Software Motor Co., the business atop the podium for commercial controls this year, is not like most other winners. The company was just formed in 2013, releasing its first products to market earlier this year, but its research team tallies more than 100 years of collective experience in computer hardware and motor design.

The fruit of this labor? The SMC Smart Motor System — and while it is not yet widely commercially available, it is on the way after enjoying successful pilot projects installed with Whole Foods Market, Walmart, Bravo Brio Restaurant Group, and other organizations.

SMC’s system directly reduces the electricity cost for HVAC and fan installations in buildings by using a higher-efficiency software commutated motor coupled with demand response algorithms to optimize building loads. This provides significant benefits for customers in terms of enhanced operability. The motor is a simple design with fewer components than other motors and, therefore, is less prone to failure, according to the manufacturer. Built with high-efficiency bearings, the expected life of these motors is 200,000 hours for a direct-drive installation.

“The controller provides many different options for optimizing usage based on demand response signals, which vary by utility,” said David Miles, vice president of operations. “For demand response price schemes, Open ADR standards will be utilized to absorb these price signals, and a fully optimized operational schedule will be developed each day to reflect opportunities for maximum economizer operation, pre-heating or pre-cooling, or additional temperature set-point adjustments. All operating plans will consider minimum air-change-per-hour standards.”

The HVAC configuration software includes high-end resource planning wire-frame and rule engine software, which can be used by contractors to configure HVAC systems at no added cost or license fee. SMC offers online dashboards and reports for operational excellence. Every motor comes with its own dynamic building control system, or it can easily integrate with existing legacy systems.

Richard Almini, president and CEO of Legacy Mechanical & Energy Services in San Ramon, California, explained how his firm handles this flexibility.

“Once we complete a full SMC installation project, we provide the operating software to the customer at no extra charge,” he said.

Almini takes a step back to review the big picture.

“Typically, fan and pump motors make up a significant amount of the electrical energy consumed by commercial and industrial properties, and after performing a series of pilot projects with the SMC Switched Reluctance Motors and Smart Controllers, we were very impressed with the measured and documented energy savings,” he said. “This retrofit technology is highly adaptable to nearly every type of packaged rooftop unit. Plus, after utility rebates and annual energy savings are considered, we have seen paybacks between one and two years.”

Lastly, the SMC motor performance is optimized via state-of-the-art simulations at every stage in the lifecycle — from design, to build, operation, and maintenance. According to the company, the digital twin replica for each SMC motor provides near real-time monitoring and predictive maintenance capabilities to ensure highest reliability and operational resilience.


Johnson Controls Inc. earned silver with the Verasys® family of controllers. Designed to be a convenient, one-stop solution for the light commercial market, Verasys works to connect with a wide array of equipment and sensors to serve either one zone or multiple zones with precise temperature control and comfort. As far as contractor-friendly elements, it offers pre-programmed and configurable controllers that can be used as is or adjusted from the factory defaults as needed.

The demand for real-time info is only increasing, and straightforward integration with Metasys®, any legacy Johnson Controls N2 system, or any other third-party BACnet system is an appealing feature. Elsewhere in the real-time realm, the system offers optional fault detection and diagnostics that can send alarm notifications via email or text. Look for the manufacturer to make additional updates with an eye toward evolving IoT and building standards.


The KE2 Temp + Valve from KE2 Therm Solutions takes the final spot on the podium in the Commercial Controls category. Designed for a wide range of refrigeration, warehouse, and other applications, the product opens the door to shorter installation times in air defrost applications by replacing both a refrigeration thermostat and a defrost time clock. It also targets exceptionally tight system control and simplified wiring. The KE2 Temp + Valve will drive an electronic expansion valve, electronic evaporator pressure regulating valve, or electronic hot gas bypass valve, according to the manufacturer.

Users deploying the KE2 Flash Drive can obtain 366 days of datalogging, and when using the company’s LDA, they can work with a dashboard on their phone, tablet, or computer, displaying controllers connected to the local network. Other conveniences for contractors include the ability to select control options for 20 of the most common refrigerants. The manufacturer says subcooler/chiller control applications are on the horizon, as requested by contractors, along with third-party BAS integration.


Publication date: 7/23/2018

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