Surely you’ve noticed that in recent years, we’ve been seeing smart home technology more and more. Alexa is now an integral part of our lives, and TVs that don’t talk back to you are soon to become inconceivable. Even lawn care is getting smart upgrades. We can conceivably expect every bit of technology in our homes to soon be upgraded to smart devices and systems.
So, what does that mean for the HVAC industry? Indeed, it has not been left untouched by the smart revolution. But what about all the traditional HVAC systems that are already installed? What changes are happening that you should know about? What are clients looking for, and what is the new normal you should be expecting in the next few years? Let’s take a look at how to integrate smart technology into traditional HVAC systems.
How to implement smart HVAC in new & old builds
If you’re working with a brand new building or home, or a home that is smart-ready, then installing smart HVAC systems is pretty straight-forward, because you start from scratch. You can install everything according to its instructions, with no additional roadblocks or complications. Even professionals who don’t have decades of experience can set these up nicely.
It’s in older homes with previous systems that things get tricky. For these, an experienced professional may be the best choice for the job, as they will be familiar the older technology and how to work with it, or around it.
Here’s what you need to do to implement smart HVAC in an old build.
- First, find the old system and review it. Previous equipment will not only not be “smart”, but it will probably be based on outdated technology. Essentially, you’re putting together an inventory of the equipment that is currently present at the location. That will help the energy auditor.
- Before you can move on and do anything else, you need to bring in a professional to complete an energy audit. That will give you a detailed overview of the energy in the building, what kind of consumption you can expect, and how to save as much energy and as much money as possible when installing the new equipment.
There are actually smart devices that can help you with some of this important data. Things like airflow, level of humidity, temperature, etc. can be analyzed very easily. That can save time and effort.
- Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the location, whether it’s a home or a commercial building, pick out aspects to upgrade. Of course, this is not one-size-fits-all and will differ depending on the building itself. But there is always a way to upgrade the system and make it smart. A skilled professional will be able to find creative solutions to marry the two technologies and bring the system into 2020.
How do you make a previous HVAC system smart?
The first thing to realize is that not all systems, or all elements of a HVAC system can be made “smart”. Sometimes, you just need to replace the whole thing and start over with a clean slate. However, some changes can be made to upgrade it and increase the efficiency rate.
Thermostats are some of the most popular smart devices and systems in latest-generation homes. The thing that makes them so desirable is that they are uniquely complex – they can provide information not only about temperature, but about humidity level and other aspects. That means that the device can make adjustments based on these environmental readings.
Aspects such as humidity, or HVAC design, for example, can influence and skew the temperature in the room. Location also impacts it tremendously. It has to be chosen very carefully, away from sources of heat or cold.
Thankfully, that can be fixed with something known as zoning. That helps bring the cool air and hot air in the areas where you need it. That is one of the most convenient aspects of having an intelligent HVAC system, and one of the reasons you will be asked to install them.
- Air supply & ventilation
Air is directed wherever necessary in the space via the ventilation system. This type of system is typically designed especially, both in residential properties and in commercial ones. That’s something the plumbing engineer or mechanic engineer is in charge of. That way, the air gets to the spaces where it’s needed, typically when they’re inhabited or otherwise occupied.
Normally, a smart system that is set up properly provides the ideal temperature and air for each space and each moment of the day, taking into consideration how the spaces are being used. If, however, the system is overridden or occupants mess with aspects of the system, then it loses its “smart” quality, and can impact its efficiency. That can especially become a problem in office spaces where multiple people have access to the settings or change them frequently. Instruction on the way the system works is recommended.
However, the good news is that the latest technology includes special sensors that can help monitor blockages in the system or similar issues that can interfere with its function. That way, whoever is supervising the system can be alerted of the problems and make the necessary adjustments to bring the system back to optimum efficiency.
- Air handler & compressor
One of the challenges with air handlers and compressors is that they’re a huge energy drain. That is why upgrading them is especially important; it can save both energy and money. They can be made more efficient by upgrading the system to a smart one, and enabling certain components (including these ones) to only be on when they’re necessary.
As smart technology continues to gain more territory in every aspect of both commercial and residential spaces, HVAC is also being continuously upgraded as well. New builds as well as old ones will require smart systems to be installed. While with new builds, it’s easier, because you’re starting fresh, upgrading older systems is where the issues can pop up.
Thankfully, there certainly are ways to upgrade old and outdated HVAC systems, both for residential spaces and commercial ones. A thorough examination is necessary to determine the state of the previous system and its operation, but parts of it should definitely be easy to upgrade.
This is already a big step towards a greater efficiency of HVAC systems, but in the future, as we come to use more alternative energy sources, we should be able to make smart systems even more energy-efficient and cost-efficient.