2 FM quick reads on wireless
1. Wireless Option for Building Management System Has Pros and Cons
Today's tip from Building Operating Management comes from Josh Thompson, of Point Source, LLC: Be familiar with both the pros and cons of wireless building management systems.
- Most BMS systems 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 simply 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.
- 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.
But beyond those benefits, there are other factors that must also be considered.
- 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 equivalents.
- All wireless systems are subject to random interference, with no protection from future encroachment due to an unregulated spectrum.
- Wireless solutions should never be deployed as part of a life-safety system.
- Many require a consumable power source (batteries) which requires maintenance (at a cost) or line power, which defeats the benefit of using a wireless device; however, EnOcean devices do not require batteries. 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.
- Many sensitive spaces and government facilities do not allow RF radiation of any kind.
This has been a Building Operating Management Tip of the Day. Thanks for listening.
2. Consider Wireless Options When Planning a Controls Retrofit
Today's tip from Building Operating Management: Consider wireless options when planning a controls upgrade.
Controls retrofits can cut energy costs while improving occupant comfort and system flexibility. But taking the traditional hard-wired route can add significant cost and disruption to the project. In fact, the expense of installation for hard-wired projects can bump the overall project cost past the payback period that the company is willing to consider, sending energy savings down the drain.
Once it is installed, a wireless device offers flexibility throughout the life of a building. That's increasingly important, given the rising rates of change within facilities. That flexibility helps to ensure that energy savings are maintained. If changes in an office layout compromise the effectiveness of a hard-wired sensor, moving the device can be difficult and may not get done. With a wireless sensor, there's no need to rewire, so the chances of moving the device are far greater.
Today, wireless systems are available with a variety of measures to ensure security. Many require that any piece of data on the network must be able to show that it comes from a "trusted" source. Data that doesn't come from a trusted source is disregarded. What's more, most protocols add advanced encryption as another layer of security. And the use of proper firewalls and virtual networks for the building automation system increases security further.
Adding to the stability of wireless operation is the fact that today's communication technologies can change channels if an outside radio signal comes through on the frequency being used by the system. In fact, many systems are constantly changing channels to prevent the wireless signals from being interrupted or spied on.
A wide variety of controls manufacturers are offering wireless products, and experts say that many systems offer high performance and reliability. Today, anyone considering a controls retrofit ought to take a look at wireless options.