So one of our readers made a complaint to ZESA that their pre-paid meter was billing them for power they were consuming from their generator during load shedding hours. We got curious and how that could be possible. The explanation is simple really:
Before pre-paid meters
Before ZESA introduced pre-paid meters, the usual way to connect a generator to your house was just to connect the generator’s change over switch next to the main switch (especially a big generator that can power the whole house). You would want the generator to supply power to the MCB (that box with multiple switches for lights, wall sockets etc, mostly situated in the kitchen for some reason) and from the MCB power will then be distributed to the whole house.
After pre-paid meters
When pre-paid meters were introduced, one had to be careful when connecting the generator to make sure they connect it after the meter itself. If generator is connected before the meter, the meter cannot distinguish that this power is not coming from ZESA, it will charge away! You thus need to have a switch after the meter but before the MCB if you want the generator to power the whole house.
The main meter not the little one
By the way, the above applies to the main meter, the one at the main switch. The little meter inside the house is just a customer interface device that helps you check how many units you have and allows you to top up in the comfort of your home.