Early Equipment Diagnostics

Equipment Performance – A Portfolio Perspective

By | Early Equipment Diagnostics, Efficiency, Energy Management, IoT | No Comments

Quarterly reports review your entire portfolio highlighting run-times, energy usage, and alarms.

Whether you own 2 stores or 200, being efficient is the key to reducing operating costs. Small Box Energy understands that need, which is why we provide quarterly ‘Fit’ reports specifically for your equipment.

You’ll be able to see and compare:

  • HVAC compressor runtimes
  • Walk-in compressor runtimes
  • Alarms over the period
  • HVAC target temperature overrides
  • Energy Usage

A sample report looks like the picture below.

portfolio - partial -2

Data Enables Strategic Decision Making

One of the advantages of IoT is the ability to access data. In fact, we serve up over 140,000 data points each day for each of our sites that we monitor. But what do you do with it? How do you analyze it? What is the real advantage of having all this data? The advantage isn’t the data, the advantage is having the tools to combine and display the data you need into a useful format that is easy to read and understand. As the picture depicts above, we segregate and display the data by equipment so you can easily read and compare. Colors indicate performance evaluations. You can quickly scan the data, pick out the equipment in danger and compare the data across your entire portfolio. Customers have been able to make strategic decisions for efficiency, such as these:

  • Modify temperature settings to maximize energy efficiency
  • Choose to repair or replace equipment based on performance and other portfolio equipment needs
  • Evaluate a 3rd party vendor
  • Eliminate or modify existing preventative maintenance program based on equipment needs
  • Reevaluate the design and equipment needs for new locations

IoT and data provide the means, Small Box Energy makes it useful and actionable. Call us today or request a presentation.

Share and Follow Us:
balancing a restaurant for comfort

A Balancing Act: Room Comfort

By | Case Studies, Early Equipment Diagnostics, Efficiency, Energy Management, IoT | No Comments

It’s probably the most common complaint in any restaurant, “it’s too cold in here!” Of course, almost everyone’s comfort level is different; however, we can agree that there are some acceptable standards for restaurants. We can also agree that the room temperature should be even across the room(s) for everyone’s dining pleasure. But achieving those standards can be very challenging.

Many people don’t understand air conditioners rely on sensors placed in the room and to balance the comfort across the space, the sensors need to be located correctly. For example, if there is a room with a lot of windows and sunlight; a sensor should be located near that area and at the opposite end of the room where these is no sunlight/heat from the windows. Similarly, you wouldn’t want to place a sensor near the door to the outside because heat/cold air rushing in from the outside will affect the space temperature. Therefore, placing the sensors strategically around the room enables an average to be taken and used as the input, so the HVAC unit can determine how long to blow cool air and effectively cool the space evenly.

Typically, this isn’t something business owners worry about – I mean let’s face it we have enough on our minds as it is. When the HVAC units are placed, the contractors place the sensors based on traffic flow and building factors to optimize your efficiency and comfort. But overtime, these sensors could stop working, be moved by other contractors, or the space itself could have been modified or changed.  That is why having remote diagnostics can help you determine when your HVAC unit is running efficiently due to sensors.

Case Study: Remote Diagnostics Uncovered Sensors Placed Incorrectly

Problem:  Managers told the Small Box Energy Client Success Manager (CSM) they felt the space was warmer than the thermostats indicated, and often had trouble keeping the space at a comfortable temperature for customers.

Upon inspection of the equipment through remote diagnostics, the CSM could see the target room temperature was barely being reached and the compressors were running constantly in 2 stages of cooling.

Sensor MisPlacement

Diagnosis: When the technician visited the space; they found the sensors were located incorrectly causing the room temperature being reported to be drastically different than if the sensors were placed properly.

Solution: The SBE technicians relocated the sensors, and the CSM noticed a significant difference in run-time for the compressor and the unit is now consistently reaching the target temperature.

sensor placed correctly

Additionally, the managers have reported back that the room temperature feels comfortable.

The Turquoise line is the Current Temperature

  • The straight Black line is the Target Temperature
  • The Purple line is the Discharge Temperature (this should be 15-20° below the target temperature)
  • The Blue lines are when the unit is in the Cooling Stage

 For more information on how Small Box Energy can help you save energy and money through remote equipment diagnostics, contact us today.

Share and Follow Us:

It’s only 2 degrees, what difference can that make?

By | Case Studies, Early Equipment Diagnostics, Efficiency, Energy Management, IoT, Visibility Stories | No Comments

Case Study: Adjusting the set-points reduced the HVAC run time by 20%

Energy Star states commercial buildings can trim their air conditioning cost by 12-15% just by raising their room temperature 3˚ during the summer. But how do you really know if you are saving money?

Our Client Success Managers review each site and all the equipment at the site. During a recent analysis, Joe noticed the kitchen compressor was running extremely long. Therefore, he suggested raising the temperature 2˚ to see if they could cut energy costs while keeping the kitchen at a comfortable temperature for staff.

This simple analysis cut the compressor usage by 20%, cutting compressor run time by almost 3 hours a day. While that does not seem like a lot, take a look at the graphs. Besides energy, this will reduce wear on the compressor and help elongate the life of the unit.

Original Graph – Target temperature of 73 degrees in the kitchen – Compressor run time of 13.1 hours (787 minutes) over a 24 hour period

compressor run time with thermostat at 73

After Adjustment – Target temperature raised to 75 degrees in the same kitchen – Compressor run time of 10.5 hours (630 minutes) over a 24 hour period. Savings of 20%.

compressor run time with thermostat at 75

Small Box Energy provides the visibility restaurants need to reduce workload on equipment and save money.

Share and Follow Us:

Remote Diagnostics Solves Real Issues

By | Early Equipment Diagnostics, Efficiency, Energy Management, Food Safety, IoT, Visibility Stories | No Comments

Ice Buildup on the Coil Explained and Solved Using IoT

Recently, our tech support received a phone call from a customer.  Their walk-in cooler seemed to be running ok, but he was concerned about all the ice on the coils. Our tech support pulled up the data from the refrigeration module.

A quick analysis of the graph instantly showed the problem. See the actual graph below. It reads right to left, and is for a period of 7 days. The blue line is the coil temperature and the green line is the room temperature.  The room temperature of the cooler was ranging from 40-50˚ consistently. This means the door was being left open from employees.  The employees were instantly trained to correct their behavior and stop leaving the door open.


If you look at the left side of the graph from 0-1, you see 3 spikes to 40 degrees in the blue coil temperature; this means the unit was in the proper defrost mode. You will also see the coil temperature is well below the room temperature and consistently staying between 33-35 degrees.

This corrective action saves money because the cooler isn’t working as hard to lower the temperature of surrounding spaces or freezing up resulting in visits by technicians. We would also expect a longer life of the cooler and compressor because it is not running all the time. Additionally, we might expect the food quality to improve and reduce the chance for a loss of produce, as the cooler is now maintaining a consistent temperature.

Why Does Ice Form?

Ice can form on the evaporative coil due to added humidity from surrounding environments. The developing moisture on the coil causes the ice buildup. In this case the door was being left open, so the ice was forming as the evaporative coil was trying to maintain temperature.

Remote diagnostics solves real issues

Share and Follow Us:

The Power of Visibility

By | Case Studies, Early Equipment Diagnostics, Efficiency, Energy Management, Visibility Stories | No Comments
Two workers inspecting ventilation system

Two workers inspecting ventilation system

What does Small Box Energy mean when we say chameleon™ gives our customers visibility? Is it another marketing buzz word to get me to install yet another technology, full of promises that I never see? Unfortunately, while technology is cool and innovative, we understand that sometimes it is hard to see the value over the ‘cool’ factor. Our Deployment Team and Client Success Managers see the value of chameleon on a daily basis.  

Our Director of Deployment shared this HVAC example with me last week, reiterating the value of visibility for our customers.

Why wasn’t the Service Area cooling?

Once the Small Box Energy solution is installed; there is a two week period used to ‘tune’ the system. During this time, we make the necessary adjustment to maximize efficiency for the each store including temperature settings, lighting schedules, and alarm notifications.

Remote Diagnostics: When the thermostat was calling for cooling, and indeed running, the discharge temperature was not decreasing for the ‘service area’ of the restaurant.  The discharge temperature should be 15-20˚ below the target temperature.

On-site Inspection: Upon physical inspection, there was no air coming out of the registers in this area. When inspecting the rooftop unit, we found the unit was running correctly and receiving the correct commands from the thermostat. Upon inspection of the ductwork, we found the ducts were connected to another HVAC unit. This was causing an imbalance in the system and a heavier load on the dining room HVAC unit. Therefore, the owner is getting this corrected.

Why is this important?

  1. Two HVAC units feeding into one set of registers makes it almost impossible to keep a constant temperature for that space. It’s even possibly causing one of the units to go into heating mode while the other unit is in cooling mode to balance out the space temperature.
  2. For the space that is supposed to be cooled. Nothing happens. Temperature does not change. The employees have a tendency to keep turning down the set points for the “Service Area” thinking this will solve the temperature issue; but in reality, it adds to the issues already prevalent to the HVAC zone with two HVAC units fighting each other to obtain a temperature balance.
  3. As you can see, this would cause high run times for these units just to keep balance, thus wasting energy.


Without the visibility of the newly installed chameleon system, this issue would have continued to go unnoticed for an extended period of time if not indefinitely resulting in wasted energy consumption, as well as wear and tear on the HVAC units, reducing the life expectancy of the units’ components. Now that this issue is fixed, we will be able to see how the equipment is running 24/7, ensuring efficiency and extended life.

Share and Follow Us:

Why Should Restaurants and Convenience Stores be Interested in IoT?

By | Early Equipment Diagnostics, Energy Management, Food Safety, IoT, Uncategorized | No Comments

IoT cloud_3IoT touches every person, every day and we barely even think about it – cell phones, laptops, security devices, HVAC controls, and lights. They are all connected:

Today*: 6.4B “things” connected via IoT technologies
Tomorrow: 5.5 million things will be connected
2020: 20.8 Billion things connected

Eventually, virtually everything electrical will be connected – appliances, blinds, locks, garage doors, water heaters, landscaping lights, even irrigation systems.

But the important question is why?  Why has technology permeated so many aspects of our lives?  Well, there are lots of reasons.  First, we might say it’s cool.  Who doesn’t feel just a little bit of power when you can turn your lights on and off from across the country?  Right?   However, the more practical applications of these “things” provide us convenience, save us money or provide some added safety for us.  They make our lives easier, they help us get more for less all while improving the world we live in. The same is true for businesses and especially restaurants.

It is very common to be using IoT for your POS, social media and even operations like inventory or ordering. Nearly every asset in the business has been impacted by the internet and/or IoT to save money or increase efficiency. For Front of the House, IoT applications typically focus on increasing revenue and loyalty; where as the Back of the House applications typically focus on increasing productivity through schedules, inventory, and bookkeeping.

Small Box Energy leverages IoT to provide a solution focused on providing operational efficiency to improve profitability for both restaurants and convenience stores:

  • Improves Food Safety by automatically documenting temperatures for refrigeration equipment and food probes on the cloud, giving users historical and real-time access.
  • Reduces Food Loss by providing real-time alarms to employees when refrigeration equipment is out of the defined temperature range, notifying employees to take immediate action.
  • Reduces Maintenance Costs by providing data to distinguish between equipment failure and operational inefficiencies; as well as data to determine truly urgent repairs over routine maintenance needs. Facility managers are becoming empowered through remote access and diagnostics.
  • Extends Equipment Life and Improves Inefficiencies by providing the data necessary to determine doors being left open, repetitive and unnecessary HVAC overrides, or general excess operation of compressors.
  • Reduces Energy Consumption through automation, scheduling and decreasing unnecessary defrost cycles in equipment to help control what is often perceived as uncontrollable costs.

So why is IoT important for restaurateurs? It will touch every aspect of your operation and it will help you save time, mitigate risk and increase profitability. Learn more about how Small Box Energy can help your operations by emailing



Share and Follow Us:
Follow by Email