The Petrie Museum in London, which houses one of the greatest collections of Egyptian and Sudanese archaeology in the world, is now benefitting from the introduction of WEMS wireless building control technology. Installed by system integrator and key WEMS partner Kendra Energy Solutions, the wireless configuration spared the museum the need for invasive and disruptive hard-wiring. The system is now fully commissioned and ensuring that the museum’s historically crucial artefacts are maintained at the optimum temperature and humidity.

Located at University College London (UCL), the Petrie Museum was established in 1892 and today houses an estimated 80,000 objects that illustrate life in the Nile Valley, from pre-history – through the time of the pharaohs and the Ptolemaic, Roman and Coptic periods – to the Islamic period.

With so many historically significant exhibits, the Petrie Museum has to think carefully about providing the right atmosphere to ensure preservation for future generations. As a result, the museum recently opted to invest in two new air handling units (AHUs) with heat recovery thermal wheels, as well as a new chiller for CHW (chilled water) supply.

Linked to this investment was the requirement for a BMS upgrade to control the new equipment efficiently, while maintaining the correct temperatures and humidity levels that are so important within the museum’s environment.

Kendra Energy Solutions was tasked with the upgrade and explored the option of using WEMS wireless sensors, as the company was unable to install conventional hard-wired thermistor-type sensors due to the sensitive nature of the items in the museum. Running cables from the roof into each area would not only be very labour intensive, but require extensive dust control precautions to be put in place.

After previous experience of successfully using WEMS wireless equipment, Kendra had the confidence that this technology would again be sufficiently resilient and accurate within a challenging operating environment, where the signal must penetrate the building and walls from the rooftop down to the individual rooms.

Wireless temperature and humidity space monitoring sensors were quickly and easily installed in each of the rooms with minimal disruption to the museum, enabling the BMS to control the temperature and humidity effectively in the different zones. A wireless WEMS BACnet Gateway was located in the control panel on the rooftop.

Commissioning and testing were completed within a matter of hours; the sensors were instantly detected by the WEMS BACnet Gateway, so it was just a matter of testing the signal. Moreover, integration into the Schneider Struxureware building operation software was instant, with all the sensor information, ID and description imported as soon as the gateway was linked to the Schneider controller via BACnet IP.

In addition to providing critical temperature and humidity readings, the battery voltage value is imported into the BMS as a BACnet object so that the head end will generate an alarm when the batteries are nearing the end of their useful life, typically three to five years. This functionality ensures that climate control with the space is always maintained.

The discrete design of the sensors and the flexibility of where they can be installed is a massive benefit to a building like a museum, where aesthetics and the ability for technology to blend into the environment are of paramount importance.

With the system now installed for several weeks, the sensors have been logging accurately and robustly with stable and consistent readings that have been validated by a reference probe. This set up is allowing control of the space conditions to within ±0.5°C of the desired set-point, which is well inside the required levels for a building of this type.

Importantly, the Kendra engineering team has created a graphic pop-up window on the BMS that allows the user to view more detail of each WEMS wireless space sensor, so an instant picture of an area can be easily generated.

Ultimately, using the WEMS BACnet Gateway with wireless sensors has provided an easy-to-install solution for the Petrie Museum. The WEMS-based solution put forward by Kendra neatly side-stepped a problem that often arises when upgrading a BMS to legislate for the installation of new plant or equipment, namely the need for traditional hard wiring, which in the case of a building such as a museum is neither a realistic nor cost-effective option.