High-Speed Communication for Modern HVAC Systems

Modern building automation devices, such as sensors and digital controllers, are converging into a single building automation system (BAS) network. This brings exciting new business opportunities for device manufacturers, particularly with commercial and industrial HVAC – the core components of smart buildings.

Yet, modern HVAC systems also face challenges. To enable smart controllers for HVAC systems, you need a communications protocol capable of handling a huge amount of data traffic in the BAS network. For retrofit applications, this often means that end customers need to install new wiring to support the data needs of modern HVAC systems, significantly increasing their deployment costs. 

In this article, we’ll explain more about the requirements for modern BAS networks. You’ll also learn about a new generation of broadband powerline technology called HD-PLC, a high-speed wireline communication protocol for modern HVAC and BAS applications. 

HVAC System Requirements for BAS Network Integration

The essence of smart building automation is enabling disparate systems to communicate across platforms. 

Integrating HVAC applications into a commissioned BAS network requires:

1. Device network interconnectivity

Smart buildings depend on protocol standardization to seamlessly integrate multiple systems into a single control network. System integrators have the option between wired (which can require costly cable installation) and wireless connectivity (which can suffer from range and reliability issues).

In the past, RS-485 was the standard solution for HVAC and other BAS systems. However, for modern BAS networks, RS-485-based systems require a costly gateway device to translate proprietary protocols into IP. This increases deployment cost and complexity–and still leaves you to work within the bandwidth constraints of RS-485.

On the other hand, wireless technologies like WiFi and Zigbee offer (almost) cable-free installation. However, you still need a wiring extension of the gateway device. Aside from this, wireless connections often suffer from throughput degradation, making it hard to maintain system reliability.

But you don’t have to choose between these difficult tradeoffs thanks to HD-PLC technology.

Developed specifically for today’s industrial IoT and smart building applications, HD-PLC offers the open communication protocol with mesh networking required for HVAC integration. You can easily connect Ethernet networks to other wireline and wireless networks using HD-PLC Bridging–no need for costly gateways or pulling new cables.

2. High bandwidth consumption

The growing number of devices sharing data on a BAS network also leads to a dramatic increase in bandwidth consumption.

As more sensors are added for temperature, air flow, motion detection, and more, HVAC control packets keep getting bigger. Building communication technology like RS-485, with low throughput (9.6kbps) and wiring complexity, limits application possibilities and makes it difficult to extend IP all the way to HVAC end-points.

To compensate for the bandwidth limitations of RS-485, system designers have shortened bus lengths, developed costly gateways, and added complex protocol conversion for BAS integration.

But there’s a better solution. HD-PLC combines IP-based broadband communication with an innovative multi-hop technology. HD-PLC gives you an instant speed upgrade to megabit data rates over several kilometers of cabling (AC/DC power lines, twisted-pair, coax, etc.).

HD-PLC: The Solution for Smart HVAC Systems

Using MegaChips’ HD-PLC solution, you can now design smarter HVAC systems that leverage the existing wiring infrastructure for integration success. 

Explore HD-PLC Technology: A New Communication Standard Enabling Future Smart HVAC Systems In Smart Buildings, where we explain more about the key advantages of HD-PLC and why it’s the optimum solution for intelligent HVAC systems.