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Development of a Laboratory Set-up Interfacing Programmable Logic Controller (PLC), Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) and HVAC Applications

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

ECCD Applications

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.520.1 - 26.520.17



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Paper Authors


Ahmed Cherif Megri North Carolina A&T State University

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Dr. Ahmed Cherif Megri, Associate Professor of Architectural Engineering (AE), teaches capstone, lighting, electrical, HVAC and energy design courses. He is the ABET Coordinator for the AE Program. His research areas include airflow modeling, zonal modeling, energy modeling, and artificial intelligence modeling using the support vector machine learning approach. Dr. Megri holds a Ph.D. degree from INSA at Lyon (France) in the area of Thermal Engineering and a ”Habilitation” (HDR) degree from Pierre and Marie Curie University - Paris VI, Sorbonne Universities (2011) in the area of Engineering Sciences. Prior to his current position, he was an Associate Professor at the University of Wyoming (UW) and prior to that he was an Assistant Professor and the Director of the AE Program at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). He participated significantly in the development of the current architectural engineering undergraduate and master’s programs at IIT. While at IIT, he taught thermal and fluids engineering (thermodynamics, heat transfer, and fluid mechanics), building sciences, physical performance of buildings, building enclosure, as well as design courses, such as HVAC, energy, plumbing, fire protection and lighting. Also, he supervises many courses in the frame of interprofessional projects (IPRO) program. Dr. Megri has written over 100 journal and conference papers.

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Development of a Laboratory set-up interfacing Programmable Logic Controller (PLC), VariableFrequency Drive (VFD) and HVAC ApplicationsIn this day and age, technology is improving the system performance and saving energy. From being ableto use cellular phones as cameras, computers the sizes of notebooks, and vehicles that run on renewableenergy other than fossil fuels. Building automation is delegating the task of controlling the systems of abuilding such as lighting, electrical, HVAC, and mechanical systems of a building, to a computer. Whilethis control is an incredible feat of technology, its primary purpose is to conserve energy. Two of the mostpopular pieces of building automation equipment are Programming Logic Controllers (PLC) and VariableFrequency Drives (VFD).The Variable Frequency Drives (VFD) is a device used to save energy. Most commonly used in drivingmotors of pumps, fans, and HVAC systems of commercial and residential buildings. These devicesfunction by granting the user control of the output of a motor by regulating the frequency. ProgrammingLogic Controllers (PLC) are devices that can be used to control the automated processes in machines.The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate the design and implementation of an experiment, from basiccomponents, based on real powered electrical circuits that include a variable Frequency Drive (VFD) tocontrol the three phase variable speed motor of a fan integrated to a Programming Logic Controller(PLC). Our objective is to verify several alternatives of this technology to control the variable-frequencymotors on fans to manage the volume of air moved to match the demand of the system. Thus objectivesare:  System integration of different electrical components to make a whole system composed of: PLC, VFD, three phase motor, motor starters, relays, contactors, transducers, weather station, and Ethernet communication system.  Experimental investigation of several alternatives (a) the power factors, inductive reactance and resistance for the fan motor, as a function of the frequency, (b) the electrical power measured for different value of the frequency,  Development of a better understanding as to how each of the above factors impact the energy consumption,  Development of appropriate and novel methods to design and to analyze the control of ventilation system,  Quantitative estimation of the energy saving potential in practical applicationsMost importantly, project methodology will be discussed. We discuss the capstone design program fromstudents’ point of view, and the experience earned in design, integration, and also in written and oralcommunication skills. Methodology used to evaluate the effectiveness of the capstone design program interm of learning outcomes is also described.

Megri, A. C. (2015, June), Development of a Laboratory Set-up Interfacing Programmable Logic Controller (PLC), Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) and HVAC Applications Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23859

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