HVAC Control Systems

Posted by kbvresearch on December 19th, 2019

HVAC is an important component of residential structures like single-family homes, hotels, and senior residential facilities, apartment buildings, medium to large industrial and office buildings such as skyscrapers and hospitals, vehicles such as cars, trains, aircraft, ships and submarines and marine environments where temperature-safe and healthy building conditions are regulated.

What is the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning technology?

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) is environmentally friendly indoor and automotive equipment. Its objective is to offer thermal comfort and an acceptable quality of indoor air. HVAC system design is a mechanical engineering sub discipline based on thermodynamics principles, fluid mechanics and heat transfer concepts. The term “refrigeration” is often applied to the abbreviation of the field as HVAC&R or HVACR.

All about HVAC control systems

HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) equipment needs a heating and/or air conditioning system control system. Usually, a sensing device is used to compare a target state with the actual state (e.g. temperature). The control system then draws an inference on what to do (e.g. start the blower).

HVAC Control System Hardware

HVAC has become increasingly amorphous, which has been accompanied by changing business models of HVAC suppliers. Equipment specifically includes controllers, web servers and host machines, workstations, IO, communications networks, and remote control end products.

HVAC Control System Software

In full-scale HVAC control systems, a wide range of software types are commonly included. HVAC technology includes embedded controller software, web server-based applications, and a wide variety of software typically sold in a device kit. Such components may include stand-alone software for human-machine interface (HMI) as well as programming and configuration software for setting up the system.

To execute physical commands like turning on/off a chiller, control software has been used. Analytics and simulation software can be used to analyze the energy use of a facility, identify ways to further optimize energy consumption, simulate the energy profile under various configurations of facilities, or monitor the health and efficiency of HVAC equipment by comparing the current performance of an asset to its historical averages.

Why automatic controls?

Usually, the power of the HVAC system is configured for extreme conditions. Most of the process is part load/off nature as variables such as solar loads, occupancy, ambient temperatures, loads of equipment & lighting, etc. continue to change all day long. Design deviation will result in drastic swings or imbalances as design capacity in most operating scenarios is greater than the actual load. The system will become unstable without a control system and HVAC will overheat or overcool spaces.

HVAC controls in today’s homes

A thermostat in a home is the HVAC regulator which controls the furnace or air conditioner function, and the blower which distributes heated or cooled air. Previously, thermostats were simple devices that started the system at a certain set point of temperature and then shut it off at another point. Nowadays, there are more complex and an effective type of residential HVAC controls available thanks to advances in technology:

  • Digital programmable thermostats

Modern digital thermostats have a "thermistor" for measuring room temperature, and a microcontroller for converting changes in thermistor resistance to a temperature reading. Programmable models are fitted with technology allowing a user to schedule daily energy-saving temperature setbacks for one or multiple times during a day.

  • Zoning systems

A zoning system can often benefit larger or multiple story homes that need greater control to provide energy-efficient comfort in various areas. Usually, these devices consist of a central control panel connected to individual thermostats and motorized dampers mounted in the ductwork. A consumer can set heating and cooling parameters from the control panel to regulate the temperature in various zones.

  • Smart thermostats

Learning thermostats combine the versatility of programmable models with the ability to collect and transmit conditions at home so that a user can remotely track and change the HVAC. More advanced models have included computer algorithms that allow the thermostat to learn the habits of the user and make intuitive changes. Such intelligent HVAC controls can also track the occupancy, air quality and humidity of the home and warn the user and their HVAC contractor if maintenance is required or issues with the equipment grow.

What’s trending in the industry?

The HVAC control systems market growth is expected to mount high with the rapid adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT) in the years to come. HVAC controls are being developed with much more accurate sensors. Different options are available for dynamically controlled systems based on things like occupancy and how the building is used. Geothermal heat pumps are fuelled by the earth itself rather than using oil or gas. They use the thermal energy of the ground throughout the year (because it remains consistent compared to outside) to heat and cool a space.

More integration of HVAC controls with other building controls, particularly advanced lighting, is also seen in the industry. A sensor in a classroom, for example, can be used to regulate the lighting in that space, and also the operation of the ventilator unit in the room. Security access controls may also be compatible with HVAC controls. As HVAC trends and technologies develop and grow, more moving parts and more predictive calculations will likely be realized by facility managers.

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