Wireless networks offer some big advantages over traditional, hard-wired building networks, such as flexibility, ease of expansion, remote access and no sledgehammer required to add a new temperature sensor.
By taking advantage of what wireless can do, facility managers can not only save money, but greatly expand what they can ask their building to do.
Consider the great flexibility wireless systems offer in interior design and planning. "In a hard-wired system, the space temperature sensors are located based mostly where the architect wants to place them for aesthetics, which in many cases is not the correct place for proper temperature control," says Garry Myers, vice president/director of building automation systems, Flack & Kurtz. "A wireless temperature sensor can be relocated to the right place after the furniture's been moved."
Myers points to one particular area as a particularly strong market.
"The best applications for wireless technology is in the office renovation environment, especially in the historic building arena," Myers says.
As an example of that, a renovation of the Empire State Building recently took advantage of wireless control systems to allow for renovations without the risk of damaging the building or running afoul of restrictions on changes due to historic building regulations.
One thing the Empire State Building project did have to watch out for was some trickiness in locating sensors.
"What challenges wireless controls, not only in this (historic) environment, is steel," Myers says. "The receivers must be mounted below the structural steel in a line of sight of each other. Some buildings, especially historic buildings, have limited space between the steel and the finished ceiling."
The EnOcean protocol enables wireless devices to operate without batteries. Its sensors harvest energy created by changes in the environment, such as heat or vibration, to keep themselves powered. Wall-mounted sensors use inductive switches to draw in energy and power themselves. Solar cells, which are usually mounted on the ceiling, operate off indoor light.
EnOcean operates on the 315 MHz frequency in North America and the 868 MHz frequency in Europe. The protocol is used in more than 200,000 buildings worldwide, according to EnOcean.
Cutting the Cord: Wireless Controls Bring Flexibility
Expansion Advantages of Wireless Controls