In 2006 Kevin Hoover, a dairy farmer in Oley, Pennsylvania, had an idea for a better way of controlling the temperature in his cow barns. In the northern states of the US, the dairy cow barns usually have large side-wall curtains that can be opened and closed to control the amount of air flow, and thus the temperature. They also have large fans, and sometimes water sprinklers to lift the humidity. The best systems at the time used a simple thermostat to regulate motor driven curtains.
Kevin felt there was a better, smarter way, so he hunted around for an electronic controller that he
could use to make his intelligent control system. He surmised that by measuring the inside and outside
temperatures, he could get closer to optimum temperature regulation. He therefore needed a controller
that provided temperature measurement capability, plus a user interface, at a reasonable price.
He discovered SPLat, and bought an MS120 with a
temperature measuring add-on board, and set out to
teach himself how to program it (having never done any kind of programming before).
Fast forward to 2012, and Kevin has founded a company, AutoVent LLC. AutoVent make a range of products
concerned with cow barn climate control. The flagship product, VentGenie, has been installed in barns
right across the dairy farming states of northern USA. VentGenie integrates measurements of inside and
outside temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, and precipitation. Using this data and
sophisticated algorithms designed by Kevin from extensive research into cow comfort versus milk yields,
the system performs optimal control of the barn curtains, fans and sprinklers. VentGenie can fine-control
up to 24 curtain sections, 50 fans, and 6 sprinklers. Once set up is essentially fully automatic year-round.
AutoVent make a number of other products related to climate control in barns, such as controls to protect
Big Ass Fans from damage under high wind conditions. To this end we initially made the HD8 controller for
AutoVent, to provide him a very low cost controller with a simple user interface.
AutoVent LLC, Automated Dairy Barn Ventilation Controller
Dairy barn ventilation controls
Controller type:Standard off-the shelf controller
Key features:On-board temperature measurement; integrated user interface
Programming:Done by the customer
SPLat advantage:Easy programming; Technology access; Willingness to make small customisations; Support