By now, the features of power management – specifically power management that’s embedded in a building management system – are clear. If a refresher is needed, take a look at these previous blogs: Empowering Building Performance and Elements of Power.
Given that HVAC and lighting, which consume more than half of a building’s energy, are affected by power, it makes sense to incorporate power monitoring and management – including in those facilities with non-critical power needs, such as office and retail buildings and educational campuses. That’s nearly half the buildings in the world!
Buildings with noncritical power needs, such as office, retail or educational facilities, can benefit greatly from power monitoring and management.
An integrated power and BMS system helps both electrical and mechanical systems run better. That’s because mechanical and electrical systems traditionally reside in separate data and operational silos. But when power management is embedded into a BMS, managers can monitor electrical systems in the same way they manage HVAC systems, with a single set of data, alerts and reports. Such an integrated system makes it easier to determine if the root cause of an equipment problem is due to a mechanical issue or to an electrical issue.
Take the example of how power monitoring can help troubleshoot a mechanical issue. Say a building’s chiller is running more than it should, and thus consuming more energy than it ought to. The building facility manager would likely notice the situation and send a maintenance crew to investigate. If the chiller is failing for some mechanical reason, they would be able to fix it. But if the problem is a power quality issue, neither the facility manager nor the maintenance crew would have any visibility to the issue without a power management system in place. Without it, they’d have to rely on guesswork and potentially fruitless repair efforts.
Embedded power management systems can provide a number of other benefits, including improving equipment performance by identifying power problems that can cause HVAC and other equipment to run hot or inefficiently. They can also prevent loss of system capacity due to common power quality issues such as harmonic distortion, which can easily result in a 25% loss of capacity in a transformer, for example.
The systems also help organizations track electrical load profiles to identify early signs of trouble, such as changes in typical power usage patterns that may indicate equipment malfunction. They can also tip off facility managers to equipment that’s showing signs of wear or that need repairs.
In summary, power monitoring enables building management, operations and maintenance teams who are not electrical experts to see how different building systems and equipment affect the electrical system. It also highlights how different systems and equipment affect each other. This visibility allows facilities staff to detect and resolve problems more quickly, minimize electrical waste, and operate the building more efficiently. For inspiration, read how Lake Land College in the US is integrating HVAC and power management to help create an efficient and productive learning environment, as well as educating a new generation of energy stewards!
Also learn more about the benefits and features of embedded power management in the free Schneider Electric white paper, “The Impact of Power Management on Building Performance and Energy Costs.”