Control Retrofits With Pneumatic Thermostats
May 17, 2010
George Fincher, engineer, used to be a California contractor. Now he is the president of Energy Controls Co. He had a dream in 2007 to utilize the proven pneumatic thermostats that have served the industry for more than 50 years, and combine them with battery power and wireless communications.
When he saw that the wireless industry was robust and dependable, Fincher decided it was time to start developing the ecWizard.
The PESC-F100 (ecWizard) offers an alternative to DDC retrofits of pneumatic systems. Its installation entails cutting a few pneumatic lines, the company said. Optional supply air sensors, room air sensors, and cfm sensors add to the monitoring opportunities.
Existing thermostats and control system remain intact; they are simply turned off like a wireless light switch.
The wireless technology is the most exciting and potentially profitable opportunity in the controls industry today, said the company. Retrofits consist of 70-75 percent of existing control sales. The expected market in 2010 for controls is estimated at $8 billion. The potential for the ecWizard is based on the installed base 60 million pneumatic installations in the world today.
Companies and products that make up the system include:
• Tridium, which realized the potential of wireless controls, teamed with Jennic Corp. to produce the wireless module. Tridium’s Sedona framework and the Jennic send/receive radio are combined with ZigBee and 6loWPAN protocol.
• Solidyne, whose top engineers are working for Energy Controls Co. along with Tridium and Jennic. Solidyne will be manufacturing the ecWizard in the Chicago area.
• The Prophet line of products and dashboard technologies are aimed at filling the necessity for intelligent data visualization solutions within the building automation and energy management space. Providing a simple to use WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor enables the integrator and end user to create and save custom views and dashboards for their real-time and historic data, while retaining the capability for ad-hoc analysis of the same data. The Prophet Touch is an embedded computer that comes preloaded with Niagara AX Platform, as well as Prophet software for plug-and-play installation.
The retrofit system provides a mesh network of wireless communications back to the ecHost powered by Tridium’s Jace and software. A typical 6LoWPAN system may include a number of wireless networks, connected using a wired bus such as an Ethernet, which is connected to the Internet.
One of the major problems with old pneumatic systems is that they are sometimes contaminated with moisture and oil, the company pointed out. When the new controller is installed, each zone throughout the system is purged of oil and moisture. It can also resolve comfort problems by helping thermostats perform optimally. It also provides zoning of unoccupied areas using an old sequence of operation called “Turn It Off!”
For more information, visit www.energy-controls.com.
Publication date: 05/17/2010