Retrofitting old buildings with smart HVAC systems provides energy-saving data
Source: Elvina Yang
Connected smart sensors play a significant role in establishing smart HVAC systems in old buildings. By having sensors in the existing system, components and back-end software providing data analytics, old buildings can also receive benefits from smart HVAC systems.
For new buildings, it isn’t difficult to embrace smart HVAC systems. Some of them have even been installed from the very beginning. For old buildings, however, adopting smart HVAC systems is a challenging job. There’s even a term “retrofitting,” designed to describe old buildings adopting smart technologies
. “In older buildings, a wireless and battery-operated sensor platform could be crucial as it might be difficult and, or, prohibited to install external cabling along walls,” said Peter Lindkvist, Sales Director, Lumen Radio.
That is to say, old buildings aren’t required to remove all existing components of HVAC system to adopt smart HVAC technology. They can keep current equipment and install wireless and battery-powered sensors around, to experience the benefits of a smart HVAC system. “Alert Labs sensors can be installed at any age of building and air conditioning system,” said George Tsintzouras, CEO of Alert Labs.
Smart sensors turn old buildings new
Alert Labs offers four sensors for smart buildings
– a water flow sensor, a flood sensor, a sump pump sensor and an A/C monitoring sensor and system. Its A/C monitoring system and sensor, called Sentree, is designed to be installed by residential central A/C units, detecting temperature, pressure of liquid and vapor and real-time amperage numbers. The device connects with cellular networks and provides 24/7 remote monitoring
of residential central air conditioning systems. As it detects issues, it will notify maintenance and building managers right away.
The water flow sensor, designed for indoor water meters, detects water leaks, floods, humidity, temperature, and power outages. For its instant alerts of all variable changes, the sensor can help reduce water bills and prevent damages. The flood sensor, on the other hand, focuses more specifically on water leakage and flooding. The sump pump sensor detects rising water levels, pending sump pump failures and floods, aiming to save on insurance and prevent any accidents.
Furthermore, data gathered from all sensors can be presented on a back-end dashboard provided by Alert Labs. The dashboard for homeowners, for instance, offers A/C performance and status; and the dashboard for contractors enables the service team to offer proactive maintenance and repairs. For managers who take care of several buildings, the company also has a command center
, letting them monitor multiple properties in one place, assign service teams to individual properties, and receive alerts and A/C analytics.
Making maintenance more efficient
“A smart HVAC system enables contractors to send the right technician with the right parts to repair the problem on the first visit which reduces truck rolls and increases customer satisfaction,” said Tsintzouras. With the sensors around the HVAC system, contractors can keep equipment running more efficiently by knowing when issues are about to occur. Service or maintenance calls, therefore, can be scheduled before a breakdown happens. Through a unified portal for both tenants and technicians, service calls can be scheduled by customers’ preference, reducing the frequency of off-hour emergency calls.
“Property owners have insight into their buildings and can remotely adjust the system
according to occupancy and time of day to save energy
. The can also modify their behavior once they see how their property is performing or wasting energy with the incentive that they can save on their utility costs,” said Tsintzouras. In addition to energy and cost saving, smart HVAC systems also improve management efficiency and building customers’ satisfaction. With smart sensors and the back-end analyzing and monitoring software, old buildings can also have the benefits from smart HVAC systems without replacing all the present equipment.