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Avoid These Pitfalls When Installing HVAC Sensors

Posted by Megan Nichols on May 14, 2019
Avoid These Pitfalls When Installing HVAC Sensors

Modern HVAC systems are getting smarter, which means they need sensors to tell them when to keep the house cool and when to let the temperature climb a little bit to save power when no one is home. These sensors serve a specific purpose, but they can be tricky to install. Here is a list of some of the most common HVAC sensors and some pitfalls you should always try to avoid when installing them.

Temperature Sensors

Temperature sensors can work in many different ways. They may adjust the HVAC settings depending on the occupancy of a space or the exterior temperatures and weather conditions. The biggest pitfall with these sensors is the same one that happens with traditional thermostats — poor placement. Putting a temperature sensor in an area that's already inherently warm or cold, like a garage or a kitchen, can make it harder for the HVAC system to do its job and adjust the thermostat's settings.

When installing these sensors, make sure you talk to the home or business owner to find out what will be in the room. You don't want to put a temperature sensor in a server room, for example, unless that room is going to have its own thermostat. Otherwise, the HVAC system will think the higher temperature generated by the computers is the temperature of the entire building and crank out cold air accordingly.

Humidity Sensors

Humidity sensors often go hand-in-hand with temperature sensors, but they can be installed separately as needed. If one room is getting too humid, these sensors will trigger the HVAC system to work on removing the water from the air.

Interior sensors installed in inherently humid areas like kitchens or bathrooms will provide inaccurate readings for the rest of the house. Install these sensors in areas that are free from heat-generating devices like computers or space heaters.

Outdoor sensors will, of course, experience more ambient humidity but they don't function well in high temperatures. Don't install them near any hot-air vent points in the home, such as the dryer vent. The high temperatures can damage the sensor, necessitating a costly replacement.

Air Quality Sensors

With the average American spending 87 percent of their lives indoors, air quality sensors are becoming more critical than ever, which is why more consumer and business owners are requesting them for their homes and businesses. These sensors should ideally be in every room in the house, but their placement is critical. One big pitfall to avoid has to do with installation — if the sensors are wired into the HVAC system and can make changes to the controls in response to an air quality program, their placement and calibration must be precise.

Most commercial-grade air quality sensors detect two things: small particulate matter and volatile organic compounds VOCs). If you place an air quality sensor in a janitor's closet, which will likely contain cleaning products that emit VOCs, it will provide an inaccurate picture of the air quality in the building as a whole. Building owners are looking for a tool to help them protect the health of their employees and guests, not a system that tells them what they already know.

Occupancy Sensors

Occupancy sensors determine the number of people in a space and adjust the HVAC's settings accordingly. They can be tied into existing technology — such as ticket sales or security swipes — or designed to read the amount of CO2 in the room to figure out how many people are occupying an area at any given time. If the CO2 level, for example, rises too high, the HVAC system can respond by activating ventilation to remove the CO2 and cycle in fresh air.

Gateway Technology and Sensors

Every smart HVAC system needs a gateway to allow technicians to control each aspect of the system remotely. The trick with gateway systems is that they need to be synced to each sensor and piece of equipment in the system to function correctly.

Smart HVAC systems are a relatively new technology, which means it's easy to overlook a sensor or two and compromise the efficiency of the system. One way to avoid this is to generate a checklist for each job you'll be completing so you can be sure you're not overlooking a sensor that could negate all your hard work.

Smart HVAC systems rely on so many sensors to do their job that it can be challenging to keep up with all the changes in the technology. Avoiding these pitfalls can help you create a more efficient installation process and provide the best service for your residential and commercial accounts.

Author Bio: Megan Nichols is a technical writer who regularly publishes on sites like Snips Magazine, Industry Today and The Bloss Magazine. Megan also publishes twice weekly on her personal blog, Schooled By Science. To read more articles from Megan, follow her on Twitter.

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