- Frozen water pipes
- Fan coils on the outside of the building
- No control over in-room maximum and minimum temperature
- Budget constraints
A “city within a city”
Meet the Philadelphian
The Philadelphian has been called a “city within a city”. This urban property features 753 condos either owned or rented by residents. It also features nearly two dozen shops and professional offices on the ground floor. Amenities include a grocery store, a state-of-the-art fitness room, and a hair salon.
In a recent survey of residents’ favorite amenities, building maintenance tied for second place.
Frozen Hot Water Pipes
In 2018, the Philadelphian facilities manager identified a problem: freezing hot water pipes. At the Philadelphian, the fan coils are on the outside walls of the building. In the winter months, some residents would flock south to warmer climates. Their fan coil water valves would stay closed or off, which shut off the water flow to the coils. Since water expands as it freezes, the lack of water flow in pipes plus cold temperatures created the perfect storm: ruptured pipes.
Building management at the Philadelphian initially turned to their trusted Trane partner Tozour Energy Systems for advice. Harold McNamara, Tozour Account Manager, thought a cost-effective solution could involve fan coil controls. The Philadelphian needed the ability to define the setpoint temperature and to manage the maximum and minimum temperature ranges.
It was at that point that McNamara introduced them to Telkonet.
The solution Telkonet provided was to install thermostats in every living space. These thermostats had specifically programmed firmware that would cycle the water valve at regular intervals, to allow hot water to flow through the coils, and prevent freezing. All EcoSmart thermostats feature powerful occupancy sensors, which were key in resolving the problem.
As Harold McNamara explains, “due to the programming flexibility of the Telkonet controllers we were able to customize the sequence for the customer. The customer wanted an adjustable cycle time for the hot water valve when the system was in the unoccupied mode. This would allow the hot water valve to open when tenants were gone for extended periods of time when the outside air temperature dropped below 38°F. Their previous system did not have this capability, which caused numerous fan coil freeze-ups.”
Since the Philadelphian’s need for a solution was urgent, they chose to install a non-networked system immediately rather than wait for future budgeting. Even with a non-networked solution, the Philadelphian saves on costly repairs. And they are most certainly saving energy. They plan to network their property in the near future, which will increase energy savings. And with a networked system, EcoCentral will monitor their energy usage data and report on it.
Even without the benefit of EcoCentral, facilities engineers have access to data that the thermostat collects and stores. If a resident has an HVAC complaint, facilities engineers can visit the apartment, plug in a proprietary EcoSmart serial utility, and gather valuable data to help troubleshoot an issue.
There’s a general misunderstanding that in order to save energy, properties have to give up resident comfort. This is a false choice. With EcoSmart thermostats, the Philadelphian understands that they do not have to give up resident comfort for energy savings-or functioning fan coil units for that matter.