DDC Controls for HVAC Systems 101

When you are new to the HVAC industry, terms like Control Systems and Building Automation Systems become a norm. But do you really know what they are, or how do they operate?

Let’s take a look at HVAC control systems that regulate the temperature of your building to improve energy efficiency. Our concern in this guide is “Direct Digital Controls” or DDC Controls for HVAC systems.

You can think of a DDC control as a self-learning system that leverages various sensors and control loops to keep your environment safe and healthy. Listed below are the basic points that illustrate the operation of DDC controls for HVAC systems:

  1. Sensors supply input signals that may be air temperature, airflow, humidity, dewpoint, CO2, or other atmospheric conditions.
  2. The HVAC controller takes input signals as parameters and processes them to calculate the output.
  3. DDC adjusts the setpoint based on the output signals.

Case in point: If the input signals report a space is too humid, the DDC automatically sets the HVAC thermal loads to remove extra moisture from the air.

Common Applications of DDC Controls

Besides being popular in HVAC appliances, DDC controls are used in diverse applications for residential, commercial, industrial, and health care sectors. Some common examples include:

  • Building Automation Systems (BAS)
  • Humidity and Temperature Control Units
  • Integrated Energy Control Systems
  • Lighting Control Systems
  • Refrigeration Units
  • Flow Control Devices
  • Surgical Suites

DDC controls are trendy in building automation applications as wellㅡin fact they’ve been used in BAS systems since the late 1970s. BASs integrate every electricity component of a building from its HVAC and lighting to refrigerators and security alarms into a single centralized system. They digitize equipment controls to make them operate with unmatched precision.

Today, modern platforms such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are being used to automate BAS-controlled HVAC systems. Leading SaaS companies like ActiveBAS leverage such technologies to enable building owners to visualize and manage the control of their facilities from anywhere with a smartphone or tablet.

Benefits of DDC Controls for HVAC Systems

HVAC DDC systems offer a host of benefits for anyone interacting with them, including building owners, maintenance technicians, administrators, network engineers, and even occupants. Some of their most prevalent advantages include:

1: Remote Monitoring

HVAC DDC controls allow building operators to monitor operational equipment such as valves, dampers, and VFDs remotely on an interactive and easy-to-use application. They can also analyze complex log files and determine the root cause of system faults or failures before they start impacting overall building performance.

2: Energy Efficiency

DDC controls are highly efficient. They are installed in a centralized system, where all sensors and thermostats operate as a standalone unit. Hence, building owners and managers can control energy efficiency easily. For example, if lights are switched-on in multiple areas of a building, DDC controls can allow you to turn them off from one device. This is undeniably easier and faster than managing all thermostats and light controls manually from different locations.

3: Automated System Control

DDC controls can monitor your building’s HVAC components 24/7. Based on your peak and off-peak hours analyzed, they program the system thermostats to automatically turn on and off when necessary. Automation itself offers a lot of benefits, such as cost-effectiveness, energy efficiency, reduced GHG emissions, environmental sustainability, etc.

4: Easy Maintenance

While DDC controls are expensive when set in comparison to traditional controls, they are highly durable. Building operators can easily view the HVAC system status and manage it from anywhere. If there’s any abnormality like some output parameter goes beyond the standard capacity, building owners can change the system status and setpoints ultimately. This frees up their time to address other building needs.

5: Increased Comfort

Buildings that are highly insulated and well-ventilated enhance the comfort level for both managers and tenants. HVAC DDC controls are made programmable so that users can set the temperature of their spaces to their individual liking. With such ease, problems like unpleasant temperature fluctuations, energy losses, and contamination are all eliminated.

The benefits of Direct Digital Controls are enough to convince you that HVAC DDC controls are the new wave of the future. You can use them in all new and existing HVAC systems. If you’re looking to make your building smarter, drop us a line to learn how we can help you smarten up your building at no upfront costs.