AirTest’s New Wireless RTUiLink Opens Large Opportunity For Building Operational Savings
DELTA, BC -- AirTest Technologies Inc. (“ATI” - TSXV: AAT) Following the launch of its exclusive new wireless CO2/temperature and wireless dew point sensors, ATI is introducing its new RTUiLinkTM product that offers a low cost, wireless method of upgrading the energy and operational performance of the more than 15 million existing Roof Top Air Conditioning and Heating Units (RTU’s) installed on commercial buildings in North America. This new product opens up the door for improving energy and operational savings from 10% to over 70% with paybacks anywhere from a few months to less than 2 years.
The RTUiLink, is a proprietary, low cost WiFi router and web server that is installed in an existing RTU to create a private wireless network that allows advanced wireless sensor and control capabilities to be added without the economic burden typically associated with hard wiring. The RTUiLink was also designed for security conscious IT managers by operating the RTU wireless network separate from the building’s existing WiFi network.
The original concept of the RTUiLink was to provide a very low cost way for AirTest’s WiFi CO2 sensor to be installed in the space to communicate to the RTU, which controls required fresh air ventilation to the space. The CO2 sensor, using an approach called demand controlled ventilation (DCV) allows the RTU to modulate ventilation based on actual occupancy in the space. This smart approach to ventilation can deliver energy savings of 10% to 40%. According to George Graham, President of ATI, “Hard wiring a CO2 sensor to an RTU can cost thousands of dollars in material and labor. The RTUiLink and the AirTest TR9299-WiFi CO2 sensor take about 20 minutes to install while offering a low cost solution, and the resulting energy savings will provide a payback that is typically well under two years and in many cases only a few months.”
Graham adds; “It should be noted that ATI hard wired CO2 sensors have been installed for DCV energy saving applications in 700 (50%) stores for a major Canadian national pharmacy chain, 600 (36%) of a major US based big box store chain, and portions of several other retail chains. With a much lower cost system that offers many additional benefits, we feel the obvious early target customers for our new WiFi based system will be the completion of the chains that have already endorsed the DCV program to reduce energy costs. This will also provide an excellent reference for similar types of retail chains who can take advantage of our energy saving program.”
According to Mike Schell, VP of Business Development at ATI, ”As we further developed this product we found that with a wireless communication link to the RTU, we could offer additional smart controls and system monitoring that can save further energy, reduce operating costs and improve reliability of RTUs. All this can be accomplished for a very small incremental cost over the initial cost of the wireless CO2 installation.” Schell says “The RTU upgrade market is enormous but has been hard to penetrate because of the high cost of “wiring in” smart capability. The RTUiLink changes all of this by eliminating hard wiring.”
The RTUiLink, once installed in an air handler for CO2 controlled ventilation, can incorporate other AirTest WiFi and Bluetooth sensors to create a “Smart RTU” that has the following capabilities:
- The ability to monitor the energy use of the fans and compressor inside the RTU and provide real time reporting on energy use and savings.
- Wireless sensors can be placed in key areas inside the RTU to detect operational faults that degrade performance, allowing notification of maintenance organizations. These faults often can go undetected for years but can impose a significant energy burden on the building. In California this type of fault monitoring is now required by the Title 24 building code in new installation. The RTUiLink allows this capability to be easily added to existing systems by detecting at least 6 common RTU fault conditions.
- Allows the easy addition of AirTest’s indoor and outdoor dew point sensors to better control fresh air economizers and to ensure moisture levels of fresh entering the building are within design conditions required for comfort and optimum energy utilization.
- Information on the status of RTU(s) faults can be identified by logging onto the local RTU WiFi network using a smart phone, tablet or PC. A cellular connection can also be added to tie together up to 20 RTUs and to provide text or email messages when equipment faults occur.
- A WiFi communicating wall mounted thermostat can also be added that can display space CO2 concentration and provide notification of RTU fault conditions.
According to Graham, “We expect this proprietary new WiFi technology package to trigger a very significant change in the dimension of our company and therefore its market value, and we are looking forward to making a large contribution to energy efficiency in buildings and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions”.
Background On The RTU Market: RTUs are used on 58% of all commercial buildings including retail stores, schools, hospitality, theaters, restaurants and low-rise office space to provide heating, cooling and fresh air ventilation. They use 62% of the heating and cooling energy consumed by commercial buildings in the US. Generally RTUs are smaller, more numerous and often not as well maintained as the larger centralized building heating and cooling systems. In fact most units are not a part of a control network and generally they operate autonomously based on feedback from a thermostat in the space. The US Department of energy estimates that over 60% of these RTUs have one or more operating faults that are undetected by the building operator, but that significantly compromise operating efficiency and energy use. Often these faults are only discovered when it becomes obvious that heating or cooling is no longer working.