BOSTON — The global intelligent HVAC control systems market has been resilient in the face of an extended period of economic weakness, and the market is currently in the middle of a paradigm shift, according to a new ARC Advisory Group study. Most existing systems are basic analog-based systems and these still make up the majority of the installed base. However, the majority of projects being designed and commissioned today utilize digital architecture, IP-based communications, and web accessibility to increase the breadth and capabilities of these systems. There is also a strong trend towards the integration of once disparate systems, such as lighting control, access control, and others.

“Digital and IP-based systems have been accepted as the future direction of the market, and adoption rates of these types of systems are growing each year. The ‘hot topic’ in the market this year focuses more on how end users and suppliers can most effectively collect, manage, and interpret the vast amount of data that these intelligent systems provide and turn it into useful information,” said Joseph Gillespie, ARC research analyst and principal author of HVAC Control Systems Worldwide Outlook.

The ARC report notes that adoption of intelligent HVAC systems is uneven across different regions, and growth in this market is strongly correlated with the health of new construction markets. In mature economies — such as the United States and Europe — intelligent systems are seeing lower growth rates because new construction markets are weak. Conversely, new construction markets have been strong in Asia — despite softening recently — and blossoming in Latin America, particularly Brazil. The report says the North American and European markets will enjoy stronger growth when their respective economies recover and new construction projects resume. Until then, suppliers in these regions will rely on retrofits, replacements, and incremental upgrades to existing facilities. This will extend the demand for basic systems in mature economies in the near term, and slow the adoption rate of intelligent digital systems.

According to the report, light commercial buildings, such as small- and medium-sized retail stores, health clinics and doctors’ parks, churches, K-through-12 schools, and small office buildings represent a significant portion of existing and new buildings in most markets, yet do not typically employ advanced HVAC controls. This is changing as controllers with enhanced functionality and robust software capabilities become less expensive, web services make dedicated workstations unnecessary, and systems become easier to operate. Traditional HVAC suppliers are using modular system designs to roll out flexible and scalable products at a lower-cost to capture this growing segment of the market.

Publication date: 10/1/2012