent to the grid(#10). I only have a problem with using #4. If my assumption is correct, I am paying for some of the sun’s energy represented by #4.

    Unfortunately, the solar company, RGS, went bankrupt in January, and I’m having a hard time getting ahold of the installer(subcontractor company- Skyline Solar) for comment. RGS sent me references with lots of information, however the all important guide to the bidirectional meter was supposed to be in “Appendix A,” which was blank at the time, and I have no company representative to help me there.

    Eversource did email reply my problem and said it was possible that the installer “incorrectly wired something in your circuit breaker panel.” have you ever heard of this? I have obsessed over the production and numbers and billing, and I think I am correct that I’m actually paying for some of the solar production!!

    1. Author

      Hi Michael,

      It sounds like you are close to your answer.

      #4 represents energy that your utility has delivered to you. The arrow points to the right when this is happening. That means you are consuming more energy than you are producing. This would be the case at night and when there isn’t enough sun to meet all of your demands.

      #10 represents energy that the utility has received from you. The arrow points to the left when this is happening. This is when you have excess solar power and it is being credited to you.

      To figure out how much you are billed, you need to know each number at the time the meter is read, which is tricky, because they will not tell you exactly when that happened. The numbers are cumulative since your meter was installed. So, for example, if your #4 reads 1000 and your #10 reads 600, then you should have been billed for 400 kilowatt-hours since your meter was installed. Let’s look at another example:

      At the end of billing period 1, the cumulative numbers are:
      #4 1000
      #10 600
      Cumulative net would be 400.

      At the end of billing period 2, the cumulative numbers are:
      #4 2100
      #10 1300
      Cumulative net would be 700. Therefore, you will be billed for 300 kilowatt-hours (700 previous minus 400 current).

      There is a document explaining Eversource’s meter reading FAQ here: https://www.eversource.com/content/docs/default-source/builders-contractors/ct-net-metering-faq.pdf

      It would be very rare, actually very difficult, for a contractor to install solar panels in a way that defeats the proper operation of a utility meter. It’s virtually impossible for that to happen. It looks like you are probably in Connecticut, so it’s a long drive from Florida for me to help you, but feel free to ask additional questions if there is anything I can do for you. You can also send pictures me. I’ll send you an email shortly.

    2. Hi Mike,
      Can you believe it, I have the same problem. Something has got to be wired incorrectly. Super frustrating, but thanks for the helpful comment.

      1. Author

        Mike and Spencer: I am afraid it’s just not possible to wire it incorrectly, guys. Let’s say it was wired on the utility side of the meter. If that were the case, it would not record any backfeed to the grid. If it’s wired on the customer side of the meter and it was wired “wrong,” it would not work at all. Can the meter be programmed incorrectly? Sure. Could their software be interpreting the results back at the office? Sure. But this doesn’t sound like a wiring problem at all.

        If you want to send me some pictures, email to: jason+nm@floridasolardesigngroup.com

        You can send me a copy of your bill if you want also, and I’d be happy to take a look at whatever system monitoring you have in place (if any). I’m curious for sure, especially with two people asking, but I doubt there is anything wrong.

        1. Author

          Quick update – I received confirmation from Mike that the 4 and 10 readings are all that matter for netmetering. The others are just time-of-use and demand charge readings.

  23. I’m curious what happens with the excess power being sent to the grid during a power failure. Would it be consumed by my neighbors closest to my meter? If insufficient would it cause a brown out or harm their appliances?

    1. Author

      Hi Jerry,

      During a power failure there is no excess power being sent to the grid. The inverter(s) that solar panels are connected to will cease to provide power immediately upon loss of grid voltage. Unless you have batteries, you will also lose power in your home. Grid-interactive solar energy systems are intended to only operate in parallel with the grid. The electronics prevent the flow of power when the utility grid goes down.

  24. I have 15kwH solar panels and 2 Tesla power walls. The Tesla app shows that I generate more solar than I use many days, and overall each month. Yet I got a bill from FPL for 600 kWh use last month. How do I find out if the issue is the Tesla app or the FPL meter? Thank you.

    1. Author

      Janice,
      First, you most likely have a photovoltaic system rated at 15kW, not kWh. Solar panel systems are rated in kilowatts, a measure of power, not kilowatt-hours, a measure of energy (power over time). In Florida, a 15kW system will produce in the region of 65 kWh a day or almost 2,000 kWh per month on average, assuming it is optimally oriented and shade-free.

      Now that we have that straight, I’ll go out on a limb and tell you that FPL’s meter is correct. There is virtually no chance that they are billing you incorrectly. Once a bi-directional meter is installed at your home, it accurately measures energy in and out of your home.

      So that leaves your Tesla monitoring as the likely problem. This is either an installation error or a programming error on the part of your installer. Based on the fact that you have two Powerwalls, it is likely that you are not backing up your whole home. Your batteries probably back up critical loads in your home. When installed in this configuration your installer must take the energy monitoring current transducers and relocate them to your main service conductors to measure the total consumption in your home (or install additional meters to measure loads that are not backed up). You might have a pool subpanel or other subset of your electrical system that is not being monitored for consumption. Even if you are backing up your whole home, your Tesla Gateway might not be programmed correctly to identify all loads in your home.

      You should get your installer involved, and if they cannot help you, find another qualified (certified) Tesla contractor to help you.

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