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Types of Heating Systems

Question:

Discuss about the Commercial Establishment for Electric or Manual Apparatus.

Heating system is an electric or manual apparatus or means that is used to warm up a house or commercial establishment. Heating systems are a must for every house in colder regions on earth. While, these are used only during winters in other places. Heating systems are also used in commercial establishments to warm up the place for its clients during winters. Another use of heating systems is in industries where a few items might be required to be stored only in warm temperatures. There are a variety of eating systems available today as per the heating requirements. These are broadly classified as two categories 1- Space heating, 2- Central heating. As the name suggests space heating systems are used only to warm up a limited space or small area/region. There are ideal for smaller houses to warm up a particular room or area like living area. Their heating capacity is very limited and don’t suit for larger spaces. Few examples of space heating systems are Ductless Heat Pump, Fireplace, Electric baseboard and Wood Stove etc. Central heating systems, on other hand, are suitable for warming up larger area. These heating systems have very high capacity. This can be used to warm up an entire house, bigger halls etc. As its name suggests here heat is generated at a central facility and then distributed to the entire space to be warmed up. Head distribution can be achieved either by using air or water as heat distribution medium.

In last few years heating systems have become very sophisticated. With a variety of control options for the users they have become very convenient and safe to use. Control systems for the heating solutions have become very important aspect for its users. As user basically use control system only, to operate and engage with the heating systems. This paper makes an effort to plan and design a smart heating system control unit. This will be designed keeping convenient of use as the main idea behind it. This will also be based on the principal on which human interacts with computers so that it serves it purpose i.e. efficient manage and control of the heating system effectively and conveniently.

Gone are the days when heating systems used to be as simple as just lighting up a few woods.  Heating systems have come a long way since. Its uses have also increased multiform, today it’s used for a variety of purposes. Modern heating systems are very complicated and work on very complex underlying technology. Heating system’s control interface, however, should not be as complex as its underlying technology. As while the technology behind the heating system is taken care of by the experts and the users of these systems usually never have to bother about it, it’s the control interface that they need to use every day. Heating system’s control interface is being designed keeping in mind all the functions and features of the heating system. Users should be able to tweak all the parameter and use all the functions of the system. At the same time, this should be user friendly and easy to use. It should also be intuitive. This should be compatible with all types of the heating system available in the market today. And, its pricing should be optimal for the masses to adopt this.

Control Interface for Heating Systems

Objectives of design

Heating system’s control interface should be effective enough to use all the functions of the heating system yet it should be simple and convenient to use. Along with these basic objectives, it should also meet following few criteria as well:

  • Control panel screen should have wide angle display and should be bright enough to be operated under bright light as well.
  • All buttons, hardware or soft buttons on its screen, should be appropriately labeled and should be easy to recognize for its purpose. names
  • It should also be receptive to the feedbacks and user should be able to customize controls as per their convenient.
  • Should be easy to comprehend or easy to operate without users making too much efforts to learn to operate it.
  • It should be completely user friendly and user should have complete customization options for the heating systems and the control system as well.
Scope

Scopes of this paper is to plan, design, and test and finalizes a control panel that can be used with any heating system. This is limited only to designing of the user interface which will be used to control the system. This doesn’t include any hardware development or selection of any internal component.


Project vision

The vision of the paper is to develop a user interface for the thermostat control panel which should be a perfect solution for all heating systems in the market.

Design Process

Stage 1: Heating system’s control systems available in the market will be studied and researched for its features and functions.

Stage 2: All of the desired features of the existing control systems will be shortlisted to be incorporated in this control system. Other desired features will also be zeroed upon; and will be part of the designed control system. Touch screen of the control system will be of standard size of 4*6  

Stage 3: An actual interface would be prepared with the help of appropriate mock up tool for the purpose of testing of the early/evaluation model of the control panel.

Stage 4: Designed early/evaluation model will be tested on the mock up testing environment created in last stage.

Stage 5: Basis of the testing carried in last stage final design of features of the control panel will be prepared.

select zone

temprature Selection

heating

Use cases

Name

Login

Description

Allows users to log in the system

Actors

Operator, administrator

Stakeholders

Owners of the house

Pre-Conditions

Administrator/Operator possess valid ID and password.

Post-Conditions

The user has logged in the panel successfully.

Triggers

-

Flow of events

1.      The user clicks on “Login”.

2.      User enters ID/password

3.      System displays welcome screen (A1).

Alternate flow

A1: Incorrect ID or password, system displays error messages.

Business Rules

·         Each users has only one and only one user ID.

·         No two users can have same login ID.

·         After 3 unsuccessful attempts, login screen gets locked.

(Shan & Seuken, 2007)

Name

Add Zone

Description

User can get new zone in the system.

Actors

User

Stakeholders

Operators

Pre-Conditions

The zone is not present in the panel

Post-Conditions

The zone has been successfully added in the panel.

Flow of events

1.      User clicks on “Add Zone” button.

2.      Users selects the zone.

3.      The zone has been added successfully in the list of zones. (A1).

Alternate flow

A1: New zone is not visible in the interface.  

Business Rules

A zone can be added only once in the panel.

Name

Install thermostat

Description

Let users to control settings of thermostat.

Actors

User

Stakeholders

Home owners, operators

Pre-Conditions

The operator is already accessed the system.

Post-Conditions

User can successfully used the thermostat.

Flow of events

1.      User clicks on “Settings” option.

2.      User sets the temperature and clicks on save button.


User Requirements and objectives

Requirement

Objective

Considerations

Easy Temperature Control

Temperature control is the first and foremost requirement of a control panel for Heating system

Provide an easy to control and intuitive temperature control option. There should also be an option to vary the temperature of particular zones as well as for entire house

Quick Temperature Adjustments

There should also be option for the users of pre-defined temperature settings. That can be easily selected by the user

Provide an option to set a few favorite temperature settings. These presetting can be easily selected at the time of starting the heating system or anytime during its operation.

Pre-set Temperature Controls

Users should have options to plan and set the variable temperature for different hours. Like heating may be high during night or low during the day. Other options like gradual decrease/increase of temperature of a particular zone or entire house, after turning the heating system on

Provide an option for detailed temperature settings for the different zones or for entire house with the help of smart variables

Automatic Temperature Adjustments

Heating system should automatically detect the outside temperature and automatically vary or adjust inside temperature.

Provide a feature for sensor based automatic temperature control options for the user. This will be like auto-pilot option that user will be able to select or deselect any time.

Easy and robust switch on/off and

There should be an easy switch on/off option for the temperature control device and for the heating system as well. There should also me a manual button for factory reset

Provide a single button to turn on/off the device. It should clearly reflect the current state of the button i.e. if the system is turned on it should clearly indicate this and same for system off state. This button should be kept and designed different from other buttons. As other buttons will need to be pressed multiple times while system is ON but this need not be used during operations.  

Factory Reset Options

There should be a separate and easily identified manual factory reset button for reset all the setting to the default levels

Provide a hard factory reset button. This should be carefully designed to avoid accidental pressing of the button. This can be a combination of 2 buttons. Both pressed simultaneously for 5 seconds will bring the settings to it default levels.

Hard Controls and Buttons

There should be minimal hard buttons. All controls should be through soft buttons on the control panel’s screen

Provide very few hard/manual buttons only for the few select options like switching on/off function. Rest all functions or adjustments will be through soft buttons on the control panel’s screen

Smart and intuitive user interactions

Control panel interactions should be in tandem with the modern hand held devices such as tablets or smartphones 

Unser interaction with the control system ought to be a lot like operating mobile phones. There will be basic gesture based operations. Soft tapping, multi or single tapping, flickering, Swiping left or right, Up or down etc. will be used for operations.

Display

Screen should be adequately sharp, adequately bright, high resolutions. And, it should also produce fine color rendition along with good touch responses and color rendition 

Latest available AMOLED display screen will be used with HD resolution display. Screen will have fair brightness and will be usable in all lighting levels. It will also have a wide angle display for operation flexibilities. Touch sensitivity will be as per the industry average and in line with the latest android based phones.

User Friendly

Interface of the control system should be easy to learn and use. It should be kept in mind that this is being designed specifically for home heating systems and elderly/kids will also need to use it who should not face any difficulty using it. Its users might not be computer literate they shouldn’t face issues using it

User interface will be designed to be easy and still seamless and intuitive. There will be tutorials provided to easily learn the operations. Functions will be accompanied by sounds to help elderly or kids operate it. These will also be pop ups for explain the functions. Texts will be big and bold for easy visibility.


Design of the Interface

As the users of this will range from kids to the elderly at the home, who might not be computer literate overall, design of the interface has been kept as simple as possible without affecting the effectiveness of the control system or compromising with its functions. Screen layout has been designed taking inspiration from the android operating system. There will be different cards for different zones in the house. Different cards are stacked horizontally on the screen and can be accessed by swiping left or right on the screen. Main card i.e. the 1st card on the left basically gives an overview of the complete house and the current information regarding temperatures. This may include temperature outside and inside for each zones. This will also give other information like humidity level maintained in the house or outside humidity, energy consumed for select period, no of zones regulated by the system. Other cards to the right are for various zones in the house. These cards can be accessed by swiping right on the screen and then can be operated by activating the on screen buttons by double tap on the screen. Card’s header color is intelligently designed to reflect the temperature the particular zone associated with it. Color’s hue & temperature would vary according to the temperature set for the zone. By sliding up or down on the screen user will be able to increase or reduce the temperature of the zone to the desired level. There is also a help button on each tab to help users with any issues. There are also options to set the temperature control to manual or automatic mode. Also, every card has three different mode’s option to choose from. These modes are 1) Automatic 2) Custom and 3) Quick mode. In automatic mode it will auto detect the outside temperature using the sensor and will adjust the inside temperature accordingly i.e. temperature control is completely left to the smart auto pilot mode. In manual control mode, temperature levels needs to be selected as per the requirement and needs to be adjusted manually every time user want to change the temperature. In quick mode user can select from any of the pre defined temperature levels and system will automatically work towards it.

  • It has been assumed that related resources like software required or needed for the designing the interface would be available conveniently. These software would include Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, CAD etc.
  • Other needed hardwares are also available instantly and adequately for use during designing of the control system. These hardware may include Wacom tablet, Printer, workstations, internal parts, external body etc.
  • Another assumption that has been made is the all required specialist teams are in place for the designing of the control panel. i.e. there are adequate human resources available for executing this. These teams or persons may include engineers, consultants, project handling team, designers etc.
  • Apart from all technical resources all non-technical resources are also assumed to be available. These are as important to begin or execute the project. These non-technical resources may include communication plan and facilities, sponsors etc.
  • It is also assumed that there will be no change in the project’s requirement over period of time i.e. project’s goal will remain same throughout the designing of control panel.
  • All external factors, micro or macro, are also assumed to be constant throughout the planning, execution or post development of the project. These factors would include economic condition, government policies, raw material handling etc. Most of these are not in our control and might affect the project execution severely is there is any changes in it.
  • While the control system is being planned and designed to be used along with all or most available heating system. It has been assumed that heating system doesn’t go a paradigm change. There is no change in the underlying principle it is based on. Or there is no breakthrough project released to outdate the existing heating systems.
  • Also, assumed is that there won't be any substantial risk or issue like demise of a key member which migh affect the project completions.
Success criteria

Success criteria

Justification

The interface should possess all the functionalities of the thermostat.

Users will be able to use the features just like a real thermostat.

Users are able to use the thermostat without any human assistance.

Interface should be easy to use and is having low learning curve

Assessment of the control panel

The designed and completed control panel will be assessed for its effectiveness and for its relevance to its exact purpose. It will also be assessed for its user friendliness, aesthetics, usability etc. with the help of appropriate available evaluation methodologies. It will be evaluated on following parameters for its effectiveness and other desired qualities:

  • Interface will be tested for its user friendliness and for its simplicity
  • It will also be checked whether it gives right and relevant user feedbacks
  • Its navigation system will also be checked and evaluated.
  • Due to a variety of possible users and situations it will also be evaluated for various group people and various situations as well.

System evaluation would be carried in simulated real life scenario on one to one basis. Users or testing agents will have to perform a variety of pre-defined tasks under the supervision of the expert. Test results will be collected and evaluated by the experts. Any feedbacks or concerns will be addressed to improvise the design.


Following lasts or tests will be performed individually or in combination for evaluation of the designed control panel:

  • Xs and Os- It is a comparatively simple testing. It provides outputs which are different from the outputs of the other testing. Under this testing users are required to use the functions or elements which they are comfortable with and are also asked to identify the functions or elements which they are not comfortable of or don’t want to use. These functions are them improvised to make it more user friendly or effective.
  • Path Analysis- Under Path analysis evaluation method users are asked to work upon the product. And, experts follow and reconstruct the path user takes when they are working with the product or system. This charted or recorded path are then analyzed evaluate concern areas where users struggled, took time, got confused to or simply struggled to operate or function. These concern ares are then worked upon and rectified.
  • Think aloud testing- It’s a kind of testing for the product or system’s usability level. Here user or individual taking the test are asked to perform a predefined set of activities. While an expert or observer evaluates user’s actions and takes notes & assigns scores basis various parameters. At the end of the test users are asked for their in detail feedback regarding his/her experience, problems they faced or areas they want to be improved or functions they want to be changed. Think aloud testing provides a very fine understanding of the system’s effectiveness and limitations.

References

Shan, M. & Seuken, S. (2007). An Active Learning Approach to Home Heating in the Smart Grid (1st ed.). Retrieved from https://www.ifi.uzh.ch/ce/publications/Active_Learning_Smart_Grid_Shann_and_Seuken_IJCAI2013.pdf

Gremeau, L. (2012). Service Providers & the Smart Home (1st ed.). Retrieved from https://www.softathome.com/files/downloads/smart-home-white-paper-final-2012.pdf

Meier, A. (2009). 1     1 People Actually Use Thermostats (1st ed.). Retrieved from https://aceee.org/files/proceedings/2010/data/papers/1963.pdf

NIELSEN, J. (2012). Thinking Aloud: The #1 Usability Tool. Nngroup.com. Retrieved 18 May 2016, from https://www.nngroup.com/articles/thinking-aloud-the-1-usability-tool/

Sachs, O., Duvier, C., Cheney, K., & Akers, C. (2012). Field Evaluation of Programmable Thermostats (1st ed.). Retrieved from https://apps1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/publications/pdfs/building_america/field_eval_thermostats.pdf

A Summary of User Interface Design Principles. (1998). Sylvantech.com. Retrieved 18 May 2016, from https://www.sylvantech.com/~talin/projects/ui_design.html

Teo, T. (2010). A path analysis of pre-service teachers' attitudes to computer use: applying and extending the technology acceptance model in an educational context. Interactive Learning Environments, 18(1), 65-79. https://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10494820802231327

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