Virtually no one would seriously consider building a new home without a set of detailed plans or blueprints. Without proper planning, the end result is left to chance and is virtually assured to fail in some way.
For similar reasons, you shouldn’t consider building an energy monitoring system without a properly designed set of plans either.
In part I of this series, we discussed the importance of deciding what you want to meter and some things you might consider as you perform a cost/benefit analysis. In this post, we will move on to the second step.
Step 2: Energy Monitoring System Design and Engineering
Energy monitoring systems, especially in large facilities, can be extremely complex and a breakdown in any of the components can bring the entire system down. The purposes for creating a good set of plans are manifold:
- Assuring that basic monitoring needs are met. What exactly do you want to monitor? What system type and topology would meet your requirements? The previous post on deciding what you want to meter will help you provide the engineer with a basic understanding of your needs so he can create a design that will meet those needs.
- Specifying the components that will be needed to finish the project with the desired outcome. This would include the number, types and model numbers of meters, the wiring, the data collection devices, the communication devices and the data servers. The exact placement of each of those devices would also be specified.
- Choosing the best protocol(s) to be used for communicating meter data back to the server. This is critical. No matter how good the meter might be, if it can’t communicate what it sees back to the data server, it has little if any value. As the number of meters grows, so does the complexity of the data communications.
- Determining how to integrate the energy monitoring function with any existing protocols already in use in your facility. For example, the design should specify if and how the energy monitoring system should integrate with the building automation system if one exists.
- Satisfying the requirements of the permitting agency if needed. An engineer’s stamp provides the permitting agency with the assurance that the system meets all code requirements.
Planning Solves Problems
With a well-designed set of plans, the hard questions about implementing an energy monitoring system have all been answered before any hardware is purchased. Your purchasing agent now knows exactly what to purchase and your qualified electrician can install the components simply by following the plans.
If you prefer to outsource the work, the plans provide the basis for a Request for Proposal and vendors can use the plans to bid the job with confidence.
The two declarations we hear most often have been addressed:
“I just don’t know where to start?” can be replaced with “Let’s get going!”
“How was I to know this would be so difficult?” can be replaced with confidence in the final outcome.
Learn more about how Summa can help you with Design and Engineering of your monitoring system.