Central controllers and most terminal unit controllers are programmable, meaning the direct digital control program code may be customized for the intended use. The program features include time schedules, setpoints, controllers, logic, timers, trend logs, and alarms. The unit controllers typically have analog and digital inputs that allow measurement of the variable (temperature, humidity, or pressure) and analog and digital outputs for control of the transport medium (hot/cold water and/or steam). Digital inputs are typically (dry) contacts from a control device, and analog inputs are typically a voltage or current measurement from a variable (temperature, humidity, velocity, or pressure) sensing device. Digital outputs are typically relay contacts used to start and stop equipment, and analog outputs are typically voltage or current signals to control the movement of the medium (air/water/steam) control devices such as valves, dampers, and motors.
Groups of DDC controllers, networked or not, form a layer of systems themselves. This "subsystem" is vital to the performance and basic operation of the overall HVAC system. The DDC system is the "brain" of the HVAC system. It dictates the position of every damper and valve in a system. It determines which fans, pumps, and chiller run and at what speed or capacity. With this configurable intelligency in this "brain", we are moving to the concept of building automation.