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Community and Q&A

Leviton Smart Breakers

tundracycle | Posted in General Questions on

We were aware of the Leviton Smart Breakers when we built our house but they would not be available in time so were not an option (and our electrical contractor dislikes Leviton breakers based on past experience).

He did install them (78 circuits IIRC) on a job that was about 6 months behind ours. He said that the energy monitoring worked well once they got everything working but did take some phone time w/ Leviton. Initially they were much more likely to get an AFCI trip than other breakers but Leviton (with lots of phone calls) was able to alter the response curves on individual breakers to eliminate that. He said the homeowner is quite happy with them now.

FWIW, we initially had Siemens breakers. He’s replaced a bunch of them w/ Eaton due to AFCI trips so this isn’t just a Leviton problem.

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  1. user-2310254 | | #1

    Thanks for posting. I am considering smart breakers for my next house but am wary of being too much on the leading edge with this technology. Perhaps other GBA members will chime in with relevant information on this topic.

  2. tundracycle | | #2

    FWIW, Eaton (compatible w/ Siemens and some Schneider panels) has had smart breakers for about 8 years but they are panel hogs as each requires an extra slot (2 slots for single pole, 3 slots for 2 pole/240v). I would assume that all of the manufacturers will eventually.

    Smart breakers seem to have been pretty standard in Europe for many years so we've got to get there eventually.

  3. Patrick_OSullivan | | #3

    For now, I like separating any panel smartness from the breakers themselves.

    All my panels are Square D QO. The means if I need a breaker on short notice, it's literally a 5 minute drive away, 7 days a week.

    Leviton breakers are currently harder to come by. It seems like a nice product, though; I saw it at IBS when it was first launched.

    1. charlie_sullivan | | #6

      Agreed. I just installed an IotaWatt monitor in my panel to replace a 15+ year old TED Energy Detective and am quite pleased with it. Separating the two functions makes it easier to replace or upgrade the monitoring as well ask making it easier to replace the breakers if needed. If I'd needed a whole new panel to get away from my obsolete monitoring system, that would have been annoying.

    2. andy_ | | #8

      If you're 5 minutes from a certain orange box store, you'd be able to get the Leviton breakers and panel there too. At least my local orange box started carrying them a week after I installed SquareD. I wanted to go with the Leviton, but didn't want to order them from the internets.

  4. tundracycle | | #4

    Yeah, I wish we were more standardized on that stuff like DIN Rail instead of every mfr having their own proprietary panel. Good for mfr's (locks consumers in to them), not so good for consumers.

  5. Expert Member
    BILL WICHERS | | #5

    DIN Rail has it's problems too, there is no free lunch. DIN Rail is very common in industrial control panels, where pretty much anything you could ever want to do is available as a mountable module. For electric panels though, DIN rail adds a LOT of extra labor for no real benefit.

    "Smart" breakers have been around in the commerical world for a long time. I've never been a fan of them, it's a lot of extra cost for very little benefit, and it's one more thing that can break. If you just want energy management features, there are add-on products that can do that seperately.

    I use Siemens stuff in most of my designs since I've found it to be good quality, and they don't gouge as bad if you need to add things down the road. Square D is probably the worst about this (they low-bid projects but then gouge on individual breakers that you add in the future). Both manufacturers make a quality product though.


  6. tundracycle | | #7

    Agree, but the install (DIN Rail) is only done once though and then you have the benefit of a standards based system so it's not only easier to find replacement stuff but you also have more options without being locked in to the whims of one mfr. In theory the components s/b generally less expensive as well (make up for some of the xtra install cost?) since mfr's have to compete on an even footing.

    I somewhat agree about smart breakers but am changing my mind. We have 107 breakers and if they were smart breakers then I'd have nearly all of the energy use data I'd want. Since they are not I'm having to look at add-on energy monitoring which is quite messy.

    What's been your experience w/ Siemens AFCI false trips?

    1. Expert Member
      BILL WICHERS | | #9

      The so-called "1 inch" breakers are actually fairly standardized, but the UL listing process limits interchangeability. Even though other manufacturer's breakers will typically fit, if they weren't tested and listed in the panel you're using (because it has to be listed as part of a system, basically), then the listing is void. That's usually where you can get into trouble. It's more a regulatory issue than a manufacturer's trying to lock you in.

      I don't like AFCIs and I don't use them in my own home. They are prone to false trips, and they are a solution in search of a problem. In nearly 25 years of electrical design work (I'm a consulting engineer), I've never seen the problem AFCIs are supposed to address in a residential setting. Commercially, I HAVE seen this issue -- with 277v lighting circuits, but AFCIs aren't required there. As I understand it, the AFCI requirement was originally introduced due to people in some high density apartment buildings sub-sub-sub-sub-subletting rooms and stringing plug strips around for power. The plug strips would get smashed behind furniture, and that was where the hazard came up. Future codes are supposed to be backing off on the AFCI requirement and only requiring their use in apartment complexes of more than a certain number of units. That's what I've been told anyway.

      BTW, when I need a GFCI (bathrooms, kitchens, etc.), I prefer to use the GFCI breakers that go in the panel and not the GFCI receptacles. I've found the GFCI breakers to be much more reliable, especially for any circuit with outdoor receptacles. I only use GFCI receptacles where the room needing the GFCI is tapped off of a circuit that feeds other things elsewhere.


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