August 2008
  
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Wireless Demand Response
Bringing DR to a Broader Base of Customers

  Christina Inge

Christina Inge
Marketing Manager
Spinwave Systems, Inc.

As more companies and institutions look to sign up for demand response, the need for more flexible DR systems grows. Increasing the reliability and cost-effectiveness of DR systems for a wider range of applications is more vital than before. Organizations of all kinds, including those with buildings that are occupied throughout peak demand times, are initiating DR, posing a series of installation challenges:

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Wireless demand response systems make it feasible to implement DR with a wider range of buildings. For retrofits of existing buildings, using wireless metering pulse counters, thermostat controls, input/output modules, and sensors reduces the time and the cost of installing systems. Wireless devices can make installation easier and less obtrusive. And when implementing DR depends on adding a higher level of monitoring and control to your existing BAS, wireless provides an affordable means of adding sensor nodes for optimized performance.

Ensuring That Buildings Stay Comfortable During Load Sheds

An important concern with DR in consistently occupied buildings, such as retail stores and academic institutions, is the comfort of the occupants when load is shed. Shedding load can be done without inconveniencing building occupants, but to make sure of that, building conditions need to be carefully monitored during load sheds. It’s essential to avoid creating conditions of overly high or low temperatures, or poor lighting, which can result in reduced occupant comfort, lower productivity, and, ultimately, lack of support for the DR program.

To avoid the chance of this happening, adequate monitoring systems throughout a building are vital. Stepping up monitoring efforts can often entail adding more sensors to existing configurations, which can present installation challenges. Running wires to new temperature sensors can increase the amount of time it takes to get a DR program running, create a new source of inconvenience for occupants, and drive up installation costs. Wireless sensors solve these problems, making them an ideal choice for retrofitting a building for demand response. Sensors can be surface-mounted and are powered by batteries, allowing for quick, unobtrusive installations. Sensor locations can also be changed whenever needed, so that monitoring can always be targeted to the areas of the building that currently have the highest levels of occupancy.

Installing Wireless Demand Response Systems: Greater Convenience, Lower Initial Costs, More Rapid Return on Investment

Eliminating the need to install wiring reduces not only the time required to add metering devices, thermostat controllers, input/output modules, and sensors to an existing building, but also the potential disruption to occupants. When implementing DR systems in fully occupied buildings, this can increase the feasibility of an installation. Installation times are reduced, often from a few months to a few days; significant construction of the type that disturbs building residents, such as drilling walls and hauling out debris, are eliminated. Occupants generally don’t need to be moved from their rooms or work areas; store stock and displays don’t need to be rearranged.

Since DR service providers usually absorb the upfront costs of every DR installation, cutting those installation costs can have a important positive impact on the bottom line. Wireless systems, by eliminating the cost-intensive process of installing wiring and conduit, can reduce installation costs by up to three-quarters. Wireless thus reduces financial risks and speeds the time to realize a return on each investment.

Reliability of Both Transmission Ranges and Wireless Signals

One question voiced by many DR implementers is whether wireless signals will be transmitted reliably. Long distances between meters and BAS interfaces, physical obstacles to transmission, such as other equipment and non-movable building features, and interference from other RF sources are among the reasons for this concern.

PlantPROCORE Real-life installations of wireless pulse counters and input/output devices are allaying these concerns. Spinwave’s A3 wireless pulse counters, for instance, are designed to avoid RF interference with frequency agility, changing frequency automatically when RF interference is detected. In addition, they have an open-field transmission range of 3,500 feet, having been designed for a high degree of signal reliability. In difficult transmission areas, such as those where line-of-sight transmission is impossible, router/repeaters overcome physical obstacles. In addition, the router/repeaters can be used to extend the transmission range itself.

As wireless mesh networks emerge as the primary choice for many types of automation installations, wireless systems are poised to become a key player in bringing DR to a larger customer base. By cutting costs and installation times, and making both installations and load shedding events less conspicuous, wireless technology can enable a wider range of businesses and institutions to implement demand response.

About Spinwave Systems’ Wireless Demand Response Solutions

Spinwave Systems’ wireless demand response solutions have been designed to be scalable and flexible for DR installations in a wide range of settings. They have been successfully deployed for load shedding in hotels and retail chains, as well as industrial facilities.

Spinwave’s Demand Response products consist of:

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