February 24, 2022
Wireless technology and cloud-based controls provide seamless solutions
Controls-integrated, connected facilities offer numerous advantages for building owners and operators, such as reduced operating costs, healthier environments, and optimized HVAC systems. For contractors, smart systems can not only ease installation and
troubleshooting, but offer data analytics that provide insights into HVAC equipment performance.
While it is fairly straightforward to deploy building controls in a new building, it is not always easy to retrofit an existing facility, usually due to infrastructure or budgetary limitations. With the advent of wireless controls, that paradigm is now
changing. Wireless technology can link HVAC equipment and systems to provide more coordinated control and also connect to the cloud for advanced data analytics and actionable insights -- without the need for a major overhaul. It also helps contractors
sidestep unforeseen installation challenges that often come with running wires during a retrofit, saving both time and money.
With wireless technology, cloud-based controls, and data analytics, just about any building can be turned into a ‘smart’ building. This holds true for new or existing buildings, as well as those that may or may not already have a building
automation system (BAS).
“Wireless technology is a great fit, particularly for existing small- and mid-size buildings that are thermostat driven or have VAV controllers,” said Jared Swanson, product manager at Daikin Applied Americas. “In those applications,
we can easily replace the existing controllers with our wireless controllers, do a quick pairing with the central controller, and then all the devices can communicate wirelessly."
The data from those devices can then be passed from the central controller to the cloud, where powerful controls analyze the information and offer actionable insights about energy consumption, IAQ, and HVAC equipment performance. With cloud-based controls,
manufacturers can push updates in real-time and offer new analytical tools that can be utilized immediately. They also offer the flexibility to implement new control routines remotely, without the need for a technician to visit the site.
Daikin Applied provides these solutions through its SiteLine™ Building Controls portfolio, which currently includes offerings for
dedicated equipment, pre-programmed building automation systems and wireless building automation systems. With SiteLine, data is easily accessible through cloud-based IoT connections and is available anytime, anywhere. When paired with powerful analytics, visualizations,
and integrations, end users are able to have more actionable insights and precise control.
The controls can connect a range of technologies, from rooftops to zoned cooling systems with VRV. And unlike the one-size-fits-all approach of traditional building automation systems, SiteLine has unique solutions for both new construction
and retrofits across all facility types, big and small.
"The controls-integrated building is really about taking equipment optimization to the next level,” said Swanson. “It’s looking at the whole building for comfort and efficiency. Buildings are often piecemealed – they may have great equipment,
but it’s not communicating, it has no analytics. With wireless and cloud-connected controls, we can bring in weather data, Energy Star data, etc., and truly start moving toward predictive analytics in order to get the best comfort and efficiency
out of the building."
SiteLine Building Controls can also improve IAQ and occupant comfort, by moving air to areas where it is most needed. This is particularly the case in older buildings, which often have thermostat-controlled, constant volume rooftops with mechanical dampers
that have to be physically moved for winter, summer, and shoulder seasons.
"We can take that constant volume rooftop system and make it 'smart', so it can offer dynamic airflow,” said Swanson. “The system will look at the occupancy of each zone and the temperature set points and move cooling and heating to specific
zones that are high priority. Essentially, the air goes where the occupants are, rather than, say, a loading dock. This results in better comfort and energy efficiency, as well as improved IAQ, because air can be pushed at the zone level."
One of the best things about wireless technology is that it is easy to install, and doesn’t require programming by highly skilled engineers or technicians. This should make contractors happy, especially if they have avoided working with complex,
wired building control systems. In fact, the hardest part is just swapping out the controllers on the equipment. Once that is done, the controllers pair easily with one another and the central controller, similar to a smartphone pairing with a computer or other applications.
Daikin controllers are all engineered to work with each other, and since there is no wire running from device to device, contractor installation is very simple. In most cases, installation can take half a day or less, depending on the amount of equipment
and size of the building. Plus, there are remote commissioning services to identify open tasks and speed setup.
Troubleshooting is another benefit, because contractors and technicians can see how the system is operating from the office or on their phone -- they don’t need to be on site. And if it’s just a configuration or set point change that needs
to happen, that can be done remotely. In addition, factory assistance is readily available, in case technicians have questions about how a particular piece of equipment may be operating.
"Technicians and contractors are tasked with having to understand many evolving technologies,” said Swanson. “They have to be the experts for fan coils, rooftops, and chillers. It's a lot to take on. So if they can pass information to the factory experts, it helps streamline the troubleshooting process and makes it easier for technicians and contractors. Experts at the factory can look at the settings in the field, and in a matter of minutes, figure out what the problem may be."
Daikin also offers training classes, so contractors can feel more comfortable specifying and installing their controls. The classes are geared toward beginners, so it is not necessary to be a controls expert in order to take advantage of the training.
Support also continues through the specification and installation process, with Daikin experts available to help every step of the way.
"Daikin’s controls team will help determine what kind of solution is needed, based on the equipment in the building,” said Swanson. “We do the application engineering to make sure that we get the right unit controllers, the right components, the right sensors
out to the contractor. We have custom submittals and wiring diagrams all built beforehand, so everything is ready to go from the factory in order to make the installation as simple as possible."
Once installed, the system is easy to configure, as contractors simply need to enter the six-digit serial number for the smart node, so the device can pair with the central controller. Then they can select the correct equipment configuration from the
options included in the dropdown boxes.
“I know some equipment contractors think it’s a risk going into controls, because they don’t have a background in them,” said Swanson. “That’s why our SiteLine Building controls are user-friendly and built to simplify integration. Plus, we offer
support for everything from system design to ordering to service, as our equipment teams are available for troubleshooting and commissioning. We’re really there throughout the whole process, so it’s low risk for contractors. But they will
reap the rewards from providing their customers with SiteLine Building Controls that will improve their buildings’ comfort and efficiency.”