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System performance - efficiency gains via remote monitoring

Better business: technical air conditioning, solar heating, microgeneration

The operating efficiency of an air conditioning system not only has an impact on emissions and energy consumption, it also affects the reliability, cost of maintenance and the life expectancy of the system. If air conditioning systems can be kept running at an optimum level, it results in a longer lasting, cheaper to run system that produces fewer emissions.

One of the most effective ways to improve energy efficiency is to ensure that all systems are monitored remotely, providing an early warning of any possible abnormalities. Remote monitoring involves gathering and analysing data from a particular system via specialist equipment using an internet connection.

Such a service should provide a malfunction prediction service by the constant monitoring and analysis of data from the equipment, so that any abnormalities can be picked up before a malfunction occurs, thus reducing downtime. Ideally this service will also flag certain operational issues such as blocked or contaminated air filters or heat exchangers so that performance and efficiency can be improved.

Optimum efficiency
The very best remote monitoring will adjust the operating parameters of air conditioners to ensure optimum energy efficiency. Take, for example, the Daikin’s remote
monitoring service. Here, energy saving is obtained by using remote weather forecast information (local to the specific site), combined with data collected from the air conditioning system, in order to identify energy saving measures, which are then made remotely. This system will also account for occupancy levels and variations in installation (piping lengths etc.) when calculating energy- saving potential.

Regular cleaning and maintenance programmes will make a huge difference to maintaining peak performance levels. Dust accumulating in air filters, for example,
means that efficiency reduces gradually between air conditioning maintenance visits - and energy consumption increases over time. It can also decrease airflow
by up to 65 per cent.

However, there are alternatives to increasing the frequency of maintenance visits, for example by using products such as the daily self-cleaning filter. This innovative
filter is available for Daikin’s Roundflow cassettes, which are used in conjunction with VRV, Sky Air and CMS systems. Because the dust is removed automatically every day, peak operational efficiency can be maintained and lifetime costs significantly reduced.

Another key aspect in maintaining the highest efficiency levels is choosing the right refrigerant use. Some 45 per cent of today’s air conditioning systems running on
R22 refrigerant, however, new supplies of this have been banned since the beginning of this year and systems are now reliant on recycled gas for maintenance. Plant failure could therefore result in long downtimes followed by expensive repairs due to scarcity and price of reclaimed R22. In this current economic climate, a planned and phased investment to replace or upgrade R22 systems could reap real financial benefits in the future.

There are many different approaches to this problem, but Daikin UK’s VRV®III-Q ‘plug in’ upgrade offers a saving of up to 50 per cent compared with replacing the entire system, while delivering increased energy efficiency and lower CO2 emissions than retrofitting an alternative refrigerant.

While reactive system maintenance will remain an important aspect of any building services management strategy, proactive improvements to system efficiency and product innovations, to ensure systems remain at peak performance, are certain to become an increasingly important part of the maintenance mix.

John Durbin is engineering manager of Daikin UK design