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How BACnet Works

Jul 17, 2017 9:05:00 AM

shutterstock_422319061“Holy building automation, BACman! There’s a construction project that needs our help!”

“Quickly, Bobbin! To the BACmobile!”

 While our heroes make their way to the construction site on the outskirts of Gotham, let’s talk a bit about BACnet.

What is BACnet?

BACnet (building automation and control network) is a standard electronic communication protocol designed specifically to enable building automation and monitoring systems of different types and from different manufacturers, such as fire alarms, perimeter security, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), to communicate with each other. BACnet was developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) in the early 1990s. It became an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard in 1995, and achieved status as International Standards Organization (ISO) standard 16484-5 in 2003.

BACnet can work with almost any standard data protocol, including TCP/IP (the Internet communication standard).

What is BACnet Good For?

BACnet enables the development of comprehensive building management systems (BMSs) that enable operators to configure, monitor, and control disparate building systems in one application. It also extends the scope and flexibility of the automation that can be implemented. So, for example, a system could be set up so that when the fire protection system detects a fire, the system can send commands to:

  • The elevator control system, to immediately send all elevators to the ground floor.
  • The building’s paging system, to broadcast an audible voice message to tell building occupants where the fire was detected and how to exit the building.
  • The building’s audio/visual systems, to flash messages on TV screens in the conference rooms.
  • A phone system interface, to send alerts via text message to the building’s facilities and engineering teams.

A Foundation for Custom App Development

Our heroes finally arrive at the construction site and quickly assess the situation.

“BACman! They want to be able to control all their systems from a smartphone interface!”

“Break out the BACtools, Bobbin, we have a custom application to develop! Set up a meeting to get all their requirements!”

Because BACnet enables designers to bring together many different types of building automation and monitoring systems, regardless of manufacturer, it facilitates the development of custom applications that enable the system integration, automation, displays, and controls.

Despite certain common needs, every building or campus has unique features and requirements, so no two BMSs are exactly alike. From an inter-system or inter-device communication standpoint, however, BACnet simplifies the design effort significantly. In the past, each manufacturer would have a different, proprietary communication protocol, so building owners were necessarily locked in to one vendor, or had to struggle with multiple monitoring and control systems. BACnet enables much higher levels of flexibility.

For this reason, providers of any type of building system, whether environmental monitoring or energy management or intercoms, are well advised to implement BACnet in their systems and devices. As the demand for “smart buildings” becomes ever greater, there will be a greater need for more systems to be implemented and integrated. Because of the likelihood that no single provider will be able to satisfy all of these needs, BACnet will become a must to stay relevant in the building automation market.

We Speak BACnet

AndPlus is already familiar with the BACnet protocol, having used it in the development of our Phoenix Controls application. We know how to get the most out of BACnet and push it to its limits.

Meanwhile, our heroes have saved the day again.

“We did it, BACman! Now the building engineers and security personnel can remotely monitor and control the critical building systems from anywhere in the world, using their smartphones! But I have one question! Why do we always use exclamation points when we talk?!”

“Because we’re superheroes, Bobbin! All superheroes talk like this!”

“Oh! Okay!”

Brian Geary

Written by Brian Geary

Brian is a true believer in the Agile process. He often assists the development process by performing the product owner role. In addition to his technical background, he is an experienced account manager with a background in design and marketing.

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