What Is KNX?

KNX and Home Automation

Smart home automation doesn’t have to be difficult or overly complex. What you want is a flexible system that rids you of all the isolated devices and ensures that all components can communicate with each other. Having control over a home or workspace is far from being a new requirement; systems have been around for many generations and often know as Building Management Systems [BMS]. BMS have been employed in public areas such as airports, train stations as well as properties such as hotels and restaurants, and as our homes and lifestyles have evolved we now have these platforms readily available to ensure control over all manner of services all aligned to promoter a smart home. This is where KNX comes in.

What Is KNX?

KNX is a communication protocol that was developed to allow different components and devices to interact and exchange information. It is a hard-wired infrastructure for your home or building that can be used for all manner of building management including control over lighting, blinds and curtains, heating and air-conditioning systems, security, energy management and metering. With a KNX system installed, all of these can be managed and monitored using a single controller without the need for extra interfaces. You can operate and visualise the use of KNX devices through proprietary touchscreens or tablets. Remote operation and control can also be undertaken through an Internet-connected smartphones, tablet or PC. There are over 450 manufacturers who make products which comply with the KNX standard. This means that specifiers are not tied to certain manufacturers giving you as a consumer have a wider range of options and flexibility when making design choices for building management.

How Do KNX Systems Work?

In simple terms, there are two types of devices on a KNX system – sensors and actuators. Sensors are devices which respond to something and create a message as a result. There are many different types of sensor, e.g.:

  • Single-action push-button switches
  • Room temperature sensors
  • Outdoor rain detectors
  • Motion and room-occupancy detectors
  • Process-automation timers

Actuators, on the other hand, are the devices that actually control the building management equipment. These kinds of actions include:

  • Switching on or off lights, pumps or valves
  • Dimming lighting circuits
  • Raising or lowering blinds
  • Opening or closing windows
  • Controlling heating or air conditioning

Sensors and actuators are joined by a simple two-wire bus cable. Whilst there are some constraints on this cable, it is highly robust and uses tried and tested technology – it is unlikely to be pushed to its limits in a residential environment.

How Can KNX Benefit Your Home?

Adopting KNX as the wiring backbone for a home allows for the development of a true smart home. Your most basic benefit is ease of use. You can control devices and systems throughout your home from one central location. All of your devices will be networked together and managed by a single controller, giving you a more user-friendly home environment.Along with this added measure of control is the ability to conserve energy in your home. A KNX system is a highly cost-effective way of ensuring energy use is efficient. For example, with KNX controlled lights, you can configure them to turn on only when someone is present in the room. Or sensors can monitor natural daylight levels to dim or turn the lights off when enough ambient light is present. KNX lets you manage your blinds or curtains systematically so you can keep them open in winter to capture sunlight to save on heating. Heating and air conditioning control will optimise the energy needs of a room. Windows can be opened and closed automatically according to requirements, whilst ventilation systems can be made to react to the presence of people and automatically switch off when not required. XXXAdditionally, you’ll have an added level of security. KNX can be used to simulate building occupancy using timers for lighting and blinds. KNX sensors can detect presence and switch on house lights when triggered by potential burglars. xxxFinally, KNX provides users personalised control of lighting throughout the home and garden. You can pre-program lighting levels so that with one tap you can set the right ambiance for the occasion. Scenes can be developed for different lighting dependent on how a living space is being used, time of day or year.xxxIt’s even possible to link proprietary systems through a KNX interface to other areas of home entertainment and control systems.

Conclusion

There are thousands of certified KNX products available in the home automation arena. The best part is that their interoperability and compatibility with other devices now and in the future is guaranteed.xxxInstalling a KNX platform promotes so much flexibility across so many manufacturers who can offer so many different choices. Add to this the robust nature of its hard-wired infrastructure and you and your project team can have the ultimate confidence to integrate building management, mechanical and electrical, HVAC services whilst simultaneously increasing for ease of use.