Smart automation

Just as English is one of the many languages that enable us to communicate between each other, KNX is a language for smart buildings that allows automation components to integrate and interact. This language, or open protocol as it is commonly referred to, resulted from the merging of various European standards in the 1990’s and today is regulated by the KNX association, which has over 490 member companies worldwide. In addition to developing and promoting the protocol, the association is in charge of certifying professionals and products, ensuring they are compliant with KNX standards and compatible with each other.

Because devices speak the same language, they can ‘talk’ to each other, even if they are manufactured by different companies or fulfill different functions.

KNX devices can be used to control anything from heating, to lighting, to security and more. And because these devices speak the same language, they can ‘talk’ to each other, even if they are manufactured by different companies or fulfill different functions. This makes KNX systems simple, yet versatile and highly responsive to their environments.

At Camp Glenorchy Eco Retreat, for example, KNX presence and window sensors work together to control space heating in the cabins. When people have left the room for the day and no presence is detected, heating is turned down to a minimum. And if windows or doors are left ajar, the system will switch off to prevent wasting precious energy. The smart control of space heating plays a key role in Camp Glenorchy’s aspiration to achieve the goal of Zero Energy. There are 415 KNX devices installed throughout the project that, in addition to heating, are used onsite to control and monitor other systems, such as blinds, lighting and water management.

KNX is used at Camp Glenorchy to control multiple systems, such as heating, blinds and lighting.

How does KNX work?

There are three main elements that make up a KNX system: devices, controllers and a bus. 

KNX devices

These are the physical objects which are placed in the building. They can be broadly grouped in two types: 

  • Sensors that measure and detect inputs from the physical environment. These include motion, temperature and humidity sensors among others. 
  • Actuators that receive commands from sensors and trigger a response, such as lights, blinds and fans.

KNX controllers

While the tasks that devices perform can be automated to run seamlessly in the background, they can also be controlled - individually or centrally - using manual switches and push buttons, or via smartphone and tablet apps. 

KNX bus

All KNX devices are connected through a KNX bus, which is basically a dedicated data and low power cable that allows these devices to send data telegrams to each other. Wiring is typically done in a single loop that connects all the sensors and actuators before going back to the control centre. This results in simpler installations, with less wiring, and systems that can be easily extended to accommodate new demands. 

The way sensors and actuators interact, as well as the responses triggered, are defined by an integrator, such as Revolve Energy, using a dedicated KNX software platform. Having a centralised place where all the functions and interactions of devices are programmed, means KNX systems can be easily updated and reconfigured, and this can be done remotely, lowering maintenance costs. The possibilities of what can be achieved are vast, that is why finding an integrator that has foresight and flexibility is key. 

How does KNX contribute to sustainability outcomes?

Automation plays a key role in reducing energy use in buildings by making sure systems run in the most efficient way possible, without sacrificing the comfort of people who live and work in them. In a KNX installation, sensors and other inputs respond to internal and external conditions, such as temperature and indoor air quality, to trigger systems only when they are required. Also, because of the way they are wired and structured, KNX systems allow for more complex integrations, which often result in more responsive environments. Blinds, for example, can be controlled not only based on the time of day, but also on indoor temperatures and the schedules of occupants. These integrations can further optimise the performance of systems and increase energy savings, as well as the lifespan of devices.

KNX systems allow for more complex integrations, which often result in more responsive environments.

A design process where automation requirements are included early on will contribute to smarter, more integrated systems that work together to increase comfort and reduce energy use. Including a KNX integrator in the design team will ensure all the systems that need to be controlled within the building are compatible, and that the KNX system is as efficient and versatile as possible.

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