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EMS vs. HVAC Optimization: Smart Decision for Your Restaurant?

Aug 22, 2017 10:45:49 AM

Restaurant chefs at hot grill

The HVAC system of a restaurant maintains comfort and equipment efficiency. It affects the satisfaction of customers and employees. A dining environment that is too humid, too hot/cold or drafty can ruin the customer experience instantly. A kitchen that is too hot or smoky may lead to high turnover of your kitchen staff. An air pressure imbalance may cause unwanted odors or bursts of heat from the kitchen to waft into the dining room.

So, what is the cure? Do you need an energy management system (EMS) or an HVAC optimization in your restaurant?

If an HVAC optimization sounds less expensive than an EMS purely based on the name, your assumption is correct. However, that doesn't mean that the HVAC optimization contains limitations, as compared to an EMS. In fact, the opposite is true.

Advances in Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing and machine learning technology have made it possible to optimize the performance of your existing HVAC equipment with a small amount of necessary additional hardware. A smart HVAC system can create a thermal envelope of your building, enabling the system to proactively adjust to the dynamics of your building based on:

Optimizing your HVAC system can equate to up to 40% capital investment savings over an EMS installation, based on our experience in competitive bidding processes. Faster install, fewer hardware costs, Bluetooth connectivity and cloud computing make initial investments smaller and system commissioning quicker.

Capabilities of the EMS Compared to HVAC Optimization (Smart HVAC) 
  EMS HVAC Optimization
Monitoring ✔︎ ✔︎
Metering ✔︎ ✔︎
Scheduling ✔︎ ✔︎
Zone Control X ✔︎
Air Quality Control X ✔︎
Air Pressure Control X ✔︎
Comfort X ✔︎
Machine Learning X ✔︎

Will HVAC Optimization Save Energy at Your Restaurant(s)?

Most EMS systems claim a 10% to 30% energy cost savings, which is in line with many industry studies. However, a 2015 global study conducted by researchers at the National Taipei University of Technology's Department of Energy and Refrigerating Air-Conditioning Engineering in Taiwan found that the average EMS saves about 14% to 16.67% of energy costs for HVAC equipment in building types excluding industrial and factory buildings. The study also found that an EMS can save about 39.5% on lighting costs on average, which is comparable to the savings the 75F Advanced Lighting solution provides.

The advantage of the 75F system is that our Advanced Lighting solution can be bundled with our Smart HVAC solutions while keeping the cost of the whole package solution well below the cost of a traditional EMS.

A predictive, proactive HVAC system can save a restaurant between 30% and 70% more energy (Btu) during the winter months from November to March, according to a 2016 study conducted by the Gas Technology Institute (GTI), a nationally recognized third-party verification lab.

Gas Technology Institute Dynamic Airflow Balancing Study Graph

During the summer, an optimized smart HVAC system can save your restaurant over 30% with the use of an improved rooftop unit (RTU) economizer and other environmental sensors, including humidity, CO2 and pressure, that allow for the optimization of outside air for cooling and air quality improvement.

In the example below, the customer saved 32% in energy consumption related to cooling and fan operation costs in the summer months due to Outside Air Optimization and Dynamic Airflow Balancing.

75F Cooling Efficiency Study tracking energy use by RTU supply fan

Smart HVAC Optimization Saves on Equipment and Maintenance Costs

Your HVAC equipment runs more efficiently when operations are optimized using cloud computing algorithms. This saves your restaurant energy and prolongs the life of your HVAC equipment. Fans and air compressors don't need to run quite as much, and enhanced system monitoring allows you to know when equipment is nearing the end of its useful life. This helps identify issues more precisely, and it saves on maintenance costs, since fewer truck rolls from third-party mechanical contractors will be necessary to diagnose and fix equipment issues.

On a new build, you'll be better able to right-size your HVAC equipment, which could save thousands of dollars on RTUs, if your current restaurant(s) uses RTUs that are too big for your needs.

A smart HVAC system pilot can inform you of your restaurant(s) true needs, rather than the needs of the one day per year that might require your RTUs to run near 100% of capacity. Many EMS firms will oversize your RTUs in preparation for that one day, which ensures your HVAC system will never run as efficiently as it should and ensures you will spend more upfront capital than is necessary.

Instead, the smart HVAC system sees that one-day anomaly coming on the weather forecast and prepares for it, given the capacity of your optimized HVAC system. As a result, you can be sure your customers and employees will always be as comfortable as possible with a smart HVAC optimization.

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