Chapter Corner

Protecting Power Systems

Posted in: Emerging Technologies, April 2017

In an electrical system, there are several components that allow us to safely receive the electricity we need to power our homes and businesses. There’s a lot that goes on behind the receptacle to protect us from short circuits, ground faults, and arc faults.

Industrial, commercial, and residential power systems all require protection. During ABB Customer World, March 13–16 in Houston, Texas, ABB unveiled several low-voltage solutions for power distribution management, as well as a new range of products for residential electrical systems.

New Products for Power Distribution Management

ABB expanded its power distribution portfolio by adding several new low- voltage products in its ReliaGear® and SafeGear® brands. On display at ABB Customer World were low-voltage ReliaGear® switchgear, ReliaGear® motor control center, SafeT™ switchboard, SafeT™ panelboard, and SafeT™ busway.

Low-Voltage Switchgear

The switchgear offers a turnkey solution for ANSI C37.20.1-compliant power distribution. The Emax 2, the new low- voltage air circuit breaker, offers the abilities of automatic transfer switching and fast load shedding logic. These options allow switchgear to manage the different power sources that make up a typical microgrid, such as natural gas or renewables. The breaker also contains a protection trip relay with an integrated power controller, which measures and evaluates energy consumption. The Emax 2 is available for applications following IEC 60947 standards and UL 1066 standards.

Low-Voltage Motor Control Center

Using Emax 2 or Tmax circuit breakers allows the motor control center to have built-in, fast load shedding capability. Circuit breaker data is managed by the ABB Ability™ Electrical Distribution Control System, which connects ReliaGear® installations with cloud-based ABB energy management software.

SafeT™ Panelboard

The panelboard includes a finger-safe bus stack and plug-in branch devices. It uses Tmax and/or Tmax molded case circuit breakers, which occupy less mounting space than other brands.

Remote Energy Management

To demonstrate the option of remote energy management, ABB staff used the ABB Ability™ Electrical Distribution Control System. The system connects a facility’s electrical equipment with the Internet of Things and uses the built- in sensors of ABB’s circuit breakers to provide data and control functions to the user. This information can be employed by the user to reduce total operating costs.

The user can monitor his or her facility remotely via smartphone, tablet, or computer. This functionality allows access to energy consumption and costs anytime and anywhere, making it easier and faster to implement energy management strategies. In one case study, a water treatment facility in Italy reported a reduction in maintenance time of 40 percent and a reduction in total operating costs of one-third.

New Products for Residential Application

For the residential market, ABB released a new range of products that offer industrial-quality circuit protection. SENTRICITY™ load centers and circuit breakers interrupt a circuit three times faster than conventional circuit breakers. The line of SENTRICITY™ products includes miniature circuit breakers (MCBs), combination arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs), ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), and surge protective devices (SPDs). Each product uses energy-limiting technology as well as visual status indicators.

Installation is easy: keyhole mounting slots and plug-on neutral AFCIs, GFCIs, and SPDs that eliminate pigtails. MCBs, AFCIs, and GFCIs feature IP20 finger-safe and fail-safe terminals up to 70 amps, reducing the chance of inadvertent shock. Fifty percent of the work required to terminate wires is eliminated thanks to backed out terminal screws and neutral and ground bars found on the MCBs, AFCIs, and GFCIs. Because of its residential application, there are also several aesthetic design options (e.g., a flat, concealable cover) available.

It looks like protecting our electrical systems just got smarter.

Chrissy serves as the director of curriculum development for IEC National.