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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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].
Sales Engineer. These are two words that most of us have very clear ideas of what they individually mean. But what about when they are put together? Well, I was not exactly sure what to expect either, but it sounded like a challenge, and I like those. I am new to the Demand Control Kitchen Ventilation (DCKV) industry but well-versed in technology and mechanics due to my background. So, when I took on the role of a Melink Intelli-Hood Sales Engineer, I felt well prepared.
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?
That is where my Melink family stepped in. To continue on with business “as normal,” we, like most other companies, took full advantage of virtual meetings, trainings, lunch-and-learns, and other digital tools that were not thought about or utilized even just 10 years ago! As the pandemic began to unfold and our work continued on thanks to these digital tools, I immediately saw the value in my new role and especially Melink’s value to its 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, and I was helping to get Intelli-Hood® kitchen ventilation controls into these areas to ensure first responders had healthy air.
You see, Intelli-Hood learns how to best optimize your kitchen ventilation by using temperature probes partnered with infrared optical sensors. The optics pick up on the presence of airborne contaminants in the form of smoke and then drive the exhaust fan’s variable frequency drive (VFD) 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.
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.
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.
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:
the efficiency of the equipment
costly, last-ditch-effort service repairs
an economic challenge, it is critically important to the bottom line of any
company to have its systems operating correctly.
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.
examples have obvious implications to the facility’s bottom line and operating
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Melink’s Intelli-Hood® controls modulate the speed of the exhaust and fan motors with variable frequency drives (VFDs). Understanding and knowing how to troubleshoot your Intelli-Hood VFD will make maintenance easier.
The VFDs receive commands from a central controller, which receives its input from the optic and temperature sensors. This post will cover Intelli-Hood’s VFD locations, connections, faults, and troubleshooting.
If you are looking for information on Intelli-Hood optic and temperature sensor troubleshooting, click here.
The Intelli-Hood’s VFDs are located in a variety of spots, and this will vary from site to site. Some common locations are:
End cabinets connected to the hood
Remotely mounted cabinets located in or near the hood
Maintenance or electrical room where service breakers can be found
Above the hoods where the lines for the exhaust fan motors have already been run
On the roof (Some facilities require NEMA 3R enclosures, which are waterproof and meant for mounting outside the building. Commonly these units are placed near each fan/motor.)
Verifying VFD Connections
Intelli-Hood VFD connections will also vary depending on the facility and types of drives used. There are generally two options: direct control by the Intelli-Hood system via the Cat5e modbus connection or analog control via the Intelli-Hood system.
The modbus control uses our VFD port on the controller and provides 2-way communication with the drive. This allows the actual drive status/data to be displayed on the Intelli-Hood touchpad. If your IH3 touchpad is displaying “VFD Lost Comms,” it usually means the drive has lost power or the connection has been broken, either physically or by some programming change. Verify the Cat5e cable is securely connected at the drive and system controller and if further investigation is needed, contact our technical support for assistance.
If you have an analog-controlled drive, this normally means the drive was either existing or supplied by others and could not be directly controlled by the Intelli-Hood system. In this case, we are telling the drive when to turn on and how fast to go with analog wire connections but do not receive any feedback data showing drive status or faults. In most cases, when a problem occurs with a fan, you have noticed because the kitchen is noticeably quieter or getting hot and smokey. To check the connections, you will need a multi-meter to check DC voltage and continuity. You will likely want to have your facilities team or electrician look into the issue.
Understanding VFD Faults
The VFD is in place to modulate and protect the motor against incoming
power from the service breaker to the VFD and from the VFD to the serving motor.
If a fault is detected, cycle power at the service breaker for approximately 1 minute. The display on the VFD should go blank at this time. After 1 minute, turn the breaker back on and cycle the power to the Intelli-Hood system. If the fault persists, contact Melink Technical Support.
The following are examples of advanced troubleshooting you may be able to perform on site. However, if you are uncomfortable working with electrical equipment, contact Melink or your local licensed electrician.
Over Voltage Faults: Check for water in the disconnect.
Adjusting the deceleration scale on the VFD may help this issue from motor
regeneration on the BUS voltage.
Overload Faults: Check the motor nameplate FLA, VFD Programmed FLA, and the actual AMP draw. If over-amping occurs, reduce the maximum frequency from what is currently programmed. This would suggest that the motor is working harder either due to age, belts that are too tight, or a combination of both.
Under Voltage Faults: Check for voltage on all three phases
to make sure that all three legs are steady and at the appropriate voltage.
This fault may be caused due to a temporary voltage drop from dirty power or
Earth Faults: Check for ground connections. Also check the
motor for insulation leaks and proper grounding.
Special Notes for Intelli-Hood VFD Faults
VFD issues are the most common Intelli-Hood troubleshooting issues. For advanced troubleshooting, contact Melink Technical Support. Depending on the circumstances, issues may be resolved through phone support, remote diagnostics, remote control, or a technician may be dispatched to test and replace components based on field conditions.
This post covers how to check your Intelli-Hood wiring connections and how to replace a cable. There are several connections that compose the Intelli-hood system, making this a broad subject.
As you review the following video and pictures, please note that cable colors vary by Intelli-Hood system. Learn more about IH1, IH2, and IH3 differences here.
How to Check Intelli-Hood Wiring Connections
First, it is important to verify that all the cables are shielded and tight with no corrosion. Also, check that the output and input are not switched.
Next, begin to check the connections. The connections go as follows:
Optic cables are connected from the sensor to the Air Purge Unit (APU)
The APU and temperature sensors are connected to the hood controller and in the correct ports
The hood controller can be connected to another hood controller if
more than one hood is connected to the system. Also, the hood controller is
connected directly to the system controller.
There are also connections that go from the drives to the internal operating processor. If there is a communication issue, it could be from bad connections from the drive or the receptacle. If there is more than one drive, plug the drives one to another in a daisy chain, keeping only one drive plugged to the system controller.
Check also that the motor connections are tight and cables shielded. A loose cable will cause a short especially at the disconnect switch. Water or moisture can also cause the system to trip.
How to Replace Intelli-Hood Wiring
In some situations, replacing a cable can be downright easy. However, applications change from site to site and what should be easy may turn out to be time-consuming. For this reason, it is important that when replacing a cable, you are familiar with the system and how it’s set up. If you are uncomfortable with replacing a cable, you should contact Melink or your local certified electrician.
When replacing any cable in the system, it is important to determine how it is run. Some sites will have cables inside conduit for every run, and some will have conduit only around the hood area. For systems with multiple hoods or hood controllers, there is a cable that will run between the controllers. For these situations, you may need to have your own termination tools, fish tape, and possibly a second set of hands. Some recommend using the original cable you are removing to pull the new cable. Others recommend using fish tape to avoid kinking or breaking the new cable; they adhere or tape it to the old cable, pull it through the conduit, and then use the fish tape to pull the new cable. When replacing a cable, you should be cautious not to make hard bends or kinks with the cable and not snag the RJ-45 connectors on the ends. Breaks in the shielding can allow unwanted noise from external RF signals and nearby equipment to cause faults in the system.
For the Intelli-Hood 3 system, the cables connecting the individual sensors and control boards are made of 24AWG 4-pair, Plenum-rated, and shielded Category 5E cable. These cables are available premade/terminated in several common lengths, as well as in bulk for uncommon runs from our Intelli-hood Technical Support.
Common cables that need checked when you have faults are the optic emitter and receiver cables, the temperature probe cables, VFD cables, and the hood controller cables.
The optic cables and temp probe
cables run to a hood controller and are typically between 5 to 15 ft., depending
on the hood size and hood controller location. One hood controller can accept
up to four temp probes but only one optic emitter/receiver. From the hood
controller to the system control cabinet, there is a “home run” cable. This
cable connects the system controller to the hood controllers and all sensors in
this chain. There can be multiple home run cables for systems with many hoods,
and you will need to verify that you have the correct chain.
The variable frequency drives (VFD) are also connected to the system controller with cables at the VFD network ports. The VFD network ports can have several VFDs on each chain but one home run for each. Normally VFDs are mounted in a bank of sorts and will daisy together in series using the same cable in a shorter length.
To maintain your kitchen’s system, regular Intelli-Hood cleaning is important. If general cleaning is not performed, the Intelli-Hood® system’s optic sensors can trigger a fault and will operate the fans at 100%, thus eliminating any opportunity for energy savings. Below we will cover tips to clean the temperature sensors, optic sensors, hood exterior, and touchpad.
Most system damage is related to improper cleaning. Before any cleaning procedure, it is important to consult your system’s reference guide. The general optic and temperature sensor guidelines below apply to all systems (IH1, IH2, IH3).
Cleaning the Optic Sensors
The most common Intelli-Hood cleaning issue is owners not taking proper precautions to protect the optic sensors. Each set of optics has an emitter and a receiver; these pieces have a resilience coating to protect them from general moisture. For Intelli-Hood to function properly, site staff needs to keep the optics clear of obstructions and clean the optic sensors periodically with non-abrasive, non-corrosive cleaning products. We recommend only using a mild cleaning detergent, such as Dawn dishsoap.
How often should I clean? The time between cleanings is largely dependent on the volume of grease being exhausted. Optic sensors in kitchens with lots of grease-cooking may need to be cleaned several times a month. On the other hand, some kitchens may have sensors that can go several months between cleanings. If sensors get too much build-up on the lenses, an optic fault will occur. The fans will run at full speed until the sensors are cleaned and reset.
How should I clean the optic sensors? Press the push-button latches on the sides of the optic box to remove the cover. Then wipe the lens of the optic circuit board with a soft, damp cloth. Replace the cover of the optic box ensuring that the green cable connecting the cover to the optic bracket is not in front of the lens.
Is hood cleaning safe? When performing a general cleaning of the kitchen hood, hood cleaners must be careful to keep the Intelli-Hood components dry. The optic sensors are water-resistant but not waterproof. The optic box should be sealed with thick tape and plastic wrap before using high pressure water, steam, or other cleaning chemicals in the hood. Hood cleaners should not soak any parts of the system. Harsh cleaning chemicals can lead to scratching of the optic lens. Care should be taken around the fire suppression device (ANSUL pipes) when cleaning; sometimes when cleaning, these can shift the placement of the optic sensors.
Cleaning the Temperature Sensors
Temperature sensors are encased by a round cylinder to help
prevent contaminant buildup on the sensor itself. They rarely need to be
However, if extremely large amounts of grease or other contamination build up on the sensor, the probes should be brushed or wiped clean with a soft cloth. Do not wipe down the temperature sensors with force; it is not necessary for them to be absolutely spotless.
Pressure cleaning is not recommended. If water soaks the temperature sensors, the water will work its way back through the threads, reaching the center of the Intelli-Hood processor.
Cleaning Intelli-Hood’s Electrical Components
Touchpad: The touchpad may be wiped clean, but it should not be soaked with excessive water. If the face is damaged, special care must be taken to prevent water from getting through the label to the electronic components behind the face.
If holes start to wear in the touchpad’s keypad, contact Melink for replacement parts. You may need to replace the labels or the entire touchpad, depending on the damage. If you do not fix the holes, the internal parts may get wet, eventually leading to system failure and kitchen downtime.
If a touchpad is replaced, caulk should be used to seal the backside. This sealant will help protect the touchpad from kitchen cleaners that are sprayed in its vicinity.
Hood Light Fixtures: The hood light fixtures must be kept dry, too. If water gets inside a light fixture, it could create a short on the circuit and damage the Intelli-Hood processor, which powers the lights.
End Cabinet: If an end cabinet is present, take care to avoid getting components on the inside wet. Generally, these cabinets are completely open from the top.
Cleaning the Hood-Top Equipment
On top of the hood, you may find a number of Intelli-Hood components including the air purge unit, hood controllers, temperature probes, and control cables. These components must remain dry.
If a hood cleaner or anyone else needs to be on top of the hood for any reason, they must be careful to avoid stepping on these components in order to keep them dry.
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