Smart Controls improve the efficiency of heating systems
The start of the heating season is almost upon us and building owners may well be looking at their building heating systems and considering upgrade or refurbishment, not only to improve heating delivery but also occupant comfort and wellbeing.
With energy efficiency high on the agenda, building owners as well as M&E Consultants and M&E Contractors will be evaluating “smart kit” solutions with built in controls to optimise the indoor climate and reduce the use of energy.
So which areas in heating and indoor climate control offer the greatest potential for improvement and savings?
In 2017 the U.S. Energy Information Administration published that 76% of the world’s energy is consumed in buildings, 20% of the world’s electricity is used to pump fluids around and that high-performance HVAC systems account for over 40% of the energy used in commercial buildings.1 Considering that 90% of the whole life cost of a pump is energy related, reducing pump activity remains an important strategy to achieve significant energy savings.2
The Pressure Independent Control Valve (PIC Valve) has been widely credited for providing pump savings of up to 35% by delivering system stability. On top of that, further cost saving can be realised through a simplified system design using PICVs for optimal pump control. This can result in energy, emissions and cost savings of 10-40%.
The Pressure Independent Control Valve (PIC Valve) was designed to replace the conventional 2-way control valve, balancing valve and system differential pressure control valve, so that pressure changes in system would no longer affect the flow. PICVs are typically installed at terminal units in heating and cooling systems in buildings controlling the flow, temperature and pressure. To achieve the most efficient and optimal results in a system, the exact required amount of chilled or heated water has to be delivered to the heating and cooling terminal units.
Research into further optimisation options has led to the development of the Pressure Dependent Control Valve, generating further savings by continuously measuring the temperature drop between inlet and outlet temperature (DeltaT) in the PICV installation to modulate the water flow. These valves help maximise the temperature differential, which in return saves energy however, with the constant adjustments based on the Delta T, the actuator in a pressure dependent solution will still have to work hard to modulate the water flow.
This has now been addressed. FlowCon offers an innovative energy-saving Pressure & Temperature Independent system, FlowCon Energy FIT, which provide monitoring, measuring, connectivity and control in one package including a PIC Valve with a user friendly actuator with easy setting directly on the display, for flow, temperature and pressure control, a temperature and pressure sensor kit, the new FlowCon Intelligent Interface for flow and energy metering as well as a Bluetooth-based App (Android & iOS) for monitoring at specific locations within a building and real-time analogue communication with the BMS system.
The system measures energy usage whilst monitoring coil performance, adjusting the PIC Valve to achieve the target design DeltaT to optimise coil performance. The Pressure Independent Control Valve mechanically maintains the correct flow, despite pressure changes in the system, guaranteeing that flow will only change when demand requirements change or when the DeltaT is outside of specification, resulting in less actuator movements and ultimately, a longer actuator life time.
By optimising the temperature differential, flow rate requirements may be reduced whilst achieving the same outputs, delivering energy savings and releasing more flow capacity, whilst the pressure and temperature independency optimise occupant comfort.
What’s more, the system generate a wealth of data for building owners and facilities managers such as the actual DeltaT, differential pressure across the PIC Valve, actual flow rate and the energy usage.
Every year billions are wasted due to the weaknesses in hydronic heating and cooling systems. If heating and cooling systems do not consistently operate at their designed temperature differential, energy waste occurs. The introduction of these new systems will help to further minimise such unnecessary expense.
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1 U.S. Energy Information Administration
2 FlowCon International Statistics