Circuit breakers, tucked away in their distinctive metal enclosure inserted inconspicuously on the wall, typically in basements or beyond the labyrinth of pipe and machinery-filled gray cement corridors, have not always been held in high regard, despite their highly important function. However, they are part of a highly lucrative and growing multibillion-dollar market, and the increasing popularity of smart circuit breakers has the market poised to grow exponentially.

What is the Difference Between Regular Circuit Breakers and Smart Circuit Breakers?

An electromechanical device, the regular circuit breaker essentially has one primary function—to regulate the flow of electricity to the various circuits in a home or building. A single switch can serve just one circuit, or many, depending upon the amount of power required for particular circuits.

Smart circuit breakers pretty much serve the same purpose—but deliver a few extras that regular circuit breakers don’t. Smart circuit breakers can also function as meters, and can also work wirelessly via your Wi-Fi to provide you with power consumption information for each circuit in your home.

The Role of Circuit Breakers in a Large Commercial Space

It’s simple math, really—bigger buildings=a bigger electrical load=more electrical equipment, possibly including switchgear or multiple transformers.

The circuit breakers role in a large commercial space is extremely important, because with such vast amounts of power consumption at numerous levels throughout the building, it is vitally important that power is regulated efficiently—typically, each floor of a commercial building will also have their own electric closet to service that zone.

As you can imagine, circuit breakers utilized in commercial buildings are designed to handle a much greater electrical capacity. Likewise, they are also designed to automatically break the electrical circuit in case of an overload, preventing electrical fire or other related damage.

The Benefits of Using Smart/Digital Circuit Breakers

There are many reasons smart circuit breakers are being touted as the new and practical evolution of regular circuit breakers, not the least of which is improved energy efficiency. The technical capabilities enable homes and buildings to use electrical in a much more sensible manner by better managing energy use.

New developments in solid-state technology are helping circuit breakers to more efficiently monitor and control power consumption by providing meter usage information for each circuit. Such advances pave the way for boosting operational efficiency and continuity, and regulating high power consumption utilities, such as air conditioning, heating, and water heaters.

Solid-state circuit breakers utilizing high-power semiconductors can also function without any mechanical parts. This not only improves safety and reliability, but also makes it much quicker at breaking a circuit than the regular circuit breaker could ever hope to achieve. It also allows for new functions and features to be added and controlled using intuitive apps, such as providing an alert if the smart circuit breakers senses that an appliance is on the verge of malfunction or breakdown.

While solid-state smart/digital circuit breakers can certainly help to improve energy efficiency in the home, the commercial and industrial markets stand to benefit greatly, as these buildings use much more energy on a daily basis. At some point in the near future, the plan is for digital circuit breakers to be easily mass-produced for a reasonable cost, though there will, of course, likely be circuit breakers sold at a premium as well.

 

By Scott Kessman

Scott Kessman began writing professionally at a young age, with two published YA fantasy novels and a short story collection available. His passion for writing also led him to pursue a career as a freelance writer. A broad knowledge base of a variety of topics enables Scott to lend his skills and services to businesses seeking to distribute interesting, informative and industry-specific content

Sources:

  1. https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/smart-circuit-breakers-the-next-frontier-of-the-grid-edge#gs.LbsjiXk
  2. https://www.cnet.com/news/smart-energy-tech-can-save-you-more-than-money/
  3. https://www.economist.com/science-and-technology/2017/11/23/smart-circuit-breakers-for-energy-efficient-homes