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Simplicity with Sophistication

Simplicity with Sophistication Download PDF

Andy Douglas of Timeguard shows how the technologies you are already familiar with are far from redundant in the climate change war and tells you how they will help you win and boost business.

There’s a growing desire to be seen to contribute to carbon emissions reduction. Sadly it is not always matched by a willingness to pay more for the initial installation and, whether you are installers on small jobs or integrators working on major capital projects, you will be working in an increasingly and fiercely price-competitive market. How do you handle this?

Switch off and Save

Remember that old mantra? Well it is as true today as it ever was. Scratch the surface of the complex technologies used in major projects and they are all about switching off energy consuming devices when they are not needed.

For most installations in, say, domestic and small to medium-sized commercial premises, there may be no use for expensive complicated equipment: just make sure the appliances, the lighting and any other equipment that you install are under proper control so that they are automatically switched off when not in use.

It was the humble timeswitch that established Timeguard – then known as Smiths – in the controls marketplace. We made the switches that controlled the first Economy 7 electricity meters, for instance, and some of the first integral cooker and boiler timers. And the basic timeswitch is still at the heart of most energy control initiatives – although these days even basic models are pretty impressive compared to the original Smiths switches. The simple plug-in timer adapters are still sold in their thousands for DIY use, but professional installers can go a lot further with smarter, hard-wired devices which can be set with switching programmes as simple or complicated as you need. It’s horses for courses, so spend a bit of time looking through the catalogue.

PIR detection….

Simple time control can be augmented with light level and presence detection controls and the familiar automatic PIR light is still an effective way of ensuring that lights are only on at night and when there is someone there, ie: when they are needed.

Once again, this is a technology that Timeguard, in its earlier incarnation as the Smiths Industries Environmental Controls Company, pioneered with a
range of PIR lights that were marketed primarily as intruder deterrents. Now nearly every building has PIR controlled lights outside and many offices and public buildings use PIR control indoors as well. Our surface and flush ceiling-mounted PIR sensors are consistent top sellers.

Remember that low energy bulbs may not be the most energy efficient choice for PIR switching where lights would be turned on and off frequently
because the initial power surge required to light a low energy bulb is relatively high: you can use more energy during start up than you save. There is a balance to be struck. If it does fall on the side of using low energy bulbs, then you need to rate the PIR detector accordingly. A ‘headline’ rating of 2000W is typically required to switch just 500W of low energy lighting – so beware cheapas- chips ranges.

… has grown up

PIR detectors are now being overtaken by more sensitive presence detectors. As their name suggests these presence detectors do not require the subject to be moving about the room to register that there is someone in their detection zone. They are therefore ideal for offices or classrooms where people may be present, but not walking around.

By setting such detectors up in grids, it is possible to light large areas differentially so that, say, lights in areas by windows will not come on even though those in darker areas further inside the body of the building have been triggered by the lower light levels.

Here again, Timeguard is showing the way, now as a result of becoming a part of the Theben Group. Theben is a leading European manufacturer of time, light and climate controls and has now acquired HTS, the undisputed leader in precision presence detectors. The Theben HTS range of ECO presence sensors is already delivering measurable energy savings in buildings throughout Europe such as the ultra-modern Sun Microsystems headquarters in Switzerland.

Such detectors are now becoming widely available through the UK wholesale market, where they complement our more basic and lower-priced ‘workhorse’ PIR detectors.

Heating controls

That heating should be switched on and off and controlled in a way that matches the lifestyle of the building’s occupants is common sense – but how often does it happen?

Digital thermostats now allow for different weekday and weekend patterns and holiday omits. They have become much easier to programme with plain-English text prompts to guide you or the user through and, once set up, those with an automatic summer/winter changeover feature can be left to get on with the job at hand.

Of course most people have fairly similar living and working patterns and these have already been captured in pre-set programmes in some of our digital controllers to make the installation process even easier. In our RAM812, the most popular of these programmes can be quickly customised to take into account, say, early closing days in a small business.

Underfloor heating is a growing market and too often the controller is chosen as an afterthought. In fact, control is especially important with underfloor heating which tends to be used in areas like bathrooms, kitchens and conservatories which are not constantly used, so the heating is more likely to be left on by mistake if it is not under close, smart control.

Even better heating controls are coming…

While building regulations have required boiler design to be upgraded, these new modulating boilers cannot deliver the energy saving they ought to unless they are fitted with controls that do more than simply switch them on and off, albeit under the control of a timeswitch and thermostat.

That is where the OpenTherm standard, championed in the U.K by Timeguard, comes into play. With more boilers now compatible with this pan-European standard, I would encourage any installer to choose compatible controllers wherever possible.

Central control with KNX

Interest is also growing in KNX, the world’s only approved open-source building control standard,that puts the intelligence into intelligent buildings. It enables the integration of KNX-compatible products, which are available from a wide range of manufacturers so that a window actuator from one would work in conjunction with a temperature sensor from another, or one brand of lighting would work seamlessly with, say, our HTS presence detectors to ensure energy was only spent when needed. Programming and control is achieved using a single, standard software tool.

Once again, Timeguard is at the forefront, marketing the comprehensive Theben KNX range throughout the UK. Theben IPaddressable KNX-compliant products include innovative presence detectors, CO^2^ sensors and multi-function domestic control units with displays for up to eight channels.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, we do still make some of our products in the UK and export them throughout Europe where our sister companies in the Theben group sell them So, please take a few minutes to browse your wholesaler’s catalogue to find new ways to switch off and save. Or just visit

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