As both our internal and external environment changes, the HVAC industry also changes and develops new technologies in heating and cooling to meet new improved energy efficiency standards. For example, 30 years ago, HVAC systems consisted of single-stage motors and mercury thermostats that maintained a steady temperature 24 hours a day unless the dial was turned up or down. Today, we have programmable thermostats that allow multiple temperatures to be set, depending on the time and day of the week, and we have variable-speed motors that can decrease or increase, depending on cooling or heating needs. The 2019 HVAC trends are forecast to involve better HVAC connectivity and data as well as improvements in green HVAC technology.
1. Connectivity and Data
HVAC systems are increasingly becoming part of the Internet Of Things (IOT). As a result, WiFi enabled thermostats and sensors are going to become increasingly important in order to control indoor temperature and humidity levels as well as air flow. As a result, the software used to control those components is going to have to become more versatile and robust in order to seamlessly communicate with desktop computers, laptops, tablets and cell phones so that maintenance technicians, property managers, owners and landlords have the ability to monitor and control the system from any part of the building and even when they are off-site.
Additionally, the software that monitors and reports HVAC data is going to have to become more intelligent because it is no longer enough to simply report the current system status and past system performance. The software is also going to have to automatically detect and report problems as well as offer possible reasons for any HVAC system malfunctions. For this reason, we can expect HVAC IOT technology to incorporate the ability to self-diagnose potential problems as well as list possible causes for those problems.
2. Smart HVAC Designs
As the connectivity technology advances, HVAC manufacturers are going to start incorporating it into their new Smart HVAC designs. This means that one of the 2019 HVAC trends is for heating and cooling systems to contain more sensors and the ability to talk to more than one system in the building. For example, occupancy sensors can be used to control the indoor temperature and humidity levels as well as the lights. Smarter systems may also be able to monitor outdoor temperature and humidity levels as well as track the brightness and position of the sun. For example, if a section of your building is receiving direct sunlight, it could trigger the HVAC system to supply more cool air to that specific section in the summer and less heat in the winter in order to compensate for the increase in temperature due to the sun’s heat. The system may also be able to open and close smart blinds in relation to the sun’s position.
3. Environmentally Friendly, Green HVAC Units
In 2019, we expect the HVAC trends to include the installation of more environmentally friendly HVAC systems, like those that use geothermal heating and cooling as well as solar panels to reduce energy consumption. In fact, geothermal heat pumps are already on the market. These systems use the ground or a water source, like a pond, to facilitate the transfer of heat while minimizing energy usage. In the future, we can expect these designs to incorporate multiple energy sources, like solar and gas, and the ability to seamlessly switch between fuel sources in order to further reduce energy costs.
In fact, that future is already being developed in the form of thermally driven air conditioning. A company in Australia is currently manufacturing chillers that operate using gas and solar panels, making them extremely energy efficient. These systems also contain fewer moving parts, which means they are less likely to experience breakdowns.
4. Ductless HVAC Systems
Ductless HVAC systems are becoming increasingly popular for large buildings, especially condos, co-ops and apartment complexes due to their ease of installation, automatic redundancy and lack of air ducts. The big energy saver on these systems is the complete lack of air ducts, which can contribute to as much as a 30 percent heating or cooling loss due to holes and gaps, according to Energy Star. Ductless HVAC systems are also inherently redundant in the fact that multiple indoor air handling units are connected to a single outdoor compressor. This means that if one air handling unit experiences a malfunction, only that room is affected. The rest of the units will remain operational.
Improving energy efficiency means making building envelopes tighter and limiting the transfer of air between the building at the outdoors. For this reason, many large buildings handle all of their air circulation through their HVAC systems. When that system goes down, air circulation stops and occupant comfort dramatically decreases until the unit can be repaired. To help limit occupant discomfort and prevent extremely high and extremely low indoor temperatures, many Chicago building owners are looking into HVAC system redundancy. These systems typically consist of a primary HVAC system and a backup HVAC system that can handle a specific percentage of the cooling or heating load, usually 50 percent or more. If the primary HVAC system ever completely fails, the backup HVAC system takes over to provide some cooling and heating as well as air circulation.
Implementing the Latest HVAC Industry Advancements with Althoff, Serving Chicago
Smart HVAC systems IOT and BAS are the future of building technology and energy-efficiency. Here at Althoff, we are committed to staying up-to-date on all the latest HVAC industry advancements, which is why we offer custom HVAC design and installation and BAS systems for all types of commercial and industrial buildings. We can even retrofit existing HVAC systems with improved sensors, controls and monitoring equipment so that you know if your HVAC unit is performing according to its specs or if it needs to be inspected and repaired in order to prevent an untimely breakdown.