IoT—which stands for “the Internet of Things” is used to describe any kind of product or technology that connects the internet to another product.
In other words, when we take a normal product, and connect it to the internet for added functionality, that’s generally an example of an IoT-enabled device.
Sometimes people describe these kind of products as having “cognition” because they’re able to monitor, sensor, and recognize certain contexts and information around them; that’s why, in so many applications, they can be useful for feedback and adaptation.
In HVAC specifically, many facilities already have IoT-enabled products, they may just not have thought of them that way before. Generally, for our industry, IoT is all about increasing efficiency, improving precision and comfort, and monitoring performance (1).
Let’s take a closer look at how the Internet of Things—or IoT, if you prefer to call it that—is shaping and adding value to HVACR in commercial buildings.
1. IoT delivers smart changes with no human interaction required
Many of us are well aware of examples of equipment that has to be in constant operation, that is, unless it’s turned off manually. All of that can change with IoT.
Thanks to ongoing sensors, your building’s climate control system can be more intuitive than ever before, meaning changes can be automated and implemented with less and less human interaction needed.
Sure, sometimes you may want human intervention, but in other scenarios, high-tech options can mean the device responds in real-time and can be more efficient and less wasteful, cutting down on unnecessary use in the process (1, 2).
2. IoT can bring accurate predictive analytics and diagnostics
Advanced analytics lets us take information to better model and anticipate future risks and opportunities. Since HVAC efficiency can greatly be improved with more real-time information, this is a huge advantage of IoT in our industry.
Here’s an example: envision you have a central plant you want to control for both energy efficiency and cost efficiency. With IoT, you can apply predictive controls and reinforcement learning to optimize how that HVAC system should run, based on the unique design of your facility and based on the equipment you have. IoT can help you determine ongoing optimal performance, even with a changing environment—say, building occupancy shifts, weather, utility rate changes, certain specific facility constraints, and more (1, 2, 3).
The other side of that is if something goes wrong or isn’t performing as it should with your equipment…or, if the equipment altogether fails on you. As soon as something isn’t working as it should, IoT can help identify that issue, send an instant alert, and help to diagnose it quickly and accurately, in many cases.
3. IoT means more personalization
A lot of IoT discussion focuses on how it can result in building automation, prolonged lifespan of equipment, or improved operations of building systems.
But not to be forgotten is how better control can also mean increased comfort in your facilities or buildings. First and foremost, systems supported with IoT can be more precise and personalized.
But second, the data that’s collected across any site (or all your sites) can be used to continue to deliver that personalization and efficiency in the future. Just think: let’s say you have 5 buildings across a certain region. With IoT, you can have a distributed control system that can still drill-down and be specific to each site. So not only can occupants at each facility interact and make decisions for their comfort levels, based on their individual environments, but you can see that information at the aggregate level.
Track and monitor which locations are using the most energy and which locations are being most efficient with energy usage. That can help a great deal when it comes to future decision making related to the performance of your buildings, and future investments in HVAC, too (1, 2, 3).
4. IoT means management on a more local basis
Traditionally, higher level control networks would have to be relief on to make decisions from information coming from diffusers, valves, or any kind of sensors that existed. But IoT really changes the need for a separate control panel, in many cases altogether eliminating any need for on-site servers or on-site computers.
By nature of being connected to the internet, local, real-time monitoring and management and optimization-decisions are more likely to be made, and are also more likely to be able to happen. Plus, the entire process is just more simple with IoT, which building/facility managers can appreciate (1, 2, 3).
5. IoT may bring an increased level of support to your building
IoT really does mean more connection. Greater connection and more information at our fingertips means we can know a lot more before even coming on site to your building or facility. In fact, as described, performance reports and efficiency data can be running so that we can better service commercial clients based on those real-time metrics that capture your HVAC’s performance.
One example: battery-powered, flexible, cost-effective IoT sensors—as small as 17 mm in size—that can detect even the smallest changes in temperature, including being able to measure absolute or relative temperature, and heat flows (3).
These kind of connected devices are already being used across the nation for measuring energy usage—not to mention for increasing safety, too. These devices are able to be used for precise measurement and monitoring in HVAC projects, to start. Just think of how well-informed an HVAC service team can be when they can see the data these kinds of devices are colleting at any time. 24 hours a day. They are also being used for smoke and gas detection, movement detection, heat measurement, and others heat-sensitive aspects of a project (1, 2, 3).
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To get a free estimate for your business, contact us today at greatercomfort.com or call 859-491-4915.