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From power switching to power management

04 May 2014

It was eight years in development and represented one of the biggest investments in a single product by ABB. Les Hunt reports.

The SACE Emax 2 is described by the company as an air circuit breaker turned power manager, capable of controlling the sequencing of loads in the most complex of automated networks – and saving huge amounts of energy in the process.

Emax 2 is targeted at those applications where the protection and control of large amounts of energy is undertaken in a low-voltage environment. Claimed to be the first low-voltage circuit breaker with integrated energy management functions, an Emax 2 retrofit has the potential to save significant amounts of energy; indeed, ABB claims that for a typical building, you could expect a reduction in peak power of up to 15 percent.

Central to the operation of the Emax 2 is a protection trip relay with an integrated power controller that measures and evaluates energy consumption, then manages the loads to maintain or reduce the peak power usage as determined by the user. This will also help to reduce blackouts, the root cause of which is often that peak power demand exceeds supply.

To manage energy, theEmax 2 switches off the power to non-essential equipment, returning it as soon as acceptable power levels are reached. A built in controller and software delivers intelligent decision making by deciding when it is appropriate to switch the power while maintaining the overall functionality and productivity of the connected equipment.

All circuit breakers in the Emax 2 series can be equipped with communication modules for Modbus, Profibus and DeviceNet, and industrial Ethernet protocols, Modbus TCP, Profinet and Ethernet IP, will be added shortly. The integrated IEC61850 communication module facilitates connection to automation systems and intelligent networks such as Smart Grids.

With an IP address assigned, all functions are accessible for monitoring and control via the Internet using ABB’s Ekip Link switchgear software and Ekip Control Panel operator interface. This colour touch screen display indicates voltage, current and power, provides access to the trip and power control features, and even gives an indication of power quality, thanks to the integrated network harmonics analyser.

ABB Low Voltage products divisional head, Tarak Mehta says circuit breakers provide one of the largest untapped opportunities in the electric system to achieve energy savings. “They have been used to increase safety and protect electric circuits but now for the first time we can use them to save energy too,” he says. “Because breakers are all around us, the total energy saving potential is massive. It’s a great example of how we can use smart technology to reduce energy wastage. This is good news for the environment and for our customers.”

For more information about this new product, click here.

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