Alternatives to restaurant Energy Management Systems (EMS)

Read this article to learn how Therma° can exist as part, or instead of your restaurant energy management system.

What is a restaurant EMS (Energy Management System)?

Did you know restaurants are some of the most energy-intensive buildings in the world? In fact, the average restaurant uses 5-10 times more energy than the average commercial building. (1)

Energy management systems, or EMS, are a mix of hardware, software, and consulting services that work to reduce the overall energy cost of running a restaurant. These systems typically require significant investments of resourcing and capital, with the typical ROI not occurring for 12-24 months.

What should I consider before investing in an EMS?

An energy management system is a significant operational and financial investment for any organization, as it often requires an overhaul of equipment and team processes. Before selecting an EMS vendor, consider the following:

  • Team infrastructure 
    • Do you have an in-house maintenance team that can respond to EMS alerts? Before purchasing an EMS, identify which teams or individual staff will own the alerting system. For smaller teams, consider monitoring only the aspects of equipment that are most important to guest experiences, such as refrigeration and HVAC. 
  • Modularity
    • Ensure that the EMS system offers a customized approach that offers specific solutions tailored to your operation. Look for the ability to add and subtract the hardware components as needed. 
  • Scalability:
    • Ensure that the system can be integrated into other buildings within your organization. There should also be a unified dashboard that makes it easy to track and analyze individual data points across the various locations.
  • Affordability 
    • Operators must be able to financially accommodate the upfront costs of implementing an EMS and achieve ROI within a quantifiable period. In the foodservice industry, this should be within 24 months of implementation. 
  • Usability
    • Non-technical personnel should be able to understand and use the system without the help of in-house maintenance personnel. As rank and file staff utilize the equipment in question daily, their comprehension will help facilitate proper use in standard operations.

Is a restaurant energy management system required to save money on energy?

Investing in EMS is not the only way to create energy savings. Before investing in an EMS, operators can implement processes that make day-to-day operations more efficient. 

Ultimately, there are no replacements for a comprehensive EMS. However, not every restaurant location has the operational bandwidth, budget, or need to completely overhaul its energy system. If this is the case for your business, consider the following alternatives:

  • Create manual HVAC protocols
    • Set HVAC temperatures based on the creation of procedures that ensure HVAC systems operate at appropriate levels during service and after closing. 
  • Preventative maintenance 
    • Ensuring that teams perform monthly inspections of the components of crucial equipment, such as refrigerators. This includes gasket inspections, cleaning of condenser coils, and replacement of air filters. 
  • Cleaning 
    • Routine cleaning of ventilation systems and lights allows them to operate more efficiently, using less power. 
  • Remote temperature monitoring: 
    • Temperature monitoring devices measure conditions within the cold storage and transmit the data to a unified web dashboard.
  • Purchase new equipment
    • Update older equipment such as coolers and lighting with new, energy-efficient models.

Why is remote temperature monitoring important? 

Temperature monitoring systems are crucial parts of EMS packages because refrigeration consumes the majority of electricity usage in restaurants. Monitoring refrigeration temperatures provides vital insights into energy expenditure and equipment performance. However, not all temperature monitoring and analytics platforms are the same. 

Before purchasing a system, it is crucial to consider the given facility’s specific needs and intricacies. Remote temperature monitoring systems generally fall into two distinct categories: wired and wireless solutions. 

Wired systems entail sensors embedded into the infrastructure of environments and use physical connections to transmit information via Ethernet. However, wired solutions are expensive to install, difficult to change or update, and a poor fit for refrigeration equipment that requires a tightly sealed environment. 

In contrast, wireless solutions rely on integration into the Internet of Things (IoT) to transmit data. The main components of a wireless system include: 

  • Sensors that measure temperature and humidity and transmit data.
  • A centralized hub that processes this information and sends it to the cloud.
  • Software that collects data from the cloud, then logs, displays, and interprets it to create actionable insights for users.

While many temperature monitoring systems rely on this same structure, their specificities lie in the method in which they transmit data. 

What to Look for in Wireless Temperature Sensors

The most common remote monitoring systems used in third-party EMS utilize WiFi, Bluetooth, or a combination of the two. Unfortunately, these signals often have connectivity challenges in commercial buildings due to the density of steel and other obstructions.

In contrast to Bluetooth and WiFi sensors,  LoRaWAN® and LTE sensors use a long-range, low-power radio signal to transmit data. As a result, they are more reliable in dense environments and can easily penetrate thick walls and doors, such as those found on walk-ins, coolers, freezers, and low-boys. 

Meet Therma°

Built to perform inside coolers, freezers, and other harsh environments, Therma°  LoRaWAN® temperature monitoring outperforms Bluetooth and WiFi systems. Get the insight you need to maintain equipment and facilities 24/7 with Therma° features:

  • Enhanced Alerting:
    • Get notified by SMS, phone call, push notification, or email when equipment is out of temperature range. Use Therma° smart alerts to intelligently adjust your alert settings or snooze alerts during scheduled downtime.
  • Unbeatable Uptime: 
    • Therma° LoRaWAN® powered sensors have a range of 1,200+ feet, use 4G LTE instead of WiFi, and record data even during power outages.
  • Actionable Reports: 
    • Create automated temperature and humidity reports to understand equipment trends and make real-time facilities management decisions.
  • Easy to use and set up: 
    • Forget time-consuming third-party installation. Our temperature monitoring system is ready to go in 10 minutes or less. Therma° offers an open API so users can easily integrate data into your existing tech stack.
  • Unlimited teams and locations: 
    • Therma° offers unlimited teams and locations so you simplify equipment management across your organization.

Given the diversity in food service operations, finding the right system to better manage energy use is up to the specific needs of the application. However, not matter your needs, if you utilize cold storage as part of your business model, temperature monitoring is an excellent addition. Before investing large upfront sums of money, try Therma°. Buy your first sensor kit through our easy-to-use eCommerce platform or request a demo with a Therma sales representative through our website at