Creative Financing Pays for Itself with Intelli-Hood

Drastic Turn

2020 has been the most unique year to date, especially when it comes to the economy. Coming off 2019, the economy was strong, companies were reinvesting and spending money. The economy looked like 2020 would be another great year — until March. Enter COVID-19; companies that could endure the pandemic had to pivot fast. Predictions for a record year were gone in a moment. For months, businesses across the country shut down.

Like other businesses, Melink tried to come out the other side of COVID-19. Many felt more timid than ever about spending cash, and understandably so. Numerous projects put on hold as capital expenditure budgets froze for 2020, 2021, and even 2022 in some cases. 

Melink’s company mission is to change the world one building at a time. We achieve this by implementing energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions into commercial facilities for decision makers. Intelli-Hood is a Demand Control Kitchen Ventilation (DCKV) system that saves money by reducing monthly operating expenses in commercial kitchen facilities. Often, Intelli-Hood pays for itself in one to three years, making it an attractive energy conservation application.

Intelli-Hood Controls

The question arises: How do we change the world one building at a time with spending on an indefinite pause? 

Creative Financing Solution

I worked with a university that wanted to implement Intelli-Hood in a kitchen. Without any utility rebates taken into consideration, the $62,000 project would pay for itself in less than three years. Everything was moving smoothly until COVID-19 put everything on pause. But Melink’s committed to working with customers and customizing energy solutions. As a result, discussions were continued with the university. We were able to come up with a creative financing solution that’s win/win for all parties: an Equipment Loan Program. Thus, the customer paid nothing out of pocket, while simultaneously being cashflow-positive the second we walk off the job site. Working with a lender, we got the $62,000 financed for the university over five full years at monthly installments of $1,287. This was a total investment of $77,220.

The Savings Stack Up

At Melink, our proposals come turnkey, along with a custom Energy Savings Report. The reports give an idea of how much money you will save with Intelli-Hood. In this instance, the customer was going to save more than $18,000 in energy savings the first year alone, resulting in a positive cashflow of almost $3,000. On average, utility rates go up 3% every year, meaning that with the customer locked into an installment payment of $1,287 for 60 months, the positive cashflow will continue to increase year over year. After five years, the loan will be paid off in full and the benefits really kick in, saving more than $20,000 per year. Thus, creative financing creates more opportunities for customers to save on energy costs.

Looking at a 10-year period, the customer is going to save more than $130,000 without having to pay anything upfront. While a traditional purchase would save more money ($148,000) over the same 10-year period, it would require the full upfront cost paid in full. 

Intelli-Hood Creative Financing Return on Investment
A graph comparing Intelli-Hood Investments against creative financing

So, if your business is in a similar position where your budget is paused but you are still interested in saving energy, reducing greenhouse gasses, and cutting operating costs – maybe this creative financing can work for you, too. We can continue to work together to change the world one building at a time, all while exploring realistic options in the current economic climate. 

Professional Development: ASHRAE & Melink

Melink Corporation is passionate about supporting the HVAC industry through its clean energy solutions. To share our field knowledge in commercial kitchen ventilation, as well as test and balance, several employees serve on professional boards like the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

ASHRAE logo

What is ASHRAE?

ASHRAE is a professional association to advance the design and construction of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems. The international group has more than 50,000 members in more than 130 countries. Most members are building service engineers, architects, mechanical contractors, building owners, and equipment manufacturers. ASHRAE is known for supporting research projects, offering education programs, and publishing technical standards.

Overall, ASHRAE’s technical standards support safety, occupant health, and energy efficiency. These standards establish consensus for testing methods for use in commerce, as well as the performance criteria to guide the industry. ASHRAE publishes the following three types of voluntary consensus standards:

  • Method of Measurement or Test (MOT)
  • Standard Design
  • and Standard Practice.

ASHRAE does not write rating standards unless a suitable rating standard will not otherwise be available. ASHRAE is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and follows ANSI’s requirements for due process and standards development.

Melink & ASHRAE

Jason Brown
Jason Brown

For many years, Melink Corporation has supported ASHRAE. Employee-owners, including CEO Steve Melink, have written journal articles, technical standards, and presented at conferences. Most recently, Jason Brown (Senior Sales & Applications Engineer) and Bryan Miller (Vice President of Technology) have volunteered their time and expertise.

Here’s a closer look at Melink’s support of ASHRAE:

 
Bryan Miller
Bryan Miller
  • ASHRAE operates through committees. Through the committee structure, members decide policy, develop procedures, and direct the organization’s activities. Brown and Miller have been active for several years on two ASHRAE committees. Brown is a voting member of the following committees, meaning he has influence on what does and doesn’t pass in the committee proceedings:

    Technical Committee on Commercial Kitchen Ventilation (TC 5.10) Technical Committees (TC) are responsible for identifying research topics, proposing research projects, selecting bidders, and monitoring research projects funded by ASHRAE. Information about research programs is discussed at each TC meeting and at the TC’s Research Subcommittee meeting. For instance, the TC 5.10 Committee, in which Brown serves, is concerned with the design, construction installation, commissioning, and sustainable operation of code-compliant commercial kitchens. The committee is also involved with revisions/updates to model codes such as the International Mechanical Code (IMC) and writing/revising ASHRAE Standards. Additionally, the TC develops sessions for ASHRAE’s winter and annual conferences.

    Standards Committee for Commercial Kitchen Ventilation (SSPC 154) This Standards Committee provides design criteria for the performance of commercial cooking ventilation systems in regard to kitchen hoods, exhaust systems, and replacement air systems. Serving on this committee primarily has entailed attending and participating in meetings that occur twice per year.
  • Brown and Miller have assisted with updating sections of the ASHRAE Handbook. The ASHRAE Handbook is a series of four volumes covering HVAC Applications, Refrigeration, Fundamentals, and HVAC Systems 7 Equipment. One volume is revised each year, ensuring that no volume is older than four years. In relation to the committees previously mentioned, TC 5.10 is responsible for Chapter 34 (Kitchen Ventilation) of the ASHRAE HVAC Applications Handbook, which was last revised in 2019. The chapter focuses primarily on kitchen ventilation systems in restaurants and institutional food service facilities. Brown and Miller provided content and graphics about demand control kitchen ventilation (DCKV) systems and variable frequency drives. In addition, for other handbooks, they have provided content on HVAC test and balance commissioning.
  • For further professional development, the Melink employee-owners have attended ASHRAE’s conferences. “Normally we meet biannually for a few days in conference settings, but we have a few virtual meetings in between to vote and discuss topics that are requiring attention in the industry,” said Brown.

Read more about other ways Melink employee-owners volunteer their time and expertise.

Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy: Fighting Climate Change with a One-Two Punch

To invest in energy efficiency or renewable energy? A question often pondered by building owners, design engineers, investors, energy engineers, performance contractors, and anyone in between who has a say deciding how to invest money to make the strongest financial and environmental impacts. In an ideal scenario, one can invest in both efficiency and renewable energy.

Integrating Efficiency and Renewable Energy

When it comes to the materials we use in everyday life, we have all heard the phrase “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” Well, there is a reason why reduction is mentioned first! It can be argued that the most sustainable energy source available is the energy that we never have to use.

Of course, there will always be energy used no matter how efficient a building is. But, in the energy spectrum, renewables reduce the cost for the electricity that must be used. Renewables also offer many other benefits, such as protection against fluctuating energy costs, incentives like federal tax credits, net metering, shaded parking lots… the list could keep going. And research confirms that investing in both energy efficiency options and renewable energy is a smart move. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) collaborated in a 2007 study, reporting that investments in both energy efficiency and renewable energy are essential for the United States to create a secure energy future.   

Boxing gloves

Creating an Energy Synergy

Think about it like this… If a boxer has a great right hook but a poor defense, he may win some fights but could easily lose to an opponent with a solid defense and a timely counterpunch. Combining two strengths to be stronger overall is called synergy. That is when the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. When energy efficiency and renewable energy are combined, they complement each other in a way that can maximize the total impact, both environmentally and economically. Consider this…

Right hook: An upgraded utility plan to reduce HVAC costs.

Left jab: Intelli-Hood®, Melink’s demand control kitchen ventilation system to further reduce HVAC costs.

And for the knock-out uppercut: A solar array made of super-efficient photovoltaic modules that meets the entire energy load of the building (taking into account the reduced energy usage from the previous energy efficiency measures).

And what’s even more of a win? By reducing the facility’s entire energy load, the upfront cost of the solar array is reduced. Plus, the quick payback as a result of the energy efficiency measures creates additional cashflow to help pay for a renewable energy source, like solar array (or even geothermal!).

Accounting for Energy Opponents

But what if? Let’s say that the uppercut was blocked in this scenario because, in many cases, the availability of renewable energy is limited due to geography and available space. For example, in the hills and valleys of Southern Ohio, wind energy is not going to be near as effective as compared to the plains of Northwest Texas.

Or, while solar performs well in Ohio, a building could have very limited space for an array. For the counterpunch here, one could implement new energy efficiency technologies and maximize efficiencies on existing equipment. Then, for the knockout, a smaller solar array like a parking canopy could still be very impactful.

The bottom line? There are many options at play when it comes to the powerful combo of energy efficiency and renewable energy. Together, this combo helps to reduce peak demand charges, which can be astronomically higher than off-peak charges. For example, if a new energy-efficient HVAC system is added to an office building, that building will still see high peak demand charges (although lower than before the upgrade) from the utility. However, capturing a renewable energy source, like wind or solar, can greatly reduce the impact of peak demand charges.

Renewable energy wind turbine power

Winning the Fight on Climate Change

In summary, combining energy efficiency and renewable energy delivers the greatest environmental and economic benefits. Melink Corporation can help building owners, engineers, and designers with both energy efficiency and renewable solutions. We know this combination works from experience, too. With our own Zero Energy Building and another LEED Platinum building, Melink does not just talk the talk, we walk the walk.

Contact us today to protect your business from the volatile energy market, commit to sustainability, reduce utility costs, and fight climate change.

Intelli-Hood in the Indian Market

Melink’s Intelli-Hood® demand control kitchen ventilation (DCKV) system has long been a global product. But, more recently, we introduced Intelli-Hood in the Indian market.

Developing a New Market

We have officially been working in India for 2.5 years now, but it is still a fairly new and developing market for us. Introducing a company into an already mature market with similar products is very challenging. It takes attention, care, and a product that adds more value than its competitors’.

Before committing to the Indian market, we did our homework. We researched the competitors, key differentiators, competing products, and how we could best offer customer support. We put ourselves in our customers’ place to really understand their needs so that we could ensure we had a valuable product and support team that could help them meet their goals.

If we felt our customer service would be compromised by distance or communication barriers, we would not have entered this market. Melink Corporation prides itself on being a customer-focused service company. From the beginning, it was important to have someone on the ground in India to speak with customers, visit sites, and work with the home office in the United States. (That’s where I come in!)

Speaking of the home office, a critical component to entering the Indian market has been the support of the Intelli-Hood’s U.S. team. They have worked continuously with promptness to provide all the technical details that our customers need, which is the biggest boon to earn customers’ trust. I am really thankful for all the team members who supported the launch of Intelli-Hood within my region. Together, we are bringing an end-solution to save energy in our global environment.

Early Success in India

Because of all the behind-the-scenes work to enter the market, we have seen success.

One of our biggest Indian projects that has been successfully retrofitted with Melink’s Intelli-Hood system is a project in the operation kitchen of a large resort. The kitchen contains all kinds of cooking appliances to prepare food for different cuisines, like Indian, Chinese, Italian, etc. For almost a full year, we have continuously monitored the system from Day 1 of installation and commission. With these real-time result readings, we were able to prove the benefits of our product in regards to energy savings and return on investment, which has paved the way for the approval of many other projects.

Here are examples from this project. You can see the energy savings:

Main Kitchen – Fan Speed Profile
1/1/2019 to 12/31/2019
This kitchen includes five hoods and two exhaust fans. With Inteli-Hood, the customer gained an electrical savings of 1,17,496 kwH/year.

Intelli-Hood in Asian Market Case Study example 1

Secondary Kitchen – Fan Speed Profile
1/1/2019 to 12/31/2019
This smaller kitchen includes two hoods, one pizza oven, and one exhaust fans. With Intelli-Hood, the customer gained an electrical savings of 25,077 kwH/year.

Intelli-Hood in Asian Market Case Study example 2

Based on this information, we are working with the client to analyse more data to help them to be more energy efficient and to lower their operating costs.

What’s Next for Melink in the Indian Market?

Moving forward, we are working with our partners to customize Intelli-Hood system designs to meet their site requirements. We look forward to future projects in existing kitchens (retrofits) and also new projects spread across Asia.

If you have a project in India and would like to learn more about Intelli-Hood, please contact me. I live and work in India full-time, and I would welcome the chance to introduce you to Melink’s products. Email me at [email protected].

Becoming an Intelli-Hood Sales Engineer (During a Pandemic)

 

Sales Engineer. These are two words that most of us have a clear understanding of their respective meanings. But what about when they are put together? Well, I ‘m not sure what to expect either, but it sounded like a challenge, and I like those. I’m new to the Demand Control Kitchen Ventilation (DCKV) industry but well-versed in technology and mechanics due to my background. So, when I took the role of a Melink Intelli-Hood Sales Engineer, I felt well prepared.

Then, enter COVID-19

Onboarding plan? Derailed. Customer visits? Cancelled. Installations with field service techs? Not attending. How was I supposed to embrace my role and be a valuable addition to the team? 

What Next?

That’s where my Melink family stepped in. To continue with business “as normal,” we, like other companies, took advantage of virtual meetings, trainings, lunch-and-learns, and other digital tools. These tools were not thought about or utilized even just 10 years ago! As the pandemic unfolded, our work progressed, thanks to these digital tools. I immediately saw the value in my new role and Melink’s value to their customers.

For instance, indoor air quality became a topic of daily conversation. Essential facilities, like grocery stores and hospitals, were now on the front lines. I helped get Intelli-Hood® kitchen ventilation controls into these areas and ensured first responders had healthy air.

You see, Intelli-Hood learns to optimize your kitchen ventilation by using temperature probes paired with infrared optical sensors. The optics pick up on airborne contaminants in the form of smoke and then trigger the variable frequency drives. The exhaust fan’s variable frequency drive (VFD) adjust to the appropriate speed to ensure adequate evacuation of the effluent. Smoke being present does not have to mean that heat is, which is one more way that a Melink Intelli-Hood control system ensures continuous capture of all effluent. As if that was not beneficial enough, the system is also ensuring that more of the pre-conditioned air is staying in the occupied spaces instead of being wastefully exhausted from the kitchen due to continuous discharge ventilation.

Melink Intelli-Hood System

Looking to the Future: Customized Solutions

Pre-COVID-19 and now, I spend each day as a Sales Engineer building customized quotes for our customers’ unique needs. As requests for new construction sites roll in, I work with my Business Development Manager to go through the plans for each site, reviewing the kitchen designs and ventilation requirements, as well as requirements that have been called out by general contractors and food service consultants. Every job requires different exhaust hood types; fan types and horsepower; and temperature monitoring preferences, as well as the possibility of tying the system into a building’s BACnet. All of these items and more are taken into consideration when preparing an accurate, customized quote for our customers.

Thus, these last few months of working in Virtual Corporate America have helped me realize just how adaptable our team at Melink — and our Intelli-Hood controls — really are. COVID-19 or not, these control systems are improving the health and wellness of employees and customers in thousands of locations worldwide, all while being the most energy efficient DCKV system on the market. And the umbrella of Melink solutions extends to other areas, too. When you pair an Intelli-Hood control system with solar panels, a PositiV® unit to monitor building health, and a high-quality Test and Balance plan, you really cannot ask for a more efficient and energy-saving space.

I may only be finishing my first quarter here at Melink as a Sales Engineer, but already I have felt the satisfaction of knowing that what I am doing is making a difference.  We really are making the world a better, greener place, one building at a time.

Why LEED Buildings Make Financial Sense

The University of Notre Dame chose sustainable, LEED-approved construction options and why you should, too.

Recently, the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) awarded the University of Notre Dame with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification for the design, construction, and operation of three buildings attached to Notre Dame Stadium. These building are Duncan Student Center, Corbett Family Hall, and O’Neill Hall. Your next statement may be “So what?!” Why should the folks at Notre Dame care, and why should anyone else involved with owning, managing, and operating a commercial building care?

The answer? Money.

LEED Gold Certification seal from the U.S. Green Building Council

According to research from the U.S. Department of Energy, LEED buildings consume 25% less energy and 11% less water than non-LEED buildings. That translates to lower utility bills. If you could build the same facility but pay 11-25% less in operating costs, why would you choose otherwise? And this isn’t even taking into account all the environmental benefits of LEED buildings!

If the decision is made for the non-LEED option, then that is saying you know you could spend less operating this building, but you want to pay more. You know you could improve the income flow of your building, but you choose to make less. Why? 

LEED Buildings: Financial Common Sense

Perhaps the concern is that a LEED building might cost more to construct than a non-LEED building. Depending on where you are building, there are notable tax benefits and incentives from states and municipalities (AKA free money). Choosing to build a non-LEED building is essentially saying you don’t want free money.

Finally, since a commercial building is an investment, the core factors of occupancy rates, lease payments, and long-term tenants are very important to cash flow. Citing the USGBC, LEED buildings retain higher property values than non-LEED buildings. LEED buildings are healthier for the occupants, and 79% of employees say they would choose a job in a LEED building over a non-LEED building. All of these point to greater demand (occupancy), longer term leases, and higher property appreciation. Money, money, money.

LEED Building infographic from U.S. Green Building Council
Source: USGBC

Intelli-Hood: A Solution for LEED Buildings

As I write this from Melink’s own LEED Platinum-certified headquarters, nicknamed HQ1, and across the street from our newly opened HQ2, which is a Zero-Energy Building, I am very happy for Notre Dame. I am also very PROUD that Melink’s Intelli-Hood® variable speed kitchen hood controls were a part of all the conservation measures that helped them achieve this certification. Within the three buildings that achieved LEED status, Intelli-Hood was installed on eight kitchen hoods. Intelli-Hood is now standard on any new hood installations, as well as retrofits, at Notre Dame.

Notre Dame opted for the sustainable, energy efficient, and financially smart option of LEED construction. What will you choose?

 

Intelli-Hood: Preventive Maintenance Is Critically Important (Not Just in Times of Crisis)

Preventive maintenance is truly important to your business’ operation. In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, many business owners are continuously evaluating their corporate strategies to determine contingency plans. However, as we ride this roller coaster of uncertainty together, it is important to not just strategize for short-term implications of the virus. Now is the time to determine the best steps — like preventive maintenance and reducing the risk of damage to unoccupied buildings — to assist your company on the road to recovery.

And, just like any rollercoaster at an amusement park, the beginning and end have a pinnacle moment. Currently, we are adapting to the changes being implemented to minimize the impact. How we adapt will influence what the pinnacle moment will look like as we return to normalcy.

Of course, it is anticipated by many that financial strains will be incurred by companies across the United States as well as the world. In recent years, the buzzword “resiliency” has swept many energy tradeshows. One thing to add to this — although not glamorous — is the critical importance of executing preventative maintenance on equipment. A few benefits of preventative maintenance include:

  • Maximizing the efficiency of the equipment
  • Reducing downtime cost
  • Avoiding costly, last-ditch-effort service repairs
  • Improving reliability

Therefore, during an economic challenge, it is critically important to the bottom line of any company to have its systems operating correctly.

Intelli-Hood preventive maintenance

Intelli-Hood Preventive Maintenance

Melink Corp has implemented Demand Control Kitchen Ventilation (DCKV) systems across thousands of kitchens as an energy control measure to reduce operating costs. When preventive maintenance is not performed, it can lead to expensive repairs and downtime. Consider these examples…

Systems are designed to “fail safe,” meaning even a simple error can result in all associated fans operating at 100% speed.

One VFD reaches its end-of-life cycle and fails. Instead of replacing the component, Operations decides it is best to bypass the VFD, which now has fans operating 24/7.

These examples have obvious implications to the facility’s bottom line and operating costs.

And taking the idea of preventive maintenance even further, businesses should plan for staff turnover. For example, if a system was installed 15 years ago, the likelihood of the same staff on site is low. Therefore, it is important to have all individuals trained on the equipment to understand standard maintenance operations.

Taking Preventive Maintenance Steps

So how can your business prevent fix-on-fail for DCKV systems and other equipment?

Discuss with manufacturers to see if preventative maintenance services are offered. The cost of a service is low compared to the potential savings that can be lost with a system not operating correctly. The goal is to have a company maximize its bottom line to become financially stable or, should I say, resilient.

Think of preventive maintenance actions as opportunities. Take advantage of the opportunity to complete a preventative maintenance service. This is the time to make adjustments to maximize efficiency and provide training to your team. All this assures your facility’s DCKV system is operating correctly to maximize comfort within the work environment.

We shall all remain hopeful and confident that through working together, we can ride out the roller coaster ride of COVID-19. Melink’s team of technicians is available to help with Intelli-Hood preventive maintenance or troubleshooting. Or maybe you’re wondering if it’s time to discuss a facility upgrade for your aging system. Contact us today.  

Specifying Demand Control Kitchen Ventilation Systems: Top 10 Best Practices

For many of us in the commercial kitchen ventilation industry, we have seen major evolutions in Demand Control Kitchen Ventilation (DCKV) over the last 20+ years. Some have been good – codes once prohibiting automatic variable-speed fans now allow them and often even require them. And some have been bad – several manufacturers have gone down-market to the point their controls are saving very little energy if any at all.

Cook using DCKV with visual optics to adjust fan speeds based on his cooking activity.

The general trend has been positive though because DCKV is no longer a niche but a mainstream solution across the U.S. and increasingly around the world. Running exhaust and make-up air fans at 100% speed all day long regardless of the actual cooking load is antithetical in the sustainability and IoT age in which we now live. As buildings, cars, and everything else get smarter and more efficient, it is only logical that kitchen ventilation systems do as well.

As the original pioneer and market leader of DCKV since the early 1990’s, we at Melink Corporation want to continue helping building owners save energy – safely, cost-effectively, and efficiently. Having installed over 15,000 systems worldwide, we have assessed the most common problems in the marketplace and feel uniquely qualified to provide the following Top 10 Best Practices for specifiers.

TOP 10 BEST PRACTICES

1. Unless the foodservice consultant has knowledge and experience with fans and motors, he/she should consider letting the consulting engineer specify the hoods and DCKV system. The reason is, DCKV is a control system for the exhaust and make-up air fans on the roof. Though the kitchen hoods are ducted to these fans, they are comparatively simple stainless-steel boxes that only contain the rising heat and smoke from the cooking operations. The actual work of removing this heat and smoke is performed by the fans and motors on the roof along with their controls. Foodservice consultants, of course, provide a vital service in specifying the kitchen equipment below the ceiling, and this can still include the kitchen hoods and DCKV system if they have the requisite knowledge and experience of the rest of the ‘system’ above the ceiling. Otherwise, costly errors such as those described below are apt to occur.

2. The DCKV drives must match the fan motor ratings on the roof. If the foodservice consultant cannot obtain the voltage, phase, and frequency information from the ‘M’ drawings, or provide the fan package along with the hoods to ensure a proper match, the wrong drives can be specified and sent to the jobsite. This often causes frustration, time delays and extra costs. Moreover, the DCKV drives should come from tier 1, brand-recognizable manufacturers that have enough confidence in their product to offer a 3-year warranty. These highly sophisticated electronic devices are the beating heart of every DCKV system and therefore should not be selected based on low cost only. Performance and reliability should be the top consideration.

3. The DCKV system must be compatible with the make-up air heating (and cooling, if applicable) system. If the foodservice consultant does not communicate the minimum speed setting of the drives or provide the fan package with the hoods to ensure proper matching, the wrong type of make-up air system can be specified and sent to the jobsite. Not all make-up air systems are capable of heating and/or cooling at low-to-medium speeds and therefore the assumed energy savings by the foodservice consultant will not be achieved for his/her customer. This often causes frustration to everyone involved, and most importantly buyer angst and future bad-will because the purpose in he/she agreeing to buy the DCKV system was to maximize energy savings.

4. The specifier should weigh the risks vs benefits of adding modulating dampers inside the grease ducts for the following reasons: a) Dampers are obstructions inside grease ducts and such ducts are better designed to be completely open for the easy removal of heat and grease/smoke; b) These obstructions add resistance to airflow which force the fan motors to work harder and expend more energy, not less; c) Modulating dampers add another level of moving parts to the system which require regularly scheduled maintenance; d) These dampers are mounted inside the duct and above the ceiling where they are either likely to be damaged by hood cleaners or never seen again and maintained; e) When–not if–these dampers fail, the consequences can be serious if the heat and grease/smoke accumulate to the point of causing a fire; f) These dampers are often used in high-rise applications where only one duct can be run up to the roof and connected to one fan – making the consequences of a fire all the greater because there is more property and human life at stake; g) If more than one damper closes, the fan can cause such a severe negative pressure inside the grease duct that it collapses and renders the entire system unusable and in need of replacement (yes, we have seen this before). Most all engineers agree these risks are not worth the potential benefits.

Please see the photo below of a damper causing almost 100% blockage inside a grease duct. Also see the photo of a hood collar and fire suppression system coated in grease which can act like a ‘glue’ to the dampers above.

5. The engineer should design a dedicated exhaust fan for each kitchen hood whenever possible to improve reliability and energy savings. This allows each hood/fan system to operate independently according to the actual cooking load. It also eliminates the risks of a multi-hood system connected to a single fan which include the following: a) There is no redundancy in the event the single fan goes down due to a fan, motor, drive, or belt failure; b) There is no justification to use modulating dampers inside the grease ducts to achieve energy savings (see above).

6. The engineer or consultant should specify direct-drive fans whenever possible to further improve reliability and energy savings. In the old days, fan and motor pulleys and belts were used to adjust the fan speed to achieve the proper airflows during the original air balance. But today, the DCKV drives can be programmed for a minimum and maximum speed and thereby eliminate the need for these pulleys and belts. This improves reliability because belts are the infamous weak-link in most every HVAC system; and it improves energy savings because belts just create additional efficiency losses in the system.

7. The specifier should consider DCKV systems with both temperature and optic sensors for maximum energy savings on Type I hoods. This is because there are two main by-products of most cooking processes: heat and smoke/steam. If the DCKV system only senses heat, it will not quickly respond to a fast-rising plume of smoke/steam into the canopy. As a result, the hood will ‘spill’ this smoke/steam into the kitchen space and cause comfort, health, and other concerns. The typical way to counter this problem is to program the DCKV system at a high minimum speed of 80-90% with a low-temperature duct-stat so that the fans operate at 100% even with the slightest amount of heat. However, this eliminates most of the fan energy and conditioned air savings that your customers want during idle-cooking conditions.

We recommend both temperature and optic sensors–to detect both heat and smoke/steam. This allows the DCKV system to be programmed at a much lower minimum speed of 30-50% with a wider temperature span so that average fan speeds can be 60-80% and quickly go to 100% only when there is cooking smoke/steam present inside the hood. Though the optic sensor adds a slight cost premium, the additional operating savings will typically more than offset this cost within 1-2 years. If designed smartly, you will only need one optic sensor per hood, not one optic sensor per appliance. And if designed smartly, you will not have to worry about the optic sensor getting fouled with grease over time because it will be out of the air stream and protected by other capabilities (ie. air-purging, auto-calibrating) to ensure maximum energy savings each and every day.

Of course, if the cooking operations are mainly ovens and do not produce smoke/steam, then the optic sensors can be deleted from the specification to reduce first cost. But optic sensors would provide future flexibility in the event new and different appliances are installed. Moreover, optic sensors are fast-acting whereas temperature sensors are slow-acting, and this complementary combination makes for a safe and reliable control strategy. The lessons being learned from Boeing’s failure to use the right number and type of sensors as well as time-tested algorithms in its new 737Max airplanes are in some ways relevant to our industry. A first-cost obsession can be dangerous.

8. The specifier should be willing and able to logically argue against efforts to reduce the first cost of the DCKV system in the name of value-engineering. As indicated, we live in a world that often thinks in terms of first-cost only rather than total life-cycle cost. And this means that sometimes the optic sensors, if not the entire DCKV system, get value-engineered out of the specification. This is another reason why the consulting engineer is often better suited to specify the DCKV system. He/she is typically better able to make an informed argument to the architect and building owner that a well-engineered DCKV system is fundamental to the safety, health, comfort, and energy efficiency of a kitchen and these should not be compromised.

Having said this, we have also worked with highly-qualified foodservice consultants who have taken the time to learn the savings, costs, risks, and benefits of the various technologies and are just as capable of making this argument.

If a first-cost mindset continues to prevail, then the engineer or consultant should rely on the DCKV manufacturer to provide a comprehensive ‘energy savings report’ to show the expected financial payback and ROI based on the pertinent operating assumptions. The architect and building owner need to understand what they would give up in energy savings if they just install a code-minimum, auto on/off system. Fortunately, the world is increasingly trying to lower its carbon footprint – and this means maximizing energy savings, not just meeting code minimums for safety purposes.

9. Specify the DCKV system to be commissioned by the manufacturer or its trained/authorized representative for every installation prior to turnover to operations. It is our experience that too many systems have not been tested to ensure the owners will ever realize the energy savings they have been led to expect. Without this service, countless systems are operating at 100% speed all day long. We have found this problem at many locations where we are called to investigate as an independent commissioning firm. Invariably, the facilities managers state the systems have run this way for years. Verification and commissioning are essential.

10. Specify the DCKV system to have remote monitoring capabilities to ensure proper operation and energy savings for the life of the system. Like a car or any mechanical/electrical system, proper operation and performance are essential to ensuring a happy customer for life. And, therefore, remote monitoring is a highly beneficial and even necessary feature. Unfortunately, very few DCKV systems are equipped with this capability and so the specifier and the customer need to know which ones are and are not. In this day and age every facility manager should be able to ‘see’ how his/her systems are performing online.

If you follow these Top 10 Best Practices, you will not only save significantly more energy for your customers and the world at large, you will likely improve your reputation as an expert and be more successful in growing your business. At the least, be mindful that DCKV systems ‘touch on’ multiple professions and trades and therefore we encourage you to help promote good communication between the foodservice consultant and consulting engineer.

DCKV as a technology has grown leaps and bounds over the last 20+ years. We hope you and your customers fully benefit from all these advancements well into the future.

Contact us here or call us if you have any questions at 513-965-7300.

Intelli-Hood 3 Faults

Is an Intelli-Hood 3 (IH3) system installed in your commercial kitchen? In this post, we will cover common IH3 system faults.

Clearing IH3 Optic Faults

Optics need to be cleaned periodically. Melink recommends cleaning your Intelli-Hood 3 optic sensors a few times each month. If there is a large amount of buildup on the lens or a simple obstruction in the hood, the touchpad will show an optic fault. 

  • The touchpad will show which hood has the optic fault.
  • Verify there are no obstructions in the hoods.
  • Verify that the optics are aligned. You can do this by navigating to “Status” under the Menu, then “Hood Controllers.” Select the appropriate hood controller using the “Next” button, and you’ll be able to check the voltage displayed as actual signal versus calibrated signal (ex. 1.32v/1.67v).
  • If the touchpad displays “Calibrating” or a low signal (0.02v/1.84v), the hardware is working properly but may have an obstruction causing the signal to be too low.
  • Many optic faults can be prevented through routine hood cleaning and system maintenance.
  • Verify that the cables are also connected tight on the hood controller. If your fault says “Emitter Missing” or “Receiver Missing,” it is indicating a possible bad connection or failed component. Check the connector at each optic sensor for a loose plug or, less commonly, corrosion on the terminals.

Clearing IH3 Temperature Faults

Temperature sensors installed in the hood monitor the temperature of the exhaust air.  The Intelli-Hood 3 system can be programmed to turn on and off automatically by hood temperature. 

Signs of a temperature fault include fans running at 100% and the touchpad stating that a “Temp Fault” is occurring. Therefore, it is important to understand that a temperature fault could turn your system on or off at inappropriate times. In most cases, the fault will simply cause the fan to run 100%, which will allow cooking to continue but prevents you from saving energy.

If you experience an Intelli-Hood 3 temp fault…

  • Make sure that the sensors are clean. It is not always necessary to clean the temperature sensor unless there is a large amounts of grease or build up.
  • Check the connections that go from the temperature probe to the controllers. Also, verify that the number of temp sensors match the number of temp sensors programmed. Under the Menu, select “Status (1)” followed by “Hood Controllers (3).” Then select “Enter.” If a temperature sensor is not connected properly or isn’t working, then it will show as “Missing.”
  • Check for any damaged components.
  • On the hood controller, there are different ports that can be used to connect the cables for temperature sensors. Swapping those may help to get rid of the fault.

If your Intelli-Hood 3 system is still experiencing issues, we encourage you to check our other reference documents.

Access Intelli-Hood reference materialsFAQs, and how-to videos. For advanced troubleshooting, contact Melink Technical Support (available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week) via web request or by calling 877-477-4190.

Intelli-Hood 2 Fault Codes: “My system fault is not in the manual.”

In this post, we will dive into specific fault codes for the Melink Intelli-Hood 2 (IH2) system…

Over the years, Melink Corp has designed and implemented three Intelli-Hood® systems: IH1, IH2 and IH3. Each system has its own specific configurations. While all work on the same basic principles, they DO NOT have the same parts or interfaces. Not sure what system is in your kitchen? Click here.

Intelli-Hood 2 Faults

The IH2 reference guide does not list every possible fault. Instead, it includes a code guide, which can be confusing to interpret, especially if the system has multiple hoods.

Please note that everyday kitchen staff should not be expected to understand these faults; the intention is for a contractor or electrician to be handling fault issues.

Intelli-Hood 2 Fault Code Guide

This code guide should be used for diagnosing IH2 fault codes.

F = Fault

1, 2, 3 or 4 = Identifies the hood number, i.e. H-2 means Hood 2

h-1-e = 100%

H or h = Temperature fault

H = Sensor fault code relating to high temperature or open circuit/high resistance

h= Sensor fault code relating to low temperature or low resistance

U = VFD fault
Note: U faults will normally be followed by another code. If you don’t have a second code, the system is not recognizing the VFD, i.e. no power is going to it.

O = Optic fault
o on bottom of display = Low optic signal
o on top of display = High optic signal or saturation

F-PH = Phone line
Note: Either the phone line connected to it is no longer there or the modem itself is bad.

More Information

Read the following for more information about fault codes:
Temperature and Optic Sensor Faults
VFD Faults

For full code troubleshooting details, consult your IH2 troubleshooting guide.

Access Intelli-Hood reference materialsFAQs, and how-to videos. For advanced troubleshooting, contact Melink Technical Support (available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week) via web request or by calling 877-477-4190.