As a property owner you want to make sure you understand what sort of prepaid electricity meter to purchase. It’s always a good idea to talk to your qualified electrician who should be able to advise you. As the name suggests, prepaid meters require your tenants to pay for their electricity costs in advance. However, there are different types of meters, each designed for specific requirements and environments, so it’s important to choose the right meter for you.

We provide an overview of the commonly used meters, so you know the type of questions you might ask your electrician before purchasing a prepaid meter.

Integrated Meters

Integrated meters are the most compact and cheap, since they have the keypad directly on the meter and can be used for commercial and residential property. These meters are installed inside the unit; which requires the landlord to trust that the tenant won’t try to bypass the meter. The landlord may need to carry out inspections from time to time to check that this has not happened.

 

Could this be you?
CJ has decided to make some extra money on the side by renting out his granny flat. Because he doesn’t have a surplus of income, he needs his tenants to pay for their utilities upfront and the best way is through prepaid meters. Integrated Meters work well for CJ because the meter is affordable and cost-effective to install. His tenant also has the convenience of access to the keypad in the granny flat. CJ isn’t worried about bypassing because he can easily take a look at the meter at any time.

 

Split Meters

Split Meters are prepaid meters where the meter itself is separate from the keypad that the tenant will use to type in their prepaid token. The meter itself can be locked away in a secure location where the risk of bypassing the meter can be controlled and easily inspected. The tenant only has access to the keypad for convenient recharging. With split meters, the keypad has to communicate with the meter and there are two main ways of doing this: wires and power line communication (PLC).

Split Wired Meters
Split Wired Meters are meters that can be installed in a cabinet and are ideal for new residential and commercial developments. Tenants communicate with the meter via a keypad that is connected via a very thin communication wire. This works well in situations where the meter shouldn’t be visible, or where there is a security risk in having the meters accessible. Wired split meters provide for more reliable communication between the meter and the keypad than the alternative, split PLC meters. Split Wired meters are ideal for new installations since the communication wire can be installed at the same time as the other wiring (and even within the other wiring) are easiest to support due to reliable communication between the keypad and the meter.

Could this be you?
Clive has recently purchased a piece of land and is going to be building a high-rise apartment block. He is looking to install Citiq Prepaid meters to easily recover electricity costs from tenants. The most convenient choice for him would be Split Wired Meters as all the wiring would be done during the property development. With Split Wired, none of his tenants would have direct access to the meters which reduces the risk of prepaid meter tampering.

Tenants are still able to easily recharge their meters with tokens via the keypad that is installed in their flats.


Split PLC
Split PLC meters are meters where the keypad and actual meter are also split from each other but they communicate over the actual power supply wires using a technology called power line communication (PLC). Split PLC meters can be installed in a cabinet and are ideal for existing residential and commercial developments where the cost of running new wires could be prohibitive. The meter is not accessible to tenants, which means they must communicate with the meter via the  PLC keypad. The downside of Split PLC meters is that they tend to be more expensive due to PLC communication in both the keypad and the meter. PLC is also prone to electrical interference and has range limitations. Finally, tenant support is also complicated by the fact that the PLC keypad must be correctly plugged in which may not be intuitive to new tenants.

Could this be you?

Chriselda recently purchased a commercial property and needs each tenant to pay towards their own electricity use. She doesn’t want her tenants to have access to the actual meter, however each office needs to have their own keypad to recharge. Because Chriselda has already invested a substantial portion of her money into this building, she needs prepaid meters that work with her current electrical infrastructure without the need for additional building wiring.

Split PLC Meters work great for Chriselda. Communication between the meter and the customer keypad is by means of PLC communication using existing building wiring. For Chriselda, this is the best solution as no additional communication wires are required which means a lower cost of installation.

 

If you still feel uncertain about which prepaid meter is right for you, we encourage you to speak to your electrician. Once you’ve spoken to your electrician, you should have sufficient information to make your purchase. Citiq Prepaid meters are available at any reputable electrical wholesaler in all major provinces. If you’re interested in learning more about the different kinds of Citiq Prepaid meters, have a look at our Products page. For assistance with choosing the right meter for your property, speak to a certified electrician and if you need help choosing an electrician, read our article on what to look out for.