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A Look at Current Trends in HVACR Controls

Major players in the industry weigh in

 

The HVACR industry, like other industries in today’s market, is progressing towards a more integrated, user-friendly, and sustainable future. Some of the fastest-moving developments towards such a future can be seen in the progress made in HVACR controls. For many outside of the companies at the helm of such progress, it can be difficult to stay up-to-date with where exactly the focus of current developments is placed at this time. For this reason, we got in touch with several major players in HVACR controls to learn more about trends of the moment, and gain greater insight into how such trends can benefit those with an eye towards their bottom line.

 

LG Air Conditioning Technologies

 

 

What are some current trends in the developments of HVACR controls for commercial settings in 2019?

 

The growing demand for smart controls to obtain greater cohesion and efficiency across buildings’ systems continues to drive the development and innovation of HVACR controls for commercial settings. Smart controls refer to those systems that use real-time data to learn patterns in human and machine behavior that proactively optimize operation and address potential maintenance issues. Smart controls also have the ability to make decisions based on third-party data, such as weather forecasts, and adjust operation on approaching conditions, which in turn allows for the improved precision of a system’s operation.

 


End users’ technology expectations are set by experiences they have in the consumer world with companies like Amazon and Apple.

 

Another way smart controls can be particularly effective is in regard to maintenance. Smart controls can continually monitor equipment performance once anomalies are detected, which will signify a potential failure and alert a designated service provider before comfort is impacted. These smart systems work to provide even greater energy efficiency and sustainability because—rather than a reactive, blanketed approach to management—they are proactive and uniquely tailored to the habits of the occupants.

 

What are some of the ways that updating HVACR controls this year would help to facilitate more efficient and more resilient HVACR systems in commercial settings?

 

With many smart control systems now incorporating more and more built-in sensors for better insights, facility managers can use this additional data in multiple ways. For example, certain outdoor units utilize both a humidity sensor and a temperature sensor to proactively adjust unit operation based on weather changes, which can keep occupants comfortable. Key data can also be streamed to the cloud and used by customers to improve operational efficiency.

 

By Carl Barnard, Director of Controls Sales, LG Air Conditioning Technologies

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Daikin Applied

 

What are some current trends in the developments of HVACR controls for commercial settings in 2019?

 

There are strong trends to develop controls that get to the cloud, take advantage of information outside of the building, and tie in weather data and energy companies to have HVAC equipment make the building more energy efficient. Automated Demand Response (ADR) is a prime example with energy demand shedding, which allows buildings to automatically adjust equipment set points to use less power during peak operation when energy is more expensive.

 

How does user feedback affect the design and development of HVACR controls for commercial settings this year?

 

End users’ technology expectations are set by experiences they have in the consumer world with companies like Amazon and Apple. In the HVACR world, that means our customers expect HVACR controls to be, for example, plug-n-play—with software and settings already configured to the equipment or hardware they ordered. Daikin has been doing this for several years at the system level.

 

What are some of the ways that updating HVACR controls this year would help to facilitate more efficient and more resilient HVACR systems in commercial settings?

 

When you update your HVACR controls to be cloud-enabled, you get additional benefits that are not available in the stand-alone world. Cloud connectivity makes it much easier to manage a unit or a portfolio and feed data from external systems— like weather and EnergyStar—that can enhance your own system performance. Plus, a modern HVACR control solution provides distinct value, such as unit level insight on energy usage and specific maintenance recommendations based on actual run time. This unlocks efficiencies that aren’t available from a traditional BAS without expensive additional programming.

 

By Mike Hoppe, Product Leader, Intelligent Solutions and Jared Swanson, Product Manager, Intelligent Solutions, Daikin Applied

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Bacharach

 

What are some current trends in the developments of HVACR controls for commercial settings in 2019?

 

Commercial facilities are investing more heavily in sophisticated control systems and measurement instrumentation to closely monitor and provide data on the conditions of their HVACR systems. The data obtained from these systems provides real-time feedback to the building owners and facility managers, allowing them to increase building comfort, energy efficiency and cost savings, safety, the ability to prevent and troubleshoot equipment problems, and the capacity to comply with regulatory requirements.

 

What are some of the ways that updating HVACR controls this year would help to facilitate more efficient and more resilient HVACR systems in commercial settings?

 

In the commercial refrigeration industry, food retailers and cold storage facilities are investing in high precision refrigerant monitors designed to detect low level refrigerant leaks that can result in unsafe working conditions, refrigerant and produce loss, and decreased energy efficiency. Aspirated refrigerant monitoring systems with sample points distributed throughout a facility provide leak detection coverage at all possible leak points. Real-time, cloud-based software programs are also available to provide 24/7 continuous monitoring and immediate alerts of potentially dangerous or costly refrigerant leaks. Integration of refrigerant monitoring systems into a facility’s universal BMS/BAS can be made easy through the variety of available communication interfaces including Modbus, BACnet and LonWorks.

 


Smart controls can continually monitor equipment performance once anomalies are detected, which will signify a potential failure and alert a designated service provider before comfort is impacted.

 

Another application in which refrigerant leak detection systems can help facilities managers to increase safety and compliance with ASHRAE regulations is through the use of VRF/VRV systems in hotel rooms, apartments, and office buildings. Modern refrigeration/air conditioning systems are designed to be efficient and leak free, but improper installations, inadvertent damage, or mechanical wear can result in leaks over time. Low profile refrigerant detectors installed in conditioned living spaces can help keep occupants comfortable by providing early warnings of refrigerant leaks over the service life of the HVACR system. Real-time, continuous communication with the facility’s BMS can alert the facility manager to identify the specific room where a leak is occurring and take immediate action.

 

By Dan Kelly, Product Manager, Combustion and Portable Instruments, Bacharach

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Cleaver-Brooks

 

What are some current trends in the developments of HVACR controls for commercial settings in 2019?

 

Some current trends in 2019 are advances in boiler control systems, which provide customers the ability to continuously monitor and optimize their plant’s boiler system while keeping customer data secure.

 

What are some of the ways that updating HVACR controls this year would help to facilitate more efficient and more resilient HVACR systems in commercial settings?

 

Certain mobile apps immediately notify a customer when their boiler system needs attention. By being able to monitor boiler system operation, cycle counts, temperature readings and other variables, customers can optimize their boiler room performance and improve overall efficiency. In addition to this, having remote access to their system information provides customers with peace of mind at knowing their equipment is being monitored seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day.

 

Furthermore, remote access to boiler system information can be granted on a permanent or temporary basis to different groups, including a service contractor, facilities group or management. This feature enables service personnel to arrive on the job site with the correct parts and troubleshooting devices, thereby saving time and labor costs.

 

Would users benefit by putting an HVACR controls update on hold based on forecasts of technological breakthroughs on the horizon?

 

The lifecycle of a boiler can be 30 years or more, and a boiler system that has been operating for 15 years or more is likely to be operating far less than its original efficiency. Upgrading the controls now will enhance a boiler system’s performance and produce measurable efficiency gains that can positively impact a company’s bottom line this year.

 

What are some potential obstacles that users may face when attempting to update their HVACR controls in commercial settings?

 

Before doing a controls upgrade or any other type of boiler equipment upgrade, a facility must determine the boiler pressure vessel is in good shape. If it’s not, replacing the boiler system may be the wiser solution.

 

By Catie VanWormer, PE, LEED AP, ClearFire® Product Sales Manager, Cleaver-Brooks

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Emerson

 

How does user feedback affect the design and development of HVACR controls for commercial settings this year?

 

User feedback is critical in the design— and continuous improvement –of the performance and customer interaction with HVACR control systems for commercial applications. At Emerson, we follow a Phase-Gate process for product development which allows for iterative design enhancements even after an initial product is launched. Our engineering team reviews customer feedback to incorporate in the form of improvements and derivative product lines for future release.

 

For instance, based on such feedback, we’ve found that commercial customers are seeking diagnostic and prognostic metrics built into the controller in order to provide a gauge on the performance of any application or process. For example, one method of improving energy efficiency is to maintain precise control for air-to-fuel ratios in fuel trains; in this situation, the controller would monitor valve and actuator positioning to maintain optimal turndown ratios to meet efficiency rates as required for the customer and the system.

 

What are some of the ways that updating HVACR controls this year would help to facilitate more efficient and more resilient HVACR systems in commercial settings?

 

In terms of asset investment, it is important to maintain systemwide integrity by ensuring that upgrades are up-to-date in order to directly and positively impact both return on investment and total cost of ownership of the system. In terms of operation, the process of updating HVACR controls allows customers to more easily, accurately, and efficiently meet multiple efficiency metrics for the entire system solution and application. Such upgrades can include the enabling of maintenance alerts, programming pre-set or adjustable temperature ranges, and running or preparing for energy audits, as well as the change-out of components and other available system upgrades. Implementing these measures now allows for the improved safety, reliability, and efficiency of operations—along with the improved opportunity for compliance with current (and even future) industry codes and regulations.

 

By Shaista Mallik, Product Marketing Manager for Combustion Systems, Emerson