What is BACnet?

What is BACnet
Let’s start at the beginning, by defining the BACnet protocol

Very simply put, BACnet is a communications protocol that governs how your building automation devices work together. Think of it as a language: the rules that guide how devices communicate, just like vocabulary and grammar dictate how we talk to each other. 

BACnet’s special because it’s a vendor-neutral standard. In the days before BACnet era (BBE), protocols were proprietary. Having devices from many different vendors in a single building was impossible, because those devices couldn’t communicate with each other at all: they just didn’t speak the same “language.”

So, you were locked into one vendor for the lifetime of the building. It was impossible — or at least, prohibitively expensive — to switch vendors. You couldn’t exactly replace every single device in the building. That unfortunately led to building owners and managers putting up with less than stellar service, or buying devices based on what was available to them rather than what was best for their system. This image by Peter MacDonald is a fantastic illustration of how challenging that period was.

Illustration of the issues with non-BACnet, proprietary systems: trying to coordinate systems that don't work together. Illustration of how BACnet provides a solution. By providing a foundation that all systems can work on and with.

Learn more about the history of BACnet in our whitepaper, “Why should you invest in BACnet?

This all changed when a group of pioneers created a vendor-neutral, open standard. BACnet revolutionized the industry because it was suddenly possible (and downright easy!) to install devices from many different vendors. This video from Contemporary Controls is a great breakdown of what BACnet is and how it changed the industry forever.

For more information, this Quora post from Joel Bender gives a solid explanation, and this FAQ from Mike Newman also digs into the BACnet basics.

Recent Blog Posts

At Optigo, we love learning about industry trends: artificial Intelligence and machine learning, data tagging, the push towards personalization in our buildings… 

There are many different issues that can crop up on IP and Ethernet networks. 

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that an MS/TP network rife with problems probably has bad wiring. 

In building automation, there’s a growing — and very apparent — need for Project Haystack and tagging. 

BACnet gets compared to a lot of other protocols on the market, including LonWorks, Modbus, and KNX. In this article, we break down the advantages and disadvantages of each protocol.

Recent Projects

Data center expansion with OTI and Optigo Connect

DATA CENTER EXPANSION

Stack Infrastructure is a portfolio of hyperscale computing data centers. OTI completed work on Phases I and II, and returned for the Phase III build-out of a 4-megawatt data hall and brand new central plant. The Optigo Connect network put in place in Phases I and II was expanded on this project. The team achieved quick roll-out of a large, multi-service redundant network using the Optigo OneView management interface. Going forward, the facility management team can use OneView to remotely monitor equipment, manage power usage, and meet up-time goals.

Optigo Connect MR Soluciones The Landmark

THE LANDMARK

The Landmark is a sophisticated mixed-use high-rise in Mexico. The owners wanted to integrate all OT systems in the skyscraper, while maintaining separate networks for each application. The Landmark is the fourth joint project between Optigo Networks and MR Soluciones. Together, these companies provide robust services to meet any challenge.

Australian Bureau of Statistics at 45 Benjamin Way with Delta Building Automation

45 BENJAMIN WAY

Delta Building Automation (Australia) had a big job renovating the Headquarters for the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) at 45 Benjamin Way. The building owner wanted to improve the building’s energy use and increase their National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) score to more than 4.5 stars, out of a possible total of six. Securing the network both internally and externally was a big priority, as well.

Penn State University Optigo Networks Visual BACnet

PENN STATE UNIVERSITY

When Tom Walker looked at Penn State University’s Navy Yard network, he saw huge issues. The system was busy and loud, to the point where the overrun network was bringing down the entire building. Because this was happening on the MS/TP network, pinpointing the problem would mean boots on the ground to segment and test the chain, piece by piece.

Penn State University Optigo Networks Visual BACnet

PENN STATE UNIVERSITY

When Tom Walker first started working at Penn State University four years ago, there were a lot of network issues. Buildings were dropping offline. Broadcast traffic was pushing 90,000 packets per hour. Walker was on the phone almost every single night because devices were down or had to be reset.

 

Torre Manacar Mexico City Optigo Connect

TORRE MANACAR

When MR Soluciones began work on Torre Manacar, they knew they needed a flexible and scalable network infrastructure to support a wide array of integrated systems. Optigo Networks was a natural fit for the massive project, designing a robust network at a competitive cost.

short

SHORT PUMP TOWN CENTER

Short Pump Town Center, an upscale retail center, underwent a complete renovation in 2014. The flexibility of Optigo Networks’ solution meant the retail center’s unknown final design was not a barrier to placing IP surveillance equipment in the field.

BOULEVARD MALL

BOULEVARD MALL

Optigo Networks connected New York-based Boulevard Mall’s security surveillance devices in December 2015, using a Passive Daisy Chain topology.

Visual BACnet tech support team

TECH SUPPORT TEAM

One tech support team at a manufacturer purchased an account with Visual BACnet in April 2017, for technical problems around the world.

Aster Conservatory Green Optigo Connect

ASTER CONSERVATORY GREEN

The Aster Conservatory Green is a community comprising 352 residences across 24 low-rise buildings. The buildings use advanced surveillance and access control technology, including 40 HD video cameras and 60 FOB-access-tele-entry points for access control.