What is Building Automation?

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Ready to learn more about building automation systems and its many benefits for your next job? 

In this article, we’ll discuss what exactly building automation systems are, their benefits, and how they work for both commercial and residential properties. 

For all the products you need for your building automation job, head over to your nearest Mars Electric today and find exactly what you’re looking for at prices that fit your budget.

Mars Electric is your one-stop-shop for Building Automation System cable and expert guidance you’re looking for to ensure your next job or project goes smoothly. Our team is here to provide you with the best customer care possible, so you can find the specific cable for your next project. 

What is Building Automation (BAS)?

Let’s start with understanding what exactly a building automation system is. 

A building automation system (BAS) is a system controlled by a single IT-managed network infrastructure that connects and automates the various systems within a building, including HVAC, lighting, security, fire detection, and more!

This is primarily done to ensure that all systems are properly functioning together and utilizing energy controls in order to limit the amount of excess waste being used throughout a building. These separate systems can then communicate via this one centralized location, saving time, money, and energy. 

How Does Building Automation Work?

Using sensors and controls that monitor building systems (such as HVAC, electricity, and water), building automation systems are able to adjust these various systems to function at optimal levels in order to ensure resident comfort and reduce energy consumption. 

While automated systems themselves aren’t a new concept, having a built-in data network that leverages data enacted from buildings to apply machine learning and AI concepts for programmable responses, very much is. 

To better understand how building automation works, let’s take a look at the various building systems that are controlled by a BAS. 

Building Systems that BAS Controls

Here are a few of the building systems controlled by a building automation system. 

  • HVAC – Utilizing information received from receptors, a building automation system can control HVAC systems, monitoring temperature, CO2 levels, relative humidity, and more. 
  • Air Purification Systems – in buildings where air purification is a priority (think hospitals, labs, etc.), BAS controls are vital for ensuring that each system is automated correctly and on-time. 
  • Occupancy Sensors for Lighting – BAS measures and responds to lighting changes in buildings based on a variety of factors, including occupancy and nighttime/daytime hours. 
  • Security – A BAS can manage the video surveillance, passcodes, and remote access from a security system – even if it’s not engaged.
  • Fire and Smoke Detection – A BAS will activate an alarm when smoke or fire is detected, providing an added level of safety for residents within the building. 

Benefits of a Building Automation System

While there are numerous upsides to implementing a building automation system, here are the five greatest and most important benefits. 

Reduces Risk of Human Error

Because building automation systems are an extensive network of systems all controlled by one IT-managed infrastructure, the reduction in human error is often greatly reduced. These intricate systems can communicate across platforms and software much faster than humans can, so in the event of a system failure, early detection can be established and corrected immediately. 

Acts as a Monitoring System

One of the best things about a building automation system is that is essentially acts as a monitor for all systems throughout a building. If mechanical or electrical failures occur, it can improve the efficiency of these systems, all while providing a fail-safe mechanism to better ensure the safety of residents and technicians. 

Reduces Energy Consumption

With buildings alone being responsible for approximately 75% of the nation’s electricity use, they’re the single largest energy-consuming sector in the U.S. economy. A single, designated operating control system, like a BAS, can regulate each of the building’s systems, reducing not only excess energy consumption, but operating expenses, as well. 

Perform Lockout Runs

In order to ensure that the various systems within a building don’t randomly turn on or stay on when they’re no longer required, a building automation system can run lockouts/tagouts in order to isolate the energy use. 

Reduces Operational Costs

As the natural settings of a building are always changing due to time, temperature, and occupancy, having a building automation system in place can provide a consistent adjustment in temperature or lighting that will help to greatly reduce operational costs. Automatic shade adjustments, thermostat controls, or timed lighting are only a few of the examples that can be performed with a functional BAS.

How to Choose the Right Cable for BAS: Communication and Signal

Choosing the right cable for your BAS is incredibly important as they not only allow for easier system expansion, but they also act as the junction between various critical devices within the system itself. Modern commercial buildings are intertwined with sophisticated wiring and communication, so choosing certain cables with specific characteristics will ensure your building system’s longevity. 

Two types of cables that are regularly used in standard commercial building automation systems are communication cables and signal cables. Below, we’ll dive deeper into the necessary characteristics that each of these cables should include in order to keep a BAS running properly. 

Signal Cable

Signal cables are best for short distance communications between controllers and BAS devices, which means that choosing a device-dependent cable that is specifically made for the connected device (in both size and power requirements), is going to be your best option. 

In instances where your cable run is longer, opt for a large gauge in order to meet the needs of the increased voltage drop that will occur. In the opposite instance, choosing a smaller or undersized cable will guarantee that the device requirements won’t be met and the system performance will falter. 

To better protect signal quality and limit any DC resistance that may occur, we also recommend opting for pure copper conductors; not only do they have increased current carrying capacity, they’re also far more efficient due to their superior conductivity. 

Communication Cables

Communication cables act as the high-speed data transmitters between the core BAS and the localized controllers, stretching over long signal lengths. In order to properly communicate these signals, sometimes over thousands of feet, it’s vital to choose the correct cable in order to prevent any interruption or alteration to the BAS. 

When choosing a communication cable, always opt for one that is a pure copper conductor – as required by the National Electric Code (NEC), in order to reduce resistance and provide consistent, lasting performance. 

You’ll also want to make sure that your communication cable is low capacitance and has consistent impedance levels in order to guarantee not only that there’s no transmission line distortion, but also that you have a more functional signal transmission for a longer period of time. 

The Importance of Following BAS Standards

If you’re designing a BAS in the U.S., there are specific cabling standards that need to be followed, as established by two important authorities: The Telecommunications Industry Association and the American National Standards Institute. 

These industry-recognized standards, include:

  • ANSI/TIA 568 – Commercial Building Telecommunications Cabling Standard, published by the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) that defines structured cabling system standards for commercial buildings, including cabling types, connectors, cable termination standards, and more. 
  • ANSI/TIA-862-B – Structured Cabling Infrastructure Standard for Intelligent Building Systems, provides insight and guidance for wireless systems, smart lighting, installation requirements, system architecture, and more. 

Partner with Mars Electric for Your Building Automation Cabling needs!

The benefits of implementing a building automation system are continuously growing as the need for reduced energy and cost waste continue to become a high priority. Choosing the correct cabling for BAS design and implementing is of the utmost importance in order to ensure quality and efficiency over long periods of time, which is why partnering with a trusted electrical supply distributor is a must!

Find all the electrical supplies, BAS Specialty wiring, power distribution services?, and more all here at Mars Electric! For over 70+ years, we’ve been the full-service electrical supply distributor and we’re ready to help you find exactly what you need for your next job or project. 

For more information about building automation system (BAS) cabling or to speak to one of our team members, please contact us today!

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