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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Development, implementation and performance of a model predictive controller for packaged air conditioners in small and medium-sized commercial building applications


Small and medium sized commercial buildings, such as retail stores, restaurants and factories, often utilize multiple packaged air conditioners, i.e. roof top units (RTUs), to provide cooling and heating for open spaces. A conventional control approach for these buildings relies on local feedback control, where each unit is cycled on and off using its own thermostat. The lack of coordination between RTUs represents a missed opportunity for operating more efficient units when there is strong coupling between the spaces they serve and can lead to unnecessarily high electrical demand due to the inherent randomness of unit cycling. This paper presents an overall model-based predictive control (MPC) approach for RTU coordination that includes a description of the control architecture, modeling approach, implementation, and assessment. We provide results of laboratory and field tests that demonstrate the short-term and long-term performance of the MPC solution in terms of energy and demand savings.

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