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I'd like to be able to remotely trip some of the 2-pole circuit breakers in a remote condo that I have. Some of them are 20-amp breakers, two poles. Is there such a solution? To be able to connect from my app on a phone or a website, and turn that breaker on or off remotely? If so, which ones would you recommend? I think this a niche market, so there are no established brands like for example for smart thermostats etc.

EDIT 1 based on comments below: One use case - turning off water heater remotely (and being able to turn it back on), another use case - turning off a bunch of "dumb" baseboard heaters that don't have a central switch in place currently, and only have a knob on them. For the second use case I know there are some options exist, but a) they look ugly and b) they are not cost effective if I have to install this for each baseboard heater individually

EDIT 2 based on other comments - on safety - I am okay to be able to turn this ON remotely if if this was turned off remotely, and it wasn't an overcurrent tripping event.

circuit breaker

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    Unlikely to find anything that's a listed solution that turns off & on as a breaker. There are breakers with an "alarm trip" (OFF ONLY) added. Far more likely to find an acceptable solution as a relay/contactor separate from the circuit breaker.
    – Ecnerwal
    Dec 5, 2022 at 16:32
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    Maybe explain why it has to be the breakers. Quite a few different wifi smart switches/thermostats that will do almost the same function.
    – crip659
    Dec 5, 2022 at 16:45
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    What devices are you trying to control? There might be an alternative way to do this, depending on the specifics. Dec 5, 2022 at 17:58
  • use a solenoid to push the breaker toggle off. Don't add anything that can force it on, that would be dangerous. You could also just use a cheap wifi outlet controller to switch on a dead-short through a fuse, which would trip the breaker yet still remove the load if the breaker failed.
    – dandavis
    Dec 5, 2022 at 20:15
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    @Ecnerwal -- look at Eaton BRRP/CLRP -- they support exactly this use case, using a second set of contacts wired to the control inputs Dec 6, 2022 at 5:21

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This is clearly an X-Y problem. You are trying to use a circuit breaker as a switch (which is in and of itself OK as most branch circuit breakers are switch-rated) and then throw remote access on top. The day will come (probably quite soon) where smart breaker panels become a regular, and affordable, thing. But retrofitting just one piece of that is non-trivial:

  • Turning a circuit breaker on without physical presence is inherently dangerous. What if, for example, that very same circuit breaker was turned off due to someone working on the circuit or a hazardous condition such as damage to a receptacle?
  • Remote access means either getting a low-voltage (e.g., ethernet) signal in/out of a panel, which mixes low-voltage communications with mains voltage (120V/240V) which is a tricky thing to do properly and safely; or it means putting WiFi inside a panel (since panel boxes are metal, that doesn't work so well) or sticking out of a panel through a knockout (possible, but raises other safety issues).
  • WiFi is actually a very unreliable way to do critical stuff, as a change to the router configuration will make it useless. Wired generally is more reliable.

And actually, the current generation of smart breakers, or at least the Leviton variety, can't do this. From the Q&A on Home Depot:

No, smart breakers allow you to monitor energy use and can be tripped remotely using the app. But not reset that has to be done manually.

It would be easy to program such a breaker (at the factory, that is) to allow remote reset only if the "off" was due to a remote "off". But even that is problematic, as you could have a situation such as:

  • Remote monitoring shows a motor overheating or similar problem
  • Remote user turns off breaker
  • Technician comes in to work on the motor, checks the panel and sees the breaker is already off and checks power at the motor and confirms it is dead.
  • Technician starts work.
  • New shift of remote monitoring starts.
  • New remote user sees motor/breaker off and tries to turn it on.
  • Technician is not a happy camper...

The better solution is a remote-controlled switch, outside the panel. That allows easy WiFi (with the caveat that router configuration changes are still an issue), eliminates (if designed properly) the low vs. mains voltage issues, and very importantly keeps the full safety of the breaker in place because a real trip of the breaker or a manual shutoff of the breaker will not be undone by a remote turn-on of the switch.

So that just leaves the issue of finding a 2-pole 240V remote-control switch. I'm sure such things are out there, though very possibly more in the realm of industrial controls using relays/contactors to do the dirty work. But all outside the breaker panel.

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  • I can see a thoughtfully designed panel directed at landlords and that includes remote monitoring and management could be a successful product. You'd have to deal with the issues you state here including the safety of remotely resetting after an overcurrent event. But I think with the right design that could be a lot safer in general than providing tenants access to the panel. No this doesn't exist now and we're not sure that's what OP is getting at.
    – jay613
    Dec 5, 2022 at 17:42
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    @jay613 Except that as I understand it, tenants are supposed to be able to access the panel for their units. Doesn't always happen, but important so that (a) they can turn off a breaker if they see a problem (e.g., mouse chews through wires, want to turn off the breaker before there is a bigger problem) and to be able to turn back on a nuisance trip (e.g., ran too many kitchen appliances on what turned out to all be one circuit). Dec 5, 2022 at 17:45
  • I agree on the above. On properly designed system like this - I'd be okay to be able to turn it on only if it was turned off remotely, and was not an overcurrent tripping event
    – Tagar
    Dec 5, 2022 at 17:50
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    Good point on wifi signal being weak from inside of the electric panel
    – Tagar
    Dec 5, 2022 at 17:56
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I do not believe this exists, with good reason. Think how dangerous it would be for someone to be working on that circuit and have it be remotely turned on.

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    If it existed, or comes to exist, it would/will have a lock-out to prevent exactly that.
    – Ecnerwal
    Dec 5, 2022 at 16:47
  • It could be designed like this - I'd be okay to be able to turn it on only if it was turned off remotely, and was not an overcurrent tripping event
    – Tagar
    Dec 5, 2022 at 17:51
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I agree. This is not the way to go about it. It is not only unreliable, but unless you are very very IT savvy, you will be prone to hacks. It would take me (on average) probably an hour or so to get into a system like this.

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