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Smart Breaker Boxes

Are they a wise choice for you?

October 2023

Many consumers are upgrading to smart breaker boxes to make their home electrical systems safer and more reliable. (Photo courtesy of SPAN)

by Jennah Denney, Contributing Writer

Every home has an electrical panel, otherwise known as a breaker box. The design hasn’t changed much over the years, but through recent innovation, the smart technology-enabled electrical panel is changing that.

Smart breaker boxes, which can operate on their own or in conjunction with a standard electrical panel, make them an excellent alternative for households looking to save energy.

Many consumers are upgrading to smart breaker boxes to make their home electrical systems safer and more reliable. It’s recommended to hire a qualified electrician to install the smart panel, which can be done using a home’s existing electrical wiring and infrastructure.

Many smart breaker boxes are designed to easily connect to other smart devices in your home. With the capacity to remotely monitor and adjust energy consumption, these devices provide several advantages that make them a worthwhile investment for anyone looking to consume less energy.

One advantage smart breaker boxes provide is the convenience for homeowners to monitor and control how much energy they use. With smart circuit breakers, you can receive real-time data that allows you to pinpoint appliances or devices that consume excessive energy. This real-time tracking allows consumers to adjust their energy use where needed, which ultimately saves money on monthly energy bills, reduces energy waste and is good for the electric grid.

Smart breaker boxes are all about managing your electrical load. While the technology to track how much energy a home uses has been available for years, the ability to control how that energy is used is new. A smart breaker box can reveal how much power each circuit is using and turn each one on or off. Some smart breaker boxes allow you to establish schedules based on importance, such as refrigeration and heat to be on 24/7, but less-important loads like Wi-Fi or the television to turn off during scheduled times, when no one is home.

Smart breaker boxes offer additional benefits for those with home solar systems. Smart breaker boxes help solar energy systems run more efficiently by determining how much energy is being used and how it can be stored. Through intelligent load management, they can provide longer battery backup life for those with energy storage. Additionally, integration with other smart home devices, like thermostats and virtual assistants, further enhances the connected- home ecosystem.

Smart breaker boxes help customers and electric utilities in multiple ways. (Photo courtesy of Lumin)

Safety in electrical devices is highly important to consumers, and smart breaker boxes provide enhanced safety features that consumers appreciate. Smart breaker boxes can identify abnormalities and other potential electrical problems, then quickly shut off power supply if a circuit shorts or becomes overloaded, avoiding electrical fires and other dangers. Many smart breaker boxes include surge protection to help protect against power spikes and other issues.

Smart breaker boxes aren’t just for consumers — electric utilities are using them, too.

For electric cooperatives, smart breaker boxes also offer a range of benefits. A primary advantage of these devices is that they allow for more efficient and reliable energy distribution. With the ability to remotely monitor energy use and detect faults within the system, electric cooperatives can quickly respond to issues and minimize outage times for consumers ultimately managing the grid more efficiently.

There’s no denying that smart home technologies have changed how we use our homes, and smart breaker boxes are no exception. Smart breaker boxes help both customers and electric utilities in multiple ways. With advanced safety features, real-time energy tracking and control, and the ability to use energy more efficiently, these devices are a smart investment for anyone who wants to make their home’s system more reliable, safer and cost-effective.

Jennah Denney writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.