Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Retro-commissioning boiler controls

Only my 2nd post in February, and today only qualifies as February because of the leap year.  I'll try to do better in the future.

Tekmar makes a few excellent panels for boiler control and operation.  The panel can perform tasks such as controlling scheduling and reset functions, staging boiler operation, prioritizing boilers for DHW production, controlling circulating pump operation, lead/lag, and more.  The Tekmar is an advanced control with well-engineered features, suitable for a wide range of applications.

I spent about 8 hours yesterday flipping through Tekmar settings during a retro-commissioning project.  Amazing to see how poorly many of these panels were configured by the installing contractor, with no effort given to optimizing system performance.  Get paid to install it, and then leave it alone, I guess.

We went through and corrected/optimized settings for each of the 5 buildings we were in.  We fine tuned desired indoor temperatures, reset schedules, warm weather shut down set points, DHW temperature controls, circulator operation, etc.  For example, at one of the buildings, the minimum hot water supply temperature was set to 180F.  Because of this setting, the coolest the boiler could send water to the building was 180F, meaning that night time, outdoor, and warm weather reset functions had all been bypassed.  We expect that the retro-commissioning on these panels will save about 3-5% of the buildings heating fuel consumption.

These panels are fine pieces of equipment capable of generating real energy savings through tightly controlled operating parameters.  But when they are not set up properly and commissioned at the time of installation, the chances are that they are performing well below their capabilities.  When you come across these, push the owner to invest in a retro-commissioning program, which will be cost effective and will allow the building better control over their systems.

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