This section describes heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems and discusses characteristics and components of automatic control systems. Cross-references are made to sections that provide more detailed information.
A correctly designed HVAC control system can provide a comfortable environment for occupants, optimize energy cost and consumption, improve employee productivity, facilitate efficient manufacturing, control smoke in the event of a fire, and support the operation of computer and telecommunications equipment. Controls are essential to the proper operation of the system and should be considered as early in the design process as possible.
Properly applied automatic controls ensure that a correctly designed HVAC system will maintain a comfortable environment and perform economically under a wide range of operating conditions. Automatic controls regulate HVAC system output in response to varying indoor and outdoor conditions to maintain general comfort conditions in office areas and provide narrow temperature and humidity limits where required in production areas for product quality.
Automatic controls can optimize HVAC system operation. They can adjust temperatures and pressures automatically to reduce demand when spaces are unoccupied and regulate heating and cooling to provide comfort conditions while limiting energy usage. Limit controls ensure safe operation of HVAC system equipment and prevent injury to personnel and damage to the system. Examples of limit controls are low- limit temperature controllers which help prevent water coils or heat exchangers from freezing and flow sensors for safe operation of some equipment (e.g., chillers). In the event of a fire, controlled air distribution can provide smoke-free evacuation passages, and smoke detection in ducts can close dampers to prevent the spread of smoke and toxic gases.
HVAC control systems can also be integrated with security access control systems, fire alarm systems, lighting control systems, and building and facility management systems to further optimize building comfort, safety, and efficiency.