How sensors control guestrooms

This article is the first in a three-part series on energy controls. Look for part three in next Tuesday’s edition.

Energy controls assisted by guest detection sensors have a simple job on paper: detect when a guest enters a room, and either heat or cool it to a comfortable degree until they leave. What goes on behind the scenes is actually many times more complicated, and innovations in guest detection are more than just incremental upgrades.

According to Michael Serour, VP of sales and marketing for Verdant Environmental Technologies, when guests are not in range of the detectors a room’s thermostat will allow the temperature of the room to slowly drop or rise to a certain set point without allowing it to go under or above. By doing this, a hotel is able to save on energy and utilities from not over-working their HVAC unnecessarily, and the temperature will remain in a range that can be quickly recovered if a guest suddenly walks in.

From there, the process grows complicated. Guests often walk in and out of meeting or conference rooms as they prepare for an event, and it makes little sense to have an HVAC switch off and on multiple times for every guest appearance. To simplify this, Verdant thermostats are equipped with a setback delay feature that can wait for a customizable period of time after an occupant leaves the room before setting back the HVAC.

For the best results when detecting guests, William Fizer, president of Lodging Technology, suggests placing detectors high on a wall in the corner of a room, in order to best view everyone that enters and exits a space.

“This gets a little tricky, because you can’t place a thermostat high out of reach on a wall,” Fizer said. “But the benefits of positioning the sensor there are great.”