Once upon a time panelboards were kept in basements out of sight. They’d get an inspection visit once every six months, maybe, when a circuit breaker tripped. Not any more.
Electricity distribution panelboards, like Schneider Electric’s Smart Panels, are now becoming centrepieces of energy management in commercial and residential buildings. They can give you detailed historical and real-time information on how much each of your electrical devices is consuming. And monitor your gas and water use and the status of appliances.
In fact I believe that Smart Panels are the shape of things to come. Like the name suggests, They’re smart. Automated. Multifunctional. And they connected for final levels of distribution thanks to a smart little device called Acti9 SmartLink.
What’s so special about Acti9 SmartLink connectivity?
The constraints of energy efficiency, environmental legislation, safety requirements, and fierce competition are already making constant monitoring and access to actionable data imperative.
Acti9 SmartLink makes all that possible – affordably.
With Acti9 SmartLink you don’t have to hardwire at least two input and output channels for each CB to get its open-closed state. You just clip it into your panelboard, plug in the prefabricated device cables, then connect it to your building management system. And, once you’ve set your building management system properly, you receive emails that alert you as soon as and whenever an event occurs. So – wherever you are – from your laptop, tablet or smartphone you always know the status of your circuit breakers, contactors, surge arrestors, etc.
All well and good, I hear you say again, but what is Acti9 SmartLink?
What is Acti9 SmartLink?
It’s a data concentrator. Some time ago, my colleague Anne-Sophie Hajjar posted a blog on capillary data acquisition. That’s the principle behind Acti9 SmartLink. It retrieves, concentrates, and transmits data from all panel board devices. And because it incorporates a web server, you access all those concentrated data over the Internet.
For my money, though, the beauty of Acti9 SmartLink is its sheer simplicity of installation and operation.
Just how simple is Acti9 SmartLink?
As I was saying, it simply clips into place between the DIN rails. You then plug in your electrical distribution protection, measurement, and control devices. Acti9 SmartLink recognizes the devices straightway. It’s plug and play. Just like your smartphone which your computer recognizes when you plug it.
Just one cable runs out of Acti9 SmartLink. It’s the communication cable (in Modbus or IRTF language) where all the data are concentrated and carried to the central building management system.
What can you do with Acti9 SmartLink?
Measure your consumption, for a start. Acti9 SmartLink feeds meter readings into your building management system – crucial for your energy efficiency strategy.
You can remotely monitor and control your panelboard devices. The system alerts you of any change or malfunction and you can adjust or take corrective action accordingly through your web interface.
Will Acti9 SmartLink make connected panelboards the norm?
Acti9 SmartLink brings connectivity to pretty much any kind of building – your neighbourhood supermarket, for example. Because the refrigeration system is constantly monitored, any short circuit or overcurrent is spotted straightaway. No more irate managers phoning up to complain the ice cream has thawed because a fuse in the panelboard has blown.
Actually, I believe that Acti9 SmartLink can make connected panel boards the norm. A bit like email, which has supplanted regular mail. The only letters we now get in our once-a-day letter deliveries are from the tax office! Today we’re connected round the clock to personal and business mail. And thanks to SmartLink the same will soon be true of all our equipment, including electrical distribution equipment.
Panelboards will no longer be out of sight – and out of mind! – in some dingy basement. They’ll be right there in front of us on a screen 24/7.