In 1895 this Villa took its form nestled into the side of a little leafy valley and surrounded by dwellings of similar ilk in Auckland, New Zealand.
Through the years the house remained un-altered until this progressive family took ownership. With an amazing architect at the helm all trades were directed in this complete rebuild inside and out, maintaining the original character of the home.
The owners were the drivers here also directing their requirements quite succinctly and of course this included KNX, through Future Proof Electrical Ltd.
Technology in this age is important to us more and more and in this project it was embraced with enthusiasm. Through research it was concluded that the only solution for the home is KNX, to be connected in ways that had only been spoken about and seen over-seas was now a reality.
With careful consideration taken not only with the aesthetic of the home this included ease of control over function and this was delivered here.
Overview of the project:
How many devices on the site? 93
What applications implemented?
Underfloor heating, Heated towel rails, Daylight harvesting, control of garage doors, HVAC integration, irrigation.
What systems are controlled? HVAC, Satel access control & security,
Is there any Visualisation and how is implemented? Gira HomeServer implemented onto the network with iPAD’s on each level of the home in-cased in a Basalte eve’ frame.
Interfaces & integration with other systems : solar inverter for powering all KNX devices, Satel Security & access control, Window actuator for bathroom
Any other system(s) on the site? Mitsibushi City Multi HVAC, thermostat control via KNX switches
The project was runners-up for the Best Residential KNX Project 2018
You will often hear terms like ‘guaranteed compatibility’ and a promise of future proofing used by KNX community. That is because it is probably the only system that offers real assurances that an installation that can be upgraded over time, without going back to the drawing board or commissioning messy installation work. Once an integrator ‘discovers’ KNX, they never look back. We asked KNX UK member Ben Lewis of KNX Consultants for his view on future proofing.
“Smart technology cannot stand still: it needs to evolve throughout a building’s lifetime if it is to continue adding value. Commercial tenants may want to set up for a completely new way of working or type of business. New sustainability and energy efficiency targets may be imposed, to manage costs and/or to manifest corporate social responsibility. Home owners will get older and their requirements for assisted living will change over time; or maybe new babies come along or older ones come home and they have to find new ways to live alongside adult boomerang kids? Meanwhile, new technologies will come on stream and building users’ aspirations will change.
It’s relatively easy to write timescales and deliverables into a project; but less so to provide for “what if?” scenarios 10 or 20 years down the line? How do we make sure that evolution of their building’s intelligence is even possible, let alone practical and affordable? What should we understand by future proofing and what do we, as integrators, need to do to make it happen?
First let’s define our terms. What does future proofing mean in the context of smart building control? I would suggest that the core requirements are: meeting aspirations, assured continuity of supply and simplicity of effecting changes.
The first challenge is to ensure that the installation can satisfy clients aspirations to use the latest technology as it becomes available. The requirements the specify at the outset will surely evolve when faced with the industry’s marketing and in the light of their own growing understanding of what is possible. Right now. it is voice activation that is in high demand. Adding it to an existing system has, perhaps, disproportionately high perceived values to the customer – but the customer is king.
That said, a lot of what is aspired to is really only the front end, the user interface via which the field level devices that actually do the work, actuators, motors, dimmers, switches, thermostats, etc, are commanded. They really should be fairly simple to upgrade. It is the underlying infrastructure that opens the door to future expansion and reconfiguration.
Harmonisation :For a system to be future proof, it is surely a given that it is built on a ubiquitous and harmonised platform that assures there will be continuity of supply. The end user – and indeed integrators charged with maintaining the system – cannot be hostage to the commercial whims of one supplier. It follows that proprietary systems – even when they are thinly disguised as ‘standards’ – are not future proof. With KNX, there is an assurance that will no happen. Manufacturers of KNX compatible devices, and there are over 400 of them, are attracted by the global marketplace the open communications protocol creates.
In return, they must ensure that every KNX product they submit for certification is backwards compatible. Most of the quasi-standards can be integrated into a KNX system and how we do that is often the topic of conversation between integrators at KNX UK Association networking days, where the collaborative ethos that has always driven KNX is evident.
Simplicity and scalability: Changes and upgrades to installations must be simple. We live in an age where customers expect ‘plug and play’, not ‘rip and replace’. The KNX approach of distributing intelligence and addressing field level devices via robust, inexpensive TP cable makes sense. So while, say, DALI offers on the face of it a good degree of flexibility at the control panel end, significant changes to the lighting schematic are likely to involve costly and disruptive building and remedial work. With a KNX system where you can just drop down from the nearest node on a bus cable. In practice, a popular solution is to couple DALI lighting zones within a building-wide KNX system using readily-available and KNX-certified gateway devices.
While cable remains the backbone of most KNX systems there is, of course, a secure IP connectivity.
This all leads to the inevitable conclusion that KNX is unquestionably the best solution for future-proofing intelligent buildings control. The customer has a building that will keep working for them; the integrator has a customer that will keep coming back for more because the price and hassle barriers of continuous improvement are, relatively speaking, negligible.”
The key promises implicit in a KNX system are that:
- all the devices they install will work together as intended,
- any one device can be replaced or upgraded, without compromising the whole system,
- expanding and reconfiguring the systems to accommodate the need to change the way a building is laid out and used will always be possible, and
- any new KNX software developments will be backwards compatible – a device that was addressed by the KNX configuration software (ETS) in, say 2000, can be managed just as easily with, say a 2025 software version and beyond. Support never ends.
“Technically, these are not big promises – but they are absolute business fundamentals,” says KNX UK President Iain Gordon. “Only the uniquely collaborative and open ethos of KNX could have created a market with this degree certainty.
The bottom line? “I’ve been a KNX man for 20+ years. Could go back to the very first installation and upgrade it now,” said Ben.
This article was first published in Modern Building Services, UK. November 2018
Perfect Light with KNX
The project by Setpoint Solutions Limited incorporates 233 devices to control the lighting systems at the ARA Institute, Canterbury.
This educational facility has extensive windows and a skylit atrium, that provide large amounts of natural light to the floor areas. With the lighting fully automated, users in each space can manually adjust the brightness of the lights when required.
Interface with the BMS system via BACNet allows the BMS to use the occupancy information to reduce air conditioning in spaces that are unoccupied.
Summary of Project:
How many devices on the site? 233
What applications implemented? Daylight harvesting, Occupancy control, Manual overrides, BMS interface via BACNet, IP routing
Interfaces & integration with other systems: BMS via BACNet
This project was runners-up for the Best Commercial Project 2018
Best Residential KNX Project 2018
The client of this contemporary addition to a traditional villa, wanted ease of use, beautiful switches and control of everything from a smartphone app. Pulse Electrics made the client’s Tesla X-class in the garage the front piece to the stunning integration of all the electrical services. They set up to monitor the energy usage of the car charger as well as the whole house, and convert that to CO2 used per day, month and year.
The Lunos E2 circulation fans maintain air quality in the bedrooms, whilst control of the radiant ceilings and underfloor heating keep the house warm on the coldest days. A rain sensor closes the velux windows as needed and the house looks lived in when there is no-one home.
The stunning main room has DALI control of Wastberg w151 pendants from Sweden for accurate dimming of subtle scenes in the evenings, whilst the rest of the house is controlled with Theben phase dimmers and Gira E2 switchgear.
At the end of the project the client says that, “we are delighted with the flexibility of KNX to make our house the smartest little house in Nelson”
Summary of the project:
What applications implemented? DALI lighting, LED strip lighting, Velux windows, heatpump, radiant ceilings, Underfloor heating, sensor lighting, weather station
What systems are controlled? Cinema projector lift, Sonos integration, Lunos circulation fans
Is there any Visualisation and how is implemented? Gira X1 and S1 on iOs app for local and remote control
Interfaces & integration with other systems: Energy metering of Tesla charger, Sonos audio
Pulse Electrical Won Best Residential KNX Project 2018
Gym KNX Project – Sometimes commercial installations are fitted with the cheapest solution available at the time with little thought of how the user will interact or the serviceability of the system in the future. This was exactly the case here with the users having no idea how to use the system and the original integrator not interested in fixing their problems for them.
With a robust platform like KNX Aotea Electric were able to remove the existing control system and take over control and more importantly give control to the tenants. Utilising all of the existing wiring and infrastructure we were able to install KNX to solve the vast majority of their problems leaving the tenants very happy.
We were also able to interface with their newly installed AMX system to ensure that the lighting was just right for their broadcasting of gym sessions.
Summary of the project:
How many devices on the site? 10
What applications implemented? Lighting and AV integration.
What systems are controlled? DALI lighting and AMX integration.
Interfaces & integration with other systems: AMX, DALI
This Gym Control System Refit was runners-up in the 2018 Commercial Project Awards