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Home circuit breakers readout amperage
  [vote for,

(Using American terminology here. I'm referring to the mains but am not sure what Britons call the other components.)

The idea is to make standard circuit breakers with led readouts for amperage.

It would be nice if these could communicate the reading to a home network by whatever method makes sense.

[Later:] I suppose it makes more sense for the entire breaker panel to have a readout for each bus and just use ordinary circuit breakers. Has this already been done? Would it cost more than the house to make such a thing?

crok, Mar 22 2013

Real time universal Wireless energy consumption monitor for Electricity http://www.alibaba....gy_consumption.html
[angel, Mar 23 2013]

Multifunction Power Meters http://www.smartpro...okrYCFUnMtAodjT4AGg
[angel, Mar 23 2013]

Empty breaker panel http://crippledcoll...ctrical-02-08-1.JPG
[ytk, Mar 24 2013]

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       They already do. It's just a 1-bit display.
ytk, Mar 22 2013

       [+] blinkenlights.
FlyingToaster, Mar 23 2013

       Is this a real-time display of the current passing through the breaker? Power meters are already available (see linky), which are effectively the same thing (power = voltage x current). If you want it to tell you the level of overload that caused the breaker to trip, it won't be able to; a 20A breaker will only pass 20A before it trips whether the potential load was 22A or 400A.
angel, Mar 23 2013

       "...immediate reading without possible incomprehension’s of further elaborations." Is that a good thing? That sentence has it all, including apostrophe abuse! angel's link seems to be on the right track. What I want is one of those that is also a removable circuit breaker or else is built into the circuit breaker panel itself.
crok, Mar 23 2013

       // it makes more sense for the entire breaker panel to have a readout for each bus and just use ordinary circuit breakers. Has this already been done? Would it cost more than the house to make such a thing?// How are there people who understand the world so little?
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 23 2013

       Sorry, MaxwellBuchanan. You aren't related to James Clerk Maxwell, are you? If I changed the word bus for circuit would your dismay be diluted at all?
crok, Mar 24 2013

       //I suppose it makes more sense for the entire breaker panel to have a readout for each bus and just use ordinary circuit breakers.//   

       No, that makes far less sense.   

       Okay, quick rundown on what a breaker panel looks like on the inside (in an American installation anyway—I don't know what foreign setups use, but it's probably fairly similar). There are two 110 volt lines (each referred to as a “leg”, and having opposite phase from each other) entering the breaker panel, and they each connect to a bus that's basically a big steel plate. The two busses are intertwined, so that alternating positions of breakers use alternating legs (see link).   

       If you go and look at a breaker panel with breakers installed, you'll see two kinds of breakers—single pole, breaker and double pole, which look like two adjacent breakers with the switches connected to each other. A single pole is used for a 110 volt line, and a double pole breaker, being connected to both legs, is used for a 220 volt line (usually to a dryer, HVAC, or hot water heater).   

       The breakers are designed to be modular and easily replaceable. Designing a circuit breaker with a built-in amperage readout would be fairly easy to do, and probably wouldn't add much to the complexity or cost. In fact, this isn't a new idea, as a Google search will reveal. Designing a panel that had a built-in readout for each circuit breaker, on the other hand, would necessitate coming up with an entirely different, far more complicated design, that would be very expensive and less reliable (not to mention very difficult to replace when it fails) than the current breaker panel design, which basically consists of a bunch of dumb pieces of steel inside a box.   

       Anyway, you already do have an amperage readout on your box—it's the power company's meter, which indicates your consumption rate in watts, which are easily convertible to amps (and are a better metric anyway, because they specify the actual power consumption rate regardless of the voltage of the circuit). There are also devices that you can plug between the wall and your appliance that measure consumption for individual devices, which seems far more useful than knowing what the consumption of the entire circuit is.   

       So in conclusion, your original idea was far better, albeit still not terribly pointful*, except for the coolness factor of seeing a pretty row of LED readouts on your breaker panel—which is not to be discounted.   

       * This isn't a word, but should be.
ytk, Mar 24 2013

       I used bus incorrectly. I am looking for the reading for each circuit (if I am using that term correctly.) I would be happy to persuse a google search on the idea of readouts in standard circuit breakers. The idea should not be novel, but my google searches indicated that it is novel. Again, my terminology may be lacking.
crok, Mar 24 2013

       Maybe as an indication of the perceived pollution of excess power consumption, the CB could discharge some of the smoke that, as we know, lives inside the wires. As the _current_ increases ( I can't bring myself to use "Amperage", and I'm quite dismayed to see it defined in dictionaries), more smoke leaks out.
Ling, Mar 24 2013

       I did not realize until Lings anno that smoke resided in wires but it makes sense.   

       I want a power meter on each circuit so I can figure out which one is responsible for the colossal energy use in the house.
bungston, Feb 16 2018

       You should all do a Google search for 'submetering' if you're interested in this idea. There are systems that use just a handful of inductive current sensors distributed around the panel and can tell which appliances in the house are on, even if there are many more appliances than sensors. I found many interesting scientific/engineering papers on submetering a year or two ago when I looked into it.
notexactly, Feb 16 2018


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