The iconic Sinclair building in Fort Worth, Texas will become the first Marriott Autograph hotel to use Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology to improve energy efficiency and drive occupant experience.
The much-awaited hotel project scheduled to open in June this year will use PoE technology and Bluetooth mesh to monitor guest room temperature, occupancy, door entry locks, shades, minibars and lighting throughout the 16-floor hotel.
The decision to use PoE powered lighting was driven by the need to lower energy consumption costs and enhance occupant experience, says Farukh Aslam developer, founder and managing partner of Sinclair Holdings.
“While most people know that LED lights are far more energy efficient what they don’t know is that all LED lights installations require a driver to convert AC power into low voltage DC which causes significant energy loss,” said Aslam.
When the conversion from AC to low voltage DC takes place between 9% to 14% of energy is lost in the form of heat emitted from light bulbs resulting in higher cooling costs. And in a hotel like Sinclair, the result is reduced tonnage in cooling capacity which lowers HVAC cooling costs by 5% to 10%.
PoE powered LED lighting also eliminates the problem of driver burnouts which often occur when AC to DC
conversion takes place, says Aslam.
“When the LED lights burn out it’s not the LED strip it’s the driver that burns out in most cases. By using PoE technology which comes with its own external driver you eliminate this problem,” Aslam said.
This can amount to savings in millions of lost dollars each year across commercial buildings which have radically different HVAC needs compared with residential properties.
In a comparison of fixed installation costs between PoE powered LED and AC LED installations, the cost of installing the PoE LED lighting system was 10% less due to lower labor and material costs.
Most cities do not require a licensed electrician to install low voltage infrastructure such as data cabling and CCTV.
But Aslam says the real savings are not in the fixed costs and instead from the ongoing energy savings derived over time that can easily reach 30%-40% by using higher efficacy LEDS lights and VRF air conditioning systems.
Benefits of PoE technology drive occupant experience
Beyond energy savings, there are significant occupant experience enhancing benefits to PoE technology.
“It’s a truly smart light fixture and can take actions based on certain parameters. We can tell a light fixture to power on and off as needed. Using machine learning it can learn when to turn lights on and off based on the habits of occupants,” said Aslam.
Sinclair’s PoE systems enable the hotel to monitor room temperature, lighting, shades, and minibars to make sure the room’s environment is perfectly suited to guest preferences and with the Bluetooth mesh technology the property is able to monitor occupancy.
“In a south facing room in Texas providing an optimal temperature is essential to the guest experience. We can tell if a guest is no longer in the room and track them leaving the hotel. Once a guest has left the property, the system can automatically turn off lights and bring down the shades. Once the guest re-enters the hotel again the temperature quickly sets back to their preference,” said Aslam.
The entire PoE system uses Cat5e cabling which is well suited for transferring data in smart buildings. The nearly 4,000 light fixtures are connected together to edge servers that monitor and control each individual fixture.
Aslam says they are also enhancing the architecture by bringing the server on each floor and backing up into the cloud so the company will never lose data.
“There is a significant difference between a network-based infrastructure compared with the traditional AC powered infrastructure. In a network infrastructure you don’t have traditional electrical panels with breakers instead you have soft breakers. When there is an issue rather than going to a physical breaker panel inside an electrical room, you log in from a computer to turn the power back on using a software command,” said Aslam.
The network infrastructure enables remote monitoring down to a light fixture. Building engineers can now receive alerts on their smartphone about issues ahead of time which will enable the hotel to reap massive savings when it comes to preventive maintenance.
“If a bulb is out in a bathroom it will send you a message. This significantly enhances the service and experience for guests and occupants,” Aslam added.
While PoE lighting systems offer many advantages Aslam says owners should expect to regularly upgrade.
“People electing to go this route must know that they will need to update and upgrade it, ” said Aslam providing the example of the Cisco CDB switches currently in the property which will need to be upgraded over time.
Aslam says he is eagerly waiting for customer experience feedback from the project once the property opens to the public.
“This is the first time a Marriott hotel is using this technology. As we open the doors we look forward to feedback from our customers” Aslam said.