New Industry Products

Digital Circuit Breaker Points to Energy Reliability Future

October 24, 2022 by Mike Falter

Industry 4.0 sensor integration and remote monitoring of the medium-voltage circuit breaker reduce the risk of outages by 30 percent.

To date, more than two million VD4 medium-voltage (MV) circuit breakers from ABB have been installed across 100 countries. The manufacturer has now announced the release of the sensor-loaded digital variant, the VD4 evo. 

The VD4 evo is available as a digital configuration upgrade to the existing IEC indoor vacuum VD4 breaker, incorporating a suite of Industry 4.0 sensors to collect and transmit data from multiple thermal, mechanical, and electrical parameters. A central monitoring unit is available for 24/7 remote monitoring and real-time analytics. 

Designed for 50- to 60-hertz power systems, the VD4 evo is rated to 17.5 kilovolts and can accommodate a continuous load current of 1.2 kiloamperes, or transient currents (three seconds or less) up to 40 kA. The evo variant will be compatible with existing VD4 installations, allowing for easy upgrades while offering a 15 percent space savings compared with similar MV breakers. Typical users include panel builders and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) for a wide range of MV applications such as capacitor bank switching.


VD4 evo digital circuit breaker.

VD4 evo digital circuit breaker. Image used courtesy of ABB

Data Analytics Reduces Operating Costs, Improves Reliability

With its sensor payload and connectivity, the evo system can monitor the breaker for kinematic chain anomalies, loose connections, and thermal stresses. This data is fed to an analytics engine to predict mechanical failures before they occur and improve routine maintenance schedules that extend the unit’s operating life. Visibility into real-time operating conditions of the breaker, along with advanced analytics, could significantly reduce the occurrence of outages due to breaker failure, while extending operating life and reducing costs.


24/7 monitoring and analytics via the cloud.

24/7 monitoring and analytics via the cloud. Image used courtesy of ABB

The VD4 evo digital package is compatible with the ABB Ability Energy Asset Manager platform that uses real-time data acquisition, analytics, and connectivity to help operators develop software-driven insights into complex systems, including power distribution. Integrated into a single online dashboard, the platform provides full remote visibility of asset and electrical system behavior through aggregation and analysis of real-time data feeds from device sensors like those on the VD4 evo.


ABB Ability Energy Asset Manager dashboard.

ABB Ability Energy Asset Manager dashboard. Image used courtesy of ABB

Smart Breakers and Energy Reliability

Access to dependable, efficient, and clean energy is one of the key challenges facing current and future generations. We have benefited over the decades from continued advancements in processor, connectivity, and sensor technologies that allow us to be smarter in how we manage complex systems such as power distribution. With increasingly strained power distribution and electrical grids, combined with the transition away from carbon-based energy sources, we will need to get the most out of the energy we produce. The application of advanced monitoring and analytics in devices such as smart circuit breakers can help and will play a key role in maintaining energy reliability into the future.


Electricity, hydrogen make up 50 percent of energy consumption by 2050.

Figure 1. Electricity, hydrogen make up 50 percent of energy consumption by 2050. Image used courtesy of McKinsey Energy Insights Global Energy Perspective 2022