iPads and Tablets for Energy Management and Facility Management

04/13/2012 | By Eric Woodroof, Ph.D., CEM, CRM

The widespread availability of relatively cheap high speed, high capacity microcomputer based iPads and Android tablets with high speed wireless communications ability has created one of the most exciting and dynamic areas of technological advancement in the fields of energy management and facility management.

This has led to tremendous opportunities to utilize iPads and Android tablets for more of our everyday work as energy auditors and energy and facility management professionals. There are already a large number of Apps for the iPad, and many Apps for Androids, and the opportunities to create new Apps for energy and facility management are almost unlimited at this time. Dr Barney L Capehart, Professor Emeritus, University of Florida, discusses his energy and facility management selections for the iPad and tablet platforms.

Heavy duty technical Apps are available at a reasonable cost, but not free. ELECTRICAL FORMULATOR PRO ($6.99) combines over 250 formulas, 150 charts and the first part of the National Electric Code. There are charts on motors, power demand, wiring, and voltage drop and safety codes. The basic program calculates kilowatts, horsepower, efficiency, power factor, watts, amps, current, power, resistance, and voltage. It includes formulas to calculate total resistance, capacitance, voltage drops, and transformer calculations. There are also over 100 conversion formulas as part of the program. 

Mechanical Engineer is another $6.99 App that is the perfect tool for any Mechanical Engineer or engineering student. It contains over 300 important mechanical engineering formulas, over 300 additional conversion formulas, as well as 70 area formulas. Major areas covered in the program now include: actuators bearings, belts, boiler, brakes, clutches, elevators, gears, fluid power, heat transfer, internal combustion, kinetic energy, metalworking, plates, plumbs, power plants, refrigeration, shafts pprings and vehicle drive. All formulas can be saved. You can access recent or favorite formulas and e-mail the results of any formula.

Two interesting Apps for the green sustainable and renewables areas are Solar Panel Advisor and Hawaii STEM HD. These are both educational Apps that help people understand how solar and renewable energy systems work. Solar Panel Advisor is an informative and educational tool to learn more about solar energy. With it, your iPad now behaves like a solar panel. Keep it facing the sun and click compute to display how much power could be generated with any size solar panel. And for people or facilities who have invested in solar power, the app lets you to do remote monitoring of your installation and also suggests cleaning of your solar panels.

Hawaii STEM HD is an educational iPad App to learn about solar, wind, geothermal, hydro, and biomass clean energy. Seven fun activities are included in the App to inspire STEM exploration and inquiry: Build a custom wind farm and experiment with generators and wind speeds. Discover how flow, height, and turbines can change hydroelectric power production. Imagine your iPad is a photovoltaic solar panel and position it correctly to generate 40 watts of power in locations around the world. Quiz yourself and learn how peak sun hours vary month to month for ten world locations. Add photovoltaic panels, clouds, and batteries to a solar farm to understand real world challenges for solar energy production.

And of particular interest today with all the talk about the replacement of incandescent lamps, a nice App is Light Bulb Finder.  Light Bulb Finder is a free App that makes it easy to switch from conventional light bulbs to energy-saving equivalents with the right fit, style and light quality. View bulb images, cost, savings, and environmental impact. Create shopping lists, and buy bulbs directly through the app or at local stores. For energy auditing use, there are at least two companies that make computer tablet applications for data entry and audit data analysis, together with audit report preparation.  

kWhours sells an innovative tablet-based data collection tool and management software platform designed specifically for commercial and industrial energy auditors in the field. The technology can cut up to 35% of the time and cost associated with conducting a building assessment, improve efficiency in training and deploying auditing staff, and streamline data sharing among audit teams.  EcoInsight sells a mobile audit for iPad that allows professionals to digitally collect building information while walking through a building. This innovation eliminates the need for stacks of notepads, and the information collected on the iPad is easily shared with EcoInsight's online analysis and proposal tools.

Plus, there are several Apps that help address our problems associated with project management of our energy and facility improvements. Project Planner HD is the iPad version of Project Planner, and is a project and task planning application that makes it easy to keep track of multiple projects and tasks. In every project you can add many tasks grouped in phases and finished by milestone. You can view your project on Gantt chart in portrait and landscape view in days, weeks or months scale. xPlan is an app that creates, tracks and helps you manage your projects easier.  xPlan keeps track of tasks and can calculate a project's cost.

Eric A. Woodroof, Ph.D., is the Chairman of the Board for the Certified Carbon Reduction Manager (CRM) program and he has been a board member of the Certified Energy Manager (CEM) Program since 1999. His clients include government agencies, airports, utilities, cities, universities and foreign governments. Private clients include IBM, Pepsi, GM, Verizon, Hertz, Visteon, JP Morgan-Chase, and Lockheed Martin.

Today, we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg in this use of iPads and tablets in energy and facility management. iPads and tablets have the potential to revolutionize how we do our energy and facility management work, and how we increase our personal productivity and effectiveness in this work. More great things are coming all the time. For those of you using other energy and facility management Apps, or for those of you interested in creating more of these Apps, please contact me at Capehart@ISE.UFL.EDU.

In addition, for those of you who would like to contribute more to this area, a special session on The Use of iPads and Tablets for Energy Auditing and Energy and Facility Management will be taking place at this year’s World Energy Engineering Congress in Atlanta, GA, October 31 – November 2, 2012. Topics for papers and presentations can address any aspects of energy auditing or energy or facility energy management. Paper, presentation and demonstration proposals should be received by May 1, 2012. Please send your proposal and papers to:

Dr Barney L Capehart, Professor Emeritus, University of FloridaDepartment of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Room 303 Weil Hall Gainesville, FL 32611   Capehart@ISE.UFL.EDU    352 392-1464   x2008


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