Wireless technology is revolutionizing Energy Management System (EMS) implementations and retrofits for building systems. Installation of modern controls no longer requires expensive network cabling which eliminates costly labor and disruptions to occupants. The costs for these devices are dropping, and their reliability is increasing. This revolution has been long promised, but for many uses, it’s now here.
Historically, implementation of HVAC controls required the installation of a communication network between all controlled devices. The network enabled all of the devices to exchange information with the EMS to create a control environment. Devices send information to the EMS such as temperature, humidity, occupancy, amperage, flow and status. The EMS processes this information to send back commands for occupancy, operation, and control. All of this vital information travelled by wires which were often expensive to install and costly to repair. In existing buildings, the installation of the communications wiring can be expensive and messy.
Now, energy systems can be designed that eliminate much of the network cabling. All of the necessary components for a typical system – sensors, switches, actuators, and thermostats – are now available from a variety of manufactures. While the wireless systems are slightly more expensive, the labor savings can often make them worth it.
While there are numerous wireless technologies, two initiatives have gained traction at many of the major device manufactures – Zigbee and Enocean. Both of these systems can be thought of as “another flavor of WiFi.” However, unlike WiFi, which was designed to move data quickly, Zigbee and Enocean are focused on reliability and minimal power consumption. Reliable message delivery is critical to ensure occupant comfort – a lost occupancy signal could leave a building uncomfortable and / or inefficient. Low power consumption reduces the need to change batteries. Enocean devices are so efficient that they can normally don’t require batteries.
These systems have been around for several years so the big kinks have been worked out. As the volume of wireless devices increases, the prices for these devices continue to fall.
The revolution is coming, let us help you gain advantage from this exciting new technology.