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Technology trends – KNX building control

KNX is an international building control standard that is used to put the intelligence into buildings. It enables the integration and programming of a range of products from a range of manufacturers using a single software tool.

KNX is an international building control standard that is used to put the intelligence into buildings. It enables the integration and programming of a range of products from a range of manufacturers using a single software tool.

The standard has been eagerly adopted by many international manufacturers who together provide a vast array of KNX-certified products. Choosing from this pool of interoperable technology, architects can specify entire control solutions by bringing together a variety of off-the-shelf components which are truly interoperable. These products have all been thoroughly tested and certified to be KNX compliant and all operate seamlessly together, programmed by the integrator using one common software tool. And because they all ‘speak the same language’, they can operate together across the same network, resulting in much less cabling and higher functionality.

KNX is the world’s only open standard for home and building control and is compliant to:
• EN 50090
• EN 13321-1
• ISO/IEC 14543.

KNX-certified products are being used on a wide variety of installations across Europe, in residential, commercial and industrial sites. High profile projects such as Heathrow Terminal 5, the British Library and the Ashmolean Museum rub shoulders with homes and residences.

Grovelands (pictured top), a very large luxury self build house which took five years to complete, saw KNX UK Association systems integrator member E-Life push the boundaries of smart home technology. As well as a large array of control and home entertainment products for the property, E-Life used KNX intelligent building control technology for the heating, air-conditioning, lighting, curtains and blinds as well as other aspects of the living environment to provide a fully integrated solution.

E-Life’s brief was to provide a state-of-the-art building control system fully integrated with a high end AV installation. The company had to use all its experience to offer quality products and systems that could communicate with each other. Ease of use was paramount to the client as well as aesthetically-pleasing front end components.

The KNX building system controls the building services within the property, including all internal and external lighting which features mood lighting, simulated occupancy, panic buttons, night lights, integration with the property’s security alarm and energy-saving daylight sensing for external lights.

Security was also high on the agenda and the client wanted to fully integrate the CCTV, security alarm and gate entry system. E-Life interfaced the CCTV cameras, which can be viewed on all TVs, linking them into a Crestron system so they can be viewed and controlled from the wall-mounted touch panels. The main gate entry itself can also be viewed and controlled from the Crestron touch panels.

KNX controls the underfloor heating throughout the house and it has also been linked to a BACNET gateway controlling the property’s BMS which operates the plant room boilers and air handling units for comfort cooling. Electric blinds and curtains have been fitted into nearly every room of the house and are also operated simply with keypad controls.

The property’s high specification AV system includes features such as a Crestron multi-room music system, hidden motorised plasma lifts for the TVs, wireless hand-held controllers and an entertainment system installed in an outdoor pavilion. The client also has the ability of calling up any film or music album in any room whilst the children have their own mini-music system that allows them to plug in their own iPods without giving them access to the main home entertainment system. A PABX system with over 20 extensions for incoming calls and for calling between rooms has also been installed.

Other features of the installation include large internal sliding doors that slide inside the walls and are operated by the local KNX keypad. There is also a water feature in the main entrance hall which is operated from the KNX keypad and Crestron touch panel.

Ashmolean Museum
The lighting within the world famous Ashmolean Museum (pictured left), now re-opened after a major multi-million pound redevelopment, is being controlled by KNX intelligent building technology. The installation was designed and supplied by KNX UK member, Andromeda Telematics. It offers energy savings, flexibility for future changes and the automated testing of a public building out of hours. With the specification of a powerful graphical head end display which shows the real time status of all lighting throughout the museum, the potential energy savings for lighting and the use of natural daylight are maximised.

KNX was specified by the consulting engineers to achieve the complicated lighting control strategies required. KNX also offers the facility for limitless expansion and the ability to specify and seamlessly integrate the most appropriate KNX compliant products from many different manufacturers. The building includes 39 new galleries, staircases, entrances, bridges, walkways and a cafe within which the lighting is controlled via KNX. In addition, lighting in back of house areas including offices, laboratories, toilets and the boardroom are also managed with KNX.

Across the six levels in the public areas there are 18 lighting control panel locations to match the electrical distribution zones. Each panel houses a variety of equipment to meet the requirements of the project’s lighting designers and emergency lighting for each area.