US20160217674A1 - Remote monitoring of an hvac system for fault detection and diagnostics - Google Patents

Remote monitoring of an hvac system for fault detection and diagnostics Download PDF

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Publication number
US20160217674A1
US20160217674A1 US15/006,651 US201615006651A US2016217674A1 US 20160217674 A1 US20160217674 A1 US 20160217674A1 US 201615006651 A US201615006651 A US 201615006651A US 2016217674 A1 US2016217674 A1 US 2016217674A1
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Prior art keywords
data
fault
equipment
server
associated
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Abandoned
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US15/006,651
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Jeffrey L. Stewart
Karl J. Mutchnik
Mark E. Groskreutz
Mahfuz Imam
William David Daugherty, III
Gang (Jacky) Chen
Carl L. Garrett
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Trane International Inc
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Trane International Inc
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Priority to US201562107603P priority
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Priority to US15/006,651 priority patent/US20160217674A1/en
Publication of US20160217674A1 publication Critical patent/US20160217674A1/en
Assigned to INGERSOLL-RAND COMPANY reassignment INGERSOLL-RAND COMPANY ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: GARRETT, CARL L, CHEN, GANG JACKY, DAUGHERTY, WILLIAM DAVID, III, GROSKREUTZ, MARK E, IMAM, MAHFUZ, MUTCHNIK, KARL J, STEWART, JEFFREY L
Assigned to INGERSOLL-RAND COMPANY reassignment INGERSOLL-RAND COMPANY ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: GROSKREUTZ, MARK E, CHEN, GANG JACKY, BLAIR, DANIEL JOHN, DAUGHERTY, WILLIAM DAVID, III, GARRETT, CARL L, IMAM, MAHFUZ, MUTCHNIK, KARL J, STEWART, JEFFREY L
Assigned to TRANE INTERNATIONAL INC. reassignment TRANE INTERNATIONAL INC. ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: INGERSOLL-RAND COMPANY
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F24HEATING; RANGES; VENTILATING
    • F24FAIR-CONDITIONING; AIR-HUMIDIFICATION; VENTILATION; USE OF AIR CURRENTS FOR SCREENING
    • F24F11/00Control or safety arrangements
    • F24F11/30Control or safety arrangements for purposes related to the operation of the system, e.g. for safety or monitoring
    • F24F11/0086
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F24HEATING; RANGES; VENTILATING
    • F24FAIR-CONDITIONING; AIR-HUMIDIFICATION; VENTILATION; USE OF AIR CURRENTS FOR SCREENING
    • F24F11/00Control or safety arrangements
    • F24F11/62Control or safety arrangements characterised by the type of control or by internal processing, e.g. using fuzzy logic, adaptive control or estimation of values
    • GPHYSICS
    • G05CONTROLLING; REGULATING
    • G05BCONTROL OR REGULATING SYSTEMS IN GENERAL; FUNCTIONAL ELEMENTS OF SUCH SYSTEMS; MONITORING OR TESTING ARRANGEMENTS FOR SUCH SYSTEMS OR ELEMENTS
    • G05B15/00Systems controlled by a computer
    • G05B15/02Systems controlled by a computer electric
    • GPHYSICS
    • G05CONTROLLING; REGULATING
    • G05BCONTROL OR REGULATING SYSTEMS IN GENERAL; FUNCTIONAL ELEMENTS OF SUCH SYSTEMS; MONITORING OR TESTING ARRANGEMENTS FOR SUCH SYSTEMS OR ELEMENTS
    • G05B23/00Testing or monitoring of control systems or parts thereof
    • G05B23/02Electric testing or monitoring
    • G05B23/0205Electric testing or monitoring by means of a monitoring system capable of detecting and responding to faults
    • G05B23/0218Electric testing or monitoring by means of a monitoring system capable of detecting and responding to faults characterised by the fault detection method dealing with either existing or incipient faults
    • G05B23/0224Process history based detection method, e.g. whereby history implies the availability of large amounts of data
    • G05B23/0227Qualitative history assessment, whereby the type of data acted upon, e.g. waveforms, images or patterns, is not relevant, e.g. rule based assessment; if-then decisions
    • GPHYSICS
    • G08SIGNALLING
    • G08BSIGNALLING OR CALLING SYSTEMS; ORDER TELEGRAPHS; ALARM SYSTEMS
    • G08B21/00Alarms responsive to a single specified undesired or abnormal operating condition and not elsewhere provided for
    • G08B21/18Status alarms
    • G08B21/187Machine fault alarms
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F24HEATING; RANGES; VENTILATING
    • F24FAIR-CONDITIONING; AIR-HUMIDIFICATION; VENTILATION; USE OF AIR CURRENTS FOR SCREENING
    • F24F11/00Control or safety arrangements
    • F24F11/50Control or safety arrangements characterised by user interfaces or communication
    • F24F11/56Remote control
    • F24F11/58Remote control using Internet communication
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F24HEATING; RANGES; VENTILATING
    • F24FAIR-CONDITIONING; AIR-HUMIDIFICATION; VENTILATION; USE OF AIR CURRENTS FOR SCREENING
    • F24F11/00Control or safety arrangements
    • F24F11/62Control or safety arrangements characterised by the type of control or by internal processing, e.g. using fuzzy logic, adaptive control or estimation of values
    • F24F11/63Electronic processing
    • F24F2011/0091
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F24HEATING; RANGES; VENTILATING
    • F24FAIR-CONDITIONING; AIR-HUMIDIFICATION; VENTILATION; USE OF AIR CURRENTS FOR SCREENING
    • F24F2110/00Control inputs relating to air properties

Abstract

A method and system for detecting and diagnosing faults in a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system includes a remote server receiving data from sensors associated with the HVAC system. The data received includes measured sensor data, from both HVAC equipment and co-located sensors, and identifying criteria for identifying the piece of equipment associated with the sensor and/or identifying a location of the sensor, which may or may not be on or in the HVAC equipment. A probability that a fault exists and/or a likelihood of occurrence of a fault in one of the pieces of the equipment is calculated based on the data received, and an alert is generated in accordance with an analysis thereof, which may include comparison of the probability and/or likelihood with predetermined threshold(s).

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application claims the benefit of and priority to U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 62/107,603 entitled “REMOTE MONITORING OF AN HVAC SYSTEM FOR FAULT DETECTION AND DIAGNOSTICS” and filed Jan. 26, 2015, and U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 62/107,595 entitled “DIAGNOSTIC DATA BUS FOR ACQUIRING AND COMMUNICATING DIAGNOSTIC INFORMATION FROM HVAC SYSTEMS” and filed Jan. 26, 2015, the entirety of each of which is hereby incorporated by reference herein for all purposes.
  • BACKGROUND
  • 1. Technical Field
  • The present disclosure relates generally to heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. More specifically, this disclosure relates to remotely monitoring an HVAC system to detect and diagnose faults.
  • 2. Background
  • Current methods and systems for detecting and diagnosing faults that occur in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems typically require local diagnostic tools and manual processes. For example, a homeowner may notice a fault or alert code produced locally by the HVAC system, prompting the homeowner to place a telephone call to the equipment dealer. A service technician is then sent by the dealer to the home to diagnose the problem locally, typically by applying troubleshooting skills and, in some cases, by accessing built-in diagnostic tools installed in the various pieces of equipment comprising the HVAC system.
  • Many problems are associated with such local diagnostics. For instance, sensors and transducers (referred to collectively herein as sensors) are not typically installed in all of the required places within present systems to allow detection of a wide range of faults that may be of interest. Moreover, even if additional diagnostic capabilities were included at the equipment level (adding additional expense to the system), there is no ability within the separate pieces of HVAC equipment to analyze data from a system level for assisting in fault detection and diagnosis (FDD). As a result, degradation of the operation or performance of HVAC equipment can go unmonitored and undetected for a long period of time, potentially resulting in expensive equipment damage and decreased system efficiency.
  • Accordingly, there is a need for a system that monitors, detects and diagnoses faults in HVAC systems.
  • SUMMARY
  • The present disclosure is directed to a method and system for remotely monitoring HVAC systems for fault detection and diagnosis. Advantageously, embodiments of the method and system can provide the diagnostic capability to detect degradation in performance or operation before major equipment damage occurs. As a result, additional benefits provided by the method and system of the present disclosure may include lowering the energy consumption and increasing the product life of current HVAC systems and equipment.
  • In one aspect, the present disclosure is directed to a method for detecting and diagnosing faults in a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. The remote server receives data from a plurality of sensors associated with the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. The sensor data includes measured data from each of the plurality of sensors and identifying criteria associated therewith. The identifying criteria include a location of the sensor associated with the measured data. At least one of the plurality of sensors is associated with a piece of equipment in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. The identifying criteria for the at least one sensor further identifies the particular piece of equipment associated therewith. The method includes detecting a fault in the piece of equipment based on the data received from the plurality of sensors. An alert is then generated in response to the fault being detected.
  • In embodiments, the method includes calculating a probability of the fault existing in any one of the pieces of equipment in the HVAC system based on the data received. In embodiments, the alert is generated in response to the probability of the fault exceeding a predetermined threshold.
  • In embodiments, a likelihood of an occurrence of a particular fault is additionally or alternatively calculated based on the data received.
  • In various embodiments, analysis is performed to compare the calculated probability of existence of the fault (and/or likelihood of occurrence of the fault) to various criteria based on the data to determine if an alert should be generated. In embodiments, the criteria may include predetermined thresholds, and the alert may be generated in response to one or more conditions, which may include the probability of the fault (and/or likelihood of occurrence) exceeding the predetermined threshold.
  • In embodiments, the method includes transmitting the alert to a user device or to a thermostat in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. In the latter case, the alert is then viewable on a display associated with the thermostat.
  • The alerts may alternatively, or additionally, be stored in a database associated with the server for access by a user.
  • In some embodiments, the data received by the server includes event data generated in response to an event. The event data, in embodiments, is received at the time the event occurs. The measured data corresponding to the event includes a record of the event that identifies the event and a date and time of occurrence of the event.
  • In additional embodiments, the server also continuously receives measured data at predetermined intervals, including a date and time of receiving the measured data. The method further includes aggregating the event data and the continuously received data, and calculating the probability of the fault based on the aggregated data. The aggregated data, the probability calculated, and a record of the alert generated, may be stored, in embodiments, in a database operably connected to the server.
  • The methods of the present disclosure can be applied to monitor a plurality of heat, ventilation and air conditioning systems to determine whether any of the equipment within any of those systems requires service and/or maintenance.
  • In embodiments, the server also collects sensor data associated with a common type of the equipment or a common mode of equipment from a plurality of heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. The collected data associated with the common type or common mode of the equipment can then be analyzed to determine a set of rules for calculating a probability of an existing fault and/or a likelihood of an occurrence of a particular fault occurring in the equipment.
  • The server, in embodiments, also receives data from logic embedded in at least one of the pieces of the equipment.
  • Embodiments also include diagnosing one or more causes of the fault, once detected, based on the data received, and communicating the alert as a fault notification including the fault and the one or more causes of the fault to a user device and/or to a thermostat display. Diagnostic data for analyzing the cause(s) of the fault may be provided by a third- party, such as a dealer or manufacturer, and importing the diagnostic data via a third-party device (e.g., server) operably connected to the server. The sensor data received by the server is then analyzed using the diagnostic data to diagnose cause(s) of the fault.
  • In various embodiments, the method includes first acquiring the measured data at the site of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system using any one or more of a dedicated electronic gathering device operably connected to the HVAC system, a thermostat in the HVAC system, and a control unit in the HVAC system. The acquired data may then be forwarded to the server for processing. Alternatively, before or in addition to forwarding the acquired data, at least for one of the pieces of equipment in the HVAC system, the probability of faults can be calculated and cause(s) of the fault diagnosed by the dedicated electronic gathering device, thermostat and/or the control unit at the site of the HVAC system based on the acquired data.
  • Embodiments may include forwarding the acquired data to the server in response to the server querying the dedicated electronic gathering device, the thermostat and/or the control unit to transmit the acquired data.
  • In embodiments, the fault that is detected is a most likely existing fault. The method further includes detecting a plurality of possible faults in the piece of equipment based on the data received; and ranking the plurality of possible faults in order of most to least likely existing fault in the piece of the equipment based on the data received, wherein the alert generated further includes a list of the plurality of possible faults and their ranked order.
  • In another aspect, the present disclosure is directed to a system for detecting and diagnosing faults in a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system includes a server, which is communicatively coupled to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. The server is configured to receive data from a plurality of sensors associated with equipment in the HVAC system. The data received includes measured data from each of the plurality of sensors and identifying criteria associated therewith. The identifying criteria includes a location of the sensor associated with the measured data. At least one of the plurality of sensors is associated with a piece of equipment in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. The identifying criteria for the at least one sensor further identifies the particular piece of equipment associated therewith. The server is further configured to detect a fault in the piece of equipment based on the data received, and to generate an alert in response to the fault being detected.
  • In embodiments, the server is further configured to calculate a probability of the fault in the piece of equipment based on the data received. The alert may be generated in response to the probability of the fault exceeding a predetermined threshold.
  • In embodiments, the data received includes event data comprising a record of an event and a date and time of occurrence of the event, and measured data continuously received at predetermined intervals. The system can also include a database operably connected to the server. The server is further configured to continuously receive the measured data at predetermined intervals and aggregate the event data and the continuously received measured data. The server is also configured to calculate the probability of the fault based on the aggregated data, and store the aggregated data, the probability calculated, and a record of the alert generated, in the database.
  • The system of the present disclosure can be configured to monitor a plurality of heat, ventilation and air conditioning systems to determine whether any of the equipment within any of those systems requires service and/or maintenance.
  • In some embodiments, the server is further configured to collect data associated with a common type or common mode of equipment from a plurality of heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. The server then analyzes the collected data associated with the common type or common mode of equipment to determine a set of rules for calculating the probability of a particular fault occurring in the equipment associated with the common type or common mode.
  • In embodiments, the server is further configured to diagnose one or more causes of the fault based on the data received, and communicate the alert in a fault notification including the fault and the one or more causes of the fault to one of a user device and a thermostat display.
  • The server, in various embodiments, is operably connected to one of a dedicated electronic gathering device, a thermostat, and a control unit in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system, any one or more of which acquires the data associated with the equipment. The server may be further configured to query any one of the dedicated electronic gathering device, the thermostat and the control unit to transmit the acquired data.
  • In yet another aspect, the present disclosure is directed to a computer-readable device to store instructions that, when executed by a processing device, cause the processing device to perform operations. The operations include receiving data from a plurality of sensors associated with a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. The data received includes measured data from each of the plurality of sensors and identifying criteria associated therewith.
  • The identifying criteria includes a location of the sensor associated with the measured data. At least one of the plurality of sensors is associated with a piece of equipment in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. The identifying criteria for the at least one sensor further identifies the particular piece of equipment associated therewith. The operations further include calculating a probability of a fault in the pieces of the equipment based on the data received, and generating an alert in response to the probability of the fault exceeding a predetermined threshold.
  • In embodiments of the computer-readable device, the operations further include diagnosing one or more causes of the fault based on the data received, and communicating the alert as a fault notification including the fault and the cause(s) of the fault to one of a user device and a thermostat display. In additional embodiments, the operations further include analyzing the data using diagnostic data imported from a third-party device to diagnose causes of the fault.
  • Other features and advantages will become apparent from the following description of the preferred embodiments, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • Various embodiments of the disclosed system and method are described herein with reference to the accompanying drawings, which form a part of this disclosure.
  • FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram of an embodiment of a system of the present disclosure communicatively coupled to a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system;
  • FIG. 2A is a block diagram representation of an embodiment of a method in accordance with the present disclosure
  • FIG. 2B is a block diagram representation of another embodiment of a method in accordance with the present disclosure;
  • FIG. 2C is a block diagram representation of still another embodiment of a method in accordance with the present disclosure;
  • FIG. 2D is a block diagram representation of yet another embodiment of a method in accordance with the present disclosure;
  • FIG. 2E is a block diagram representation of yet still another embodiment of a method in accordance with the present disclosure;
  • FIG. 3 is a system flow diagram representation of some embodiments of the present disclosure; and
  • FIG. 4 is a schematic diagram of another embodiment of a system of the present disclosure communicatively coupled to a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.
  • The various aspects of the present disclosure mentioned above are described in further detail with reference to the aforementioned figures and the following detailed description of exemplary embodiments.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • The present disclosure is directed to a method and system for remotely monitoring and analyzing data associated with equipment in a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system for fault detection and diagnosis (FDD). Embodiments of the method and system provide the diagnostic capability to detect the existence of faults and/or to predict a likelihood of a fault by collecting data from sensors and equipment and forwarding the data to a remote server for fault detection and diagnosis. Accordingly, system-wide operational data from the HVAC system is applied to detect and diagnose faults, and to predict faults, in any of the equipment in the system. In addition, the server can monitor a plurality of HVAC systems for detecting and diagnosing faults in any one of the pieces of equipment in the plurality of HVAC systems. Particular embodiments described herein include calculating probabilities that a fault exists and/or likelihoods of a future occurrence of a fault in a piece of equipment, based on the data collected from the HVAC system. In embodiments, the probabilities, and/or likelihoods of a future occurrence, are analyzed and compared to certain criteria to determine when alerts should be generated. For example, the probabilities and/or likelihoods of occurrence are compared to predetermined thresholds for generating alerts of the existence and/or likelihood of occurrence of the fault.
  • Particular illustrative embodiments of the present disclosure are described hereinbelow with reference to the accompanying drawings; however, the disclosed embodiments are merely examples of the disclosure, which may be embodied in various forms. Well-known functions or constructions and repetitive matter are not described in detail to avoid obscuring the present disclosure in unnecessary or redundant detail. Therefore, specific structural and functional details disclosed herein are not to be interpreted as limiting, but merely as a basis for the claims and as a representative basis for teaching one skilled in the art to variously employ the present disclosure in virtually any appropriately detailed structure. In this description, as well as in the drawings, like-referenced numbers represent elements which may perform the same, similar, or equivalent functions. The word “exemplary” is used herein to mean “serving as an example, instance, or illustration.” Any embodiment described herein as “exemplary” is not necessarily to be construed as preferred or advantageous over other embodiments. The word “example” may be used interchangeably with the term “exemplary.”
  • Embodiments of methods of the present disclosure are described herein in terms of functional block components which may correspond to one or more various processing steps. It should be appreciated that such functional blocks may be realized by any number of hardware and/or software components configured to perform the specified functions. For example, the present disclosure may employ various integrated circuit components, e.g., memory elements, processing elements, logic elements, look-up tables, and the like, which may carry out a variety of functions under the control of one or more microprocessors or other control devices.
  • Referring to an embodiment of a system 10 of the present disclosure as shown in FIG. 1, for example, in various embodiments, the hardware and/or software components for implementing one or more of the functional blocks or method steps may be implemented on one or more server(s) 12 or distributed between any combination of one or more server(s) 12, a user device 14, 15 operably connected to a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system 16, a thermostat 18 in the HVAC system 16, and a control unit 20 in the HVAC system 16.
  • Similarly, the software elements of the present disclosure may be implemented with any programming or scripting language such as C, C++, C#, Java, COBOL, assembler, PERL, Python, PHP, or the like, with the various algorithms being implemented with any combination of data structures, objects, processes, routines or other programming elements. The object code created may be executed by any suitable processing device, on a variety of operating systems, including without limitation Apple OSX®, Apple iOS®, Google Android®, HP WebOS®, Linux, UNIX®, Microsoft Windows®, and/or Microsoft Windows Mobile®.
  • It should be appreciated that the particular implementations described herein are illustrative of the disclosure and its best mode and are not intended to otherwise limit the scope of the present disclosure in any way. Examples are presented herein which may include sample data items which are intended as examples and are not to be construed as limiting. Indeed, for the sake of brevity, conventional data networking, application development and other functional aspects of the systems (and components of the individual operating components of the systems) are not described in detail herein. It should be noted that many alternative or additional functional relationships or physical or virtual connections may be present in a practical electronic system or apparatus.
  • As will be appreciated by one of ordinary skill in the art, the present disclosure may be embodied as a method, a device, e.g., a server device, configured to implement the methods disclosed herein, and/or a computer program product. Accordingly, the present disclosure may take the form of an entirely software embodiment, an entirely hardware embodiment, or an embodiment combining aspects of both software and hardware. Furthermore, the present disclosure may take the form of a computer program product on a computer-readable storage medium having computer-readable program code means embodied in the storage medium. Any suitable computer-readable storage medium may be utilized, including hard disks, CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, optical storage devices, magnetic storage devices, semiconductor storage devices (e.g., flash memory, USB thumb drives) and/or the like.
  • Computer program instructions embodying the present disclosure may also be stored in a computer-readable memory that can direct a computer or other programmable data processing apparatus to function in a particular manner, such that the instructions stored in the computer-readable memory produce an article of manufacture, including instruction means, that implement the function specified in the description or flowchart block(s). The computer program instructions may also be loaded onto a computer or other programmable data processing apparatus to cause a series of operational steps to be performed on the computer or other programmable apparatus to produce a computer-implemented process such that the instructions that execute on the computer or other programmable apparatus provide steps for implementing the functions specified in the present disclosure.
  • Referring again to FIG. 1, for example, in one embodiment, the server 12 includes at least a processing device or devices 22, memory including computer readable memory or storage 24 for storage of software, instructions, or executable code, which when executed by the processing device(s) 22 causes the processing device(s) 22 to perform methods or method steps of the present disclosure, which may be embodied at least in part in programming instructions 26 stored on or retrievable by the server 12. It will be appreciated by those of ordinary skill in the art that such components 22, 24 and programming instructions 26 for performing the methods or method steps of the present disclosure may be also be distributed among various devices, which may include user devices 14, 15 such as computers, laptops, mobile devices, phones, tablets, and so on, and programmable logic installed in the thermostat 18 and/or other control units 20, if present, in the HVAC system.
  • It should be appreciated by those of ordinary skill in the art that the disclosed methods may also be embodied, at least in part, in application software that may be downloaded, in whole or in part, from either a public or private website or an application store (“app store”) to a user device such as a mobile device including a phone, tablet and so on. In another embodiment, the disclosed system and method may be included in the mobile device firmware, hardware, and/or software. In another embodiment, the disclosed systems and/or methods may be embodied, at least in part, in application software executing within a webserver to provide a web-based interface to the described functionality.
  • In yet other embodiments, all or part of the disclosed systems and/or methods may be provided as one or more callable modules, an application programming interface (e.g., an API), a source library, an object library, a plug-in or snap-in, a dynamic link library (e.g., DLL), or any software architecture capable of providing the functionality disclosed herein.
  • The term “sensors” as used herein refers collectively to both sensors and transducers as commonly used in the art, and includes sensors associated with a particular piece of equipment and/or control unit in the HVAC system, such as a temperature sensor in a thermostat. Sensors may be located on or operably connected to certain HVAC equipment. Other sensors co-located with an HVAC system may, or may not be operably connected to HVAC equipment, but may still be used in accordance with methods of the present disclosure to analyze the data collected for detecting a probability of a fault in the HVAC equipment. Examples of sensors from which data may be collected for analysis in accordance with the present disclosure include, but are not limited to, temperature, humidity, pressure, occupancy, smoke, light, motion, security sensors, and so on. Data that may be acquired from sensors and/or equipment (which may include sensors or embedded controllers) includes, but is not limited to, measured data readings (e.g., temperature, pressure, humidity, and so on), set point (e.g., a user-defined temperature setting), current state (e.g., an “occupied” or “unoccupied” reading from an occupancy sensor), and modes of operation (e.g., heat or cool mode of a thermostat).
  • The term “identifying criteria” as used herein refers to any data or identifier used to identify a particular piece of equipment or sensor, for example, without limitation, its location, or a category or type of the piece of equipment or sensor, and may include a type, model, serial number, manufacturer, dealer, and so on.
  • The term “user” is collectively used to refer to any user of the system of the present disclosure, which can include a manager/operator (for example, a home owner, or a building manager/operator) of an HVAC system, a dealer or manufacturer of certain HVAC equipment being monitored, and others. Different categories of users may have different types of access to the data generated by the methods and system of the present disclosure. A suitable user device includes a computer or mobile device, including a smart phone, tablet, personal digital assistant and so on, that can be configured for a particular user. In embodiments, a user device configured for a manager/homeowner can also be used to monitor and control the HVAC system.
  • A “fault” as used herein refers to a departure from an acceptable range of one or more operating parameters. A “probability” is used herein generically to refer to a relative probability, although it is contemplated that the scope of the present disclosure can also include absolute probabilities.
  • Referring now to FIG. 1, an embodiment of a system 10 of the present disclosure for detecting and diagnosing faults in a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system 16 is shown. The system 10 includes a server 12 communicably coupled to the HVAC system 16 and specially configured to implement and execute the methods of the present disclosure. The server 12 may also be configured to establish communications between user devices 14 and the HVAC system 16, via the Internet 27, for controlling a thermostat and, optionally, other units that may be included in a home automation system via their user devices 14. Accordingly, the server 12 may be configured to send various alerts in accordance with the present disclosure to the same user devices 14 used for home automation. In additional embodiments, the server 12 can send other types of information to other user devices 15 configured for appropriate access by dealers and/or manufacturers of equipment in the HVAC system 16.
  • Referring still to the embodiment of FIG. 1, the HVAC system 16 includes a thermostat 18 and may include various additional control units 20, each of which may be operable via a touch-screen panel as well as via user devices 14 operated by a homeowner, for example, of the system 16. Additional equipment in the HVAC system 16 may include, but is not limited to, furnaces and heating equipment, air conditioners, filters, air purifiers, ventilation equipment, chillers, pumps, and air handlers.
  • The equipment may include both indoor equipment 40 and outdoor equipment 42, each of which may include sensors 32 operably connected to and/or embedded in the equipment. Some equipment may include embedded logic controllers 34 for monitoring and controlling operation. Thermostat 18 and/or control unit 20 communicates with indoor 40, outdoor equipment 42, and other HVAC equipment via control bus 41. Control bus 41 may use any communications protocol suitable for use with HVAC equipment 40, 42. For example, and without limitation, where indoor equipment 41 and/or outdoor equipment 42 employ single- or dual-speed motors, control bus 41 may include a number of switched circuits which operates in accordance with standard HVAC color-coding schemes (RC, RH, C, Y, W, Y2, W2, etc.). Where indoor equipment 41 and/or outdoor equipment 42 employ variable-speed motors, control bus 41 may include a digital signaling interface such as, without limitation, CANbus, RS-485, ComfortLink II™, ClimateTalk™, and the like. In embodiments, control bus 41 operates using both 24v switched circuits and digital signaling protocols to flexibly accommodate any combination of HVAC equipment.
  • Additional sensors 36 may be co-located with the system 16 and may or may not be operably connected to equipment within the HVAC system 16. Such sensors 36 may include, but are not limited to, occupancy, smoke, light, motion, security, humidity, pressure sensors, and so on. As described further herein, in various embodiments of methods of the present disclosure, data from these sensors 36 is collected, stored, and analyzed along with data from equipment in the HVAC system 16, including data from sensors 32 and logic controllers 34, to assess current operational parameters and trends in the equipment and HVAC system 16. The data is then analyzed to detect and diagnose faults. The probability that a fault exists in any one or more of the pieces of the equipment may be calculated based on the sensor data. In addition, a likelihood of occurrence of a fault in the future, if a particular condition is not corrected within a certain period of time, for example, may be calculated based on the data.
  • As will be described further below, various types of data are generated by the sensors associated with the HVAC system 16. Referring still to FIG. 1, embodiments of the HVAC system 16 in accordance with the present disclosure include an electronic gathering device 44 configured to acquire data from any components associated with the system 16, including the control unit(s) 20, thermostat 18, both indoor 40 and outdoor equipment 42, and other sensors 36, and forward the data via the Internet 27, for example, to the server 12 for processing. Though the embodiments of the methods and system are described herein in the context of fault detection and diagnosis of equipment in a single HVAC system, the scope of the present disclosure includes applying the methods and system of the present disclosure to monitoring a plurality of heat, ventilation and air conditioning systems to predict, detect, and diagnose faults within any of the equipment within any of those systems in accordance with the present disclosure.
  • Though only one HVAC system is shown in FIG. 1, in embodiments of the present disclosure, data may be collected by the server 12 for processing from a plurality of HVAC systems. Advantageously, by collecting data from a plurality of HVAC systems, more accurate models can be developed for predicting faults in different types of equipment from sensor data within an HVAC system.
  • The electronic data gathering device 44 may be a dedicated electronic gathering device provided in or near the HVAC system 16 for gathering and transmitting data to the server 12. For example, the electronic data gathering device 44 may be located in, on, or in proximity to an indoor air handling or indoor furnace unit acquiring indoor and/or outdoor type HVAC system data.
  • The device 44 may be part of the system 16 upon installation or, in some embodiments, configured for integration with an existing HVAC system. In various embodiments, the electronic gathering device 44 may be any one of a data acquisition and measurement device, a printed circuit board assembly, a control unit, a system, and so on that is configured to acquire the data from the various components in and near the HVAC system 16 and communicate the acquired data to the remote server 12. In some embodiments, the electronic data gathering device is also configured to receive serial data from embedded logic controllers 34 within the HVAC equipment and forward the serial data to the server 12.
  • The electronic gathering device 44 is operably connected to the server 12 for transmission of the acquired data thereto and configured for transmitting the data by any suitable connection, either wired or wireless 46, of any appropriate type, including but not limited to WiFi, cellular, Ethernet, POTS via modem, and so on.
  • In some embodiments, the thermostat 18 of the HVAC system is operably connected to the data gathering device 44, has Internet connectivity 48, e.g., WiFi, Ethernet, and so on, and can provide the data pathway from the electronic data gathering device 44 to the central remote server 22 via the Internet 27. Using the thermostat in this way spares the expense of adding an additional piece of hardware to the system 16 to serve this purpose and removes the requirement for the electronic data gathering device 44 to have WiFi, Ethernet, cellular, or land line range and connectivity to the server 12. The thermostat can acquire data both internally to the thermostat and via sensors, e.g. temperature, humidity, etc., and will forward that data to the remote server 12 along with additional data acquired by the data gathering device 44.
  • In some embodiments, the thermostat 18 is configured to provide the functionality of the electronic data gathering device 44 by collecting additional data from equipment and co-located sensors, e.g., as well as from other control units if present, and sending the data along with the internal thermostat data, either directly or indirectly, to the remote server 12 for processing.
  • In additional embodiments, the thermostat 18 can forward data to the remote server 12 that is generated both internally to the thermostat and from sensors, e.g. temperature, humidity, etc., and, if present, additional control unit(s) 20 can also independently, in parallel, forward data to the remote server 12.
  • In some embodiments, the communication between the electronic data gathering device 44 and the server 12 is bidirectional. In other embodiments, the communication is unidirectional from the electronic data gathering device 44 to the remote server 12.
  • Referring still to FIG. 1, in some embodiments, the data gathering device 44 may acquire data via serial communication from the electronic controls 34 embedded in various pieces of equipment within the HVAC system 16, as well as via wired or wireless sensors. In additional embodiments, instead of using a single data gathering device 44, a first (indoor) data gathering device 50 can be located at, on, or in an indoor air handling or furnace unit 40, for example, which acquires primarily indoor type HVAC system data, and a second (outdoor) data gathering device 52 can be located at, on, or in an outdoor unit 42 of the HVAC system, which acquires primarily outdoor type HVAC system data. Indoor data gathering device 50 and outdoor data gathering device 52 communicate via diagnostic data bus 51. In some embodiments, diagnostic data bus 51 includes a wired link using a serial communications protocol (e.g., CANbus or RS-485), while in some embodiments, diagnostic data bus 51 includes a wireless link (e.g., WiFi). In various embodiments, data may be acquired from one or both of the first (indoor) data gathering device 50 and the second (outdoor) data gathering device 52 and forwarded from one or both, respectively, to the remote server 12.
  • In addition to the embodiments disclosed herein, any other suitable device known in the art may be used to acquire the data for forwarding to the server 12 in accordance with the present disclosure. Referring still to FIG. 1, the data that is received by the server 12 may be stored in a database 54 operably connected to the server 12.
  • Referring now to FIG. 4, an embodiment of a system 250 in accordance with the present disclosure includes a dealer diagnostic portal 251, an end-user diagnostic portal 252, a thermostat UI-based diagnostic portal 253, and a local diagnostic portal 254. The diagnostic portals 251-254 display information received from server 12, enable a user to input data into information server 12, and facilitate user interaction with server 12. Diagnostic portals 251-254 are configured to provide access to data according to the requirements of the intended user. For example, dealer diagnostic portal 251 and local diagnostic portal 254 are initially configured to display low-level diagnostic data which would be of interest to service technician. Examples of such technician-level data include compressor inlet/outlet temperature and pressure, compressor input current, evaporator inlet/outlet temperature, and indoor unit pressure. End-user diagnostic portal 252 and thermostat UI-based diagnostic portal 253 are initially configured to display a higher level of diagnostic detail better suited for an end-user, such as remaining filter life, refrigerant charge, and time remaining in the current service interval. In some embodiments, any of diagnostic portals 251-254 are user-configurable to display a higher level, or a lower level, of diagnostic data than that for which it was originally configured. For example, a user may wish to configure a thermostat UI-based diagnostic portal 253 to include lower level (technician-level) data, which could be used assist a technician working on-site to conduct his or her diagnosis.
  • Diagnostic portals 251-254 include an alert function whereby detected faults or other reminders communicated from server 12 are displayed in real-time to quickly inform the dealer and/or the end user of the existence of a system problem or a maintenance reminder. In some embodiments, any one or all of diagnostic portals 251-254 include the capability to relay a secondary fault alarm to a second or backup user device, such as a text message, email message, voice announcement via telephone, and so forth. Because service personnel and end-users of HVAC equipment are both promptly informed, as appropriate, when faults within their HVAC system(s) occur, improved dealer operating efficiency, reduced response time, greater end-user comfort and satisfaction, and lower HVAC lifecycle costs may be realized.
  • In embodiments, web-based dealer portal 251 and a web-based end-user portal 252 is embodied as a web page and/or within application software (e.g., a mobile or desktop application). In embodiments, thermostat UI-based diagnostic portal 253 includes one or more user interface elements of a thermostat, for example, graphical user interface elements presented on a touchscreen display, pre-defined elements of an LCD panel, hardware input devices (buttons, switches, rotary controls), and/or seven segment or multi-segment displays. Local diagnostic portal 254 typically includes hardware input devices, seven segment displays, and the like, although other user interface elements are contemplated within the scope of the present disclosure. In some embodiments, local diagnostic portal 254 is integrated with a controller module included with indoor equipment 40 and/or outdoor equipment 42. In some embodiments, local diagnostic portal 254 is included with indoor diagnostic module 50 and/or outdoor diagnostic module 52.
  • FIG. 2A illustrates an embodiment of a method of the present disclosure to detect and diagnose faults in a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system that is operably connected to a server 12 as described above. In accordance with an embodiment of the method 60, the server receives, at 62, data from sensors associated with the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. At 66, the data is analyzed to determine whether an alert should be generated and transmitted to that indicates a fault exists based on the data. In embodiments, an alert may also, or alternatively, be generated to indicate a likelihood of occurrence of a fault in any of the pieces of equipment based on the data.
  • Referring still to FIG. 2A, in embodiments, at 64, a probability that a fault exists and/or a likelihood of a fault occurring in one or more of the pieces of the equipment is calculated based on the data received. A comparison and analysis of the calculated probability of the fault (and/or the likelihood of the fault) to various criteria associated with the HVAC system and equipment parameters is then performed at 66. An alert is generated, if warranted, based on the analysis.
  • FIG. 2B illustrates an embodiment of a method of the present disclosure to detect and diagnose faults in a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system that is operably connected to a server 12 as described above. In accordance with the method 70, the server receives, at 72, data from sensors associated with the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. At 76, a probability of a fault in one or more of the pieces of the equipment is calculated based on the data received. An alert is then generated at 78 in response to the calculated probability of the fault exceeding a predetermined threshold.
  • In various embodiments in accordance with the present disclosure, a prioritized list of possible faults and/or causes may be generated based on the data received.
  • The data received by the server includes measured data from each of the sensors and identifying criteria associated with the sensor. For example, if the sensor is embedded in (including as embedded logic), on, or is operatively connected to a piece of equipment in the HVAC system 16, the identifying criteria preferably identifies the piece of the equipment. Such identifying criteria may include a type, model, serial number, manufacturer, dealer, and so on associated with the equipment, and may also include a location of the equipment/sensor (a room, space, floor, building, or outside location, for example, where the equipment/sensor is located, and/or a geographic location). In some embodiments, data is also received from sensors co- located with, but not operably connected to any equipment. The identifying criteria may include a type of the sensor as well as location information (a room, space, floor, building, or outside location, for example, where the sensor is located, and/or a geographic location).
  • Because data from a number of sensors may be acquired by the remote server from different types of equipment and from different locations within the HVAC system, a system view of the performance or operation of the HVAC system at any particular time and under current known conditions is obtained in accordance with the present disclosure. This system-wide view enhances the capability of the system and methods of the present disclosure to accurately predict an equipment fault and alert the user to the impending fault, even before it occurs. Probabilities of the existence of a fault and/or likelihoods of occurrence of a fault of a piece of equipment can be determined based on an analysis of various parameters determined from the data collected.
  • In one implementation of an embodiment of the methods of the present disclosure, for example, the data received from a thermostat indicates that a call for cooling and indoor equipment airflow is present. Additional data collected from the HVAC system indicates that no cooling is detected. Based on the data, it is determined that a fault exists in the cooling mode, and a lack of proper operation of the compressor is diagnosed as the likely cause. An appropriate alert and fault notification indicating a need for compressor service can then be generated and transmitted to the appropriate users.
  • Referring to FIG. 2C, in another embodiment 80, historical data is received by the server at 82 from sensors and equipment across a plurality of HVAC systems. By aggregating and analyzing the historical data associated with each type of equipment, and/or with a particular mode of equipment in the plurality of HVAC systems over a period of time, algorithms, or a set of rules, for calculating the probability of faults, and/or likelihood of occurrence of faults, associated with various types of equipment can be determined at 84 from the historical data, as well as threshold values for generating alerts. The rules can then be stored at 86 for use in calculating the probability that a particular fault exists, and/or a likelihood that the particular fault could occur in a particular of equipment.
  • In embodiments, predetermined threshold values may indicate a likelihood of occurrence of a fault in a piece of equipment if no corrective action is taken. Accordingly, the methods of the present disclosure provide a means for alerting a user to a problem even before a fault actually occurs, thereby avoiding expensive damage. In embodiments, fault threshold values are predetermined, such that probabilities above the predetermined fault threshold value indicate that a fault likely exists, i.e., that the equipment is already operating outside acceptable operational ranges.
  • Referring to FIG. 2D, in accordance with another embodiment of a method 100 of the present disclosure, the server receives, at 102, data from sensors associated with the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. The server receives certain data continuously 103 at predetermined intervals and other data, referred to as event data, upon occurrence of an event 105, such as, but not limited to, a change of state, operation, or condition (such as a power transition or cycling of the HVAC equipment), an alert, or a user-specified event. In some embodiments, a time stamp (date and time of day the data was generated) may be associated and collected with the continuous data and/or the record of the event. In accordance with other embodiments, the time-stamp may be added at the time the data is received. The continuously received data and event-generated data is then aggregated at 104 and a probability of an equipment fault is calculated at 106 based on the aggregated data.
  • An alert, or fault notification, is then generated at 108 in response to the calculated probability of the fault exceeding a predetermined threshold and may be automatically transmitted at the time the alert occurs to a user device and/or to a thermostat display. At 110, the alerts may be stored along with, optionally, the sensor data and probabilities of a fault associated with each piece of equipment.
  • In some embodiments, certain alerts may be accessible only to dealers and/or manufacturers, only to field service personnel, or only to the home owner or building manager, depending on the type of fault, for example. Some alerts may be accessible to any type of user. Access to the alerts may be provided, for example, based on user permissions, via a web-based service portal accessed via a computer or other suitable device. Such alerts may also be communicated to a suitable user device by text messages, emails, digital voice phone call or voice message, via a website log in to a web-based service, a web app, a smartphone app, and/or any other methods known in the art, when and as they occur.
  • In some embodiments, the transmission of alerts, or fault notifications, from the server to field service personnel or owners/operators of the HVAC systems can be manually triggered instead of automatically-generated, or can be a combination of both. For example, the content of an automatically-generated fault notification may be tailored for the appropriate field service personnel. Such field service notifications may then be manually forwarded to the owner/operator of the HVAC system by the field service personnel at his or her discretion, optionally after manually altering the notification, if appropriate. In some embodiments, the server can also be queried at any time by authorized users, e.g., by field personnel, the HVAC system manufacturer, or dealer, for the analysis to begin on a specific HVAC system, and/or for obtaining HVAC system data, and/or for the real-time and/or historical data analysis results for any one or multiple HVAC systems as appropriate and as needed.
  • Additional embodiments of a method 150 are shown in FIG. 2E. At step 160, the measured data from the sensors is acquired by one of a dedicated electronic gathering device operably connected to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, a thermostat in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system, and a control unit in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system. In one embodiment, the acquired data is then forwarded at 162 to the server 12, optionally, in response to a query from the server.
  • At 164, a fault is indicated, for example, by a probability exceeding, or reaching, a predetermined threshold, and at 168 causes of the fault are diagnosed based on the acquired data. The detection and diagnosis in preferred embodiments are performed by the server after forwarding the data thereto. In other embodiments, the detection and diagnosis of certain faults may be performed by the dedicated electronic gathering device, the thermostat, or the control unit. In some embodiments, algorithms and information for performing the diagnostics are imported from a third-party server or database, or any type of computer, smart device, and so on associated with a dealer or manufacturer of the equipment.
  • An alert is then generated at 170 in response to detecting the fault and transmitted to a user device and/or to a thermostat display. At 172, the alerts of detected faults may be stored along with the diagnoses.
  • FIG. 3 provides a system flow diagram representation of various embodiments of methods of the present disclosure, summarizing a flow of data between sensors in the HVAC system 16, the server 12, and dealer 15 and homeowner devices 14 in accordance with embodiments of the present disclosure. In the embodiment shown, the sensor data 200 associated with the HVAC system 16 are received and analyzed by the server 12. In some embodiments, as shown, the analytic algorithms 202 for fault detection and diagnosis in accordance with the present disclosure are resident on the server 12 and can be easily upgraded with new analytics 204 as needed.
  • Once a fault is detected, it may be transmitted to a thermostat display 206 as well as to appropriate users via the Internet 27. For example, a dealer portal 208 is provided to a web-based service hosted on the server 12. Dealers can access certain data stored in the database 54 through the portal 208, which is related to the operation of the HVAC equipment monitored by the dealers, including information related to the fault detections and diagnoses generated in accordance with the present disclosure and stored in the database 54. Records of the events and also, preferably, historical logs of continuously generated sensor data are also stored in the database 54 and may be accessed by the dealers. Analytics of the historical sensor and event data may also be made available to the dealers through the portal 208. Sensor data 200 may be received by the server 12 via a thermostat in the HVAC system, as described herein, and/or via one or more dedicated electronic gathering device(s) 50, 52. Dealers may also enter data via the portal 208, such as diagnostic information, or baseline information on equipment which may be used by the server 12 to determine thresholds, for example, for indicating a fault.
  • It should be understood by those of ordinary skill in the art that while embodiments disclosed herein may refer to a homeowner operating an HVAC system associated with a single home, the system and methods of the present disclosure are not limited thereto and can be integrated with HVAC systems that allow management of a number of spaces or buildings in accordance with methods known to those of ordinary skill in the art.
  • ASPECTS
  • It is noted that any of aspects 1-13 below can be combined with each other in any combination and combined with any of aspects 14-19, or with any of aspects 20-21 or with aspect 22. Any of aspects 14-19, 20-21 and 22 can be combined with each other in any combination.
  • Aspect 1. A method for detecting and diagnosing faults in a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, the method comprising: receiving, by a server, data from a plurality of sensors associated with a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, the data including measured data from each of the plurality of sensors and identifying criteria associated therewith, the identifying criteria including a location of the sensor associated with the measured data, at least one of the plurality of sensors being associated with a piece of equipment in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, the identifying criteria for the at least one sensor further identifying the piece of equipment associated therewith; detecting, by the server, a fault in the piece of equipment based on the data received; and generating an alert of the fault in response to the detecting.
  • Aspect 2. The method according to Aspect 1, further comprising calculating a probability of the fault in the piece of equipment based on the data received; and generating the alert in response to the probability of the fault exceeding a predetermined threshold.
  • Aspect 3. The method according to Aspect 1-2, further comprising transmitting the alert to one of a user device and a thermostat in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, the alert being viewable on a display associated with the thermostat.
  • Aspect 4. The method according to any of Aspects 1-3, further comprising storing the alert in a database associated with the server for access by a user.
  • Aspect 5. The method according to any of Aspects 1-4, wherein receiving data includes receiving event data generated in response to an event, the measured data comprising a record of the event and a date and time of occurrence of the event.
  • Aspect 6. The method according to any of Aspects 1-5, wherein receiving data further includes continuously receiving the measured data at predetermined intervals, the data further comprising a date and time of receiving the measured data, the method further including aggregating event data generated in response to an event and the measured data received at the predetermined intervals, and calculating a probability of the fault based on the aggregated data, wherein the fault is detected based on the calculated probability.
  • Aspect 7. The method according to any of Aspects 1-6, wherein receiving data, by the server, further includes collecting the data associated with one of a common type of the equipment and a common mode of the equipment from a plurality of heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.
  • Aspect 8. The method according to any of Aspects 1-7, further comprising collecting data associated with one of a common type of the equipment and a common mode of the equipment of the equipment from a plurality of heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, and analyzing the collected data associated with the common type or common mode of the equipment to determine a set of rules for calculating the probability of a particular fault occurring in the equipment associated with the common type or common mode.
  • Aspect 9. The method according to any of Aspects 1-8, further comprising storing the data received, a probability of the fault calculated based on the data, and a record of the alert generated, in a database operably connected to the server.
  • Aspect 10. The method according to any of Aspects 1-9, further comprising diagnosing causes of the fault based on the data received, and communicating the alert as a fault notification to one of a user device and a thermostat display.
  • Aspect 11. The method according to any of Aspects 1-10, further comprising importing diagnostic data from a third-party device operably connected to the server and analyzing the data using the diagnostic data to diagnose causes of the fault.
  • Aspect 12. The method according to any of Aspects 1-11, further comprising acquiring the measured data by one of a dedicated electronic gathering device operably connected to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, a thermostat in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system, and a control unit in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system, the server receiving the acquired data in response to a query from the server.
  • Aspect 13. The method according to any of Aspects 1-12, wherein the fault is a most likely existing fault, wherein detecting further comprises detecting a plurality of possible faults in the piece of the equipment based one the data received; and ranking the plurality of possible faults in ranked order of most to least likely existing fault in the piece of equipment based on the data received, wherein the alert generated further includes the plurality of possible faults and the ranked order.
  • Aspect 14. A system for detecting and diagnosing faults in a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, the system comprising: a server, the server being communicatively coupled to a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system; wherein the server is configured to: receive data from a plurality of sensors associated with the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, the data including measured data from each of the plurality of sensors and identifying criteria associated therewith, the identifying criteria including a location of the sensor associated with the measured data, at least one of the plurality of sensors being associated with a piece of equipment in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, the identifying criteria for the at least one sensor further identifying the piece of equipment associated therewith; detect a fault in the piece of the equipment based on the data received; and generate an alert in response to the fault being detected.
  • Aspect 15. The system of Aspect 14, wherein the server is further configured to calculate a probability of the fault in the piece of equipment based on the data received; and to generate an alert in response to the probability of the fault exceeding a predetermined threshold.
  • Aspect 16. The system of Aspects 14-15, wherein the data includes event data comprising a record of an event and a date and time of occurrence of the event, and measured data continuously received at predetermined intervals, the system further comprising a database operably connected to the server, wherein the server is further configured to: continuously receive the measured data at predetermined intervals; aggregate the event data and the continuously received measured data; calculate the probability of the fault based on the aggregated data; and store the aggregated data, the probability calculated, and a record of the alert generated, in the database.
  • Aspect 17. The system of any of Aspects 14-16, wherein the server is further configured to: collect data associated with one of a common type of the equipment and a common mode of the equipment from a plurality of heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems; and analyze the collected data associated with the common type or common mode of equipment to determine a set of rules for calculating the probability of a particular fault occurring in the equipment associated with the common type or common mode.
  • Aspect 18. The system of any of Aspects 14-17, the server further configured to: diagnose one or more causes of the fault based on the data received; and communicate the alert in a fault notification to one of a user device and a thermostat display.
  • Aspect 19. The system of any of Aspects 14-18wherein the server is operably connected to one of a dedicated electronic gathering device, a thermostat, and a control unit in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system, wherein the one of the dedicated electronic gathering device, the thermostat, and the control unit acquires the data associated with the equipment, the sever further configured to query one of the dedicated gathering device, the thermostat and the control unit to forward the acquired data.
  • Aspect 20. A computer-readable device to store instructions that, when executed by a processing device, cause the processing device to perform operations comprising:
  • receiving data from a plurality of sensors associated with a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, the data including measured data from each of the plurality of sensors and identifying criteria associated therewith, the identifying criteria including a location of the sensor associated with the measured data, at least one of the plurality of sensors being associated with a piece of equipment in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, the identifying criteria for the at least one sensor further identifying the piece of equipment associated therewith; calculating a probability of a fault in the piece of equipment based on the data received; and generating an alert in response to the probability of the fault exceeding a predetermined threshold.
  • Aspect 21. The computer-readable device of Aspect 20, the operations further comprising diagnosing one or more causes of the fault based on the data received, and communicating the alert as a fault notification including the one or more causes of the fault to one of a user device and a thermostat display.
  • Aspect 22. A method for detecting and diagnosing faults in a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, the method comprising: receiving, by a server, data from a plurality of sensors associated with a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, the data including measured data from each of the plurality of sensors and identifying criteria associated therewith, the identifying criteria including a location of the sensor associated with the measured data, at least one of the plurality of sensors being associated with a piece of equipment in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, the identifying criteria for the at least one sensor further identifying the piece of equipment associated therewith; calculating, by the server, a likelihood of occurrence of a fault in the piece of equipment based on the data received; generating an alert, by the server, of the fault in response to the likelihood of occurrence exceeding a predetermined threshold; and transmitting the alert to one of a user device and a thermostat in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, the alert being viewable on a display associated with the thermostat.
  • Particular embodiments of the present disclosure have been described herein, however, it is to be understood that the disclosed embodiments are merely examples of the disclosure, which may be embodied in various forms. Well-known functions or constructions are not described in detail to avoid obscuring the present disclosure in unnecessary detail. Therefore, specific structural and functional details disclosed herein are not to be interpreted as limiting, but merely as a basis for the claims and as a representative basis for teaching one skilled in the art to variously employ the present disclosure in any appropriately detailed structure.

Claims (22)

What is claimed is:
1. A method for detecting and diagnosing faults in a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, the method comprising:
receiving, by a server, data from a plurality of sensors associated with a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, the data including measured data from each of the plurality of sensors and identifying criteria associated therewith, the identifying criteria including a location of the sensor associated with the measured data, at least one of the plurality of sensors being associated with a piece of equipment in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, the identifying criteria for the at least one sensor further identifying the piece of equipment associated therewith;
detecting, by the server, a fault in the piece of equipment based on the data received; and
generating an alert, by the server, of the fault in response to the detecting.
2. The method of claim 1, further comprising:
calculating a probability of the fault in the piece of equipment based on the data received; and
generating the alert in response to the probability of the fault exceeding a predetermined threshold.
3. The method of claim 1, further comprising transmitting the alert to one of a user device and a thermostat in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, the alert being viewable on a display associated with the thermostat.
4. The method of claim 1, further comprising storing the alert in a database associated with the server for access by a user.
5. The method of claim 1, wherein receiving data includes receiving event data generated in response to an event, the measured data comprising a record of the event and a date and time of occurrence of the event.
6. The method of claim 5, wherein receiving data further includes continuously receiving the measured data at predetermined intervals, the data further comprising a date and time of receiving the measured data, the method further including aggregating the event data and the measured data received at the predetermined intervals, and calculating a probability of the fault based on the aggregated data, wherein detecting the fault is based on the calculated probability.
7. The method of claim 1, wherein receiving data, by the server, further includes collecting the data associated with one of a common type of equipment and a common mode of equipment from a plurality of heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.
8. The method of claim 7, further comprising analyzing the collected data associated with the one of the common type and the common mode of equipment to determine a set of rules for calculating a probability of a particular fault occurring in the equipment associated with the one of the common type and the common mode.
9. The method of claim 6, further comprising storing the aggregated data, the probability calculated, and a record of the alert generated, in a database operably connected to the server.
10. The method of claim 1, further comprising diagnosing one or more causes of the fault based on the data received, and communicating the alert as a fault notification including the fault and the one or more causes to one of a user device and a thermostat display.
11. The method of claim 10, further comprising importing diagnostic data from a third-party device operably connected to the server and analyzing the data using the diagnostic data to diagnose the one or more causes of the fault.
12. The method of claim 1, the method further comprising acquiring the measured data by one of a dedicated electronic gathering device operably connected to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, a thermostat in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system, and a control unit in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system, the server receiving the measured data from the one of the dedicated electronic gathering device, the thermostat, and the control unit in response to a query from the server.
13. The method of claim 1, wherein the fault is a most likely existing fault, the detecting, by the server, further comprising:
detecting a plurality of possible faults in the piece of equipment based on the data received; and
ranking the plurality of possible faults in ranked order of most to least likely existing fault in the piece of equipment based on the data received, wherein the alert generated further includes the plurality of possible faults and the ranked order.
14. A system for detecting and diagnosing faults in a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, the system comprising:
a server, the server being communicatively coupled to a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system;
wherein the server is configured to:
receive data from a plurality of sensors associated with a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, the data including measured data from each of the plurality of sensors and identifying criteria associated therewith, the identifying criteria including a location of the sensor associated with the measured data, at least one of the plurality of sensors being associated with a piece of equipment in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, the identifying criteria for the at least one sensor further identifying the piece of equipment associated therewith;
detect a fault in the piece of equipment based on the data received; and
generate an alert in response to the fault being detected.
15. The system of claim 14, wherein the server is further configured to:
calculate a probability of the fault in the piece of equipment based on the data received; and
generate an alert in response to the probability of the fault exceeding a predetermined threshold.
16. The system of claim 15, wherein the data includes event data comprising a record of an event and a date and time of occurrence of the event, and measured data continuously received at predetermined intervals, the system further comprising a database operably connected to the server, wherein the server is further configured to:
continuously receive the measured data at predetermined intervals;
aggregate the event data and the continuously received measured data;
calculate the probability of the fault based on the aggregated data; and
store the aggregated data, the probability calculated, and a record of the alert generated, in the database.
17. The system of claim 14, wherein the server is further configured to:
collect data associated with one of a common type and a common mode of equipment from a plurality of heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems; and
analyze the collected data associated with the one of the common type and the common mode of equipment to determine a set of rules for calculating a probability of a particular fault occurring in the equipment associated with the one of the common type and the common mode.
18. The system of claim 14, the server further configured to:
diagnose one or more causes of the fault based on the data received; and
communicate the alert in a fault notification including the fault and the one or more causes of the fault to one of a user device and a thermostat display.
19. The system of claim 15, wherein the server is operably connected to one of a dedicated electronic gathering device, a thermostat, and a control unit in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system, wherein the one of the dedicated electronic gathering device, the thermostat, and the control unit acquires the data associated with the equipment, the server further configured to query the one of the dedicated electronic gathering device, the thermostat, and the control unit to forward the data.
20. A computer-readable device to store instructions that, when executed by a processing device, cause the processing device to perform operations comprising:
receiving data from a plurality of sensors associated with a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, the data including measured data from each of the plurality of sensors and identifying criteria associated therewith, the identifying criteria including a location of the sensor associated with the measured data, at least one of the plurality of sensors being associated with a piece of equipment in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, the identifying criteria for the at least one sensor further identifying the piece of equipment associated therewith;
calculating a probability of a fault in the piece of equipment based on the data received; and
generating an alert in response to the calculated probability exceeding a predetermined threshold.
21. The computer-readable device of claim 20, the operations further comprising diagnosing one or more causes of the fault based on the data received, and communicating the alert as a fault notification including the fault and the one or more causes of the fault to one of a user device and a thermostat display.
22. A method for detecting and diagnosing faults in a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, the method comprising:
receiving, by a server, data from a plurality of sensors associated with a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, the data including measured data from each of the plurality of sensors and identifying criteria associated therewith, the identifying criteria including a location of the sensor associated with the measured data, at least one of the plurality of sensors being associated with a piece of equipment in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, the identifying criteria for the at least one sensor further identifying the piece of equipment associated therewith;
calculating, by the server, a likelihood of occurrence of a fault in the piece of equipment based on the data received;
generating an alert, by the server, of the fault in response to the likelihood of occurrence exceeding a predetermined threshold; and
transmitting the alert to one of a user device and a thermostat in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, the alert being viewable on a display associated with the thermostat.
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