The role of the Building Management System (BMS) has evolved in recent times with the advent and increasing impact of IoT. Another area that deserves attention is how BMS can integrate successfully and more seamlessly with audio-visual (AV) systems, especially in large residential schemes. Richard Caton, managing director of Janus Technology, explains why better BMS and AV integration on this project should be seen as a necessity.

In the past decade, we have seen a proliferation of audio-visual services brought into our homes. These services typically include distributed TV and music, linked to a variety of sources including streaming services over the internet. It’s rare for a BMS controlling the HVAC plant on these schemes to integrate at all with the AV and additional smart home services in the home which are normally controlled through a dedicated AV platform, such as, Crestron or Control4.

In large homes with a complex design, the HVAC engineering team will often just consider the BMS and not look further into the other systems within the home. The specification might say that the BMS has to integrate with the AV system but that’s often as explicit as it will get. Frequently, the result is that the two control systems operate side by side in silos, with the HVAC system programmed by a BMS controls specialist and the AV or smart home system installed by the AV or home technology integrator, with little thought about how everything can interface or integrate within the home.

There’s a gulf between the two professions and this lack of joined-up thinking can have a detrimental effect on the experience for the end user. And, surely, a great client experience is the most important goal on any project.

Regrettably, on far too many occasions, little consideration is given to the end users and how they are actually going to use the system once it is installed. One of the major issues is that in large residential projects, the HVAC engineering team are guilty of treating the home like a commercial building. However, a residential property, no matter how large, is not a commercial building nor do people live in it like one.

One problem area is time scheduling and the considerations that need to be taken into account to make this work to the satisfaction of the client and their family. Where is the scheduling controlled from? Is it in the BMS plant or the smart home control platform? Does the client want to adjust it themselves and, if so, how can they do that? What about optimum start and stop times? The BMS learns when it needs to turn on to get up to temperature. However, a smart home system will typically specify a time when it needs to be at a certain temperature, without any concept of switching on earlier in order to reach that temperature at the desired time.

Commercial buildings typically run to achieve a certain temperature (heating and cooling as required), whereas, in the residential world, the homeowner may have other requirements, for example, the ability to separately switch the Heating and AC cooling off. This can be further complicated with 2-pipe AC systems, where all units must be either in heating mode or cooling mode. Two-pipe systems are cheaper to install but have limitations which must be explained to the client in advance. For example, in a recent project we were involved with, where the only source of heating/cooling in a room (used for Yoga) was the AC units, the client was puzzled as to why he couldn’t heat the Yoga room and cool the bedroom at the same time.

It’s on areas like these where BMS and home technology integrators need to communicate and collaborate more effectively with each other. Otherwise, conflicts and complications can arise which seriously impact on the client’s experience.

As everybody knows, the client’s experience is also affected not only when things go wrong but also by how they’re fixed. If and when there’s a problem, there’s often a tussle between trades as to who is responsible for the fault and who needs to remedy the situation. With greater integration and communication between the HVAC engineering team and the AV integrator on a project, these problems can be resolver far quicker.

Working with a consultancy that’s experienced with AV and BMS integration, such as Janus Technology, allows BMS specialists to guarantee that the AV and smart home services are truly integrated with the BMS and its operation provides the best possible solution for the client. We agree that understanding a smart home and how it functions demands expertise and, often, resources that some engineers either just don’t have or don’t have the freedom to deploy.

We are well versed in the language and topology needed to integrate a building, whether a simple HVAC interface or a complete smart building infrastructure. With our know-how, we can be part of your team, and help you from the very start of a project to make sure the key decisions are made and that the BMS is properly integrated into the smart home platform. We can integrate alarms from the BMS into the smart home control system, so that if there is a fault, notifications can be sent to appropriate people – thus the smart home is proactive, identifying problems and starting resolution even before the homeowner has noticed a problem.

Getting BMS and AV control and integration right will deliver a better client experience and, ultimately, make the job easier for all parties, rather than more of a headache. We can be the technical glue to help building services consultants, M&E engineers and BMS controls specialists make this happen and assist you in building your expertise and a long-lasting and valuable relationship with the client.