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Control and Communications
Created:Saturday, January 1, 2011 - 00:00
Behind today’s heating are intelligent systems, which make life very pleasant. It has long been taken for granted in many households that the bathroom heating comes on automatically in the morning before the alarm clock goes off, so that people can take a shower in a warm room. The temperature in the living area can be set so that the temperature at which individuals feel comfortable is reached before they get home. And it almost goes without saying that, at night, the heating drops to its lowest level – all by itself.
Modern central heating systems are no longer imaginable without intelligent control technology. This is based on innovative micro electronics and ensures the optimal interplay between all the heating components – including central heating boilers, burners, heating pumps and radiators. It ensures that the desired temperature is achieved by means of the heating system – even if, in the meantime, a window has been opened briefly or the icy outside temperature means that the room temperature needs to be turned up.
The technology is so easy to use and more energy efficient than ever. Because consumers can target heat to just those areas where it is needed, control technology helps to reduce running costs on a long-term basis. A display makes the fuel economy data clear, registers the operating status and indicates if any maintenance is needed. Occupants can easily carry out modifications to the programme – in case they suddenly want it to be warmer or because a sudden cold snap has arrived. If any fault should occur, this is immediately shown on the display. The data help the heating engineer recognise the cause quickly and easily and rectify it as soon as possible.
Today’s heating systems offer significantly more than earlier generations: they now mean that domestic hot water, heating output as well as ventilation can be controlled centrally.
These modern systems generate hot water not only for the heating circuit as and when required, but they heat water for the kitchen and the bathroom too. In addition, they can be run as bivalent systems, that is to say they can be run with two energy sources at the same time. In many cases, renewable energies are used – solar heat, for example. Control technology integrates the energy from the solar thermal installation into the system. If the equipment is not producing enough heat because of adverse weather conditions, then the heating cuts in, activated by the control technology running in the background.
Control technology can regulate a wide variety of heating systems – even including micro or mini block cogeneration plants, which, based on the principle of combined heat and power generation, produce electricity and heat at the same time. Amongst its other functions the control technology sends any surplus electricity to the local grid. This should be of interest to homeowners, since it means that they receive payment for their surplus electricity.
Today’s control technology for heating systems offers a variety of ways of generating and deploying heat efficiently. It is, however, not until it is used in combination with modern communication technology, that its potential can be fully exploited. Indeed it is already possible, today, to control the heating system in the cellar from the living room – with a remote control unit, as we have long since been used to doing with the television, DVD player or stereo system. Service personnel now just need a laptop to identify any problems with the system. And because communication technology can automatically send details of faults, shut down or other incidents to the engineer, the house owner can relax in the face of winter: engineers immediately have all the information necessary for them to resolve the situation from their desk. With online-access, they can take all the necessary steps. This avoids unnecessary servicing and increases the availability of the heating system – without costing the operator any additional time or money.
A modern heating system can be controlled by a central computer, which manages all the data, programmes and information. Basically, an “on-board computer” of this kind lends itself to intuitive use by means of a touch screen. With it, residents can create heating profiles for individual rooms, set a minimum temperature or adjust the radiator valves. Sensors detect the ambient conditions, which the system evaluates and reacts to accordingly. Thus control and communication technology makes possible an energy management system, which is exactly tailored to the needs of the occupants. Heating systems with control and communication technology can be set up by remote control. Moreover, the technology allows the system to be optimised very easily, as well as documenting all performance data. A further benefit is that the oil tank can be monitored via the central computer and, if any additional frost protection is needed before the onset of winter, that, too, will be flagged up. In addition, almost all of these systems are equipped with integrated gas and smoke alarms as standard.
The major advantage of this technology is that it operates without the need for any additional cabling; all commands, such as “on” or “off”, “raise temperature” or “lower temperature”, are transmitted wirelessly from the sender to the receiver. There is no need for long control cables or for complex and expensive wiring. The remote control sender is battery operated so that it is very easy to install. With the remote control unit, existing switching functions and combinations of switches can be quickly and easily modified to encompass additional functions. If one particular process no longer suits, it can be simply reprogrammed without the need for any building work.