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[ Technology: Smart homes ]

requirements for the smart house and have completed work on a Code of Practice for SmartHouse operation. The SmartHouse Standardisation Initiative aims

to support initiatives ensuring that service providers, government, health, learning and local community services can interact with all the citizens of the EU. They will then be confident that their systems are communicating into homes with networks, systems and equipment that are constructed, installed and set up to known standards, are interoperable and interactive, and will deliver predictable information and receive intelligible responses from any home in the EU.

Smart opportunities Smart home technology is increasingly being specified by those building new homes or renovating existing buildings. As contractors will be used to take care of the electrical aspects of these developments, it is an area that they can diversify into. Stefanowicz says: ‘There is a real opportunity for

electrical contractors to add smart home installation to their offering. The key to success in this area is to be multi-disciplined and willing to learn new skills. Those who are familiar with a range of technologies, such as AV, security, lighting, access control and microgeneration, will find it a lot easier to succeed.’

Training As with any new area of work, contractors must make sure they have the requisite skills to carry out smart home installations to the highest standards possible. Rufus Greenway, marketing chair of CEDIA, comments:

‘The technologies, terminologies and integration skills required are likely to demand a step up from where most electrical contractors are at the moment. The key difference between contracting and smart homes is in the design and specification. ‘Usually a contractor has very little by way of design

input, as the architect or developer typically carries this out – the smart home sector is completely different. More often than not, you are responsible for all the design and specification related to your disciplines and, as such, must carry the relevant design liability, which has to be run continuously, and know design and installation techniques inside and out.’ The ECA has increased the amount of guidance on AV

systems available to its members. In addition, it offers its members a company qualification scheme that involves onsite inspection of work, and a six-year warranty scheme, guaranteeing client confidence and satisfaction.

In summary As a relatively new sector, smart home technology may appear intimidating but it needn’t be. As smart home installations become more and more popular, awarding bodies will make training and vocational qualifications available to smart home installers. Their introduction will benefit the industry,

ensuring contractors have the knowledge and skills to successfully install a wide range of smart home systems.

Client spend on a typical custom installation project can be considerable, and six-figure contracts are not unusual

Home run: Legrand’s Arteor wiring device and home automation system

Standard bearer

There have been many attempts to standardise the forms of hardware, electronic and communication interfaces needed to construct a home automation system. Specific domestic wiring and communication standards include:

BACnet BACnet was designed to allow communication of building automation and control systems for applications such as heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning control, lighting control, access control and fire detection systems;

X10 X10 is an international and open industry standard, which primarily uses power line wiring for signalling and control. The signals involve brief radio frequency bursts representing digital information;

INSTEON INSTEON is a system for connecting lighting switches and loads without extra wiring, similar to X10, designed specifically to address the inherent limitations in the X10 standard but also to incorporate backward compatibility with it;


KNX is a standardised OSI based protocol, which is the successor to, and convergence of, three previous standards – the European Home Systems protocol, BatiBus and the European Installation Bus;

LonWorks LonWorks was created to address the needs of control applications. The platform is built on a protocol for networking devices over media such as twisted pair, powerlines, fibre optics and RF;

Universal powerline bus (UPB)

Based on the concept of the X10 standard, UPB has an improved transmission rate and higher reliability;


ZigBee is a specification for a suite of high level communication protocols based on the IEEE802.15.4-2003 standard for wireless home area networks; and

Z-Wave Z-Wave is a proprietary wireless communications protocol to remote control applications in residential and light commercial environments. It uses a low-power RF radio embedded or retrofitted into home electronics devices and systems.

Autumn 2010 ECA Today 51

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