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Building Operating Management

Wireless BAS: Factors Facility Managers Should Consider

By Josh Thompson February 2012 - Building Automation   Article Use Policy

The Pros and Cons(iderations) of Wireless


  • Most building management systems (BMS) now afford integration with wireless solutions. Those that are not "native" to a certain technology can be translated with gateways that are readily available and affordable.
  • Wireless devices allow BMS devices access to challenging and hazardous spaces, including historic/renovation spaces where cables cannot be used.
  • Because there is no need to re-route cabling, there is flexibility in design and facility re-purposes.
  • In deployment, wireless solutions are often less expensive than hardwired alternatives, particularly when the cost of conduit and copper are factored in.
  • Wireless systems are electrically isolated, making them immune to lightning or other electrical damage.
  • When properly configured, wireless systems are more secure than a wired equivalent, both in terms of data security and protection from physical damage to infrastructures/cabling.


  • Wireless solutions require frequency planning coordination and potential IT coordination in design and integration.
  • The bandwidth of a wireless system is limited when compared to wired.
  • All wireless systems are subject to random interference, with no protection from future encroachment due to an unregulated spectrum.
  • Wireless should never be deployed as part of a life-safety system.
  • Most require a consumable power source (batteries) which requires maintenance (at a cost) or line power, which defeats the benefit of using a wireless device. If you can get power to a location, you can generally get a signal wire there.
  • Not all spaces are accessible or are shielded from radio frequency transmission, which can come from numerous and unexpected sources.
  • Many sensitive spaces and government facilities do not allow RF radiation of any kind.

— by Josh Thompson

Part 1: Wireless Building Automation: EnOcean and Zigbee

Part 2: WiFi Is Still Leading Option for Wireless BMS

Part 3: Wireless BAS: Factors Facility Managers Should Consider


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