The experience guests have during their hotel stay is pivotal in determining customer satisfaction, loyalty, and future revenue opportunities. As such, hotels invest significantly in amenities and technology to deliver personalized, seamless, and positive stays. One area garnering attention is the implementation of smart time lag relay technology to optimize guest room controls.
What is a Time Lag Relay?
A time lag relay is a type of relay where there is an intentional delay between when the relay is energized and when its contacts close. The time delay can range from fractions of a second to several minutes depending on the relay’s design and settings. Time lag relays are an important component in protection schemes and control circuits where timed sequencing of events is necessary.
Time lag relays contain a timing mechanism that activates after the relay coil is energized. Common timing mechanisms include clockwork escapements, pneumatic dashpots, fluidic delay lines, thermal bimetallic strips, and electronic timing circuits. The timer controls when the relay contacts change state after energization. The delay prevents instantaneous switching and provides a timed output.
In a hotel setting, time lag relays can be incorporated into the guest room control systems to provide more intelligent and automated control of lighting, HVAC, curtains, and other in-room electronics. The time delay functionality allows actions to be scheduled and timed precisely rather than occurring simultaneously.
I purchased this relay with a built-in time-on delay to enhance the performance of my electric fans and air compressors in my Camaro. The purpose was to prevent them from coming on immediately, reducing the load on the battery during startup. I’m thrilled to say that it works flawlessly, giving my car a smoother and faster crank without any issues.
The wiring setup for this relay is crucial as it is polarity-sensitive, unlike a standard basic relay. Once properly wired, it functions well, although there is one minor flaw. The claimed 10-second delay falls short by 5.5 seconds, with the load energizing consistently in just 4.5 seconds. Several other reviewers have also reported the same discrepancy. Despite this reduced time, the relay performs its intended function effectively.
In terms of usage, I employed this relay to control the glow plug operation of my diesel engine, and it worked perfectly. The delay was accurate, allowing the glow plugs to warm up before starting the engine, reducing strain on the batteries.
Furthermore, I utilized this relay to add a longer delay to an electromagnetic lock for my gate. However, I encountered some challenges as the trigger signal needed to be continuously activated for 10 seconds before the relay switch was engaged. Unfortunately, my gate control only provided a 1-second trigger, rendering this relay unsuitable for my specific application. It’s worth noting that this was not the intended purpose of the relay, but I had assumed it would function differently based on the product description.
Regarding installation, it’s important to note that the relay requires proper wiring with specific pin configurations. Pin 30 connects to constant 12V power, Pin 85 serves as the relay ground, and Pin 86 receives the 12V trigger to activate the relay and timer. Pin 87 is normally open, providing 12V until after the 10-second delay, while Pin 87a is normally closed, with power applied once the trigger voltage is supplied to Pin 86. The power to Pin 87a expires after the 10-second delay, switching the power to Pin 87.
This relay proved useful in protecting my car cooler, ensuring it doesn’t activate immediately upon engine startup. It adds a delay that allows me to get my vehicle started before the cooler starts drawing power from the battery.
I also appreciate the relay’s versatility. It can be utilized for various purposes, such as delaying the operation of engine cooling fans and air compressors. If your fans draw more than 30A, you can use this relay to delay the current to the coils on your existing relays.
In terms of durability, the relay appears to be heavy-duty and well-built, emitting a solid click when activated. However, it lacks a mounting tab for secure chassis attachment, which is a minor drawback.
Challenges with Current In-Room Controls
Many hotels still utilize simple switches, buttons, and basic remote controls for in-room systems. This leads to a disjointed experience for guests as they must manually control each system separately. For example, they would need to turn on lights at the switch, adjust the thermostat, and then press buttons to lower shades and activate entertainment systems. This piecemeal approach is inconvenient.
It also results in energy waste if guests forget to turn things off when leaving the room. Lights, electronics, and HVAC may run unchecked while rooms sit vacant for cleaning. Additionally, there is often a noticeable delay between pressing a button and a device responding. For example, activating a blackout shade motor can take 10-20 seconds to fully lower the curtain. This lag is due to mechanical limitations and having all motors start simultaneously on the same circuit.
These challenges reduce guest satisfaction and operational efficiency for hotels. Utilizing smart time lag relay technology can overcome many of these issues.
Benefits of Smart Time Lag Relays for Hotels
Integrating relays with programmable time delays into in-room controls provides several key benefits:
Personalized Room Automation
Relays allow guest room controls to be programmed and automated based on individual preferences. For example, lighting scenes tailored to reading or watching TV can be activated on a schedule or through a single control.
Curtains and shades can be timed to automatically open or close at sunrise/sunset. HVAC can be ramped up ahead of guest arrival times. Door locks can disable automated controls when guests leave the room. These create a more thoughtful experience than manual operation.
By automating device schedules with time lag relays, room controls can be fine-tuned for maximum efficiency without sacrificing comfort. Lights, curtains, and HVAC can activate only during occupied times and avoid wasting energy when rooms are vacant. Door switches cut power when rooms are unrented.
Additionally, relays prevent the voltage spikes that occur when all loads turn on simultaneously. By sequencing activations, in-rush current is reduced for greater efficiency. Smart metering can track savings results.
Relays allow motors and devices to be turned on in a staggered sequence versus all at once. Opening shades sequentially versus concurrently results in a softer, quieter experience. Guests are not disturbed by the loud hum of simultaneous motor starts. This enhances relaxation and sleep quality.
Increased Guest Satisfaction
With smart automation and scheduling, rooms feel more thoughtful, comfortable, and attuned to guest needs. Natural light floods the room in the morning while blackout shades activate before bedtime. The experience is seamless without guests needing to control individual devices.
Satisfaction improves when technology anticipates needs versus requiring manual operation. Surveys can track guest feedback on the relay-powered controls.
Extended Equipment Lifespan
Relays alleviate the simultaneous starts that strain and wear down equipment. Motors and devices last longer when activated incrementally versus concurrently. This reduces maintenance costs and the need for replacements. Mean time between failures (MTBF) can quantify increases in equipment lifespan.
Improved Room Readiness
By triggering sequences ahead of check-in times, relays ensure rooms are illuminated, climate controlled, and ready for arriving guests versus sitting cold and dark. This saves on labor costs for turn services and enhances the welcome.
Sophisticated in-room automation gives properties a competitive edge in attracting technologically savvy guests. For chains, smart controls can be a brand differentiator that boosts market share.
Time lag relays seamlessly integrate into building automation systems, remote controls, and interfaces like tablets or smartphones used to control rooms. The timing functionality works consistently through various platforms.
Compared to manually operated switches, smart relays enable greater functionality and automation while still providing intuitive control. Guests can easily override preset schedules as needed. This balance maximizes simplicity and personalization.
Implementing Smart Time Lag Relays In Guest Rooms
While the benefits are clear, effectively implementing time lag relay technology requires careful planning and design. Here are best practices to follow:
Conduct an Audit of Existing Systems
Before introducing new technology, audit the property’s current guest room systems. Document all lighting fixtures, switches, motors, existing relays or controls, wiring, and electronic capabilities. This establishes a baseline to strategize upgrades.
Prioritize Rooms and Systems
Determine which guest room types and systems should adopt relay technology first based on impact, cost, and effort. Piloting relays in premium suites or on a single floor helps test capabilities before expanding property-wide. Lighting, shades, and HVAC typically provide the most value if upgraded first.
Select User-Friendly Relays
Choose relays that are compact, quiet, energy efficient, and provide timing resolution to the fraction of a second. Units that can be programmed remotely via software offer more flexibility compared to manual setting of delay times. Opt for relays with self-diagnostics and testing capabilities.
Map Electrical Loads and Circuits
Account for all the devices and loads controlled by each circuit in the room. Use this mapping to stagger relay activation times to prevent voltage spikes or overloads. This also ensures proper load balancing across circuits. Add more circuits or larger gauge wiring if needed.
Implement in Phases
Phase in relays incrementally to allow testing and adjustments. Begin by installing a few pilot rooms, then expand to full floors before eventually deploying property-wide. Gather guest feedback during phased implementation to improve configurations.
Educate hotel staff on the purpose, operation, programming and maintenance of new relays. Provide clear instructions on how relays enhance the guest experience and optimize efficiency. Ensure maintenance teams can troubleshoot issues. Proper training ensures maximum value from the investment.
Plan Retrofits for Low Occupancy
Install relays during periods of low occupancy to minimize room downtime. Coordinate with marketing to avoid relay installation during peak booking seasons.
Design Backups and Redundancies
Incorporate backup relay controls and secondary circuits to keep systems operational if primary relays or power supplies fail. This prevents disruptions to the guest experience.
Ensure Sufficient Technical Support
Verify that relay vendors or internal teams have sufficient technical expertise to program, integrate, and provide ongoing support for the new technology. Relying on outdated knowledge can lead to subpar implementations.
The Guest Experience of the Future
Hotel brands like Hilton and Marriott already offer mobile apps allowing guests to control in-room features from their smartphone. The addition of smart time lag relays takes this a step further by making rooms more automated, effortless, and attuned to occupant needs.
Offering guests simple voice controls over room features through AI assistants will also become more commonplace. Relays enhance the seamlessness of these interactions by timing device activations appropriately in the background. No need to memorize specific commands.
As hotels increasingly integrate smart home technology and the internet of things, time lag relays will provide the essential timing functions to synchronize these systems. Guests can look forward to enjoying stays where lighting, temperature, ambience, and entertainment bend to their preferences and schedules automatically.
Motion sensors will activate controls when guests arrive and deactivate them when rooms are vacant. Doors will unlock as guests approach and alerts will notify staff of arrivals and departures. Relays make such conveniences effortless.
Hotels that embrace relays today will deliver the intelligent, personalized rooms guests will expect tomorrow. Those lagging in adoption may be perceived as outdated and inconvenient.
While the end-user experience matters most, relays must also deliver on technical specifications to operate reliably within room systems:
Power Handling – Relays must withstand the voltage and current demands of the connected loads without overheating or degrading performance. Ratings of up to 20 amps at 250VAC cover most guest room applications.
Switching Arrangements – Relays come in SPST, SPDT, and DPDT configurations to match the required switching. Design the circuits to work with the selected arrangement.
Timing Resolution – Relays with 1 millisecond resolution provide enough precision for guest room control scenarios. Units with wider timing increments may not offer enough variability.
Input Triggers – Relays can activate based on voltage signals, current thresholds, temperature levels, resistance changes, or digital commands. Select trigger types suitable for the activation sources.
Electrical Noise – In sensitive circuits, choose relays with high immunity to electrical noise that could cause inadvertent switching or timing errors. Noise filters may be required in some cases.
Coil Supply – Match coil supply voltages to the available power sources in the room. 12VDC or 24VAC coils are typical. Ensure power supply capacity for multiple relay coils.
Expected Lifetime – Lifecycles exceeding 100,000 operations ensure relays function reliably throughout their service life with minimal maintenance needed.
Indicator Lights – Illuminated indicators confirming relay status can simplify troubleshooting during installation and maintenance. Choose relays with LED or neon indicator options.
Time lag relays present a compelling opportunity for hotels to enhance guest comfort, satisfaction, and operational efficiency. By alleviating the need for manual control of disparate room systems, relays create a more thoughtful, responsive, and automated guest experience. With expanded smart room integrations on the horizon, relays provide essential timing functionality to maximize convenience while saving energy and costs.
As hotels undergo renovations, incorporating time lag relays into their designs ensures they can meet the needs of today’s guests while investing in the technology of the future. Careful specification and integration of relays will allow properties to stand out from competitors as leaders in innovation and service. With the right strategy and technology partners, hotels can confidently transition to automated guest room controls that exceed expectations. The result will be higher satisfaction, efficiency, and revenues for years to come.