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Where Are the Best Places to Install HVAC Occupancy Sensors in a Business?
Because heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) occupancy sensors help businesses reduce utility costs and improve energy efficiency, it is essential to understand areas of installation that garner the most results.
By using minimal heating or cooling in rooms that don’t get heavy use, and diverting that energy to places that do, business owners and managers can improve efficiency at the most fundamental level of their operations.
Occupancy sensor installation areas
Knowing the best places to install occupancy sensors and how to take proper advantage of their benefits is key to maximizing their capability. This is an area in which working with HVAC contractors can be particularly helpful. They can advise businesses on areas where such HVAC controls work best and guide them away from places where they serve the least amount of purpose.
Here are a few dos and don’ts to keep in mind in order to get the most out of an HVAC occupancy sensor.
- Do install them in areas of the room away from doors and windows. This can prevent impacts on readings caused by sudden changes from outside of a room.
- Don't mount them in hallways or other heavy-traffic areas through which people regularly pass without staying for long.
- Do install them in rooms that experience irregular yet occasionally heavy usage, such as large storage areas or meeting rooms.
- Don't place them behind furniture, plants or other obstacles that may block precise readings.
The sustainability factor in HVAC controls
More business owners and managers may now find that the HVAC systems and equipment currently in use in their buildings are in need of major repairs, upgrades, retrofits or replacement. This may be largely due to recent updates to Title 24, also known as the California Building Standards Code, effective July 2014. New updates now require businesses to stay compliant through use of certain HVAC technologies and components.
But there are also less intrusive avenues that can be taken to conform to these new standards, and installing HVAC occupancy sensors is one of the easiest, most affordable and effective options.
By helping HVAC systems and equipment run at optimal efficiency, HVAC occupancy sensors also streamline a business’s overall energy consumption. That efficiency improvement can go a long way toward putting businesses in line with Title 24, which enables commercial buildings to set a worldwide standard for best practices in energy consumption.
Tips for optimal HVAC occupancy sensor placement
There are also a few things that business owners and managers who opt to go with HVAC occupancy sensors will want to keep in mind as they go through the installation process.
- How often is a room or space used? Start by taking stock of how often rooms and spaces are used. Especially if HVAC occupancy sensors cannot be installed in every room, it is better to target spaces that experience large variations in their use.
- Are there individual rooms or spaces that cause a particular rise in utility costs? Pay attention to your utility bills. If there is a noticeable change from month to month, consider whether the way specific spaces are being used has changed accordingly. It may turn out that 1 or 2 rooms or spaces are leading to spikes in HVAC costs.
- What is the climate in the region where the building is located? Climate plays an important part in determining which aspects of HVAC to target in a building. In more temperate climates, ventilation might be more of an issue than temperature. In contrast, temperatures in desert areas are more of a concern. A best practice is to plan for such temperature settings and keep in mind the ways climate will affect HVAC operation.
- Should HVAC occupancy sensors be installed individually or integrated with other systems? Making this determination depends on the size of a business, how its HVAC and lighting systems are already set up, the amount of money a business owner or manager has to invest, and the recommendations of a qualified HVAC contractor. For larger buildings or sites that are heavy energy users, integration can make an enormous impact on the bottom line. It can also play an important role in lessening the environmental impact of a business.
Consulting an HVAC contractor
Since HVAC occupancy sensors tend to be a little bit more sophisticated than other lighting and HVAC products, working with qualified HVAC contractors is highly recommended. They can serve as knowledgeable guides, ensure proper installation and help business owners and managers get the most out of the process.
HVAC contractors can also help business owners and managers find rebates and incentives from utility companies such as PG&E or state and federal governments. "The Complete Guide to Working with a Lighting or HVAC Contractor" eBook from PG&E enables businesses to learn more about finding and working with an HVAC contractor who can help optimize HVAC occupancy sensor use.
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