Timberline Blog

How the Internet of Things (IoT) Impacts Commercial/Industrial HVAC Systems

March 21, 2024 by Timberline

The term Internet of Things (IoT) was coined in 1999 by a computer scientist at Procter & Gamble. It describes systems of connected devices—as distinct from what you might say is the Internet of Places (i.e., the traditional internet), meaning the system of connected computer locations worldwide.

So, the IoT isn’t new. However, companies today are increasingly leveraging it for benefits like:

  • Increased efficiency and productivity. IoT devices can automate tasks and collect data for use in process optimization, leading to significant savings in time and money. For example, factories can use IoT sensors to monitor equipment and predict maintenance needs, preventing costly downtime.
  • Greater convenience. IoT devices can make our lives more convenient. For example, smart thermostats can learn the preferences of a company’s workers and adjust the temperature automatically.
  • Improved decision-making. The data collected by IoT devices can provide valuable insights that businesses can use to make better decisions. For instance, retailers can use IoT sensors to track customer behavior in stores and optimize product ordering and placement.
  • New business opportunities. IoT is creating business opportunities by enabling the development of innovative products and services. For example, companies are producing connected vehicles that can provide drivers with real-time traffic updates and other information.
  • More effective remote monitoring. IoT devices allow us to monitor and manage things remotely. For instance, agriculture businesses can use IoT sensors to monitor soil moisture levels and irrigation systems remotely.

technician holding laptop and checking equipment

The last item in that list is arguably the most important to the HVAC industry. Systems that people previously could only interact with in person can now be controlled and monitored from anywhere with an internet connection if set up for remote communications. That capability is changing how people and companies use and benefit from their systems.

This article covers how the IoT has become a game-changer for HVAC system managers and users and a transformative force in commercial and industrial facilities.

5 Ways the Internet of Things Is Changing the HVAC Industry

How is the ability of devices to “talk to” one another affecting the HVAC industry? Here are five of the most notable impacts:

  1. Monitoring that enhances efficiency and performance. Historically, HVAC systems were monitored manually or through simple automation systems. The IoT has introduced groundbreaking changes by enabling real-time monitoring and data analytics capabilities. Sensors within HVAC equipment collect many types of data, including temperature, humidity, air quality and energy consumption, among others. This wealth of information allows for a comprehensive understanding of HVAC system performance.
  2. Remote accessibility and control. Before the IoT, if a commercial building tenant called a property manager to report a problem with the HVAC system, somebody had to travel to the building to troubleshoot the problem. With an IoT-enabled system, the property manager or a facility manager can remotely access the system with a smartphone, tablet, or computer. And more than just seeing what’s happening, they can adjust temperature settings, switch modes, etc. They can also arrange to receive alerts or notifications about system faults or anomalies from anywhere with an internet connection. This remote accessibility not only enhances convenience but also enables more timely interventions to optimize energy usage and ensure occupant comfort.
  3. Energy efficiency optimization. Energy efficiency is a primary concern in commercial and industrial HVAC systems, given their significant contribution to overall energy consumption in these types of facilities. IoT integration enables dynamic optimization of HVAC operations using real-time data on changing needs and environmental conditions. For instance, sensors can adjust temperature setpoints, airflow rates or ventilation schedules in response to room use patterns, weather forecasts or building activity profiles. By fine-tuning system parameters, IoT-driven HVAC optimization reduces energy use, lowers utility bills and contributes to organizational sustainability goals.
  4. Predictive maintenance and fault detection. IoT-enabled HVAC systems leverage advanced analytics and machine learning algorithms to predict potential faults or inefficiencies before they occur. By continuously analyzing data patterns, anomalies and performance trends, predictive maintenance algorithms can identify emerging issues such as component wear and tear, refrigerant leaks or airflow restrictions. This proactive approach to maintenance minimizes downtime, reduces repair costs and extends the lifespan of HVAC equipment.
  5. Enhanced comfort and improved indoor air quality. IoT-enabled HVAC systems can prioritize occupant comfort and indoor air quality, making changes as needed to achieve the desired goals. Intelligent sensors in some systems can continuously monitor environmental parameters like temperature, humidity and airborne contaminants. Based on these measurements, automated HVAC controls can adjust airflow distribution, filtration and ventilation rates to maintain optimal indoor conditions. By ensuring a healthier and more comfortable indoor environment, IoT-driven HVAC systems contribute to productivity, well-being and overall occupant satisfaction.

Looking Ahead

There is no end in sight for the evolution of the IoT/HVAC system relationship. Advances in sensor technology, connectivity and data analytics will continue. And anyone who has used an artificial intelligence system for anything can see the potential in that rapidly growing field. AI tools literally get smarter every day, and manufacturers will surely look to incorporate them into HVAC system controls.

Add to those trends the increased focus on sustainability, and there is no doubt that IoT-enabled HVAC systems can and must play a pivotal role in achieving energy efficiency goals and reducing carbon footprints, particularly in the commercial and industrial sectors.

Ultimately, integrating IoT technology into HVAC systems represents a transformative shift in how companies can monitor, control and optimize heating and cooling infrastructure. From real-time insights and remote accessibility to predictive maintenance and energy efficiency optimization, IoT-enabled HVAC systems offer numerous benefits for building owners, facility managers and occupants.

As the IoT continues to evolve, the potential for enhancing comfort, increasing sustainability and improving operational efficiency in HVAC systems remains virtually unlimited.

Contact Timberline Mechanical To Discuss Your Commercial/Industrial HVAC Needs

If you’re looking for service, repairs or preventative maintenance on your commercial or industrial HVAC system, Timberline can help. Whether you have the latest, IoT-enabled system or a more traditional solution, our techs can assess and address any issues you face.

Contact Timberline Mechanical at your convenience.

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