Why Smart Circuit Breakers?
Electrical faults can lead to dangerous and sometimes deadly situations. Seen as critical safety devices, circuit breakers control the flow of power, primarily through electromechanical circuit breakers. Yet, because of their thermal-mechanical nature, they present a short operational lifetime and are sensitive to vibration and movement.
The shift to smart circuit breakers drives greater energy efficiency and safety. Estimated to reach $7.7 billion by 2025 in market size, this represents a multibillion-dollar revenue opportunity for device makers.
Retrofit Versus Solid-State Circuit Breakers
Adding wireless capabilities to existing power installations is done by retrofitting the existing distribution switchgear, which ensures a quick upgrade and fast time-to-market for improved energy efficiency. Solid-state circuit breakers come into play for new installations. By replacing mechanical relays with electronic parts, they are more reliable and predictable, therefore ruling out arching.
Benefits of Smart Circuit Breakers
Regardless of the device type, circuit breakers are designed to react when current exceeds a certain threshold. Quickly detaching an affected zone prevents any possible downtime for the entire electrical system. Smart circuit breakers can respond to a short circuit a hundred times faster and can clear a fault in a few microseconds.
Smart circuit breakers can also act as electrical submeters and provide power consumption at the circuit level. With accurate usage overview, breakers can identify possible anomalies and enhance the distribution system’s performance.
Learn more about this topic by accessing our electrical submetering page.
Wireless Solutions for Smart Circuit Breakers
Silicon Labs makes it possible for IIoT device makers to engineer smart circuit breakers for industrial and commercial customers. Our wireless SoCs and modules offer best-in-class RF performance with great receiver sensitivity and +20dpm high transmission power to extend wireless connectivity across harsh environments. By adding advanced security features on every ordered chip, Silicon Labs helps reduce the risk of ecosystem security breaches and prevent unwanted devices from passing the commissioning process.
Explore these key technical requirements when developing smart circuit breakers.
Ensure Best-in-class RF Performance
Circuit breakers are usually placed in metal enclosures, behind thick walls, cement corridors, or pipe installations. In addition, electrical interference from other equipment can lead to inaccurate measurements. With the world’s highest TX power of 20 dBm and ultimate receiver sensitivity, Silicon Labs wireless hardware provides reliable wireless connectivity.
Optimal Wireless Protocol for Smart Circuit Breakers
Collecting and sharing data accurately is critical in a network of smart circuit breakers. High network reliability and low latency are required. With dynamic self-healing and high-performance properties, mesh networks based on Zigbee or OpenThread technologies minimize power consumption and ensure reliable connectivity through multi-hop connectivity.
Security in Smart Circuit Breakers
Safeguarding smart circuit breakers from software and hardware attacks is crucial. Our PSA Certified Level 3 Secure Vault will protect devices, data, and IP from escalating and evolving threats.
Apart from possible attacks, there’s a high risk of undetected counterfeit wireless modules passing the commissioning security check-ups as smart circuit breakers connect to the building backend, which leads to lost revenue and equipment malfunction. With the Silicon Labs secure provisioning service, Custom Part Manufacturing Service (CPMS), unique identity codes and security certificates are injected in the manufacturing process on all wireless SoCs, modules, and MCUs.
Minimize the Footprint in Smart Circuit Breakers
Pre-installed electrical breaker boxes present a limited footprint size. Silicon Labs offers a compact solution to fit the needed size requirements, which consists of a wireless transmitter with MCU, designed to send data to external devices within the overall system. Explore the below product offerings to start developing your smart circuit breakers.