We use them on a daily basis, whether at home or at work, but we are not aware of the extent as to which they assist our comfort, help us control the climates of every indoor space imaginable and facilitate the creation of smart systems that manage a building’s equipment. We are talking about air conditioners, systems and, more precisely, the devices that are used to control them… controllers.
In this article we look at:
- The difference between a thermostat and an air conditioner controller
- What types of controllers Hitachi Cooling & Heating offers
- The shift to digitalizing controllers
Hitachi Cooling & Heating offers a wide range of air conditioning controllers that, depending on the model of the air conditioner and its use (residential, commercial, industrial), gives the operator complete control of comfort. Whilst there are similarities across our range, the functions of a single-split air conditioner built to cool one space will not match those of a multi-unit system for office spaces. We want to give the operator the best experience when using their air conditioning and for our controllers drive comfort, efficiency and convenience.
What is the difference between a thermostat and an air conditioner controller?
Generally, a room thermostat will be a device brought from a third-party brand that will control the most basic cooling and heating functions, like temperature and on/off. Belonging to a third-party brand, they will not offer the complete range of functions that controllers made specifically do. So, if you’re looking to take full advantage of the advanced comfort that Hitachi Cooling & Heating products offer, you’ll want to use the appropriate controller.
So, what type of controllers are available in the Hitachi Cooling & Heating ecosystem?
Type: Individual Controllers
An individual controller is one that lets a user interact with a specific indoor unit operating in one zone. These can be wireless remotes, generally used with residential air conditioning, or as wired remote controllers fixed to the wall, which are more common in commercial spaces like offices. Individual controllers allow users to create the desired atmosphere for the space that they are currently occupying. They are simple and easy to use and let the operator perform numerous functions that are designed to improve comfort, convenience and efficiency of the unit. Among others, functions include:
Lets you run the system at a reduced rate, keeping the power consumption low whilst maintaining an optimal level of comfort.
Runs the system at full power for 20-minutes to cool or heat a space rapidly.
Gives the operator the convenience to decide what time the unit turns on or off within a set period of time.
Makes the air conditioner adjust the speed of the fan and temperature during a set period of time to improve comfort during sleep.
Being able to adjust these functions with a controller make it easier to adjust the essential aspects to the benefit of the operator. Being called an individual controller doesn’t always mean control of just one unit is supported, some wired controllers can control multiple units in the same office space. However, when used, the controller will give the same command to each of these units and not offer individual control.
Type: Centralized Controller
VRF systems offer the largest flexibility in terms of managing a multi-zone air conditioning. In addition to individual controllers for each zone, it is possible to add a centralized controller that can manage and monitor multiple zones from one point of access.
Centralized controllers are available as touch screen terminals, which we call Central Station, and are ideal for building managers to monitor and adjust each indoor unit’s operation from their office space. Furthermore, web-based options are available for centralized control of full air conditioning systems remotely. Examples of centralized controller applications are:
- In hotels after a guest checks out, the AC in newly vacant rooms can be turned off and reset from the management system
- In hospitals it makes detecting critical system errors faster, notifying the operator in case of a malfunction so they can take immediate action
- On university campuses, it is used to adjust the comfort within classrooms and communal spaces. In many cases, the teacher and students don’t use the individual controller, so comfort is ensured by the campus facility manager through the centralized controller
In the case of Hitachi Cooling & Heating, our intuitive Central Stations are easy to install and set up and offer unbeatable control of multiple zones. Once installed, an operator can oversee and manage up to 2,560 individual units (available with Central Station Ex). Also, our Central Stations include our multi-tenant building option, a software that allows you to simplify and customize AC energy billing for each tenant within a building.
Type: BMS - Building Management System
Going a step beyond individual and centralized controllers, a BMS is a management platform that allows a building’s facility manager to integrate and manage all building equipment from one access point. A BMS monitors, controls and reports on a building’s complete technology ecosystem, from surveillance and alarms to lighting, and HVAC. For example, a BMS can detect when someone enters a building and the system automatically adjusts the temperature of the space. As well as performing smart actions, the BMS provides real-time diagnostics of system functions and networks to speed up technical errors and servicing.
For integration of Hitachi Cooling & Heating products into a building management system, we offer adapters and gateways that are simple to install (subject to region and availability).
Digitalizing the Control Experience
As we move closer to smart systems and home automation, air conditioner controllers are becoming digitized and available as downloadable smartphone apps and web-based platforms. To make this possible, the Internet of Things is required to bridge the connection between the two smart devices. Smart controllers for air conditioners enhance all aspects of the HVAC experience.
Our recently launched suite of airCloud applications aimed at both homeowners and professional users deepens the level of control and possibilities of improved efficiency. For example, airCloud Home lets you:
- Access and operate your Hitachi Cooling & Heating air conditioner from anywhere at anytime
- Turn off all air conditioners in the household when on the move using your smartphone
- Schedule and monitor your air conditioning based on your routine
- Manage up to 20 units and share access with up to 10 people
It’s being able to provide our customers with useful control interfaces and reporting that helps us improve your experience of comfort. Learn more about the benefits of airCloud Home here, and more about the benefits of airCloud Pro, here.
By tapping into the versatility of the Internet of Things, our airCloud applications also let you adjust the air conditioning using voice commands, making indoor comfort an even more convenient, hands-free experience.
Johnson Controls-Hitachi Air Conditioning