12/30/2013

Mobile Apps: The Ultimate in HVAC Control

Gain functionality in the field and away from the office

By

 
HVAC mobile apps helps you remain in control.

The same tablet or smartphone you use to kill time at the airport or in the doctor’s office could add value to your HVAC maintenance.

Thanks to a handful of app innovations, mobile technology makes it easier to monitor your facility’s HVAC system while you’re out on a service call or troubleshoot while you head to the source of a problem.

“The nice thing about using mobile apps is that you can get instant feedback, as opposed to writing down information in the field, entering it into a desktop app later, and then getting results,” notes Stephen Roth, principal for Carmel Software, which develops mobile, desktop, and web-based software for HVAC and engineering applications. “These days, people are used to getting information right away.”

Could a mobile solution help drive HVAC efficiency in your facility?

The Great Debate: Smartphones vs. Tablets

Where to Buy

Official Multi-Vendor Outlets: Offerings in the App Store (Apple iOS) or Google Play (Android) markets are often compatible with a variety of HVAC vendors and levels of knowledge. Check out customer reviews and screencaps to see what fits best.

Equipment and Control Vendors: Manufacturers can be a rich source for low-cost or free apps. Some are brand-specific – think user manuals and documentation for your existing equipment – while some could work for multiple brands, such as comfort calculators.

Associations: Investigate the websites of professional organizations for vendor-neutral apps. ASHRAE, for example, offers a handful of apps, including an interactive psychrometric chart, a duct fitting database, and searchable versions of standards with built-in calculators.

With a plethora of apps and screen sizes available for both phones and tablets, it can be tough to determine which technology best meets your needs. Ben Fowler, a commissioning engineer for energy engineering consultancy Cx Associates who has reviewed the company’s favorite apps, says his team relies mainly on 7- to 10-inch tablets because the larger screen size makes it easier to view drawings.

“They give you a lot of power and versatility in your pocket that normally would have been contained in desk references, like calculation wheels, chart-based utilities, or a desktop computer,” Fowler notes. “We have our tablets protected with hard cases for field use so they can be a little clunky, but even compared to carrying around a laptop, it’s a non-issue.”

Consider what functions you’ll replace with apps and where you’ll use your mobile device to help narrow down your choices. Some tablets, like iPads, can’t recognize a fine-tip stylus well, which could be a problem if you’re taking notes or annotating drawings in the field, Fowler says. “An iPad stylus is really just a proxy for your finger,” he explains. “A complaint about tablets in general is that they’re not able to take pens.”

Hybrid devices that are larger than a phone but smaller than a standard tablet can help bridge the gap between portability and extra screen space. However, phones may still be the best choice in some situations, so consider how quickly you need to synchronize information between your mobile device and the rest of your team.

“The only advantage to an iPhone is that a lot of people still may not have 4G access on their iPad, so as a result the only way they can get internet access with their tablet is in a coffeeshop, the office, or home. The iPhone always has internet,” explains Fowler. “For example, I don’t have 4G connectivity on my iPad because I really don’t need it. I can enter information in the field, but I can’t sync until I get back to the office.”


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Bluebeam® Revu® simplifies digital facilities document management from design review to leveraging as-builts, maintenance manuals and O&Ms submittals.


Visit our website today to learn about the design flexibility of a Morton building and the endless possibilities of partnering with our designBUILD team.


Wood construction is both cost and energy efficient. Check out Morton Buildings and our designBUILD team online today to discover all the benefits of post-frame construction.


When choosing a metal-clad building for your next construction project, consider Morton Buildings, Inc., and their designBUILD team, we’ll make your dream a reality.

We Can Help You Reduce Energy by 30%

Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
CLICK HERE to find out how.

Add highly responsive multi-zone comfort to any building project, in any climate. Our CITY MULTI H2i R2- and Y-Series VRF systems give you flexibility to fit the needs of any building. Enjoy 100% heating capacity at 0°F outdoor ambient, and 85% heating capacity at -13°F outdoor ambient.  For more information, log on to www.mitsubishipro.com


Tennant Company is a recognized leader in designing, manufacturing and marketing solutions that help create a cleaner, safer, healthier world. With thousands of satisfied customers already using award winning ec-H2O technology, why not see what you're missing? Test ec-H2O on your soils in your facility. Get a free demo.


Tennant Company is a recognized leader in designing, manufacturing and marketing solutions that help create a cleaner, safer, healthier world. With thousands of satisfied customers already using award winning ec-H2O technology, why not see what you're missing? Test ec-H2O on your soils in your facility. Get a free demo.

 

Replace core drilling with Connectrac In-Carpet and On-Floor Wireways, the proven connectivity solution in open interior spaces of all kinds. These elegant low-profile wireways are great for AV / telecom connectivity wherever it’s needed.

Bluebeam® Revu® simplifies digital facilities document management from design review to leveraging as-builts, maintenance manuals and O&Ms submittals.


 
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