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There Is No Such Thing as Plug-and-Play

Monday, August 28, 2017 by Brian C. Wagner

Something is not right.  It’s too hot.  Too cold.  Too expensive to operate.  Upgrading or repairing your building system can be daunting.  You are hopeful it can be done quickly and won’t cost too much.  Possibly a simple plug-and-play solution.  Unfortunately, when upgrading, what may seem to be simple, often turns out to not be the case.

This is a scenario we are faced with when called upon to solve what is believed to be a quick fix. Too often, we find the system was not configured properly for the building.  We’ve seen this not only in older buildings, but in new construction as well.

Case in point, a client found they had 3 of their 100+ heat pumps not properly operating, causing all sorts of havoc with their comfort levels.  It would have been easy for the owner to simply install direct replacements of these pumps.  Our inspection found that 2 of the 3 pumps were undersized.  The heat pumps were rated to handle up to 4 tons of cooling each, but after resizing, they needed to handle 6 tons of cooling.  This under-sizing resulted in the building never being dehumidified properly.  They could have swapped out the 3 heat pumps with the same configuration to do it as quickly and cheaply as possible.  However, they would have found themselves right back where they started and wasted their money.  

It initially cost them quite a bit more to install the right size pumps and properly configure the system.  It wasn’t just the cost of the pumps, but the other components that now needed to be updated given the resizing.  We had to change the power, the ductwork, and all the other components that were effected by installing the right size heat pumps. But by doing it the right way, they can now ensure better comfort, and dramatically decrease the chances of other system issues or failures down the road. 

Most companies also don’t know that cost is surprisingly not something that should be a factor in upgrading building systems as soon as possible.  You can fund the work with alternative and creative ways, such as paying for it with your future energy savings.

Ideally, you will have the right system installed from the start.  However, if your building is not operating properly, we recommend:

  1. Beware of anyone telling you it is a simple plug-and-play situation if they haven’t done their homework.
  2. Demand to know why something failed or the system isn’t giving you the results you planned on, and how the recommended upgrade will fix the situation.
  3. If they can’t answer your questions and provide a guarantee on the performance you will get, then find someone who will.

Doing the right thing always pays off in saved money, increased comfort, and less stress.  Plus, we can show you how you can pay for it now without impacting your budget.

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