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Teaching Improved Methods Of Tuning And Adjusting Hvac Control Systems

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Construction ET/Technology Curriculum

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.1211.1 - 11.1211.12



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Paper Authors


Russell Marcks Sinclair Community College

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Russell Marcks is a Professor at Sinclair Community College in Mechanical Engineering Technology. He teaches in the areas of fluids, thermal sciences and control with a specialization in HVAC systems. Professor Marcks is a lead investigator for this grant.

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Larraine Kapka Sinclair Community College

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Larraine Kapka is an Assistant Professor at Sinclair Community College in Mechanical Engineering Technology. She teaches in the areas of fluids and thermal sciences with a specialization in HVAC systems. Professor Kapka is the project coordinator for this grant.

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Alan Watton Sinclair Community College

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Dr. Alan Watton is a part-time lecturer and researcher at Sinclair Community College. He is credited with developing the HVAC program at Sinclair. He spends most of his time in the research of HVAC control. Dr. Watton is a lead investigator for this grant.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Teaching Improved Methods of Tuning and Adjusting HVAC Control Systems

Project Introduction

The process control industry has long recognized the importance of control loop tuning. Various loop tuning methods have existed since the 1940’s and the process industry has been responsible for a number of advancements in these methods. This includes sophisticated software to continuously monitor processes and adjust tuning parameters on-the-fly. Such software monitors all controllers on the local communications bus. The software is designed such that it is also necessary to know which specific controller models are being monitored. Although complex, it works well in the process industry where suboptimal tuning can result in significant financial loss.

However, this does not yet exist in the building HVAC industry for any number of reasons. First, a common communications protocol for the HVAC control industry has not yet emerged. It is true the introductions of BacNET and LonWorks have made tremendous strides toward this goal, but there is a long way to go. There is also the issue of cost. It is unreasonable to assume building owners will gladly pay substantial monies for software performance monitoring systems as those currently existing in the process industry. Finally, there is the education component. Most HVAC control technicians and engineers do not seem to understand the concept of a formal loop tuning procedure. Persons that are well versed in formal tuning methods often cannot employ these methods due to any number of restrictions. These restrictions may include the lack of proper, robust, and inexpensive field equipment and the lack of time to allocate to loop tuning within the contract in which they are involved.

Thus the goals of this project are actually quite simple.

• Develop a robust method of data collection in the field independent of the manufacturer and model of controller found on the job.

• Keep the cost of such data collection equipment under $1000.

• Allow the method to be deployed by an educated control technician rather than requiring the expertise of a control engineer.

• Develop an instructional learning module for use in the classroom with which to educate and train the HVAC student in the art of control loop tuning.

Preliminary investigation uncovered an unlikely alternative; the use of a TI calculator and a handheld data acquisition unit could potentially be used to collect suitable data for a relatively simple loop tuning analysis.

Project Background

This project has its origin in a previous National Science Foundation (NSF) funded project in which three control trainers were developed for educating students about Heating, Ventilation,

Marcks, R., & Kapka, L., & Watton, A. (2006, June), Teaching Improved Methods Of Tuning And Adjusting Hvac Control Systems Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--784

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