Understanding the Technology
Demand Control Kitchen Ventilation (DCKV) is like cruise control for your kitchen hoods. Sensors inside the hood canopy measure the cooking activity levels in the kitchen and send the information back to a processor. The processor takes these signals and sends the appropriate speed information to the variable frequency drive, which controls the exhaust fan speeds.
Two options exist for using single phase motors. We evaluate your application and will supply the necessary motors for your site conditions and equipment.
- Utilize direct signals with single-phase electronically commutated motors to command the speed.
- Utilize a variable frequency drive (VFD) that is capable of inputting single-phase power and converting to a three-phase power output. For these VFDs to work, the fan motor will typically need to be replaced with a motor capable of receiving three-phase power.
Sure thing. It probably wouldn’t be too “intelligent” if it couldn’t. There are several methods available to talk with your building management system about, including BACnet /IP, digital inputs, digital outputs, scalable 0-10vDC or 0-20mA percent speed references. Our applications engineers are here to help. Please send us an email or give us a call at 513-965-7300. You can also view our Bacnet Protocol Implementation Conformance Statement (PICS) on our resources page.
Yes, Intelli-Hood controls both the exhaust and make-up air unit or supply fan in concert with the exhaust to maintain space pressure. Typically, the system will take direct control of the supply fan. However, there are various options available depending on your building’s application. There are numerous analog and digital I/Os available to interface with the sites BAS/BMS system.
We have tested and have the ability to control dampers. But we do not practice it or recommend doing it because the minimum energy savings to be gained does not outweigh the risk and life safety of the facility.
The first priority for a Type 1 grease duct is to extract grease-laden air from the kitchen hood and maintain the safety of the occupants in the building. Any obstructions in the air flow prevent the duct from performing its core life safety mission. And Melink does not advocate the usage of modulating dampers as a control strategy.
By providing us with some basic information, our gurus can provide you an estimated cost range along with an energy savings analysis for your particular operation. We would need the following information:
- Number of hoods
- Hood configuration (i.e., wall, island, etc.)
- Number and size of exhaust collars on each hood
- Fan information (hp, voltage and approximate distance from hoods)
Absolutely. We are comfortable with existing kitchen applications and are accustomed to overcoming challenges that come with them. We’ve worked with a huge variety of hood types and system configurations. Our installations cover nearly every market and location – from the top of a mountain to the water line on maritime vessels. No kidding. Our highest installation is at 11,212 feet above sea level. And sometimes the maritime installations go below sea level, depending on how big the waves are.
Whatever the location, your Intelli-Hood system will be installed by our global team of Melink employed or certified installers.
It depends on the complexity of the project (how many hoods, configuration, etc.). To offer a benchmark, we can install all the sensors for three hoods in one day. Most retrofit installations take place overnight to prevent interrupting the daily kitchen operations.
No, we’re a controls company. Our focus is on the electrical controls, to make your kitchen hood part of an intelligent and demand-responsive ventilation system. Think of Intelli-Hood as an energy savings appliance. While everything else in your kitchen is adding to the electrical load, this system is actively saving you money in your kitchen operations.
We do partner with many hood original equipment manufacturer companies around the globe to offer direct installation packages for both new and retrofit applications.
Each optic sensor has a dedicated Air Purge Unit that supplies positive air pressure from the optic enclosure to help reduce any grease or dirt accumulation on the optic lens. The system also performs a daily calibration to adjust the optic sensitivity based on the level of cleanliness. If the optic lens gets too dirty, the system will visually alert the user to clean the optic lens.
After Intelli-Hood is installed, we will train your staff on its operation and ongoing maintenance. In reality, there will be virtually no impact to your operations considering the intelligence of the system. For a detailed guide to operation and maintenance, please see our O&M manual on our resources page.
If you’re interested in validating your energy savings, we have three tiers of services for monitoring:
- Remote Connectivity – We can program your Intelli-Hood system to “phone home” to our online Intelli-Hood portal, where you will be given a login to view and download performance reports on an as-needed basis. The system can be connected wirelessly or by a hard-wired Ethernet cord. You will also be notified of any system alerts by an automated email.
- Premium Monitoring Service – Let us monitor and report on your energy savings for you. We can be the proactive watchdog of your systems’ performance.
- Preventative Maintenance Agreements – We’ll perform a health check, retrain kitchen staff and perform ongoing maintenance on the system to keep your energy savings at peak performance.
The Intelli‐Hood optic sensors should be cleaned periodically. In applications with high amounts of grease, they will need more frequent cleaning. To clean, wipe the lens of the optic circuit board with a soft, moist cloth to remove grease.
Temperature sensors rarely need to be cleaned and can be maintenance-free in some applications. To clean, wipe the temperature probe with a moist cloth to remove grease.
Understanding Test and Balance
HVAC testing and balancing (TAB or air balance) is the process of ensuring that your heating, ventilation and air conditioning system is operating properly and delivering the correct air quantities at the air devices inside your building. This involves cycling the equipment on to verify functionality, measuring preliminary airflows, checking fan rotations, adjusting fan speeds, adjusting dampers and measuring final airflows to ensure conformance to design.
If you’ve ever been bothered by uncomfortable drafts of air or experienced room temperatures that are inconsistent with what the thermostat reads, then you’ll quickly understand why a test and balance is necessary. In short, unbalanced air prevents you from feeling comfortable. TAB ensures that your HVAC system is performing correctly and you have a comfortable and energy-efficient building. It can mean the difference between comfortable and uncomfortable customers and employees, and between wasting and saving money on equipment operation. It also contributes to healthy air quality by ensuring the proper amount of fresh air in the building. Lastly, you want a TAB service performed to be sure the HVAC equipment in the design specifications matches what was actually installed. You wouldn’t believe how often we see this mistake.
To correct a system that is over-ventilating, fan speeds are reduced and dampers are set to optimally regulate airflow for design performance with as little static pressure as possible. This reduces load on the motors and the energy required to operate them. An air balance also ensures that systems are not under-ventilating, which can lead to performance, comfort and air-quality issues.
Yes, ductwork that is leaking air occurs when it is installed improperly. This is an important issue to fix because it is costing you money by conditioning an area that doesn't need to be conditioned. And because duct is located above the ceiling, you're probably losing conditioned air. This is an issue a TAB service would find and report on. Duct leakage can significantly reduce performance and effectiveness of the HVAC system. It can negatively impact occupant comfort and increase energy use and cost. It is common and expected for general HVAC duct systems to have some amount of air leakage. Sealing for complete airtightness is cost prohibitive and unnecessary in most applications. Somewhere around 5 percent leakage could be considered acceptable for most general duct systems. Greater leakage, such as caused by improper connections and sealing, should be addressed prior to performing the air balance.
Since one subset of the HVAC system can greatly influence the performance of another, all systems within the building should be balanced. This includes, but is not limited to:
- conditioned supply air distribution
- exhaust systems
- make-up air systems
- any hydronic systems (water balance)
If you’re doing any remodels or replacing HVAC equipment.
Relevant codes: ASHRAE 62.1 recommendation is every three to five years for outdoor air verification
HVAC equipment that has not been properly balanced may be working harder or less efficiently than it was intended, which can lead to early failure. ATAB ensures that the equipment is adjusted and operating as intended by the manufacturer and design engineer, helping to achieve or even exceed the expected life.
Melink not only air balances your HVAC system, but we also commission it. We review the design, test the equipment, inspect the installation and check the sequence of operation. Basically, we are there to make sure the owner gets the HVAC system specified for the project. Think of us as a direct extension of your construction or facilities department.
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An air balance ensures that airflow is properly distributed throughout the building as designed by the mechanical engineer, which in turns helps achieve the intended temperatures and comfort level of the various spaces. In an unbalanced building, airflows may be too high or too low, making it difficult or even impossible to maintain proper space temperatures and occupant comfort.
We don’t sub-contract out our work so we have the best grip on quality.
As an independent TAB company, we work directly for the owner. We don’t install, design or manufacture the systems, so we are truly neutral.
The test and balance firm you choose should be certified by a national organization – such as the National Environmental Balancing Bureau (NEBB) – to ensure it adheres to accepted and approved standards. The firm should also be independent (meaning the firm did not install the HVAC systems) to ensure it provides an objective inspection and follow-up report.
The building should also be rebalanced in whole or in part whenever the building is remodeled, when any HVAC equipment is replaced or modified, and if any air balance-related issues are observed.
link to infographic
To ensure that the TAB can be performed efficiently and completely, it is ideal to have mechanical, electrical and controls contractors available to assist with system deficiencies or issues that may arise. Someone who can provide safe and clear access to the roof and spaces throughout the building is recommended as well.
In general, the more advance notice that is provided, the better the planning and coordination of resources, which results in a smoother and more cost-effective project. Lead time can also depend on the program, site type, flexibility and scope of services. Four weeks or more in advance of the perform date is average. Special situations requiring quick response usually can be accommodated.
Test and Balance Report
The quality of these reports varies from contractor to contractor. You may be given a hand-written note or a detailed Excel-based document, depending on who performs the work. The goal is to obtain a report that will help you make better decisions on managing HVAC systems, even from a remote location. Our customers appreciate our reports for being the most detailed and informative in the industry.
There are three core ways to use your most recent balance report:
Identify system deficiencies that were caught during the TAB work.
As a future reference for the owner and maintenance staff of the building’s HVAC equipment, balanced settings, and operating conditions.
- As an aid to evaluate the design and installation of the HVAC systems under actual operating conditions.
- Summary page - This is an overview of our onsite visit (what the technician found and who he spoke with).
- Punch list page - This is a consolidated list of deficiencies, indicating who should fix them, whether they have been corrected, and why it's important to correct them.
- Recommendations page - These items may not be included in the Mechanical, Engineer and Plumbing (MEP) prints, but they are suggestions based on our experience with well-operating HVAC systems.
- Inspection pages (rooftop, above ceiling and below ceiling) - These show where the deficiencies are located on the building layout, indicated by an “X.” There is also an associated photo with each deficiency.
Our team is always willing to provide live training to teach you how to read your air balance report. If you are interested, please fill out a "contact us" form indicating you’d like someone to reach out to you for training.
Read “How to Read a Test & Balance Report” (link to blog)
Assess the current condition and performance of your existing HVAC equipment to determine whether any repairs or replacements should be performed during the remodel. During construction, protect the HVAC equipment from dust and debris, which could contaminate air handling equipment, coils, fans and ductwork.
After construction, remember to have your contractor start the HVAC equipment and clean or replace the air filters. Then contact your TAB firm to rebalance the building as needed.
After the Balance
Understanding Solar PV
We focus primarily on small- to mid-size commercial projects (500 kW-1 MW) and utility scale projects (1 MW+). We also have experience aggregating multiple smaller systems relating to a single landowner or power off-taker into a single portfolio to achieve reasonable economies of scale.
Solar panels are warranted by manufacturers to last 25 years. Considering the panels themselves have no moving parts, they can continue producing enough energy to cover operating costs for up to 35 years or more. Inverters, the equipment that changes the DC power produced by the solar system into the AC power that our appliances and buildings use, have a lifespan of about 15-20 years. After that point, it is expected that new inverters will be installed to take advantage of the remaining life of the panels.
The EPA has created a very effective CO2 avoidance calculator tool for the general public: https://www.epa.gov/energy/greenhouse-gas-equivalencies-calculator
- Because it has no moving parts and the modules last at least 25 years, it is one of the most cost-effective renewable sources for generating energy.
- Solar PV systems can often be easily expanded as your energy needs change, they require little to no maintenance, and they are durable in various weather conditions.
- Solar-powered buildings can rely less on traditional electricity suppliers and fossil fuels to provide them with energy. Solar PV is good for the environment and a safe way to provide your facility with energy. The solar arrays at our headquarters are the main contributor to our renewable energy goals to achieve Net-Zero energy results.
Our knowledge of numerous financing structures available from national financial institutions, as well as non-traditional lenders, is what sets Melink apart from other developers. We joke around and call it “financial engineering for solar,” but that’s truly the best term for it. We work closely with our clients to determine the most advantageous financing structure for each project.
A great example of a solar PPA is the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, a Melink Solar project in 2011. View the Cincinnati Zoo Solar Video on YouTube by clicking here.
Depending on where the system will be located, there can be numerous local and state tax incentives available. Many states also have a lucrative market for the Solar Renewable Energy Credits produced by the system. On a federal basis, the tax owner of a commercial or utility scale solar PV system is eligible to receive a 30 percent investment tax credit, as well as the benefits from accelerated depreciation. We can help you determine whether solar is cost-effective for your application. And you can find other information about state incentives on the DSIRE website. http://www.dsireusa.org/
States with the greatest solar resources, such as Texas, California, Arizona, Hawaii and New Mexico, are the states in which solar PV is the most cost competitive. While those states make sense from a solar resource perspective, solar PV is also cost competitive in other places, including Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. And although the solar resource is lower in the Northeast region of the country, those states typically have high costs of power from traditional providers. And there are lucrative financial incentives available through state legislation.
For most systems, rainfall is enough to clean solar panels. However, the system may need to be hosed off more frequently if it is located in a particularly dry or dusty area. During the past five years, we have gained significant experience providing operations and maintenance services for the solar PV systems we have installed. We offer this service to clients who do not have the capability or expertise to perform the necessary maintenance themselves.
No, most solar PV systems are tied to the grid and will shut down when there is a power outage. If the power goes out and the solar PV system is still sending energy back to the grid, the lines would be considered live and could create a dangerous situation for workers repairing them.
We provide all operating, maintenance and repair services, including materials, equipment, labor and supplies, needed to perform such duties. As such, we are responsible for 24-hour monitoring, remote and field troubleshooting of identified issues, and prompt resolution to minimize downtime.
Our preventative maintenance program typically provides annual site visits to each array for visual inspection. If we become aware of a broken piece of equipment, a Melink representative can typically be dispatched to the site within 48 hours. If a PV module is damaged, we can usually replace it during the next scheduled visit with one of the reserve panels we keep at our headquarters.
In between those scheduled visits, we provide customized response depending upon the severity/impact of the individual issue, including next business day response to critical issues. Our experience with solar asset management began with maintenance of systems within our corporate headquarters in 2007, and we expanded that service offering to our customers several years later. Since then, we have become a certified preventative maintenance contractor for Solectria and added a full-time asset manager to our staff. With technicians located across the country, Melink can ensure fast response and top-quality service for all the assets we manage.
Geothermal heat pumps use the ground as a heat exchanger via a closed-loop water circuit. During the winter, the system takes heat out of the ground and transfers it into the building. And during the summer, the system takes heat out of the building and transfers it into the ground. The ground maintains an average temperature of 55-70°F depending on your location. So this is 25-50 percent more energy efficient than conventional HVAC systems using air-source condensing units for cooling and fossil fuels for heating.
Geothermal technology is proven, reliable and efficient. It is the most energy efficient and environmentally friendly way to heat and cool a building, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Geothermal has been around for decades. But a lack of awareness of its benefits and proper design of the system has led to slow growth. Melink has utilized geothermal heating and cooling in its Net-Zero Energy headquarters for the past 10 years. Our geothermal system is the biggest contributor to our energy-efficiency goals. We would not have achieved Net-Zero Energy status without it.
Geothermal HVAC works for us, and we want to share the opportunity! Melink plans to mainstream geothermal HVAC by reducing the installation cost with innovative products such as the Manifest pump station. Our vision also includes educating building owners, architects and engineers about the benefits; providing engineering services; and offering financing to help cover the upfront cost and provide a positive cash flow.
Switching to Geothermal
Geothermal will save 25-50 percent on HVAC costs and slash your yearly maintenance cost. It will also minimize equipment replacement costs because the ground loop has a lifetime of more than 50 years. Plus, site aesthetics can be improved without the need for a cooling tower.
For building owners, Melink can provide a turnkey solution that involves design, equipment, installation, commissioning, financing, maintenance and monitoring.
We are also offering these services a la carte to architects, engineers and energy service companies.
It is a proprietary packaged pumping station designed to increase energy efficiency with our patented ground loop bypass valve. The Manifest Pre-Engineered Pumping Station comes in standard package sizes for easy selection by engineers. It is simple for mechanical contractors to install, with plug-and-play electrical and plumbing connections. This web-enabled pumping system also allows for remote monitoring of system performance.
Melink can help you determine the financing option that is best for your situation. Typical financing solutions are third-party financing and Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE). We will pursue a more creative financing method if necessary.
K-12 schools are eligible for HB-264 and Certificates of Participation Financing.
For more information on PACE financing, visit http://www.pacenation.us/about-pace/
On a federal basis, the owner of a commercial geothermal system is eligible to receive a 10 percent investment tax credit, as well as the benefits from accelerated depreciation (including 50 percent bonus depreciation). State incentives can be found on the DSIRE website. Geothermal systems are also typically eligible for energy-efficiency rebates from utility companies.
It is critical to have the system commissioned by a third party to ensure the system was installed per the engineer's design. If it is improperly installed, identifying and assessing problems after installation will be very costly and difficult. This can be avoided with Melink’s third-party commissioning. We will ensure the ground loop is installed correctly by verifying borehole spacing, depth, grout thermal conductivity, and ensuring the system is flushed of debris and purged of air.