The benefits of smart HVAC systems for cybersecurity and connection protocols
Source: Elvina Yang
Compared to a traditional HVAC system, a smart HVAC system offers benefits including lower energy consumption, condition-based maintenance, predictive performance issues, and remote and automatic adjustments of the system. With it, tenants can live more comfortably, building managers can manage more efficiently, HVAC system technicians can work more easily, and total building utility fees can be decreased.
There are several considerations for a building to adopt a smart HVAC system: for example, is the building old or new? Which wireless protocols should be used for the smart system? Does the system have sufficient cybersecurity
protection? Overall, the smart HVAC system market is promising. The market needs have recently been expanded from residential buildings to commercial buildings, leading the smart HVAC system to provide comfortable living experiences for people working in offices
Smart HVAC system assists energy and operation cost saving
A heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system is responsible for controlling temperature and air flows in a smart building
. With the ability to locate people inside the premises, the smart system
helps buildings save significant energy consumption
and operational costs.
A heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system sits in the middle of a building, it’s responsible for providing comfortable room temperatures and air flow for the people inside, no matter if it’s a hot summer afternoon or a snowy winter day. As buildings are adding smart elements such as prediction and remote controls, HVAC systems are also getting “smart.” Smart HVAC systems benefit buildings and tenants in several ways, such as providing energy efficiency, building maintenance, performance prediction and automatic adjustment. Overall, smart HVAC systems are able to save operation costs and provide a better living experience. Here are some benefits brought by smart HVAC systems:
- Energy saving, for example, is achieved by smart HVAC systems constantly demanding performance monitoring and meeting the optimal conditions. As a result, the system is required to conduct energy diagnostics, energy prediction modeling, fault detection diagnostics and model predictive controls to save energy.
- Condition-based maintenance allows HVAC systems to automatically identify equipment performance issues, providing visibility across managing facilities. Rather than having to schedule regular maintenance visits for repairs, they can now be done on demand.
- Predicting performance issues are achieved by intelligence and machine learning embedded in smart HVAC systems. Several sensors are installed on different parts of the smart HVAC system, it is able to predict when system issues are about to happen by analyzing all data gathered from the system’s sensors, including installation dates and performance changes. Due to the system’s ability to predict issues that are about to occur through warnings, higher reliability and uptime of the system are experienced.
- Automatic and remote implemented system changes are accomplished by external decision support tools and systems connected with the smart HVAC system. If any environmental sensors detect changes in the surroundings of a building, a smart HVAC system will automatically adapt to the changes, maintaining comfortable living conditions in the building.
“A truly smart system should be able to anticipate how it needs to perform optimally and adapt to its operations to meet those goals,” said Sudhi Sinha, Vice President & General Manager, Digital Solutions, Johnson Controls. IoT-enabled HVAC solutions offer users insights into data beyond temperature, including humidity and levels of indoor air pollution. In addition, smart interfaces, dashboards and apps enable building managers and tenants to monitor equipment and make adjustments remotely. “It’s all about creating a personalized user experience. With the IoT, building occupants and owners can now feel more in control of their environments,” added Sinha.
Vital components for smart HVAC systems
Compared to traditional HVAC systems, several components of smart HVAC systems are adjusted in order to realize energy saving. First of all, the Compressor, which is the electric pump compressing refrigerant, and the air handler, that blows air over the heating and cooling coils, needs to be optimized since they are both a major consumer of energy. If these two pieces of equipment run only as needed, a great amount of energy can be saved.
Secondly, the ventilation system, which controls a building’s air flow, when and where a building needs external help to save energy. For instance, strong air flow isn't needed in an empty meeting room or the hallway after office hours. Through sensor driven technology to detect the density of occupants in a certain space, the ventilation system works only when it’s needed.
Lastly, smart thermostats that can read temperature, humidity, occupancy and other variables are important in the whole HVAC system. The thermostats learn from gathered data from the surroundings and make intelligent decisions for the building, such as eliminating uncomfortable heat caused by humidity. “At a basic level, the key components for a smart HVAC system is the sensor hardware and software that provides a way to collect information and an interface for the user to see the information, receive alerts and notifications, and take appropriate action,” said George Tsintzouras, CEO of Alert Labs.