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Over the last 20 years, KNX has emerged as the dominant home automation and building management standard, and has enabled the wider use of products and systems that are more energy effi cient. Rob Shepherd provides an overview of the KNX protocol and the technology that uses it – and explains how electrical contractors can get involved in installing these systems

The beauty of an open protocol system and the interoperability between different

manufacturers will ensure KNX is the future for building controls

s the only open and international protocol for modern, future-proof building management and automation, KNX has been the focus of much interest over recent years, particularly in light of

the move towards greater energy effi ciency and the growth of intelligent buildings. As more manufacturers integrate KNX into their products, the potential for integrated buildings has become fully realised.

History lesson The seeds for KNX were fi rst sown just over 20 years ago,

and the technology was preceded by European Installation Bus, European Home Systems (EHS) protocol and BatiBUS. The KNX standard is based on the communication stack of EIB, enlarged with the physical layers, confi guration modes and application experience of BatiBUS and EHS. Iain Gordon, president of the KNX UK National Group and

owner of GES Digital, comments: ‘KNX has been seen to be available for a long time and while other systems have used good marketing to sell their products, the question is where are they now? KNX has therefore become the established system for installers and users to turn to.’ Contractors are now able to use a variety of off-the-shelf

components that are truly interoperable. These products have all been thoroughly tested and certifi ed to be KNX compliant, and all operate together, programmed by the integrator using one common software tool. By operating over a single protocol they are able to operate together across the same network, combining greater integration and higher functionality. Paul Collins, product manager at Hager, states: ‘Many

times have I been called to an installation where a proprietary system has been used and is now obsolete, leaving the client with little choice than to replace the entire system. This isn’t an issue with KNX.’

Effi ciency drive The need for greater energy effi ciency within buildings is one of the primary reasons why demand for KNX-based systems has taken off. The pressure is on to make continuous energy savings, and this must be achieved through effective building management. The installation of KNX products can achieve major

About the author

Rob Shepherd Rob Shepherd is a freelance journalist and regular contributor to ECA Today who has worked in the electrical contracting industry for more than 10 years.

energy savings of up to 60 per cent, signifi cantly reducing a building’s carbon footprint. KNX is particularly suited to lighting, air conditioning, security, AV, blind and window control and heating and ventilation – features that allow buildings to respond in real time to the occupants’ needs and occupancy patterns. Marc Gaunt, marketing manager at Schneider Electric,

KNX offers fl exibility in choosing system components

comments: ‘Flexibility of the KNX system is key. It allows a wide range of existing and new products to be integrated during the building’s life, so that users can keep pace with the latest technical and legislative developments.’

46 ECA Today September 2011

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