In addition to increased efficiency, a smart heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system will have many new features. Recent air flow requirements and proper room pressures to cope with the COVID-19 virus have brought increased interest to HVAC systems. Before COVID-19, one market research report forecast compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.1% between 2018 and 2023 for HVAC controls reaching USD 27.04 Billion by 2023.
Elon Musk of Tesla and SpaceX fame has recently announced that part of Tesla’s overall strategy may include home HVAC controls that would be quiet and include some form of humidity control and a HEPA filter for particle control. Some of design for this type of system came from Tesla vehicles. Musk’s focus in this area will certainly add to the attention in HVAC and development of new technologies.
Temperature and smart thermostats are the dominant sensors in HVAC controls but as noted previously, other sensors including pressure, flow and humidity also have a role in smarter systems. Chemical sensing for airborne contaminants is also being implemented in some systems, especially if stale or contaminated air is a problem. Air flow measurements and clogged air filter sensing typically involves pressure sensing on the high and low side (delta pressure or ΔP) of a restriction in the air flow. Restricted air flow requires increased energy to move air so these measurements can help improve energy efficiency.
With all the internet interaction that will occur in a smart HVAC system, including remote monitoring and activation, avoiding tampering and network invasion by hostile actors will be essential. One company developing open standards to protect network connectivity is the Trusted Computing Group (TCG). TCG’s recent focus in the Internet of Things (IoT) area promises to provide greater security to connected home appliances including HVAC controls.