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HVAC Systems Continue Efficiency Evolution

March 5, 2018
Sources from heating and air conditioning manufacturers describe system changes such as growth in energy efficiency, better performance and lower operational costs.

by Mrinal Gokhale, MSI Data

The AHR Exposition in Chicago, Ill. was a success, with more than 2,000 companies exhibiting innovative HVAC solutions. At AHR, the American Society of Heating Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) observed that boosting HVAC energy-efficiency is a key focus both last year and the comping years. Many of the systems from this year were designed to: reduce operational and energy costs, improve building automation, and better meet the green building standard.

MSI Data provides cutting-edge HVAC software for field service companies throughout the U.S. We educate ourselves and our partners on the latest industry findings so we can better serve our clients. Below are the best practices in 2018 for HVAC industry professionals to note.

New, eco-friendly HVAC and refrigeration drive efficiency

Eco-friendly HVAC units perform better mechanically and last longer than older models. Before the Jan 2017 AHR Expo 41 percent of exhibitors said they will displaying new, energy-efficient products, and this trend has continued in 2018.

Example: The Danfoss Turbocor® TTH/TGH High Lift Compressor was a “green building” winner at this year’s AHR Expo. Featuring an oil free and variable speed operation, this model is designed for high lift applications including air cooled chillers and heat recovery. The variable speed adjuster and magnetic bearing operation are great for part and full load efficiencies, while the low vibration and low maintenance upkeep reduce carbon footprint.

All systems, including “green” units must be inspected at least sometimes before machine failure occurs. However, all models don’t need service on the same fixed time interval. Internet of Things  technology tracks product use. Once usage reaches a certain level, the sensors alert the user when it’s time for a maintenance check.

Building automation requires more accurate control

Building automation systems (BAS) have microprocessors that track and transfer environmental and data changes to controllers. In a nutshell, BAS adjusts lighting and indoor air quality to reduce electric costs. In the 2018 AHR Expo, Sentra Systems won the building automation category for their Sentra FLEX room monitoring solution. Using alarms complaint with ASHRAE Standard 170 and US Pharmacopeia 797 and 800, Sentra FLEX ensures safe, eco-friendly indoor ventilation in labs, operating rooms, isolation rooms, and pressurized critical spaces.

In the HVAC industry, a “critical environment” is one in which power or ventilation loss causes serious health or safety risks. Non-critical environments could get away with mildly accurate sensors since not much is at stake. But systems made for high-risk areas need perfectly accurate sensors, and meet the building’s strict reporting criteria needed to track air and lighting changes in the building.

Green building standard is evolving
As the need for construction jobs increases, so does the green building standard. Sustainable buildings are slowly becoming less costly to maintain. The SmartMarket 2016 World Green Building Trends report shows that green buildings cost 14 percent less to operate than traditional buildings. The demand for green building is expected to double every three years. LED lighting, variable refrigerant flow and solar power are just some solutions that take the industry by storm.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Center in Pearl Harbor is another sustainable design, which won an award. This building’s passive cooling system pumps seawater to the rooftop and sends water-cooled air into the building without mechanical fans. The building’s chillers reject heat into the seawater, which saves more energy and operational costs than traditional towers.

Big and small data matter
Software plays a big role today in HVAC design, data analysis, repair and maintenance. Internet of Things (IoT) sensors help track a unit’s condition, usage patterns and other data needed to improve product design. Emerson Climate Technologies predicts that by 2019, 75 percent of thermostats will be Wi-Fi enabled. 

Many HVAC companies focus on “big data” trends and patterns of their products. But HVAC software is useless without the small data which helps troubleshoot and improve product performance. Some companies may not have time to do data entry since small data accrues. Luckily, HVAC techs can enter inspection data into a field service softwareapp and gain instant feedback. A central system stores this data, which the office can access. Most field service apps are Cloud based and can be used by laptop, tablet and Smartphone.

Mrinal Gokhale is in the marketing department at MSI Data, a field service automation software company in Wisconsin. MSI works with many HVAC clients throughout the country, with the goal to eliminate paperwork in field service. You may reach Mrinal on Linkedin or by email at [email protected].