Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Engineering (Research)


Electronic Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Tom O'Mahony


The focus of this research is to design an improved heating control system for a class of older energy inefficient dwelling to produce an improved living environment. Prerequisites for such control are sensors and models. Commercial sensor nodes enabled a multi-zone heating system to be considered. While the accompanying sensor node software was functional, it was not suitable for real-time control and was modified to achieve same. Once a prototype was developed and tested in the laboratory, it was deployed to a two-story residential dwelling in Cork city.

The requisite mathematical models describe the heat transfer characteristics for a particular zone. The wireless sensors were used to measure actual temperature variations and this data was used to identify a process model, thus a novel approach to modeling and control system design for energy efficiency is presented. A number of open research questions regarding the interaction between zones and the influence of external temperature conditions were posed and answered in this thesis. A linear model was developed based on a two-zone system, incorporating a disturbance model that is at least as accurate as any presented in the available literature to date. This is a significant contribution given the relative simplicity of system identification compared with, for example, finite element analysis models. Controller design and analysis is based on this model. A pre-emptive controller uses external temperature variations to maintain a user-specified thermal profile. The technology has been tested in real-time in a prototype cell. Controller validation is limited to simulation scenarios for reasons detailed in Chapter 5. Despite this limitation, it is evident that the combination of wireless and control technologies enables the compromise between comfort levels and energy saving to be negotiated in a systematic manner and the work detailed in this thesis paves the way for a case-study to investigate this technology’s ‘green’ potential. iv

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