True Analytics™ - Energy Savings, Comfort, and Operational Efficiency
Control System Upgrades
Determine your best path to a total system overhaul
why do we wait until the last minute to upgrade or replace a BAS,
important to the operation of the facility? Human nature? Could be.
constraints? Very likely. Whatever the reason, the following will
shed some light on the path to upgrade, and hopefully help those of you
in need of an upgrade overcome your reluctance to move forward, and
the importance of proceeding in the right direction.
stated above, human nature dictates that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix
tend to become comfortable with what’s in place, even knowing deep down
what’s in place may be one day away from breaking down on us. Still, we
day by day and keep our fingers crossed to get through “just one more
more week, one more month”, and so on. We put off the inevitable until
happens, and then we’re in a mad rush to get a new system or product in
whether it’s a TV set, cell phone, washing machine, you name it.
notion just as common is that many of us either don’t believe or don’t
believe that something has indeed reached the end of its useful life.
is this for the common home computer, that we tend to hang on to our
PC long after its useful functionality has been supplanted by the
advances of new state-of-the-art products, both hardware and software.
budgetary constraints typically steer us toward expenditures that are,
appearance, more important and more of a priority. Physical items,
can be seen, for example, stick in our minds more than systems that run
the scenes” and are out of sight, out of mind. The building needs a new
the interior spaces are in dire need of a paint job. Things like these
take precedence over the need for a new or upgraded HVAC control
unfortunately pushing a BAS upgrade out of this year’s (and next
software upgrade can be an easy “first step” toward a full system
may be all that’s needed at the given point in your BAS’s lifespan. The
consists of loading the latest version of software and replacing the
dongle, if that’s the required means of software license protection.
existing computer workstation may need to be upgraded as well, as the
software will tend to have a larger requirement for memory, both hard
a software upgrade is a good idea if the upgrade will afford you some
over the software that you’re currently running. For example, an older
of software may not have the built-in capability to perform trending
alarming, and so this would be a justifiable reason to upgrade, if
something that’s important to you. A better graphics package may be a
reason to upgrade, however understand that if the new software comes
better graphics capabilities, there still needs to be time invested by
graphics designer to build new graphics to replace the older, outdated
software upgrade is a must if your existing computer crashes and you
purchase a new computer, if your existing version of software won’t run
latest operating system. In this case, you’ll need to upgrade to the
software, like it or not.
Network Controller Upgrade
Some systems (including the product lines that my company reps) allow for a “partial upgrade”, meaning that you can leave most (if not all) of your controllers in place (at least for the time being), and simply replace your main network controller with the latest and greatest, typically utilizing a gateway to communicate with the existing “old school” controllers. So what does this get you?
it gets you one step closer to the full upgrade, for starters. Web
all the rage these days, and an upgrade can include the appropriate
make your system web-accessible. This would allow for remote access of
system from anywhere in the world, as well as email notifications of
Again, if this is something that would be important to you, then it’s
that should be considered.
see two categories of upgrades here: equipment level controller
unit level controller swapouts. Following a network controller upgrade,
be required that the field controllers need to be changed out. More
these controllers can remain in place, although changing them out would
some benefits. As manufacturers develop newer product lines, the older
tend to fade away from their production line and become obsolete. There
often a grace period for which the old controllers will still be
like anything, eventually they will no longer be made or able to be
it buys you some time by changing out the network controller (as
above), bear in mind that it’s also an indicator that you need to start
these controller swapouts into your upcoming budgets. For instance, if
operate a four-story office building, you may want to plan on doing a
floor-by-floor sweep of controller swapouts for the next four years.
are issues to consider when swapping out controllers. Can the existing
thermistor temperature sensors be used with the new controllers, or did
manufacturer decide to design the next generation controllers to
different type of sensor (why would they do that???). What about the
communication cabling? Can that be re-used? If not, what needs to be
order for the new controllers to communicate? These are just a couple
issues that need to addressed when considering controller upgrades.
Like everything else, the BAS has a useful lifespan. It’s easy to compare the need for an upgrade in computer terms, stating that, as technology changes, the old stuff becomes obsolete, and the new stuff becomes the state-of-the-art. As with a personal computer, your BAS will eventually reach obsolescence, and while the life span of your system may well be two to even three times that of your typical pc, you still need to know when it’s time to start considering the path to total system upgrade. A phased upgrade, as discussed herein, may be an option, and could very much be your best plan. Just be mindful of the obstacles involved, and make sure you understand in no vague concepts what you’re up against and what to expect during the upgrade, and after all is said and done.
Tip of the Month: Don’t wait ‘til it’s too late! Get your control systems service provider in to evaluate your existing system and furnish a quotation for upgrade recommendations, and work it into your budget. Worst case, if you wait until your system finally does fail, you’ll already have the paperwork in hand and it’s just a matter of making a phone call to put the upgrade work in motion!
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