Turn your electrical distribution into a load center? Why and How?

This audio was created using Microsoft Azure Speech Services

When it comes to choosing the right solution to get the most of your LV electrical distribution, there are two main questions to ask: “why” do you need communication inside the switchboards and “how” easily will this solution be implemented. These are answers – and solutions – that certified EcoXpert partners can provide.

WHY this electrical distribution process?

Answering the “why” part can be straightforward for building operators: it’s always about money.

First, you can save on OpEx spending by improving the energy efficiency of the building automation, therefore using an energy management system to spot energy waste and make sure your action plans to reduce them is actually producing benefits.

Second, you can improve the maintenance of the technical installation and improve uptime (HVAC controls, Lighting, Security systems) by knowing early enough that an equipment will have an issue. This could be done by installing monitoring devices that detects phase unbalance, overloads on each critical loads (fan, pump, lighting circuit, bathrooms…) or even inform you when and why a circuit breaker has tripped.

In case of critical applications, avoiding any disruption of the activities by monitoring the load level and power factor is more and more important. To do so, your first thing to do is to install the necessary sensors at load level and to connect it to an Energy Management System to get the necessary reporting information on time.

For these reasons, most of us would like to have a simple energy management system in its building management systems.

Now, let’s talk about the HOW. 

What prevents most of us from doing it is the “How”. We all know it is usually not so simple to add the right device at load level and connect them in a simple manner into a software. There is not always the necessary space left in the installation, and wiring this could become a nightmare.

But things are changing very quickly with IOT, and digitizing the electrical signal of each load becomes now affordable, and much simpler to install than in the past, even in existing installations.

So … how?

Going Wireless is less intrusive

Implementing communication inside a switchboard usually ends in a messy bunch of auxiliary wires running from energy meters and auxiliaries to terminal blocks or a small PLC. Let alone the aesthetic aspect, the worst about that is the number of cabling errors that this generates. Wireless technology helps reducing auxiliary wiring and leave the “bolts and screws” to the power distribution. Wireless communication implies a commissioning stage which ensures that the switchboard is actually communicating when leaving the manufacturer workshop.

The Principle of wireless communication in Final Distribution with PowerTag.

Small is beautiful… and efficient

Standard energy meters use up a lot of the space available in already chock-a-block distribution boards. This can deter engineers to add more monitoring in new construction sites where available room decreases as the square meter price increases. This is also true when adding monitoring in existing boards where there is usually no spare room on the DIN rails. This is why energy sensors offered as “circuit-breaker auxiliaries” are the most efficient way to add high-density monitoring in every switchboard.

An example of PowerTag energy sensors totally integrated with the electrical distribution, saving space on the DIN rail.

High accuracy is a must

These main advantages can’t be offset by a poor accuracy. We can see many solutions on the market claiming reduced size but delivering poor measurement accuracy. Load levels in a distribution board can be as small as a few amps. IEC 61557-12 standard gives you the right key to compare accurate and not so accurate energy meters. White papers exist to help you define the right accuracy at the right level.


Download this free white paper from Schneider Electric to learn more about IEC-61557-12 standard.

Ethernet communication is a worldwide standard

Modern communication architectures are based on Ethernet. You would expect that supervision systems use this media rather than the old serial port. Switchboards communicating natively on Ethernet become the trend. Thanks to this, simple PC/tablet based commissioning tools help switchboard builders to deliver switchboard with reports at the communication level as well.


EcoXpert Program and Electrical DistributionIt is very straightforward to understand why an Energy Monitoring System is necessary to reduce your energy and maintenance in most businesses. But the main challenge becomes on the “how” to do it, to guarantee a simple and timely project implementation with our EcoXpert Connected Partners. PowerTag and future IoT sensors will radically change the way to digitize any electrical load, power factor correction, and really transform the switchboards into Smart Load Centres. For the first time, the idea of monitoring uptime & energy of each critical load becomes a reality, at an affordable total cost, even in existing installations. Smart loads will make the businesses much more efficient.

Acti9 Electrical Distribution

Talk to me about your electrical distribution solutions; leave a comment below!



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  • Praveen Kumar S

    7 years ago

    Hello Enrique,
    The same application what we are trying to propose through a distribution board is being provided by Smart and Prepaid Energy Meters also.Please let me know your views on this.Thank You.

  • I think we will start to see a lot more intelligence in our electrical distribution. Smart metering of a panel has clear benefits to building owners, facility managers, engineering staff etc, but I think the approach introduced by Enrique is to go one step further, and integrate into the panel itself, all of the smart sensors at each breaker, so that in effect there is smart metering pervasive through the whole electrical distribution. Is this in line with your thoughts?

  • Enrique Birlanga

    7 years ago

    Yes, what we are having here is a solution to be able to have measures from the Main Incomer till the final load which opens to much more possibilities.

  • I liked what you said bout implementing communication inside a switchboard usually ends in a messy bunch of wires running from energy meters to terminal blocks. I want to update the electrical in my house and am considering using wireless technology. Thank you for the information about how wireless technology helps reduce auxiliary wiring and leave the ‘bolts and screws’ to the power distribution.

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