Enter the Energy Management Circuit Breaker
Two years ago, Eaton began working with EPRI, the Electric Power Research Institute, to field test a revolutionary "Energy Management Circuit Breaker" (EMCB) in 12 regional utilities across the U.S., stretching from North Carolina to Hawaii, beginning in the fall of 2016. Eaton and EPRI designed the field test program to evaluate how this new technology for end-use energy/load monitoring and control can help improve utility service and optimize the grid.
Eaton’s EMCB is an industry-first: a next-generation “smart breaker” that has the safety functionality of a standard circuit breaker with cloud-connectivity and on-board intelligence built in. It is a staggering transformation of circuit breaker technology and offers revenue-grade branch circuit metering, communications capabilities and remote access. The breaker can be monitored and controlled without compromising any of the circuit breaker’s traditional safety features.
It’s fair to say that comparing the EMCB to a circuit breaker is like comparing a smartphone to a rotary-dial telephone. The EMCB combines Eaton’s unparalleled experience in circuit protection with Internet of Things (IoT) functionality and brings it directly to the load panel. In fact, Eaton’s EMCB has a lot in common with the iPhone and Nest.
Early in the development cycle, Eaton formed a critical partnership with Electric Imp, a company with a world-leading IoT platform founded by Hugo Fiennes. Fiennes led the hardware team responsible for the first four generations of the Apple iPhone, and then went on to design and architect the hardware for the Nest Thermostat. Electric Imp’s unique IoT connectivity architecture made it possible for Eaton to quickly meet the key business and technical requirements that utility providers demand: security, flexibility, scalability and reliability.
Additionally, the EMCBs were designed to be easy to install. They retrofit into existing Eaton (both current and legacy) load centers and follow the same installation as a regular circuit breaker. So there’s no need for any additional hardware in the panel or special gateways in the home.
The EMCB’s powerful connectivity solves major challenges that have kept utility-sponsored demand response programs from reaching their full potential.