If you ever get into the commercial service side of the electrical industry, you’ll most likely come across SMART BREAKERS. In this episode, we talk about what smart breakers are and how they work.
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A smart breaker is very much a standard circuit breaker, that operates on electromagnetic and thermal protection. They trip like a standard breaker, the reset like a standard breaker, but they’re a bit more complex than one.
A typical smart breaker has both line-voltage and low-voltage terminals that get wires landed on them. The line-voltage terminal is just like a regular breaker, accepting the load conductor that goes out to a circuit. The low-voltage terminal is a much lower voltage signal input that allows communication to happen from a low voltage controller. This controller will communicate with the breaker remotely and can command the breaker to turn on or turn off. There’s also a manual override switch on them that will allow a user to “break” the communication circuit manually.
The reason smart breakers are used, for example in large grocery stores, is to be able to monitor specific equipment that food is stored in (refrigerated deli cases). If something happens to that piece of equipment, and it just shuts off, the workers may not know anything has happened and the food could spoil quickly. Extrapolate this to the entire store going down, you could imagine the catastrophe that could cause. So when there’s a problem, the remote monitoring service that watches over the store can see it and address it immediately.
Another use for smart breakers is for lighting control. For the same reason as above, if several rows of lighting go down, monitoring will know about it immediately. So in a way, smart breakers are similar to shunt-trip breakers in that they can signal the breaker to turn on and off from a remote location or an event, rather than the breaker only being able to be manually turned on and off while standing in front of it.
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