Eaton’s Intelligent Power Defense Breakers Add Functionality For C&I Customers

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Eaton’s smart breakers for residential customers, also known as Energy Management Circuit Breakers, were put on prominent display at this year’s Solar Power International. sonnen showed off Eaton’s smart breakers with a dynamic installation that demonstrated the capability of the ecoLinx to dynamically communicate with the breakers, even throttling back the current flowing through them as a tool for Demand Response capability at the circuit level.

CleanTechnica caught up with Eaton’s John Vernacchia and Rob Griffin after SPI to learn a bit more about how their residential breakers work and to see what Eaton is doing to scale that potential up for commercial and industrial (C&I) applications.

Eaton New Power Defense Intelligent Circuit Breaker

The new Eaton Power Defense molded case circuit breakers were built specifically to bring the intelligence of its residential breakers to commercial and industrial customers. They still add connectivity and intelligence, but with two primary differences from Eaton’s residential offering.

First, they are available at much higher power ratings, from 15 amps all the way up to 2,500 amps. Second, they were designed as the proverbial Rosetta Stone for controls languages as they can ‘speak’ just about any controls language or scheme, which allows them to seamlessly integrate into just about any environment. Rob shared that, “Power and Defense provides the foundation to build the house on.”

The way customers want to use the breakers also differs from residential products. Whereas residential customers are looking for breakers that can be turned and off remotely, digitally to respond to a customer need or for Demand Response purposes, C&I customers are not as interested.

Instead, they are looking to leverage the connectivity provided by the intelligent Power and Defense breakers to add metering, predictive diagnostics, and protection for buildings, factories, and processes. It’s essentially another option for companies looking to add intelligence and some measure of control to their operations.

Said another way, Power and Defense breakers enable communication to the breaker, while also generating useful data for businesses to tie into their existing controls network, MRP, or ERP systems. Rob shared that, “we have to be much more agnostic regarding communication because wifi is not the single standard for communications.”

The Rosetta Stone Of Controls Languages

Communications is a nice broad umbrella and plays nicely in a promo video, but Eaton knows that the reality is much more convoluted. “We find that most customers have their own controls softwares that they want to use and that it’s very different depending on the customer,” Rob shared. To solve for that, Eaton built its Power and Defense circuit breakers to speak most standard controls communications protocols, even if it means just using a standard 24v cable to communicate.

That flexibility gives the Power and Defense breakers unprecedented flexibility to integrate with an existing controls network or to create a rudimentary controls network for facility with no existing network. “We provided other communications so you can do it locally, even if its just lighting up a controls light,” he shared.

Eaton’s Power and Defense breakers will start rolling at in Q4 2018. One is already available, with a full 6 sizes available by the end of the year at ratings ranging from 15-2,500 amps.

Preventive Health Checks

The new breakers also add some new functionality to assess their own health, which adds immense value in commercial and industrial environments where an unplanned power outage can cost the business real money very quickly. Traditionally with circuit breakers, you don’t know if they’re good or not, but the Power Defense line changes that.

“We’ve developed algorithms that can tell the user if they’re good or not,” Rob shared.

Eaton’s Power Defense breakers are globally accredited and meet a variety of industry standards, including applicable UL®, International Electrotechnical Committee (IEC), China Compulsory Certificate (CCC), and Canadian Standards Association (CSA). To learn more, head on over to

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Kyle Field

I'm a tech geek passionately in search of actionable ways to reduce the negative impact my life has on the planet, save money and reduce stress. Live intentionally, make conscious decisions, love more, act responsibly, play. The more you know, the less you need. As an activist investor, Kyle owns long term holdings in Tesla, Lightning eMotors, Arcimoto, and SolarEdge.

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