If you can control the thermostat in your home over the internet using a smartphone, why shouldn’t you be able to do the same with the circuit breakers in your electrical panels? Leviton certainly thinks that’s a good idea. It has introduced a Load Center home panel that comes complete with a built-in wifi or ethernet connection and breakers that can be individually controlled remotely.
According to The Verge, the smart Load Center works with the company’s existing MyLeviton app on Android and iOS smartphones. The app notifies the homeowner if a breaker trips and why. It also allows tracking of power consumption on individual circuits to help maximize energy efficiency, but it has one more use that will make it the “must have” technology of the future — it can shut off each breaker remotely. (Note: This paragraph has been updated, as the technology cannot turn on breakers, only turn them off.) Why is that important?
Through the MyLeviton app, users can create custom notifications when a particular circuit is acting abnormally. For example, if you left your oven on for more than 8 hours and while not at home, an alert can be sent to the homeowner and they have the ability to shut off the breaker from their mobile device. (However, and this is very important, because of safety issues, the homeowner cannot remotely turn the breaker back on. The breaker must be restarted at the load center itself.)
There is no word on what this new technology will cost, but the new equipment should pay for itself over time in lower electric bills. In all likelihood, it is something that could be included in new construction fairly easily, but retrofitting it to existing homes could be an expensive proposition, as anyone who has dealt with an electrician lately can attest.
At the present time, the new Load Center from Leviton will not interface with Google Assistant, Alexa, or Apple HomeKit, but that seems inevitable as more of these systems get installed. Expect Leviton’s competitors to bring their own smart circuit panels to market quickly. Things have sure come a long way from the days when my old Irish grandfather used pennies in place of fuses for the four 10 amp circuits in his electrical panel!
Photos by Leviton
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