Wireless-enabled HVAC sensors are breathing new life into the building tool at their disposal. The push comes as concerns over energy efficiency boost the interest in new technologies that solve the age-old problem of heating and lighting an empty room. According to a new market data study from ABI Research, spending on wireless-enabled sensors grew by more than 80 percent in 2010, no small feat in an industry that tends to shy away from change.

“HVAC represents the key market and opportunity for wireless building automation sensors and controls, but the technology will push to replace wired systems across a range of applications including fire and safety, lighting, and access control,” says principal analyst Jonathan Collins.

The report predicts that wireless sensors will account for 8 percent of the commercial buildings controls market at a market value of more than $110 million by 2016. “Despite the uptake of additional sensors to monitor a growing list of applications, total BAS contract spending will skew increasingly toward software and services and away from hardware,” says practice director Sam Lucero. “The value and complexity within a BAS will reside in the distributed control and management of the system.”

And although efficiency-minded homeowners will likely tune into energy-saving options like motion-sensor enabled HVAC systems, commercial buildings, with their open floorplans hold even more promise. Wireless technology will replace wired systems not only in retrofit deployments but also in new building environment functions, according to the report. For example, wireless sensors will help HVAC systems respond to room occupancy or instruct lighting systems to intensify or dim depending on the amount of natural light available at any given time.

With this in mind, field service contractors have a new clean energy solution to offer energy-conscious customers looking to plug into the expanding smart grid.

Read more on The SmartVan about the smart grid.

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ABOUT Sara Suddes

San Francisco-based contributor Sara Suddes writes frequently about small business, the economy and technology.