In this article the technical experts at KNX UK explain how contractors and their customers can benefit from a smarter approach to domestic wiring.
The first step in most big projects is rewiring or extending the existing rings – and don’t you just love drilling holes in joists and mistaking your thumb for a cable clip as you do so? So stop and take stock – there’s a smarter way!
These days smart doesn’t have to mean exclusive, expensive or even extensive. It’s available to all professional electricians, because there is a global open protocol that lets you mix and match components from different manufacturers and is scalable from a family house to a multinational’s business headquarters.
Device manufacturers know they’re operating in a competitive environment, so they produce devices that compete on functionality as well as price; and you can combine them at will to build the system you need on the budget you have. This is KNX.
Working in harmony
Devices can control everything from lighting and blind control to systems for heating, ventilation, air conditioning, monitoring, alarming, water control, energy management, metering as well as household appliances, audio-visual, security and lots more. These devices can be set up to work in concert – so that a rise in temperature adjusts the heating proportionally, increased daylight shuts the blinds, and nightfall automatically switches on the right combination of lights scenes etc.
The technology can be used in new as well as in existing homes and buildings, where you can create entire control solutions by bringing together a variety of off-the-shelf KNX components.
These products have all been thoroughly tested, certified as KNX compliant and operate seamlessly together when programmed using one common KNX software tool. Compatibility between KNX-certified devices is defined in the KNX Interworking model as: ‘the situation where products sending and receiving messages can properly understand signals and react on them without additional equipment’.
As all products ‘speak the same language’ and can operate across the same network, there’s much less cabling. For smaller, domestic projects the server controlling the network can be a simple tablet-sized computer, and the user control panel is likely to be an iPad or phone.
So, wiring becomes easier, whether starting from scratch or building on the existing ring. There are no requirements for 3 core and earth cable, all devices are connected to the KNX bus cable. 2-, 3-, and 4-way switching is much less complicated and requires no additional cabling. Even better, the KNX CAT5/6 BUS can run alongside the mains.
Furthermore there’s no need to worry about clients changing their minds, because you simply drop down from the nearest bus location – a ceiling light or wall ’stat, for instance. A small change to the KNX program can then make an immediate change to the room set-up. All terminations and connections are de-centralised to a local panel e.g. per floor, rather than linking back to the main central distribution board. So functions like dimming or switching can be decided on or added to at a later date. It’s essentially a future-proof system.
How to get started?
Probably the best first step is to go along to a KNX UK meeting to meet and talk to people already involved in this market. Alternatively, you could book yourself on to a course provided by a KNX UK member (www.knxuk.og/training).
Once you’re confident in using the KNX software you won’t look back and domestic wiring will never be the same again!
For more details about KNX UK visit: www.knxuk.org