Degraded or loose joins of high current busway elements and likewise connections of current consumers to busbars are subject to improper assembly and they degrade over time. Any loose or corroded joint or connection causes increasing resistive heat before eventually a fatal burnout occurs when the load peaks.

Manual inspection often interferes with continuous production, it cannot be applied under full load, and leaves large periods of non-attendance. Fiberoptic temperature sensors are an acceptable method of monitoring critical spots under galvanic insulation in medium voltage applications, but usually too costly in low voltage switchboards.  

Hence, thermal energy harvesting was identified as a good alternative, with the busbar current load’s resistive heat being enough for the thermal energy harvesting units to operate the wireless sensor nodes. Micropelt’s chip-scale thermoelectric technology generates 140 millivolts per Kelvin of temperature differential.

This permits efficient DC conversion and enough power to sustain ultra-low power (ULP) wireless devices on a duty cycle basis, where sensing and transmitting takes fractions of a second and occurs every minute or so. It only takes a few seconds to fit the qNODE onto a busbar, from a single-handed operation using a solid clamp which can be adjusted to common bar sizes.

With a surface temperature 5°C or more above the surrounding air temperature, the embedded Micropelt thermoharvester generates the power to transmit the hosting busbar’s temperature every second.

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