It’s easy to get caught up in the hype of automated building technologies, but higher tech doesn’t always mean better, Roy Collver argues in Building Operating Management.

“Counterintuitively, some of the largest boiler rooms need the least connectivity, as they are constantly attended by on-site operators trained in the specific ways to finesse the operation of the plant,” writes Collver, who has more than 40 years of experience in the HVAC industry and works in construction administration for mechanical engineering firms. “Often, the smaller facilities benefit most from remote monitoring and intervention, and facility managers should take a careful look at each facility in detail to determine which way to go.”

Collver identifies three categories of standalone boiler controls and describes what facility managers need to know about each type. Basic controls, for instance, can range from from simple electro-mechanical, temperature-actuated on/off switches to indoor and outdoor sensors, burner modulation, and multiple boiler staging. The latter controls are particularly popular in buildings seeking improved energy efficiency, as they can maximize the performance of energy-efficient propane boilers.

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