You wouldn't start writing an essay without thinking of the thesis. You wouldn't put flour in a cake after it's out of the oven. And, you shouldn't design a new school building without baking in plans for your synchronized clock system.
There are a lot of factors to consider when integrating the clocks with a new facility, and it's easiest to address the time system as the building designs are drawn up. Anything after that may create more work.
Let's look at what factors you should be considering as you build your gleaming new complex.
Are you wired?
The first thing you need to know is that a synchronized clock system isn't just about the clocks. A central controller usually lies at the heart of the system.
As your building plans come together, you'll want to know early on whether you'll be installing a wired system. Wired clocks offer reliability and low maintenance, with the convenience of not having to think about radio signal coverage and interference, or changing batteries. But, as you evaluate whether wired clocks are right for you, factor in your building size.
Larger facilities may require you to run more wire than is practical. A wired system is likely to cost more to install, so you'll have to factor building size into the equation as you evaluate whether the low-maintenance nature and reliability of wired clocks makes the initial cost worthwhile.
Cutting the cord: going wireless
When exploring the wireless option, know that they offer superior flexibility since they can be deployed anywhere they can receive a signal and may require less planning than their wired counterparts, but some rely on batteries to operate, leading to more maintenance costs down the road. The sheer scalability of wireless clocks, however, usually makes them the most practical choice for large facilities.
Even if you're sold on wireless, you still have some thinking to do. Consider the size of your facility as you select your master controller. These controllers use radio transmitters ranging in power from 5 watts to 40.
Consider your power needs
If you're outfitting a campus, you might need to install an antenna on the roof that can cover a couple of city blocks if required. Also, remember to factor in building height when planning for the antenna. A magnetic-mount antenna that can be installed indoors is most suitable for smaller buildings, one to two stories tall. The more powerful campus antenna will get the job done for buildings up to 12 stories tall.
If you're installing a wireless system, it's also important to consider the building materials that might be an obstruction between the transmitter and the clocks on the network.
Don't forget about your electrical system, either, as you determine your available voltage. Weak voltage can affect the transmitter's effectiveness.
How many, where and which format?
If you consider your clock system at the outset of building design, you'll have plenty of time to determine how many clocks to install, where to install them, and what kind of display best suits you.
You'll probably want a clock in every classroom, in the hallways, in the commons areas, staff offices, the cafeteria, and athletic facilities. But the bigger question is what types of clocks to put where.
Analog might be just fine in the classrooms, but in the hallways, you might consider double-dial, digital clocks with countdown timers to make sure students know how much time they have left to get to class. It might make sense to also plan for digital clocks in large areas, such as the cafeteria, due to their superior readability from long distances.
These are the kinds of details you'll be glad you thought about when your building comes to life, synched to the beat of a well-planned clock system.