Energy management ought not be an afterthought.

Posted by on Apr 13, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

If you look at the HVAC industry you’ll find that energy management is not an accurate description of what they “do”. In rare cases some version of it happens but really only as an add on to an existing systems controls. “Control” can mean many things and what it generally means to the HVAC industry is “it functions”.

Now that we have this emerging world of connected devices the optimized management of energy, rather than the control of the system, ought to be the focus.

As a small example, it is up to the HVAC installer to set the set-points and the differentials on a boiler or a heat pump (and size the equipment to begin with).  The goal is to limit short cycling but still provide adequate supply temperature to the distribution (and capacity). Sometimes this includes an outdoor temp factor, sometimes not. The point is that wherever the set-points and differentials are set will affect the system performance but all the customer usually knows is if the system is functioning or not. Also, the contractor may be doing what he thinks is best but there is rarely any objective measure in place to verify the performance is optimal.

Even when systems do have data logging and are being monitored and controlled effectively consider that they are still generally “blind” designs to begin with. In other words, they were not modeled and optimized on software prior to being configured in the physical world. So they may be effectively managing what they are, but really the design is somebody’s guess. Who’s to say the configuration is ideal if you don’t have anything else to compare it to?

This becomes all the more relevant when systems are multi-source/sink and have thermal storage elements. The room for optimizing a design is significant and so is the possibility of poor designs and mismanaged control.

Software defined pre-configured configurations and a management service to support them is the future of HVAC.

 

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