While the Schneider Electric booth at the recent 2014 AHR Expo in New York was naturally filled with lots of data center technology, it also included a display with some of the latest in building automation systems.
Schneider Electric has been assembling quite the array of building automation solutions through acquisitions. In the AHR booth, for example, the company was displaying the fruits of two fairly recent acquisitions, Viconics and Can2go.
Christopher Hinton, a Viconics veteran who is now responsible for regional business development in the Southeast and South Central U.S., explained Can2go makes a building automation controller that collects data from various attached systems, including HVAC, lighting and metering.
The real beauty of the system is its wireless capability, Hinton says. With support for wireless standards including ZigBee and EnOcean, the controller is able to connect to a variety of other systems. The wireless capability dramatically decreases the time and cost involved in installing the systems vs. wired solutions (although the system also supports wired connections).
“We’re probably at least a year to a year and a half ahead of everyone else in the industry,” with respect to wireless capabilities, he says.
Viconics, on the other hand, makes some of the devices that the Can2go controllers would connect to: smart thermostats. They likewise support the ZigBee wireless standard and support an array of HVAC applications. The most recent model is the VT 8000, a highly customizable touch-screen unit.
Working together and with other sensors, the devices can not only control HVAC equipment, but peform occupancy sensing and daylight harvesting, meaning they adjust the amount of lighting depending on how much natural light is in the room, Hinton says. “We have end devices that can do CO2 sensing, occupancy, lighting relays, we even have power meters within the Schneider Electric realm,” he says. “So we have the complete solution within this building automation system.”
Technologies such as day light harvesting and occupancy sensing, which turn lights and air on and off depending on whether anyone is in a room, obviously can save lots of energy in virtually any building. While that saves customers money, Hinton points out the wireless technology also benefits the systems integrators and partners who install the equipment.
“We’ve had a lot of our systems integrators tell us they’re getting off the job in 30 to 40 percent less time,” he says. “Getting off the job faster is a big win for them because instead of getting three jobs done in a month, they’re getting four or five jobs done.”