Trends: Smart HVAC: the next big thing in HVAC optimization?

Trends: Smart HVAC: the next big thing in HVAC optimization?

The booming HVAC industry is trending toward “smart” technology. And make no mistake; the industry is booming. According to Statista[1], the global heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) market is projected to reach about $367.5 billion by 2030 based on a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.9 percent.

With the deployment of The Internet of Things now established, new devices that have expanded functionality are becoming commonplace in our everyday lives. In this landscape, we can easily see the potential for HVAC components to follow suit in becoming increasingly “smart.” In fact, we may be on the cusp of a smart HVAC boom.

This direction of travel has likely been encouraged by the ever-increasing importance of improving energy efficiency. The ability to smartly monitor your HVAC system’s performance from anywhere, at any time, and adjust your heating and cooling units in the process can generate significant energy savings.

With all this in mind, if you’re unfamiliar with the subject, we’ll give you an overview of Smart HVAC in this blog. If the subject still needs to be added to your in-tray , it’s likely to be found there soon.

When did things get Smart?

HVAC has always been smart, at least more intelligent than its predecessor solutions. Remember, the industry initially developed to replace fireplaces and stoves, heating and cooling entire buildings in one go rather than inefficiently room-by-room, and mechanically rather than physically. Of course, building-wide HVAC systems have presented challenges for architects and facilities operators over the years, but their advantages have been manifest.

The big challenge for HVAC has always been optimization, particularly as energy efficiency concerns have come to the fore in recent years, and addressing this has become increasingly important. As we know, buildings consume a lot of electricity and much of that electricity is used to power their HVAC systems, so the more efficient they are the better. Where decades ago, installing and running a building-wide HVAC represented a great leap forward (roughly, turn on the system and cool down (or heat) up the entire building), in today’s world that sort of one-size-fits-all approach is no longer acceptable as best practice.

As a result, and as you’ll know if you’re a regular reader of NexRev blogs, over the past decade, much attention has been focused on ways to fine-tune HVAC system performance to address the above reality. We regularly hear terms like zoning, demand control ventilation, and variable speed motors, all of which seek to optimize system performance by narrowing output and performance to match areas of specific need more precisely. But it’s with smart HVAC and the Internet of Things that the great leap towards requirement-focused heating and ventilation may truly be achieved.

Enter the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things is a simple concept where devices, and networks of devices, are connected to each other over the Internet. This allows the performance of the individual devices (be they refrigerators, ovens, air conditioners, or stereo systems) within the network to be automated. The first market to become a focal point for IoT devices was home and building automation.

And there’s another important wrinkle to consider. When these devices communicate with each other online, they generate data and, in turn, build a repository of information that can be processed and used in the longer term to achieve better performance in the future. However, we’ll get to that another time!

Smart HVAC: the marriage of HVAC and IoT

What happens when HVAC meets the Internet of Things? In general terms, the HVAC still does what it’s traditionally designed to do (controls temperature and humidity in a building). However, the virtual connection that now exists adds remote control to the system’s benefits. This makes the solution easier to optimize and enables its performance to be refined according to established end- user needs in real- time, all the time. Furthermore, with the simultaneous emergence of Artificial Intelligence technology (as noted, more about that in a future blog), the gains enabled by smart HVAC may become even more extensive than they are already.

How is all this the case? If we look at a smart HVAC solution, it’s likely to contain the following components:

  • Sensors: a variety of sensors collect data related to the performance of the systems. The thermostat is central, but motion and other sensors may also be deployed.
  • Data engine: a hub will form the repository where the collected performance data is stored and analyzed, most often located in the cloud, though an on-premises server may also be used.
  • HVAC controllers: these regulate system performance and activity and can be installed on components within the system itself – compressors, heating and cooling devices, etc.
  • Remote device: Likely to be a smartphone or other such devices, it can access and manage the HVAC system itself once the system has become “smart.”

Each of these components enhances the ability to deliver value to the system operator. So, development of the technologies and components outlined above is a focal point for the HVAC industry.

Smart HVAC: the benefits

The result of all this is that smart HVAC has gained traction not just because progress is worthwhile for its own sake but because, in this case, it delivers measurable benefits. When it comes to smart HVAC, benefits include:

  • Lower costs – a smart, remote-controlled HVAC system means only the energy necessary at any given time needs to be expended, potentially dramatically reducing wasteful energy usage. Real-time system performance monitoring can also identify where resources are consumed and where alternative approaches may make economic sense.
  • Streamlined operation – rather than an HVAC system that uses electricity throughout the day (threatening to overload the system as well as being wasteful), smart controllers allow energy consumption to be streamlined and focused on periods of specific need.
  • End-user comfort – when HVAC performance is better controlled, it can be customized to deliver a better experience to the end-user. Settings, fan speeds, humidity, temperature, and other metrics can all be fine-tuned, increasingly (as noted earlier), with the benefit of AI and machine learning. In tandem, HVAC units and these technologies can dramatically upgrade end-user comfort.
  • Maintenance improvements – HVAC maintenance can involve considerable cost for the building operator, and smart sensors that monitor performance enable attention to be paid to componentry as and when it is most needed, heading off serious costs before significant degradation occurs. Furthermore, diagnostic information when there is an issue is often available in advance.

Talk to NexRev

Hopefully, this blog has given you insight of what’s to come as smart HVACs continue to evolve and expand their footprints. Smart HVAC is a trend, and a term, with which all of us in the industry will become more familiar in the coming months and years.

At NexRev, we’ve been unlocking the power of facility and energy management data with over a million connected devices across North America. Our team of experts is focused on helping you deliver more with your budgets, infrastructure, and assets to create sustainable savings in operations and energy, reducing your risk and increasing operational confidence.

If you’re interested in learning more about our solutions can help your enterprise reduce energy costs, please send an email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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