The Gold award in the Commercial Controls category goes to Zonex Systems’ GEN V zone control system, which is designed to manage and control zoned or standalone systems from a single point with a simple interface. This system can be used as the central controller for zoned variable volume and temperature (VVT) systems and/or can control groups of rooftop units or split systems.
“Our goal was to simplify and streamline the installation of commercial zone controls for the contractor and make system management easier for the end user, all from one central control panel we call the HUB stat,” said Jeff Osheroff, president of Zonex Systems. “We wanted to provide an easy-to-install and startup commercial zoning system designed for the package rooftop market that is feature-rich but also price-competitive.”
The HUB stat is a menu-driven interface that is easy to use and does not require a computer or internet connection to operate. System setup is performed by the contractor from the HUB thermostat, and with the intuitive system menu, no special training is required. The functionality of the HUB stat is what Patrick Greene, vice president of Pearce-Green Mechanical in Littleton, Colorado, really appreciates about the GEN V system.
“You can program the system or individual thermostats or all thermostats, set lockout controls, and see the complete zone status summary from a single location,” he said. “The new touchscreen modstats are really nice as well because they offer the look and feel of a high-end temperature control system.”
The HUB stat provides access and control of up to 20 thermostats in the system, and technicians can view, program, and update thermostat set points, schedules, and operation all from one location, without walking to each stat in the building, said Osheroff. Diagnostic features on the HUB stat identify non-communicating thermostats or wiring errors in seconds, so the contractor can easily and quickly troubleshoot the system from one location. One transformer provides power to all the thermostats and dampers in the system, and wiring is daisy chained, which simplifies installation.
Greene adds that the wiring is simple enough that his installers can complete the work without having to involve a large temperature controls contractor, which reduces costs. And because the system is fairly simple, he says that diagnosing problems is easy and straightforward.
“The system offers basic operation or a number of advanced features to help the contractor tailor the system to every job,” said Osheroff. “GEN V also lends itself to easily updating older zoning systems, allowing the contractor to save time and money by using the existing dampers on the job.”
Greene agrees, noting, “The GEN V system allows us to achieve more zoning and a better performing system for less cost than adding additional rooftop units, or upgrading to medium pressure VAV systems with reheat. It really is the perfect balance between simplicity and performance.”
The Silver award goes to Lennox Commercial’s CORE Control System, which is available standard on Lennox Model L rooftop units. This system consists of a unit controller, which is installed inside the unit from the factory, and a mobile app that is used to set up and test the unit (available on iOS or Android).
The CORE service app provides intuitive setup, real-time data readout, and enhanced test functionalities, reducing service costs and creating a connected service experience. The CORE unit controller openly integrates with multiple control types, extends unit lifetime by reliably operating system components, and implements algorithms that optimize efficiency, creating ideal space conditions with ease.
“The CORE service app provides value through its accessibility and ease of use,” said Bobby DiFulgentiz, vice president of product management and marketing at Lennox. “It replaces conventional OEM service tools and USB connections by relying on mobile phones and tablets. Given the shortage of experienced technicians, we believe an app-based experience lessens the learning curve on new, increasingly complex HVAC systems.”
The Bronze award goes to the KE2 Edge Manager Plus (KE2-EM Plus) from KE2 Therm Solutions Inc. The KE2-EM Plus is a multi-functional communications device designed to tie in all KE2 Therm controllers and wireless sensors at a location, as well as a growing number of third-party devices with open protocols.
The KE2-EM Plus provides a dashboard of local devices, Wi-Fi access to connected devices, over a year of data logs and graphs, email and text alerts, remote access, and BACnet/IP integration. This allows the user to easily manage all of their refrigeration related ‘edge’ devices, consistent with the concepts of distributed controls (having the ‘smarts’ at the equipment, rather than a centralized controller) and IoT.
“The KE2-EM Plus allows local Wi-Fi access to any KE2 Therm controller, saving the technician time and effort on site,” said Mark Reichenbach, product manager at KE2 Therm Solutions. “Remote access allows a technician to determine whether a service call is a nuisance (e.g., door left open) or an actual issue, and if an actual system issue, whether it is critical or can wait until other service calls are complete.”
KE2 Therm Solutions spent a year-and-a-half creating the KE2-EM Plus, relying on feedback from technicians who said they wanted to easily see all of their KE2 Therm controls from smart devices, as well as all devices at a location on a single dashboard.