Engineering Wireless Sensor Networks for Smart Air Conditioning Control

  • Muhammad Aftab

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


One of the most prominent applications of smart technology for energy saving is in buildings, in particular, for optimizing heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems. Traditional HVAC systems rely on wired temperature regulators and thermostats installed at fixed locations, which are both inconvenient for deployment and ineffective to cope with dynamic changes in the thermal behavior of buildings. New generation of wireless sensors are increasingly becoming popular due to their convenience and versatility for sophisticated monitoring and control of smart buildings. However, there also emerge new challenges on how to effectively harness the potential of wireless sensors. First, wireless sensors are often powered by batteries, which makes it a paramount concern to make them energy efficient. The second challenge is to ensure that the wireless sensors can work in uncertain environments with minimal human supervision. Therefore, in this work, we study a fundamental problem of optimizing the trade-off between the battery lifetime and the effectiveness of HVAC remote control in the presence of uncertain fluctuations in room temperature. We provide an effective offline algorithm for deciding the optimal control decisions of wireless sensors, and a 2-competitive online algorithm that is shown to attain performance close to offline optimal through extensive simulation studies. We also evaluate the performance of our algorithm in a real-world air-conditioning system and show that we can balance the trade-off between thermal comfort and energy consumption of wireless sensors by choosing appropriate control strategy and the way we make use of wireless sensors. The implication of this work is to shed light on the fundamental trade-off optimization in wireless sensor controlling HVAC systems.
Date of Award2013
Original languageAmerican English
SupervisorChi Kin Chau (Supervisor)


  • Sensor Networks; Design and construction; Wireless Communication Systems.

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