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5 Things To Be Considered by HVAC Engineers

HVAC engineers

The heating, ventilation, and air conditioning industry (HVAC) is facing major changes due to technological progress and the emergence of Internet of Things (IoT). With new products being launched every day, HVAC engineers and manufacturers are looking for new ways to meet the growing customer needs and the industry standards regarding energy efficiency, comfort and performance.

Moreover, due to the “sick building syndrome”, the attention to indoor air quality (IAQ) is a topic expected to be tackled by HVAC systems manufacturers.

Here are some tips to be considered by HVAC engineers based on the industry’s evolution and trends:

1. Focus on energy efficient HVAC equipment

Energy-efficient HVAC systems with SimScale

Carbon emissions and energy consumption are key topics in the efforts to create more efficient buildings. In the construction sector, HVAC equipment plays an important part of cutting wasteful energy usage.

More and more popular among both homeowners and companies with office buildings are zero-energy buildings, which imply the usage of geothermal heating and cooling, solar-powered systems, and white roofing. All of these trends are significantly impacting air conditioning, heating, and ventilation manufacturers, as new regulations regarding energy efficiency are expected to be implemented in the upcoming years.

In the efforts to increase efficiency, smart buildings, smart grid technologies, and smart cities are creating a new era in the construction and HVAC industries.

2. Create environmentally friendly systems

Environment friendly

Facing increasing regulations regarding the usage of environmentally-friendly materials, products, and substances in the manufacturing of the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and even refrigeration (HVACR) equipment, companies are expanding the efforts to create energy efficient systems in the entire production process. This helps HVAC engineers to create products with the lowest impact on the environment.

These efforts include companies specialized in refrigeration, as customers demand the usage of natural refrigerants, such as ammonia, carbon dioxide, and even propane, replacing the traditional fluorocarbons, which have a negative impact on global warming.[1]

3. Software is not a thing to ignore, nor is smart technology

Nest Learning Thermostat

As a leading industry in the technology field, HVAC is pushing for innovation in smart devices. Smart thermostat technology, smart equipment integration, and IoT (Internet of Things) are all part of this global movement.

Leading the smart controllers market, the Nest Thermostat is revolutionizing the HVAC industry. Remembering preferred temperatures, the device creates a custom schedule for homes, based on the part of the day or season. Following the industry focus on energy saving, the 3rd generation Nest Learning Thermostat™ is proven to save 10 to 12% on heating bills and 15% on the cooling bills [2], by automatically adjusting the temperature settings to save energy. With the possibility to be controlled remotely from a smartphone, tablet, or laptop, the device significantly reduces energy usage. Moreover, this type of device can give notice about possible problems of a heating system.

With many other roles in both comfort and safety in buildings (it can automatically shut off fossil fuel-based heating systems, in the case of CO leaks in the home), the Nest thermostat and other devices alike are being embraced by HVAC professionals and integrated into their systems.

Direct digital control (DDC) systems are another example of how software is changing the products on the market. Using digital processors, DDC systems enable users to remotely monitor, control, alarm and diagnose HVAC equipment.

Embracing new technologies, HVAC engineers and designers are focused on all-in-one software solutions that enable them to deliver indoor comfort in the easiest way possible.

Moreover, with the integration of mobile phones in the everyday life, HVAC maintenance and service is expected to rely on mobile applications to become more efficient.

4. Consider 3D Engineering Simulation, every smart HVAC Engineer does

HVAC analysis with SimScale - server room

Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE or engineering simulation)  brings tremendous advantages in meeting the design objectives of HVAC equipment manufacturers.

In the industry, simulation is being used to:

  • Analyze and optimize the design of air conditioning, heating, ventilation systems, fans, ducts or blowers;
  • Ensure the performance of cooling and heating equipment in residential buildings but also electronics packaging, server rocks, engines or data centers;
  • Predict thermal comfort in residential areas, offices and passengers cabins via air temperature, velocity, radiant temperature;
  • Predict fire or smoke propagation for safety control in tunnels, subway stations, parking garages and ensure air quality in healthcare facilities or laboratories;
  • Reduce energy supply for HVAC systems via better ducting, fan or cooling unit placement;
  • Predict pedestrians’ comfort, reduce contaminant dispersal from chemical stacks, and predict wind loads on external buildings or structures.

5. Learn about passive survivability

Image source: Case Study - Ventilation Systems in a Passive House

Image source: Case Study – Ventilation System in a Passive House

Introduced after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, “Passive Survivability” refers to the building’s ability to maintain critical life-support conditions in the event of extended loss of power, heating fuel, or water.[3]

Suggested to become a standard design criterion for houses, apartment buildings, and schools and being strongly linked to high-performance and renewable power design buildings, “passive survivability” ensures that a home can continue to shelter inhabitants for a long period of time in case of disasters such as storms, heat waves, floods or even droughts.

Conclusion

As more and more investments are being made in the construction industry, HVAC companies need to keep up with the trends leading this fast-growing sector. New technologies and energy efficiency are key topics in the next years when it comes to staying competitive in the HVAC world.


SimScale is the first cloud-based 3D engineering simulation platform that allows anyone on the product development team to simulate the physical behavior of their products within a standard web browser.

If you are interested in learning more about how HVAC equipment engineers can leverage simulation for their HVAC design, read this case study describing how Austrian company IBEEE used SimScale to design a more efficient passive ventilation system for houses achieving a 40% improvement in the flow rate.


References:

[1] http://www.achrnews.com/articles/123334-hvac-trends-to-watch?v=preview

[2] http://money.cnn.com/2015/09/01/technology/new-nest-thermostat/

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passive_survivability

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