Integration of VRV / VRF Air- Conditioning Systems and Home Automation / BMS Controllers
The latest generation in Air-Conditioning Systems incorporates advanced VRV/VRF technology that saves energy and is extremely quiet in operation. These systems are no longer as rare as they were in the past and are now getting the attention they deserve together with increased market share.
The most prominent manufactures of such Air-Conditioning systems are Japanese with companies like: Daikin, Mitsubishi Electric, Mitsubishi Heavy, Fujitsu, Hitachi, Sanyo / Panasonic and Toshiba. Daikin for instance, was the first company to introduce this technology, called ‘VRV’ (Variable Refrigerant Volume). All other HVAC manufacturers followed Daikin with their own version of the technology called ‘VRF’ (Variable Refrigerant Flow). Additional players outside of Japan producing VRF air- Conditioning systems are Koreans with companies like: LG and Samsung with other large players from China as Gree and Medea.
VRV / VRF Air-Conditioning systems have been distributed and installed all over the globe for about 35 years. At the start their market penetration was slow, but has increased dramatically in recent years once individuals and companies began to understand the significant energy savings of 30% and even higher, these systems may provide.
Countries in Europe, Far- East and Australia have been world leaders on the number of systems installed and increasing market share compared to those in the U.S. The U.S. started embracing the technology within the last 5 - 7 years with a significant growth in usage over the last two years.
Realizing the benefits of these systems, leading Air-Conditioning companies in N.A have started to use the technology by forming alliances with existing manufacturers from Japan and Korea. For instance, Johnson Control with Sanyo / Panasonic, Carrier has formed a joint operation in the States with Toshiba naming it: Carrier-Toshiba and Trane allied with Samsung to introduce their OEM VRF version.
As the U.S. started its economic recovery following the crisis that hit the U.S. in 2008, it is now possible to notice the growing penetration of VRV/VRF Systems in the U.S market; a fact that was firmly confirmed by Will Scott a Sales Manager for Mitsubishi in the U.S. already in 2010:
" VRF shipments have continued to enjoy double-digit growth throughout the economic downturn. And as more engineers and contractors have successfully applied VRF across a wider spectrum of market segments, we expect their comfort level with VRF to translate into accelerated growth as we begin our economic recovery,” (achrnews: Nov 22 2010)
VRV / VRF Air-Conditioning Systems – Control and Monitoring
VRV and VRF Air-Conditioning systems are more sophisticated in their control systems incorporating built-in communication, unlike the traditional Central and Split Air- Conditioning systems that typically incorporate only a basic form of on/off control logic. The control and monitoring of VRV / VRF Air - Conditioning Systems is done with solutions provided by the HVAC companies who offer Central Controllers, Communication Gateway / Converters and thermostats to control and monitor outdoor / indoor units on issues like: On /Off Control, Cool, Heat, Fan, Dry Mode selection, Temperature set, Fan speed, Swing, Filter reset, Group operation, (all On all Off), Failure Codes etc.'
Communication protocols of VRV / VRF Air-Conditioning are not published or disclosed by the manufacturers, and each maintains its own unique protocol. This situation limits the supply of control solutions only to those offered by the manufacturers preventing third party suppliers from competing and offer solutions with better design, functionality and pricing to accommodate today's modern house design and advanced communication means.
Integration of Smart Homes Controllers with VRV / VRF Air-Conditioning Systems
Not an Easy Task!
The world market for Smart Home Systems, also known as Home Automation, has grown dramatically in recent years to reach several billion dollars a year. H/W Systems and applications are designed and built to satisfy the increasing demands of the modern house in areas like electricity, lighting, shades, security (cameras, gates), climate, entertainment and more.
Manufacturers and suppliers in Home Automation are divided according to their expertise where some focus and specialize in a particular area; others provide complete H/W and S/W solutions for control and monitoring of the entire home. Prominent players in this market are Crestron, Control4, Lutron, Vantage, Savant, AMX, RTI, HAI, Elan and many others.
The controller display unit, usually supplied with the Home Automation system, provides the home owner with the ability to centrally control and monitor almost every peripheral around the house without the need to abandon his couch. This becomes even of a greater necessity when living in large luxury houses having many rooms and big distances to cover.
Nevertheless, one major area that has been overlooked and not properly addressed by the home automation companies is the ability to centrally control and monitor the Air - Conditioning units especially VRV / VRF systems, thus totally ignore the increasing use of these A/C systems. In the absence of adequate control solutions, the home owner has no choice but to use the cumbersome and expensive control equipment as supplied by the HVAC companies.
CoolMaster – Seamless Solution Integrating Home Automation / BMS Controllers & Air-Conditioning Systems
Cool Automation has identified that need for seamless integration and control solutions for such HVAC applications.
Cool Automation, is a company specializing in the development and supply of innovative gateways for the integration of Home Automation Controllers and HVAC Systems in general and VRV / VRF in particular.
The flagship product of the company is CoolMaster that is successfully distributed and installed in more than 55 countries via distributors, home automation integrators and HVAC installers.
CoolMaster is an innovative communication gateway that by using just a pair of wires may quickly connect to terminals on the VRV / VRF air- conditioning communication line to control and monitor the air- conditioning systems most essential parameters.
From the Home Automation / BMS end CoolMaster provides common RS232 / RS 485 interfaces requiring trivial s/w commands only, for a seamless integration process therefor to avoid the tedious and complex re-programming job that would otherwise be required.
This hassle-free integration process for home automation Integrators, and HVAC installers, enables the home owner to control and monitor all his HVAC indoor units for Air-Conditioning most essential parameters, all from the Home Automation’s controller. This is not something he can do from his HVAC equipment.
For VRV / VRF air- conditioning systems CoolMaster supports most of the existing brands with one H/W platform that can be used for all different HVAC brands.
For Home Automation systems, CoolMaster is compatible and may simply integrate with all major brands. This has been well recognized by home automation companies who either purchase CoolMaster directly, or recommend it for their distributors and integrators everywhere as an integration solution with their controllers and HVAC.
Recently, Cool Automation has announced the introduction of CoolRemote, a web based control solution that with CoolMaster connected to the Internet enables the remote control and monitoring of HVAC units from any platform, mobile or fixed.
Written by: Ofer Ben-Nathan, Marketing and Sales Manager for Cool Automation.
Cool Automation: www.coolautomation.com will exhibit at the CEDIA fair in Denver Colorado September 26th – 28th, Booth 3431. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org