Building Automation Basics for the HVAC Tech w/ Phil Zito

Phil Zito of Building Automation Monthly comes on the podcast to discuss building automation and what HVAC techs should know about it.

Automation essentially refers to control systems; we started off with pneumatic control systems, and then we went to analog and electromechanical control systems over time. Building automation refers to the process of automating controls on a larger scale, such as for an entire building. As long as you can read electrical and mechanical diagrams, you can work on automation systems; you don't need to know about IT or robotics.

Large buildings like malls may require HVAC automation. In other structures like university buildings, you may also end up automating lights and other electrical functions. Automation makes other systems talk to each other, and it does that by controlling on/off schedules and set points. These building automation systems consist of sensors, switches, conductors, and decision-making logic (such as simple desktop servers).

Regardless of the automation system, the sequence of operation will always go in the following order: server, supervisory device, field controller, and input/output. A communication bus transmits messages between field controllers; it works like floating controls or pulse-width modulation. You don't need to know the binary communication of the computer; you just need to know how to measure voltage with your multimeter to work on a communication bus.

An HVAC tech may also be interested in knowing that building automation has an air side and a water side. These systems may also interface with package RTUs and VAV systems.

Phil and Bryan also discuss:

  • How Phil got into building automation
  • Servers
  • User and web interface
  • Resistance vs. analog values
  • Barriers to getting into BAS careers
  • Installation vs. service
  • Taking initiative and being resourceful
  • How BAS and HVAC workers can make each other's lives easier

Visit Phil's website HERE.

If you have an iPhone, subscribe to the podcast HERE, and if you have an Android phone, subscribe HERE.




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