In our June blog, we took a look at how VFDs on bigger systems can save you money on energy bills. But if you’re serious about saving energy, then it might be time to invest in a Building Management System (BMS). Whether you’re looking to optimize your existing air conditioners or planning a new installation, a controls system for your HVAC can save you money overtime. The newest generation of controls offers better access and monitoring over your units than ever before. A properly optimized controls system reduces energy usage, lowering your energy bills and slowing the wear and tear on your units. And with 24/7 visibility, thanks to web linked user interfaces that are growing more customer-friendly, live data such as space temperature, daily energy usage, system failures and alarms can be just a website click away.
Previous Generations of BMS Solutions
BMS, or Building Management Systems, have been in use since the 1940s. The original controls were mostly pneumatic, designed for larger operations with chiller systems. A supply of dry, compressed air typically from an electric compressor powers these controls, operating a series of motors, valves, and interconnected air piping. They worked well with simple equipment and suffered few operational problems, though they were restricted to chiller operations only.
The following decades saw the development of electronic controls. Operating off more commonly recognized sensors like room and outdoor thermostats, they proved optimal for central station systems. These large air handlers provide cooling to multiple areas of the building through a network of ducting, all while the air handler itself sits in the middle. Electronic controls were also integrated with pneumatic controls, increasing the level of management available for buildings with pneumatics installed.
Direct Digital Controls (DDC) were the next phase of BMS. With the rise of the computer, especially as costs for the PC began to drop in the 90s, the first software-run BMS options offered considerably more control. And not just for the engineers or the technicians who worked on those systems. DDC can coordinate “inputs from a number of sensing devices”, recording data such as relative humidity and dry bulb temperature and providing a complete picture of how the monitored space is feeling.
A New Approach: The Internet of Things
While the older BMS types functioned well, there’s a newer and more powerful approach making strides in the controls market: IoT-BMS. A simple explanation of IoT, or the “internet of things”, is the interconnectivity of devices through the Internet. It’s a broad concept that covers a multitude of industries and products. For HVAC, it involves wiring all those temperature, humidity, and airflow sensors, as well as VAVs and dampers and compressors, all up to a series of controllers that communicate through an accessible, web-based user interface. As a direct evolution of DDC, IoT-BMS provides a greatly improved end-user experience with more visible data than ever before.
Implementing a BMS in your stores is no small decision, yet the long-term benefits can come to outweigh the initial costs:
- 24/7 access through BMS connected web server
- Improved customer and employee comfort
- Energy savings through reduced operational costs
- Optimized runtimes reducing equipment wear
- Lowered environmental footprint
That 24/7 live data provided by an IoT-BMS offers users considerable preventative opportunities. With a constant eye on your equipment, you, your facility managers, or your management company can track problems as they happen. For example, once you’ve installed BMS at your stores, you receive an alert that your #2 air conditioner suffers a fault on its economizer. The economizer is stuck open at 85%. The weather for the week is mild, with cool nights, so your employees aren’t currently affected by the error. However, you know that the following week will be hot with temperatures in the 90s, and that open economizer will be drawing in the hot air. Thanks to your BMS, you can dispatch your HVAC company out to resolve the issue before the temperatures rise, also avoiding a potential emergency call and the added costs attached to it.
If you think a BMS may be the right choice for your stores, then reach out to a professional controls’ contractor today. Our staff at RESSAC Climate Control can help you determine the next best step towards reducing your HVAC energy bills. Call us at 800-273-7710.