Ensuring Proper Installation of Building Automation Systems

  April 20, 2015

This quick read comes from James Piper, a contributing editor for Building Operating Management. Building automation systems, for all their powerful capabilities, do not always live up to performance expectations. For example, in some cases, particularly if controls have been recently upgraded, the facility manager's expectations of the benefits may have been too high. Either they were oversold on the system's potential, or they simply did not understand what the system could do. More likely, the system has the advertised capabilities, but is not making full use of those capabilities.

To prevent that from happening, one key step is to ensure the BAS is properly installed. A number of issues can be traced back to the original installation of the system. How well a particular system performs depends to a great extent on who installs the system. Different issues arise from software that does not properly function.

Comprehensive system commissioning before the system is formally accepted will identify many of these installation issues. Unfortunately, some facilities forego commissioning because of the cost and time involved. What this means is that errors that are the result of out-of-calibration sensors or improperly wired control loops will go undetected and uncorrected.

For new systems, it is important to verify the installation of all sensors and control devices, not only for their proper operation and readings, but also for their correct physical placement. All devices must have been installed and wired correctly. All devices must be cycled to confirm that they operate as intended. Skipping the commissioning process might save money in the short term, but the resulting operational issues that will go undetected will more than likely offset any initial savings.

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