Consider Wireless Options When Planning a Controls Retrofit

  May 26, 2011

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.


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