How can you keep watch of your HVAC system 24/7? It's not exactly practical to have someone physically watching over gauges all-day long. And so, some of us don't even bother to keep watch of our systems at all! Neglecting your HVAC system leads to higher utility bills, an uncomfortable home, and expensive downtime for businesses. Professional data logging solutions allow you to know exactly what the system is doing and what it has been doing all the time. System performance is measured and recorded at fixed intervals such as every 15 minutes or even every second with our data logging HVAC software. This information can be visualized later with graphs to help pinpoint areas of concern with your system.
For example, a graph could show that your air conditioner ran for approximately 5 hours on a specific day in July and not for the other 13. You can see your system's operations as a whole on this graph, rather than just looking at each moment throughout the day individually. Additional useful information such as the weather and even simple things like if windows are opened/closed can be recorded to show how these factors impact your system's energy usage. This information can be vital to mitigating potential problems with your system.
Data Logging for Commercial Air Conditioning Systems
Some of the most common uses for data logging are air conditioning systems in commercial settings. Heatwaves cost businesses a fortune each year, not to mention how uncomfortable customers are when they frequent a business with no air conditioning. With data logging, you can keep watch on how the system is performing. You'll know right away if there's something wrong with it or if environmental conditions are suboptimal for the system to be running at full capacity.
You may notice on your data logs that your compressor isn't kicking in during times of high humidity or that one zone is running much longer than the rest. These two common problems can be addressed by taking action now rather than waiting for a system failure to occur. Your data logs will let you know exactly what to look out for and help you prioritize your corrective actions at critical times.
Data Logging for Residential HVAC (Single Home or Multi-Family)
While HVAC data logging isn't as pressing for homeowners, it is still important. Many homeowners find that their gas or oil furnace doesn't run at optimum times during the day. This could be because of incorrect programming and environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, wind speed/direction, and more. If you find that your HVAC system's operations aren't running when they should be, you can use data logging to see when the optimal times are. Then all you have to do is change your programming, so it runs closer to those times and even saves a bit of money on your utility bills in the process!
For multi-family residential properties, data logging is even more important. With groups of people living in the same home, it can be challenging to keep track of the heating and cooling demands for every apartment or house without help. Data logs will give you the information to adjust heat/AC output as necessary throughout the day while also monitoring for potential failures.
Professional Data Logging with Lightning Mechanical
At Lightning Mechanical, we offer custom HVAC data logging software for industrial, commercial, and residential properties. We will work with you to establish a plan that meets your individual needs and then install the system for you. From there, we will provide analyses of the logs and reports on the system's operations.
Data logging is an excellent way to keep track of your HVAC system and ensure it stays in peak condition throughout all seasons. We look forward to helping you get started with data logging, and we think you will see just how beneficial it can be.
How is Data Logged?
To log data, you want to use a device that can gather performance measurements from your system. The most common devices are thermostats and HVAC controllers. Since they are already connected to your system's wiring, they are already integrated. It is often necessary to use an additional interface box for more specialized equipment. This electronic device handles recording the data and allows you to monitor events remotely, in real-time. We have and are ready to install wired or battery-powered wireless sensors and interface boxes for any HVAC equipment on the market
You'll also need to install software on your computer that can read and log the data from your device. Alternatively, you can let us worry about that and receive compiled reports every day, week, month, or year.
Once you've got a hardware device (like a thermostat) and software running on your computer to read its data, you'll need to make sure both are set up correctly to record the data as desired. For example, you may want to record data at set intervals or on a rolling basis. Each device and software choice will have different options for data collection intervals. You'll need to set them up correctly for your situation.
Once you have the device collecting the data and the software on your computer reading that data, then it's time to let it do its job! During this time, you should continue using your system as usual. You don't need to change anything for the data to be collected properly.
Once your data has been collected, it will be stored on your computer. Some software programs allow you to keep the data online and on an external drive or some other connected device. This allows you access from anywhere and ensures that your data is not lost if something happens to your system's hardware.
Most data loggers allow you to choose logging intervals to maximize storage space. The files may not be huge, but they add up quickly; the more data you collect, the better.
Saving vast amounts of historical data on the operation of your system is a huge advantage when it comes to investigating system failures or considering upgrades for the system. Depending on your sector of activity, logging every data every hour can be just as effective as logging every second.
When it comes to data storage capacity, Lightning Mechanical uses reliable cloud services, allowing us to store all of your data for you securely. As long as the internet connection is running, you will be able to access your historical data at any time from the comfort of your home or office.
What kind of Data is logged?
Every data logger will store different types of system data. The most common types of relevant data that are logged include:
- Ambient Air Temperature (inside and out)
- Water Temperatures
- Airflow Rate through your heating & cooling devices
- Humidity levels indoors
- Humidity levels outdoors
- External Static Pressure variations
- Required Voltage for start-up and operation of your system
- Power consumption
- Shut down incidents
The list above is just a very general list of the data that could be collected. Many data products will offer additional sensors to monitor other factors such as hot water tank levels, carbon monoxide levels, smoke detection devices, etc.…
How to choose a Data Logging Solution
When choosing a data logger, many factors must be taken into consideration. Some of the more important criteria to consider when making your decision include:
- The number of sensors required
- Your budget
- The software that will be used to monitor and record your data
- Ease of installation, setup, and maintenance
Depending on your facility's geographic location, the specific needs for monitoring your system may vary. For example, if you have a water heating system with no air handler or ductwork, ambient temperature data will not be an important factor to record.
The most common factors that are monitored with data loggers are typically related to looking at the health of your system throughout the heating and cooling seasons. Internal water temperatures closer to the boiler or furnace can help diagnose issues related to internal corrosion caused by poor water quality or low water flow rates. External air temperatures allow for more accurate system sizing, and these readings more accurately determine capacity analysis since the initial heat loss calculation of your building. Generally, you'll find that many data logging solutions are designed to monitor the factors that will indicate when a failure or performance reduction has occurred, allowing you to see how much life your system has left.
Lightning Mechanical can assist you with data logger software and hardware selection and handle installation, data storage, monitoring, and analysis. Write to us at Craig@lightningmechanical.com and mention data logging services to find out what kind of solution would fit you best.