Different Types of Electric Meters in 2024

analog electricity meters

Are you tired of being surprised by high energy bills? It’s time to take control back of your energy consumption by understanding the different types of electrical meters available on the market. By choosing the right energy meter for your home, you can accurately track the electrical energy consumed and make informed decisions about your usage, ultimately saving you money. 

First up, we have traditional electricity meters, also known as energy meters. These meters measure the total amount of electrical energy consumed by your household over a given period, such as a month or quarter. However, they do not give information about when energy is being consumed, making it difficult to identify areas where energy usage can be reduced. If you’re looking for a basic metering solution and don’t need detailed information on your energy usage, a traditional electricity meter might be suitable for your needs.

What is an Electric Meter?

An electricity meter, also known as a watt-hour meter, is an electric device that measures the amount of electrical energy consumed in a household or business. It is a crucial tool for keeping track of energy consumption and for ensuring that energy bills are accurate. The meter measures the amount of electrical energy consumed in kilowatt-hours (kWh), which is the standard unit of measurement for energy consumed.

With the advent of smart meters, monitoring energy consumption has become easier and more efficient. Smart meters use wireless technology to communicate with energy suppliers, providing them with regular updates on energy usage. They also come with a handheld display unit, allowing users to see their energy usage in real-time and make informed decisions about energy consumption.

By understanding their energy consumption, consumers can take steps to reduce their energy usage, save on energy bills, and reduce their carbon emissions. Smart meters can provide valuable insights into energy consumption patterns, which can be used to identify areas where energy usage can be reduced, such as switching off appliances when not in use or replacing old, inefficient appliances with newer, more energy-efficient ones.

Types of Electrical Meter

Electricity meters come in various types, ranging from traditional analog meters to the latest smart meters. The primary purpose of these meters is to measure the electricity usage of a household or commercial property accurately. These meters provide information on how much energy has been consumed over a specific period, which allows for accurate billing by energy providers.

Smart meters are the newest type of energy meter, and they use wireless technology to communicate with your energy supplier, providing them with regular updates on your energy usage. Smart meters allow you to see how much electricity you are using in real-time, as well as how much it is costing you. Additionally, some smart meters can monitor power factors, giving a more comprehensive view of electricity usage. By using smart meters, energy consumers can get a better understanding of their electricity use patterns and make informed decisions on how to reduce their energy consumption.

Here are some common kinds of meters used throughout the US: 

  • Analog Meters, 
  • Digital Meters, 
  • Time-of-Use Meters, 
  • Single-Phase Energy Meter, 
  • Three-Phase Energy Meter, 
  • BTU Meter, 
  • Smart Electricity Meter, 
  • Prepaid Electricity Meter, 
  • Dial Meters, and 
  • Off-Peak Meters. 

Analog Meters

Analog meters, also known as electromechanical meters, are the oldest type of energy meter still in use today. These meters have a simple design and operate using a system of gears and dials to measure the amount of energy consumed. They are sometimes referred to as watt-hour meters, as they measure energy consumption in watt-hours.

Reading an analog meter requires taking a physical meter reading of the dials on the meter. These readings need to be recorded regularly and sent to the energy supplier to ensure accurate billing. While analog meters have been reliable for many years, they have now largely been replaced by digital and smart meters due to their limited functionality. However, some older properties may still have analog meters in place.

Digital Meters

Digital meters are a modern type of energy meter that is becoming increasingly common in homes and businesses. Unlike analog meters, digital meters use electronic displays to show energy usage and measure consumption. They are also more accurate than analog meters, and they can measure energy consumption in both electricity and gas meters.

Reading a digital meter is usually quite straightforward, as the display will show the energy consumption in kilowatt-hours (kWh) or cubic meters (m3). To get an accurate meter reading, you simply need to note down the numbers displayed on the meter. Digital meters are a convenient option for those who want to keep track of their energy consumption, as they are easy to read and can provide accurate information about how much energy you are using.

Time-of-Use Meters

Time-of-Use (ToU) meters are a type of electric meter that measures energy consumption and provides different rates depending on the time of day. They have a liquid crystal display that shows the time and the amount of energy used during peak and off-peak hours. These meters are used to encourage consumers to use energy during off-peak hours when rates are lower, which helps to reduce demand during peak hours.

ToU meters work like regular energy meters by measuring the amount of electricity used, but they have the added functionality of being able to measure energy consumption at different times of the day. This allows energy suppliers to charge different rates for energy used during peak and off-peak hours. By using a ToU meter, consumers can save money on their energy bills by shifting their electricity usage to off-peak hours.

To read a ToU meter, you simply need to read the display which shows the current time and the amount of energy used during peak and off-peak hours. The meter also has a register that shows the total amount of energy used since installation, similar to other energy meters. To ensure accurate meter readings, it is important to regularly take a meter reading and provide it to your energy supplier.

Single-Phase Energy Meter

Single-phase energy meters are a type of electric meter that uses advanced metering technology to measure energy consumption in residential and commercial buildings. They measure the power consumption of a single-phase electrical supply, which is used to determine the amount of electricity utilized over a certain period of time.

These meters are typically installed in a meter box, which is located on the exterior of the property. They measure the amount of electricity consumed by the property and send the data to the energy supplier for billing purposes. Single-phase energy meters are an essential part of managing your electricity usage and ensuring that you are only paying for the energy you consume. With the help of these meters, you can keep track of the amount of energy you are using and take steps to reduce your energy consumption, which can help you save money on your electricity bills.

Three-Phase Energy Meter

The main difference between single- and three-phase energy meters is the number of phases it measures. While a single-phase meter is designed to measure the energy consumption of a single-phase power system, a three-phase meter is designed to measure the energy consumption of a three-phase power system. Additionally, a three-phase meter usually has a higher power capacity and can measure power consumption at a higher accuracy level than a single-phase meter. Both types of meters are typically housed in a meter box and used to track the amount of electricity used by a household or business.

BTU Meter

A BTU meter, short for British Thermal Unit meter, is a device used to measure the amount of thermal energy in a liquid or gas, typically water. This device is used primarily in industrial settings, such as power plants, to measure the energy consumed and optimize energy usage for energy savings.

A BTU meter measures the heat output of a liquid or gas by calculating the temperature difference between the input and output streams and the flow rate of the liquid or gas. The device uses advanced metering technology, such as a digital display and LED display, to provide instantaneous power and parameter values for the system. This allows operators to adjust energy usage in such a way as to optimize efficiency and minimize waste, resulting in energy savings for the facility.

Smart Electricity Meter

Smart electricity meters are electronic meters that enable households to monitor their electricity consumption accurately. These measuring instruments communicate with the electricity supplier to provide regular updates on energy usage, and they can be programmed to track peak high-cost periods. By doing so, users can better understand how much electricity they are consuming and take steps to reduce their usage during peak hours, ultimately leading to energy savings.

One of the main advantages of smart electricity meters is that they eliminate the need for manual meter readings. The meters are equipped with a digital display, which provides real-time updates on electricity consumption. This means that users can track their usage throughout the day and identify which appliances or activities are using the most energy. By understanding their energy consumption patterns, users can make informed decisions about how to reduce their usage and save on their electricity bills.

Prepaid Electricity Meter

Unlike traditional electricity meters, prepayment meters display the credit remaining on the meter and the usage in digital values, making it easy to track how much energy has been consumed. Prepaid meters can be particularly beneficial for people who want to avoid estimated bills or for those who are concerned about energy theft. Energy companies also benefit from prepayment meters as they reduce the risk of unpaid bills and help prevent debt.

In addition to offering greater control over energy consumption and expenditure, prepayment meters can also help promote energy savings by making customers more aware of their electricity usage. However, it’s important to note that the cost per unit of energy on prepayment meters is usually higher than on regular meters, so it may not be the most cost-effective option for everyone.

Dial Meters

Dial meters, also known as mechanical analog meters, use five or six dials to show your energy usage. As you use more energy, the dials rotate to show the amount of energy consumed.

To read a dial meter, you just need to read the numbers shown on each dial from left to right. If the dial pointer is between two numbers, you should use the lower number. If the hand is directly over a number, you should use that number and underline it to show it’s the final digit. It can seem tricky at first, but once you’ve tried it a few times, it’s easy to read.

Off-Peak Meters

Off-peak meters, also known as Economy 7 meters, are a type of energy meter that charges different rates for energy usage depending on the time of day. This means that energy consumed during off-peak hours, usually at night, is charged at a lower rate than the energy used during peak high-cost periods.

Off-peak meters can be a great option for those who have a flexible schedule or can shift their energy usage to off-peak hours, as it can result in energy savings and lower bills. However, it’s important to note that not all homes are eligible for off-peak meters, and it may not always be the most cost-effective option for everyone. Before choosing an off-peak meter, it’s important to compare the costs of different meter types with your energy supplier and consider your energy usage patterns.

How to Read Electrical Meters?

When it comes to reading electrical meters, the process may seem daunting, but it’s actually quite simple. The electric energy meter is a device used to control the amount of energy consumed in your home. To read your energy meter, you’ll need to understand how to measure your energy demand and usage.

The first step is to locate your energy meter. Once you’ve found it, you’ll see a series of numbers on the display screen. These numbers represent the amount of electric energy you’ve used since the last meter reading. By subtracting the previous reading from the current reading, you can determine your energy usage during that period. It’s important to note that some energy meters may also display the maximum demand, which is the highest amount of energy you’ve used at any one time. This can be helpful in identifying potential areas of high energy usage in your home.

What is a Gas Meter?

A gas meter is a device that measures the amount of gas that is being used in a property. It is similar to an energy meter in that it measures the amount of energy utilized, but instead of measuring electricity, it measures gas. The gas meter works by measuring the volume of gas that is passing through the pipeline, and it can do this in cubic feet or cubic meters. The meter readings are then multiplied by the calorific value of the gas to calculate the heat value or heating rate.

Unlike electric meters, gas meters cannot be prepayment meters. Gas is typically billed after it has been used, and the gas meter is used to measure demand and determine the cost. Some gas meters have on-peak and off-peak rates, which can help customers save money by using gas during off-peak hours. However, this is less common than it is with electric meters. 


How do I Update my Electric Meter?

If you want to update your electric meter, you should contact your energy supplier. They will be able to tell you if an upgrade is possible, and if so, how to go about it. Upgrading an electric meter is usually the responsibility of the energy supplier, and they will handle the installation of the new meter. In some cases, there may be a fee for the upgrade, but this varies depending on the supplier and the type of meter.

Which Electric Meter is Best?

The best electric meter for you will depend on your specific needs and circumstances. If you want to closely monitor your energy usage, a smart meter may be the best option. If you want to take advantage of off-peak rates, an off-peak meter may be the way to go. If you’re not sure which meter is best for you, you should contact your energy supplier, who can provide advice based on your usage patterns and needs.

How can I Tell if my Meter is a Smart Meter?

Smart meters have a digital display, whereas traditional analog meters have dials. If you’re unsure whether your meter is a smart meter, you can also contact your energy supplier who can tell you whether or not you have a smart meter installed.

Can a Property have 2 Electric Meters?

Yes, it is possible for a property to have 2 or more electric meters. This is typically the case for properties with multiple units, such as apartment buildings or commercial properties. Each meter will track the energy usage for a specific unit within the property, and the billing for each unit will be separate. If you’re unsure how many meters your property has, you can contact your energy supplier who can provide more information.


Understanding the different types of energy meters is essential to managing energy consumption and reducing utility bills. From traditional meters to smart meters, each type has its unique features and benefits. It’s important to know how to read your meter correctly and to report any suspected energy theft to the appropriate authorities.

By choosing the right type of meter and monitoring your energy usage, you can save money on your energy bills and lower your carbon footprint. Don’t hesitate to contact your energy supplier if you need assistance with your meter or have questions about your bill.

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