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Intelligent HVAC controls market shows resiliency

The global intelligent HVAC control systems market has been resilient in the face of an extended period of economic weakness and the market is currently in the middle of a paradigm shift, according to a new ARC Advisory Group study.

Most existing systems are basic analogue based electrical systems and these still make up the majority of the installed base.

However, the majority of projects that are being designed and commissioned today utilise digital architecture, IP based communications, and web accessibility to increase the breadth and capabilities of these systems. There is also a strong trend towards the integration of once disparate systems, such as lighting control, access control, and others.

“Digital and IP based systems have been accepted as the future direction of the market, and adoption rates of these types of systems are growing each year," according to ARC Research Analyst Joseph Gillespie (, the principal author ARC’s HVAC Control Systems Worldwide Outlook.

"The ‘hot topic’ in the market this year focuses more on how end users and suppliers can most effectively collect, manage, and interpret the vast amount of data that these intelligent systems provide and turn it into useful information,” 

Adoption of intelligent HVAC systems is uneven across different regions, and growth in this market is strongly correlated with the health of new construction markets.

In mature economies — such as the US and Europe — intelligent systems are seeing lower growth rates because new construction markets are weak.

The maturation of digital system architecture is the main driver that allows more comprehensive HVAC control systems to be designed and facilitates every major market trend.

This maturation paves the way for bi-directional communication between systems via TCP/IP, allowing integration between systems and also provides intelligent software — such as energy analytics, advanced system scheduling, alarm monitoring and others — with better information more quickly and reliably, which drastically increases system capability.

It is also enabling the proliferation of IP based systems that utilise the Internet, increasing system flexibility and creating the opportunity for remotely hosted systems and remotely managed services.

Recognising the emerging need for increasing business intelligence, more HVAC controls suppliers are focusing on providing these capabilities.

The goal is to develop intelligent HVAC solutions capable of providing facilities managers the ability to base operational decisions on real-time performance data, uncover hidden costs, and find opportunities to reduce energy consump-tion and save money through comprehensive facilities management.

Light commercial buildings, such as small- and medium-sized retail stores, health clinics and doctors’ parks, churches, K-through-12 schools, and small office buildings represent a significant portion of existing and new buildings in most markets, yet do not typically employ advanced HVAC controls.

This is changing as controllers with enhanced functionality and robust software capabilities become less expensive, web services make dedicated workstations unnecessary, and systems become easier to operate.

Traditional HVAC suppliers are using modular system designs to roll out flexible and scalable products at a lower-cost to capture this burgeoning segment of the market.

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