How to choose the right circuit breaker: Thermal Magnetic, Hydraulic Magnetic and Smart

Pictured L to R: A Thermal Magnetic Circuit Breaker, A Hydraulic Magnetic Circuit Breaker, and a Smart Circuit Breaker

The Right Breaker for the Right Application

Do you want to reduce nuisance tripping in your load center? Choosing the right circuit breaker for your installation is a good first step. The Leviton Load Center offers Thermal Magnetic, Hydraulic Magnetic and Smart circuit breakers, they key difference between these technologies is how they react to overloads.

Where is Your Load Center?

Depending on where you install your load center, you’ll want to pay close attention to the circuit breaker you select. Accurate tripping is a key component of any circuit breaker’s performance, and different types of circuit breakers can behave differently in harsh environments.

If you’re installing your load center in an indoor environment, Thermal Magnetic circuit breakers will have you covered.  By design, the performance of Thermal Magnetic circuit breakers can be affected by ambient temperature, so they’re an excellent choice for nearly all indoor installations where temperatures don’t fluctuate far from the average range. Thermal Magnetic circuit breakers don’t offer smart technology, so if you’re looking to manage your home’s energy remotely, read on.

If you’re installing your load center in an environment where the temperature can range anywhere from -40°F to 185°F, you’ll want to choose Hydraulic Magnetic circuit breakers. Due to first responder and various utility requirements, outdoor installations are becoming more common – potentially subjecting the load center to harsh environmental conditions where temperature extremes can occur. Hydraulic Magnetic circuit breakers use a specialized solenoid and other components to trip the breaker on overload. This configuration provides for accurate tripping in even the most extreme temperature conditions.

Smart circuit breakers allow remote energy management, control and monitoring – all from the My Leviton app on your phone, tablet or desktop. All of Leviton’s smart circuit breakers have Hydraulic Magnetic technology built-in, so you’re getting premium trip performance in an internet-connected package.


A load center is only as effective as the circuit breakers it houses. With Thermal and Hydraulic Magnetic as well as Smart circuit breaker options, Leviton provides flexibility for any installation. To learn more about the Leviton Load Center, visit  For further technical information about Thermal Magnetic and Hydraulic Magnetic technologies, please refer to our Technical Application Note.