Carpenter Electric
1333 53rd Street West Palm Beach, Florida 33407
Phone: (561) 848-7881


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Building automation and control systems (BACS) are collections of hardware and software that are networked together in order to monitor and control environmental systems in industrial and commercial buildings. These environmental systems include mechanical and electrical services such as lighting, heating and air conditioning. A BACS usually consists of a number of sensors and controllers, a centralized Web server and at least one user interface device. Controllers are basically small computers designed to control specific environmental devices or sub-networks of other controllers. The Web server monitors the controllers, and the user interface device, often a desktop or handheld computer, allows the person in control of the BACS to receive feedback about the system from the Web server.

How Do They Work?

Early automation and control systems were pneumatic, or controlled by air, but the 1980s saw a rise in analog electronic-control devices. By the 1990s, digital control devices became the standard, allowing for more complex automation and control of a wider range of applications. The main problem with early digital control devices was that each manufacturer used a proprietary communication method, so a digital control device from one brand could not be used with equipment from a different brand. This changed in the early 2000s when the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers developed an open source communication protocol known as BACnet, which is now the industry standard and allows equipment from different brands to be used interchangeably.

What Can A BACS Do For You?

There are a number of applications and devices that can be automated and controlled by a BACS. Most cover mechanical, plumbing and electrical services. One of the most commonly controlled systems in a building is the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. This includes boilers, air handling units, rooftop units, heat pump units and variable air volume boxes. Lighting can also be automated in situations such as adjusting interior lighting depending on building occupancy or turning on parking lot lights when a sensor detects it is dark outside. In addition to these basic environmental services, BACS can control alarms and security including closed circuit video and card, keypad or biometric access. Power and fire alarm systems can also be monitored with alerts sent to the user interface device.

What Are the Benefits of a BACS?

There are several advantages to installing a BACS in a new building or when updating an old system. Buildings equipped with BACS tend to be more energy efficient than structures without such a system in place. BACS can be set to adjust the lighting systems and heating and cooling equipment when the building is unoccupied, thereby lowering energy costs. This can also help to qualify a building for EPA Energy Star or LEED certification. BACS can notify building managers and maintenance staff of any potential problems or failures in the system, allowing them to react immediately and appropriately to the situation. Since the BACS does much of the work, with the building manager only attending to the main user interface device and possibly a few controllers, maintenance costs are lowered as well.

A BACS takes care of much of the difficulty of controlling the environmental systems of a building while at the same time lowering energy and maintenance costs. Problems are constantly monitored, and feedback is provided so issues can be addressed as they arise. For these reasons, installing a BACS in a new structure or updating a system in an older building is a worthwhile investment.

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