Smart HVAC Systems Explained
A Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system is one that is designed to keep indoor air safe and comfortable for the people in a building whether that building is a home or a business.
The concept has been around for over a century, but in the later part of the 20th century, new standards made home heating and cooling tools far more energy-efficient and effective than ever.
Now, another major leap is taking place; one that is moving the HVAC industry into the realm of ‘smart’ systems.
Traditional HVAC Systems
There is a wide variation in HVAC systems, but when it comes to size and specifications there are four elemental designs. These are:
- Traditional Split System – this system houses some components in the building being cooled and heated while others are kept outdoors.
- Hybrid Heat Split System – similar to the traditional split system, however, more energy-efficient, this system includes a heat pump allowing the system to use an electrically powered air conditioning system combined with a gas furnace.
- Ductless Split System – A good option for a building with limited space for traditional ductwork. It is sometimes used in conjunction with duct systems to extend and enhance performance.
- Packaged HVAC System – Used in small spaces that do not have enough space to install the components necessary for a split system.
Many different variations of these four basic designs are available in a range of prices and configurations that go from basic, economy units to very elaborate heating and cooling systems with a variety of accessories and enhancements.
Smart HVAC Systems
A smart HVAC system makes use of the new smart technology to learn the habits of the people that inhabit a home or office. These systems, equipped with smart sensors customize an HVAC system to make them more energy and cost-efficient by monitoring their own performance and continually enhancing overall efficiency.
Smart HVAC systems are usually part of an integrated smart home that uses technology like WiFi and BlueTooth to connect to devices that allow homeowners to turn their HVAC systems on and off, or to adjust the temperature, remotely. It also allows for automatic control based on habits of the people within a home and the location of the home.
Start Fresh or Upgrade an Existing HVAC System?
Smart HVAC systems come in all the basic designs covered above, but use computer technology to augment accessibility and hone efficiency. If building a new home, installing a smart system is simple and straightforward.
Retrofitting an existing system is a bit more complicated, but can be done and is well worth it. Even small changes can make a huge difference in efficiency and better efficiency means lower costs.
Adding a few smart vents allows for smart air supply and ventilation through sensors that tell whether or not a room is occupied and adjust room temperature, humidity and air circulation accordingly.
Upgrade the compressor and air pump which compresses refrigerant. Both components can be energy hogs so optimizing them saves energy which saves money. Replacing this equipment to control the system so it runs on an as-needed basis saves money immediately.
Add a smart thermostat as well and save anywhere from 12 to 15 percent on your heating and cooling costs as smart thermostats read and adjust according to ambient factors whereas older HVAC thermostats only measure.
Note that for a smart thermostat to work well, it must be properly positioned and the information used to initialize and set it must be accurate. This is why doing a building audit with an HVAC professional is important.
A well-designed retrofit to an existing HVAC system is capable of being aware of conditions throughout the building at all times and is able to keep air temperature and quality optimized throughout the day.