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  1. #1

    New to building automation

    Although I am not directly involved in HAVC, I hope you will be able to assist.

    I am part of a volunteer committee responsible for our church/temple building maintenance. We are a poorly funded non-profit with a VERY limited budget for things like support contracts and such. We do pay for contracts on our HVAC and building security systems. The office manager is well intended but has absolutely no experience in building mangement. The building is about 6 years old.

    We have one stand alone PC connected to a control panel that runs the HVAC and lighting for our building. It is using the Delta Controls OrcaView 3.22 software with a dongle. A couple members of our committee learned from the original installer how to use the control software to schedule lights goings on/off and how to set the proper HVAC temperatures and schedules. I am most worried about the single point of failure of this one PC and also about the limitation of needing to be physically in front of that one computer to make any changes. There are frequest events where we rent out the social hall and require last minutes changes to the schedules. One of our volunteer committee must then drive to the building and make changes in person - day and night.

    Please do not consider this a DIY question because I certainly see the value in trained technicians and the role they play. My questions are related to the responsibilities of the building owner/maintainer.

    1. Is there some list of ongoing responsibilities for an owner of a building automation system like this? (activities that may include things like PC backup, regular service or maintenance for batteries - if there are any, HVAC & lighting system data backup, regular software updates)

    2. Is there a breakdown for the roles of the HVAC technician versus the building maintenance staff as it relates to managing automation systems like this?

    3. What type of remote access would be recommended to allow our volunteer crew to manage the system remotely? We were thinking of putting the single PC the web and then using a remote control software program. It seems like automation software should have accounted for this need already without us having to solve this problem.

    Any help you can offer would be welcomed.

    - pjaffe

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    central NC
    Posts
    55
    We are a Delta Controls partner in central NC. We install and service Delta Controls building automation systems. Most of our customers allow us remote access to their systems either by the web or UDP/IP to the system controller. You can upgrade your dongle to allow the PC to run webserver which would give your people access to the system remotely. At the same time you can upgrade to the latest ORCAView version which is 3.33. A Delta partner for your territory would have to quote a price for that. Delta partners for your territory are listed on their website:

    http://www.deltacontrols.com/partners

    Post any other questions and I'll be happy to help in any way.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    1,327
    Quote Originally Posted by pjaffe View Post
    1. Is there some list of ongoing responsibilities for an owner of a building automation system like this? (activities that may include things like PC backup, regular service or maintenance for batteries - if there are any, HVAC & lighting system data backup, regular software updates)
    Without a service contract, the owner is usually on his own. The systems usually have a minimum 1yr warranty from a decent company. Unfortunately most of the time it's the old taillight warranty. When you see the taillights on the service truck disappear, so does your warranty.

    2. Is there a breakdown for the roles of the HVAC technician versus the building maintenance staff as it relates to managing automation systems like this?
    Maintenance staff should be able to operate the system, make schedule changes, etc. Assuming of course they were properly trained on how to use the system. The HVAC technician/programmer is usually responsible for installation of the controls, start-up, and checkout of the system.

    3. What type of remote access would be recommended to allow our volunteer crew to manage the system remotely? We were thinking of putting the single PC the web and then using a remote control software program. It seems like automation software should have accounted for this need already without us having to solve this problem.
    You should be able to place the PC behind a cable/dsl router firewall and forward only the necessary ports for remote access. Windows XP has built-in remote access (RDP) available on tcp port 3389 by default, and VNC (from realvnc.com) has a personal edition version (free of charge) running on tcp port 5900 by default. Make sure to setup exclusions on your windows firewall. IF you do not understand any of this, find an IT person that does.

    Automation software has accounted for this (e.g. Tridium), but it sounds like your system is 6 years old, so maybe an upgrade could be in order.

    hope this helps.

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