Controls, Energy + Environment

Building Automation System Connectivity Basics And Misconceptions

Building Automation System Connectivity Basics And Misconceptions


An interesting article by Trane lays out the basics of Building Automation System (BAS) communications and then addresses four common misconceptions. We should first define the protocols and mediums. Protocols are the language in which the building is speaking—BACnet® over MS/TP, BACnet over IP, Modbus, and LonTalk are some of the non-proprietary languages used today.

The medium refers to how the building will communicate—which way to transport the language or protocol? This essentially comes down to a wired (CAT 5/6, twisted pair) or wireless (Wi-Fi, Zigbee™) connection between controllers and sensors.

A major consideration is security for the system. Next, there are four common misconceptions:

  • Misconception #1 – MS/TP does not offer as many security advantages as other communications protocols.
  • Reality: Each communication protocol offers advantages.


  • Misconception #2: Smart buildings require IP at every level of infrastructure.
  • Reality: A smart building does not require IP at every level.


  • Misconception #3: Leveraging IT-managed networks for BAS provides efficiencies.  
  • Reality: In some cases, yes, but not all the time.


  • Misconception #4: You need to pick just one protocol.
  • Reality: It is a balanced approach. You can mix and match.

You can read the full article, here.


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