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Ask the Expert: Keeping Your Energy Management System Operating at Peak Performance

Aside from potential energy (and money!) savings, there are many reasons to add Energy Management Systems (EMS) to your commercial kitchen. Among other benefits, utilization of EMS can gain points on LEED and green building requirements and automatically adjust on the fly to changes in your cooking processes.

The American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) advises an EMS should be added anytime a commercial kitchen exhaust system is designed to exhaust more than 5,000 CFM. This recommendation is already being adopted across the country by local municipalities.

But as discussed in a previous blog, it’s important to use an EMS that includes optic sensors, like Avtec’s EcoAzur System.

After my last blog discussing the differences between heat only EMS and those adding optics, I had a lot of inquiries asking how optic beams work in the greasy environment of the hood.

Let’s take a look.

Keeping the Optics Clean

Optic sensors in an EMS create a beam that starts at one end of a hood and passes to the other – from emitter to receiver. When something breaks that beam, the fans are sent to 100% to make sure whatever plume of smoke, grease, or steam that was created is completely exhausted.

That means optics need to be in the capture area of a hood – exposed to all of the cooking effluents, which makes them easy targets for grease.

However, as part of their proprietary design, the blue optic emitters and receivers of the EcoAzur System are sealed by a plastic lens to help keep them safe. These are part of the probe that is milled from a single piece of stainless, which is then threaded into the drop pipe about 3 ½ inches.

This gives it a clean, sleek look and makes cleanup a snap. A damp cloth or paper towel is perfect to periodically wipe the lens clean. Because the lens is sealed, there’s also no special care needed when performing a deep or steam clean of the hood system.

Signal Strength Readings Keep Optics Smart

But what happens between cleanings of the optic sensor you ask? We’ve thought about that too. That’s why the processor that all of the sensors are tied to via simple plug and play CAT-5 cables takes signal strength readings multiple times per second.

It allows the system to learn the difference between a weak signal because a lens is dirty and a broken signal because of steam, grease, smoke, or any other cooking effluents.

The processor then automatically adjusts for the signal strength to ensure the fans are only pushed to 100% when the cooking process requires it. And since those readings and calculations are done constantly, the processor learns when they have been cleaned and automatically adjusts.

Don’t Forget to Keep Your Optics Squeaky Clean

The optics in the EcoAzur System are used in conjunction with temperature sensors. We purposely mount these temperature sensors in the capture area of the hood – by the lights.

There are two reasons behind this:

  • It gets the temperature sensor in the air stream sooner than mounting them in the duct.
  • More importantly, because they are visible, they are more likely to be cleaned.

The other location for these temperature sensors is in the duct collar, where the exhaust ductwork connects to the hood.

So many times, though, out of sight means out of mind.

Just like any other piece of equipment in your home or workplace, these sensors work better and longer when they are cleaned and maintained properly. The temperature sensors are stainless to match the hood and, being mounted by the lights, they are tucked away from normal view.

It’s also important to note that the EcoAzur system is not limited to new projects. It can be retrofitted into existing hoods. Many retrofit installations can be completed in a day, because the optic and temperature sensors utilize quickseals, similar to fire suppression piping. That means welding isn’t needed during installation.

I’d love to talk with you if you would like to know more about Avtec’s EcoAzur Energy Management System. Please feel free to reach out.

Jefferson Kenney
Design & Product Specialist – Ventilation
Unified Brands – Avtec
800-621-8560 EXT 6492
jeffke@unifiedbrands.net

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