Building Management Systems are key components of all modern buildings. We can see them being implemented in office buildings, hospitals, industry, or even residential buildings to maximize comfort and energy efficiency. Many reports have pointed out the relationship between air quality (mainly CO2 concentration) and productivity, and, of course, the recent Coronavirus crisis has only increased the need for a healthy living and working environment.
There are numerous subsystems that can be connected to a BMS, from HAC systems monitoring duct temperature, pressure, and humidity, to fume and dust collection, central vacuum systems, hot and cold water systems, and electrical monitoring and consumption. These are usually sensors and actuators provided by multiple manufacturers. The question then arises: how do they talk to each other
BACnet stands for Building Automation and Control Network. It is a communication protocol standard (ASHRAE, ANSI, and ISO 16484-5) specifically designed to provide a way to integrate building control products made by different manufacturers. BACnet applies to products made for HVAC control, lighting control, fire and life safety systems, and other building automation functions.
BACnet defines a set of objects that can be assigned to any specific device. These objects are based on different predefined object types (IO inputs and outputs, analog inputs and outputs, accumulators, averagers, events) and define properties of the device (temperature, relay status, alarm threshold).
Beyond the protocol, BACnet also defines the physical media over which these messages are transmitted. There are different options here, but the two most common ones are BACnet-IP over Ethernet and BACnet-MS/TP over a twisted pair cable. As you can see this means that all BACnet devices expect some kind of physical cabling to send the data. This means that deploying a BACnet solution can be expensive, especially if the cabling requirements are not met beforehand.
LoRaWAN® on the other side makes it very easy to deploy autonomous devices all over the place since you normally do not need any kind of cabling. So, why not mix the two?
LoRaWAN to BACnet
At RAKwireless, we have been working on a service that connects to a LoRaWAN Network Server and publishes the messages as if they originated from a BACnet device. This way, you can easily deploy any LoRaWAN-compatible device on your facility and add it to your BACnet network as if it was a native BACnet component.
Although we have created the LoRaWAN to BACnet service with the WisGate Connect in mind, the service is not tied to any specific hardware. We have encapsulated the service in a Docker image that's compatible with AMD64 and ARM64 architectures so it's pretty much compatible with any computer o SBC, including our WisGate Connect or WisGate Developer gateways.
If you are using a WisGate Connect or a WisGate Developer with LoRa capabilities, you can deploy the LNS locally for a complete standalone solution.
With the LoraWAN to BACnet service, you can quickly deploy a network of wireless sensors on your facilities and have them talk to your existing BMS server quickly and without hassle.
BACnet to MQTT bridge
A second service for BACnet compatibility we have been working on is BACnet to and from MQTT. MQTT is a PubSub protocol that's at the core of many IoT solutions out there. It provides a messaging solution that's perfect for integrating different devices and services.
If with the LoRaWAN to BACnet service we aim to integrate LoRaWAN devices into an existing BACnet network, here our goal is to provide the means to integrate any BACnet device with a third-party application using MQTT. Moreover, BACnet integration is actually only the first step towards a more global vision of integrating different BMS and industrial protocols using MQTT as the "glue" between them and third-party applications.
Interested in our BACnet solutions?
RAKwireless being a hardware company, our software solutions are defined as building blocks for system integrators. If you are interested, both the LoRaWAN to BACnet and the BACnet to MQTT Bridge services are currently available on demand for you. If you want to deploy them on your system or give them a try, contact us for further information.