You have this new, exciting integration project. You plan the entire process, clarify the devices of the lightning, the security cameras, the doors, the toaster – it’s no sweat for you.
And then you find out that the residence you’re automating has a VRF HVAC installed.
You already know that when you integrate HVAC into a Home Automation system, you may encounter a headache: each HVAC has a different protocol, and these protocols are closed, proprietary ones.
There are several solutions when it comes to integrating HVAC into a Home Automation system. But you need to choose the right one for your specific task.
In this blog post we’ll examine most of the existing HVAC integration solutions, and describe their advantages and disadvantages:
- Are you integrating a Split/Mini Split HVAC? Read about it here
Manufacturer’s BACnet Gateway
You need to integrate a VRF HVAC. If you reach out to your HVAC people, they’ll probably recommend you use a BACnet gateway – a controller which is provided by that specific HVAC manufacturer.
Each manufacturer has its own BACnet Gateway. So, before you arrive onsite you have to understand which HVAC brand is installed, and to get the right equipment from your HVAC people, who need to ask for it from the HVAC manufacturer.
Not only that, but as BACnet does not fully comply with the Home Automation market, you’ll have to know the different HVAC and BACnet parameters for the integration – and make the adjustments according to each project.
In addition, BACnet gateway was originally intended for Commercial use. Using it in small sites or with small HVAC systems, may become pricey for your customers.
As you can see, this is not the optimal solution, as it requires extra budget and additional setup effort. It is also not a universal solution, and you’ll need to repeat the mentioned above process with each HVAC brand, which makes it very time consuming.
So how can you bridge between HVAC and Home Automation systems? What other solutions can help you integrate both systems easily and seamlessly?
The solutions that are available on market include a Third-Party Integration Device, IR-Based Gateway – and the Universal HVAC Gateway. Let’s take a look at them.
Third-Party Integration Device
These kinds of solutions usually comprise multiple devices, each installed on all of the indoor units, creating a virtual network between them. This virtual network can then be connected to the Home Automation system.
However, these solutions are brand-specific and not unified, creating a multitude of devices that need to be installed onsite. Moreover, the HVAC brands that are compatible with these technologies are limited.
All in all, these solutions are complex and encumbered.
This solution may be proposed by the HVAC manufacturers. It connects to the HVAC’s indoor unit through an internet connection, using a domestic Wi-Fi network.
Even though this solution is cloud-based, it is not native, and is eventually activated by IR, which means that it functions as a sort of a standard remote control. This is a cheaper solution, requiring a lighter use of hardware, and is mostly used with simpler technologies and totally depends on a local WI-Fi network (which is mostly managed by other parties).
But there’s a downside to it.
When you integrate HVAC by using this technology, it can create only one-directional communication, which means that you lack the bi-directional feedback loop: once the end user sends a command to the HVAC (be it from inside the house or from another location), he’ll have no system status information. And so, the end user cannot know whether the command was successfully executed or not.
- Learn more about the importance of bi-directional communication
But there is another, single, seamless integration solution – the Universal HVAC Gateway. A single solution that fits them all.
Universal HVAC Gateway
The Universal Gateway provides you with the ability to natively integrate any existing VRF HVAC into Home Automation systems.
Unlike the solutions mentioned above, the universal gateway doesn’t connect to the indoor units – but connects directly to the VRF’s main communication line.
As it is universal, you don’t need to install multiple devices, according to the HVAC brands on-site. All you need is one device per system. And because this device is universal, you can connect several HVAC brands to this single gateway, even in one project.
This device allows you to simplify the setup process: once it’s connected to the HVAC system, all the HVAC components are auto-detected. It is simple to integrate and install, and as it is plug & play, out-of-the-box solution – it has fewer points of failure than the conventional, mentioned above options.
This device also provides you with a bi-directional, real-time communication, and with immediate system status. This allows you and the end user to receive real-time feedback with no delay, and make sure all the commands were successfully executed.
The Advantages of The Universal HVAC Gateway:
- Native Home Automation integration with most of the major Home Automation brands: Control4, Crestron, Lutron, Savant, Vantage, HDL, Fibaro, Philips Dynalite, AMX, RTI, and more
- Natively supports all brands of VRF HVACs: Daikin, Mitsubishi Electric, LG, Samsung, Gree, Carrier, Trane, Hitachi, Toshiba, Fujitsu, JCI, Midea, Panasonic/Sanyo, Mitsubishi Heavy, and many others
- Multiple Interfaces on physical layers: Ethernet (IP), RS232, RS485, KNX (with ETS support)
- Communicates through open protocols: ASCII, BACnet IP, BACnet MSTP, Modbus TCP RTU, and REST API protocols; and all customary Home Automation protocols
- Optional cloud API, for customized cloud solutions
- Full cloud-based native CoolAutomation Apps suite (works in parallel with Home Automation systems)
- Integrates with various cloud solutions: Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home, and more
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