HVAC control system

From Academic Kids

Image:Alarm system control panel.jpg

Fire suppression control system panel

Modern computerized HVAC control systems are used for temperature, humidity, and pressure control, and often integrate fire, security, and lighting controls into one system. These systems typically use one or more central controllers to command and monitor the remote terminal unit controllers, and they communicate with one or more personal computers that are used as the operator interface. These control systems are typically used on large commercial and industrial buildings to allow central control of many HVAC units around the building(s). The latest systems use the building ethernet for communications between central controllers, and allow operator access from a web browser.

Direct digital control

Central controllers and most terminal unit controllers are programmable, meaning the direct digital control program code may be customized for the intended use. The program features include time schedules, setpoints, controllers, logic, timers, trend logs, and alarms. The unit controllers typically have analog and digital inputs, that allow measurement of the variable (temperature, humidity, or pressure) and analog and digital outputs for control of the medium (hot/cold water and/or steam). Digital inputs are typically (dry) contacts from a control device, and analog inputs are typically a voltage or current measurement from a variable (temperature, humidity, velocity, or pressure) sensing device. Digital outputs are typically relay contacts used to start and stop equipment, and analog outputs are typically voltage or current signals to control the movement of the medium (air/water/steam) control devices.(Valves/dampers/motor speed)

Some history

It was only natural that the first HVAC controllers would be pneumatic, as the engineers understood fluid control. Thus mechanical engineers could use their experience with the properties of steam and air to control the flow of heated or cooled air. To this day, there is pneumatic HVAC equipment in operation, which can be a century old, in some buildings, such as schools and offices.

After the control of air flow and temperature was standardized, the use of electromechanical relays in ladder logic, to switch dampers became standardized. Eventually, the relays became electronic switches, as transistors eventually could handle greater current loads. By 1985, pneumatic control could no longer compete with this new technology.

By the year 2000, computerized controllers were common. Today, some of these controllers can even be accessed by web browsers, which need no longer be in the same building as the HVAC equipment. This allows some economies of scale, as a single operations center can easily monitor thousands of buildings.

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