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Remote Diagnostics

5 Reasons An EMS is Better Than Equipment Controls Alone

By | Early Equipment Diagnostics, Energy Management, IoT, Remote Diagnostics, restaurants | No Comments

I have a programmable thermostat…why do I need an EMS (Energy Management System)?

We have talked to hundreds of customers and some get the concept and importance of an energy management system, some don’t. So just to clear the air on how we are different than your regular old programmable thermostat and lighting control we decided to just list it out for you.

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More Than Hardware

Energy Management Systems collect and store the information they receive about the critical systems they are connected to and communicate with. Most EMS can provide you with trend graphs so when you get a complaint about your dining area being too cold or hot, you have an idea on where the problem is and how to properly diagnose it.

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Integration

There is a single point of reference for anything that the EMS is connected to. One place to change your lighting status, HVAC setpoints, and schedules?! But wait, that’s not all! You don’t have to search through multiple dashboards or multiple menus, they all exist on one dashboard communicating to and from the EMS.

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Energy Visibility

Not only does the EMS provide visibility into your critical systems but it gives you insight into how much power the equipment connected to the EMS is consuming as well as the equipment it is monitoring. Getting detailed information on how much energy you are consuming day over day and what is consuming that energy can powerfully impact the way you run your business. 

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Enterprise Visibility

Multiple locations installed with the EMS can put all of your locations in one place. Changing setpoints, lighting state, and schedules across multiple locations has never been easier. Centralized facilities management makes it easy to prioritize facility maintenance budgets as well as evaluate, rank and optimize locations based on collected data.

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Diagnostics & Alarms

An EMS is capable of sending alarms and alerts to specific parties when temperatures are not being reached or when overrides occur to a set schedule. Early equipment diagnostics are also another added benefit. Most EMS provide trend graphs to pinpoint an exact problem with a refrigeration unit for example, helping to solve small problems before they become larger, more costly problems.

Long story short, an energy management system is much more than your thermostat on the wall. It provides visibility and analytics all in one easy to find location, which empowers you to run your business with confidence. Aggregating all of your locations data across all of the connected systems onto one dashboard makes your job that much easier.

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Smart Systems Anticipate Future Failures

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

Smart Software Predictions

IoT seems to be a buzz word as of late, and with everything connected…you have to wonder why? Convenience is a huge piece of it, but it also comes down to these smart systems and how they are interconnected to every aspect of our lives. Smart systems produces data; how can you act on this data? Well unless you know and understand how to decipher it, you can’t. Here at Small Box Energy, our client success managers are what sets us apart from our competition in that they are here to turn ordinary data into smart, actionable data for you. In our daily pulls, we collect over 140,000 data points that span across several different brands, in a single day. All this data comes in the form of graphs and numbers. The graphs are not difficult to decipher, however when the whole reason you purchase a specific software is to save time, so you can see where this can cause problems. Our client success team uses trend graphs to decipher and predict future equipment failures. The graphs below are some of the many ways that our system and data can help reduce costly repairs.

Data In Action

In the graph above our client success managers used the data to determine that the set point of the A/C was set too low, this caused the compressor to run almost for the entire day. The constant running compressor can cause wear and tear to occur at a more accelerated rate because the unit is never shutting off and getting a break.

This graph shows the compressor run time after the temperature on the thermostat was raised by 2 degrees. The run-time was cut by 20%, which increases the life of the compressor, and you avoid paying for costly repairs all because the temperature was set too low.

The next example is similar the last. The walk-in freezer at a restaurant was never reaching the set temperature, continuously running. Therefore it was running excessive defrost cycles to compensate. The client success manager used the data from smart system to determine where the problem started and possible causes. 

The coil in the refrigeration unit was never reaching the set temperature which caused the unit to go into defrost more often than it should have, this increases unnecessary energy consumption but most of all it increased wear and tear on the compressor.

Visibility Breeds Predictions

These are things we see day after day, the chances that all of your equipment in your restaurant or convenience store is running at 100% is slim. Smart systems like chameleon give you the visibility into your store operations as you have never seen before. The difference is before; you were never aware that your compressor in your walk-in was on all the time until you had to fix it when you had just repaired it recently unexpectedly. By merely having these graphs we are saving hundreds of restaurant owners and convenience store owners thousands of dollars in predicting future failures in their kitchen equipment.

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3 Spring Preventative Maintenance Tips You Gotta See

By | Early Equipment Diagnostics, Remote Diagnostics, restaurants, Small Box Energy Features | No Comments

As we spring into a new season we see numerous issues regarding HVAC units in particular. Most of the common problems we see in locations are related to the lack of preventative maintenance resulting in long-term wear and tear on units and not to mention the energy that these units are consuming because of that. Our client success managers took their expertise and decided to show their process and how they diagnose problems with HVAC units remotely using the chameleon™ platform and application. Here are 3 ways our client success team here at Small Box Energy diagnose and help remedy problems with HVAC units.

General HVAC Tips

  • Set kitchen target temperature in the mid-70s. Most units will not achieve lower temperatures during heavy volume periods and running at temperatures lower than 72 cause unnecessary strain on units while utilizing more energy than is truly required.
  • When modifying target temperatures, instead of changing by 5+ degrees in one move, update by 1-2 degrees each week to minimize staff recognition. Making smaller adjustments on a regular basis allows them to adapt vs. noticing an immediate change which will cause them to bypass the system back to original temperatures that were not optimal.
  • Clear drain lines from HVAC units can help performance by allowing airflow through the coils to cool more efficiently and causing less strain on the other components of the unit.
  • Proper functioning drain pans help the HVAC system performance as allowing the condensation to flow through the drain and not build up causing other issues.
  • Conduct preventative maintenance on a consistent basis with all of your HVAC units.

Example 1 – Unit running all the time but running well

Observations

  • Two stages running at all times
  • No unoccupied time/temperature set (if not 24-hour location make sure schedules are set properly)
  • Temperature not hitting target temperature
  • Strong splits between discharge and actual temperature being achieved – System running well

Considerations:

  • Two-stage cooling means the air conditioner has a compressor with two levels of operation: high for hot summer days and low for milder days. A two-stage unit runs for longer periods and produces more even temperatures.
  • As system is running at full strength at all times, unit should not be expected to last as long as if it were running fewer stages and energy usage will be high
  • Unit may be undersized for the space and should be discussed further
  • Raise the target temperature to one allowing the temperature to be achieved, thus reducing strain on the unit.
  • Consider “unoccupied” temperatures during low volume periods if 24-hour operation
  • Confirm that both stages are configured correctly at the unit itself, as well as in the thermostat corresponding to the unit

Example 2 – Unit running all the time and not functioning properly

Observations

  • Two stages running at all times
  • No unoccupied time/temperature set (if not 24-hour location make sure schedules are set properly)
  • Temperature not hitting target temperature
  • Discharge temperature tracks the outside temperature and raises as the day heats up
  • Discharge temperature is above the set point

Considerations:

  • Two-stage cooling means the air conditioner has a compressor with two levels of operation: high for hot summer days and low for milder days. A two-stage unit runs for longer periods and produces more even temperatures.
  • With discharge temperature not in the 50 to low 60 – degree range during 2 stages of cooling this unit needs to be serviced by an HVAC professional.
  • As system is running at full strength at all times, unit should not be expected to last as long as if it were running fewer stages and energy usage will be high
  • Confirm that both stages are configured correctly at the unit itself, as well as in the thermostat corresponding to the unit

Example 3 – Unit Running Well

Observations

  • 1 and 2 stages running throughout the day as needed
  • No unoccupied time/temperature set (if not 24-hour location make sure schedules are set properly)
  • Temperature is achieving the target temperature consistently throughout the day
  • Strong splits between discharge and actual temperature being achieved – System running well

Considerations:

  • As this system is running well, if other units in the same location are not, this system could be helping compensate the entire space for other units.
  • Consider “unoccupied” temperatures during low volume periods if 24-hour operation

These tips can help prevent long-term wear and tear on your equipment. Preventative maintenance is essential to energy savings and elongating the life of your equipment. This is true not only for HVAC units but for refrigeration equipment as well and every piece of equipment in your restaurant, c-store and even your home. Take a look at our platform page to see more screenshots of the chameleon app in action!

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A Needle in A Haystack

By | Case Studies, IoT, More Value, Remote Diagnostics | No Comments

On-site Technician and CSM Quickly Diagnose Freezer Issue Using Remote Control and Data Analysis

My father was a farmer and I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “It’s like finding a needle in a haystack” when he was working on his equipment after something broke down. Well, that is the beauty about IoT and data, you can control and diagnose issues from anywhere in the world, reducing guessing games, which is exactly what happened earlier this week.

A technician was on-site at one of our restaurant customers. He called our tech support line because the freezer wasn’t reaching temperature and continued to cycle between refrigeration and defrost mode. By looking up the unit on chameleon-cloud.com, Jake (our technician) was able to tell him the coil temperature and room temperature which was the first step to diagnosing the problem.

Jake remotely put the unit in refrigeration mode for testing purposes and continued to analyze the compressor data while the technician proceeded to review the operation of the unit on-site. Together they discovered the expansion valve wasn’t working properly and not giving enough refrigerant to the unit. Because of the accurate diagnosis, the technician was able to adjust the superheat to help temporarily keep the temperature down until the unit can be fully repaired. Of course, we will continue to watch the unit remotely and alert management and the technician of urgent temperature issues.

This was the first time this technician had worked with Small Box Energy’s chameleon™ platform. He thought the system was extremely beneficial to diagnosing problems, both remotely and on-site; so much so, he is working with Jake to schedule further training with colleagues because he felt his organization could benefit from the system through control, alarming, remote diagnostics, and energy saving capability.

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