What is a KNX (Standard) Smart Home?

KNX (Standard) Smart Home

KNX is an open standard for domestic and commercial building automation. KNX devices can manage blinds and shutters, lighting, security systems, HVAC, audio-video, energy management, displays, white goods, remote control, and many more.

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KNX works by ensuring all devices, components, functions, and features of any building (or outdoor space) communicate via one common language remotely.

KNX is an open worldwide standard with more than 250 manufacturers producing products that operate and inter-work together seamlessly.

How does KNX work?

There is a green cable installed and the conventional mains supply during a renovation or new build project. This green cable is known as the KNX bus line, and it works as the main central nervous system for all automation.

Following the KNX standard for home and building automation, all the building technology elements must be connected via the main KNX bus line.

The cable system is being managed by detectors, parameters, sensors, and more components. Thus is then controlled easily by end-users with a smartphone, tablet device, or laptop.

The KNX bus is routed side by side to the electrical power supply to all systems and devices on the network linking:

  • Sensors such as thermostats, pushbuttons, movement, and anemometers, gather information and send it on the bus as a data telegram
  • Actuators such as heating valves, displays, and dimming units receive data telegrams which are then converted into actions
  • Controllers and other logic functions include shutter controllers, room temperature controllers and others
  • System devices and components include backbone couplers and line couplers

It is simplistic and outdated to classify devices as “actuator” or “sensor.” As a matter of fact, many actuators include controller functionality and also sensor functionality.

Sensor functionality includes measuring current, several switch cycles, electrical power consumption, operating hours, and more.

Application software, combined with commissioning software and system topology, is loaded onto the devices via a system interface element.

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Installed systems can be accessed via point-to-point links, phone networks, or LAN (Local Area Network) for distributed or central control of the system via tablets, computers, and smartphones.

The main features of the KNX architecture are:

  • Distributing and Interworking application models for the building automation of various jobs
  • Planning for management and configuration of resources on the network, and allowing the attaching of parts of a distributed application in different nodes
  • A communication system with models and a message protocol for the communication stack in each node
  • Models for the awareness of these elements when developing actual devices to be installed and linked in an installation

Benefits of using KNX

The KNX technology is the result of wide experience and knowledge gained over the last 15 years with the predecessor technologies to KNX (the European Home System (EHS), BatiBUS, and the European Installation Bus(EIB).

The following are the benefits of using KNX systems for smart-building and smart-home automation: KNX guarantees the interworking and interoperability of products with official KNX product certification.

The KNX certification process assures that different manufacturers’ different products communicate and operate in an ideal way. It also ensures a high level of flexibility in the modification and the extension of KNX installations. KNX product compliance is checked at unallied laboratories (by third parties).

Currently, KNX is the only building and home control standard running global certification schemes for products. KNX is also running international certification for training centers (private and vocational institutions) and individual persons (building designers and electrical contractors).

KNX can be incorporated into all building applications and smart home automation control. It can also be used for all applications and possible functions in building and home control, ranging from lighting, shutter control to heating, ventilation, and security.

It also includes monitoring, air conditioning, alarming, water control, metering, energy management, audio, household appliances, and lots more.

KNX stands for high product quality. The KNX Association requires quality control during all stages of a KNX product’s life and a high production level.

Apart from the manufacturer compliance to ISO 9001, KNX  products also have to act under the European requirements.

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The KNX Association is also authorized to have certified products retested or can require additional manufacturer test reports underlying the declaration of hardware conformity in any unsure cases.

KNX is the International Standard for building control and smart home automation. KNX is future proof that is it will continue to be successful or useful in the future.

The following are some of the international organization that approved that KNX will never be obsolete:

  • CENELEC validated the KNX technology as the European Standard EN 50090 in 2003
  • ISO/IEC verified the KNX tech as the International Standard ISO/IEC 14543-3 in 2006
  • CEN certified the KNX technology as EN 13321-1 (as a mere reference to EN 50090) and EN1332-2 (KNXnet/IP) in 2006
  • KNX technology was approved by SAC in 2007 as the Chinese Standard GB/T 20965
  • ANSI/ASHRAE certified the KNX technology in 2005 as the US Standard ANSI/ASHRAE 135

KNX improves security and comforts. It also contributes heavily to climate protection (up to 52% for lighting control and the same amount also for heating applications) and energy savings.

With the help of Engineering Tool Software, ETS® (a PC software tool) allows the configuration, planning, and engineering of all KNX certified products.

The tool is manufacturer autonomous; that is, the system integrator can merge different manufacturers’ products into one installation. One cool feature of KNX is that it supports various forms of communication media.

Each means of communication can be used in combination with one or more configuration method.

The following allows each manufacturer to choose the right combination for the targeted market segment and application:

  • Power Line (KNX PL): KNX is relayed on the existing mains network
  • Twisted pair (KNX TP): KNX is broadcasted across a separate bus cable, hierarchically structure in areas and lines
  • Ethernet/IP (KNXnet/IP): This widespread communication medium can be used in conjunction with the KNXnet/IP Specifications, which allow the routing or tunneling of KNX frames enclosed in IP frames
  • Radiofrequency (KNX RF): KNX is transmitted through radio signals. Devices can be bi- or unidirectional

KNX can be used in a variety of commercial, residential, outdoor, and industrial settings. It can also be integrated and used in both existing and new building structures.

On that account, KNX installations can then be easily adapted and extended to new requirements/needs, with financial investment and minimal time.

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For example,  when new tenants move into a commercial building. KNX can be installed in large buildings. Small-size single-family houses (hospitals, offices, hotels, department stores, conference centers, schools, airports, warehouses, etc.).

KNX assists a variety of different configuration modes. It offers different step-in levels for the achievement of KNX projects. Through S-Mode, KNX trained integrators/contractors can realize subtle installations. Through KNX E-Mode, non-KNX qualified electrical contractors are addressed.

The different modes include:

  • Automatic installation (A-Mode): In this mode of configuration, the devices can configure themselves and can be installed by the end-user
  • Easy installation (E-Mode): In this mode, the configuration is done without a PC but with code wheels, pushbuttons, or central controller. Easy Installation (E-Mode) compatible products normally have inadequate functionality and are meant for medium size installations
  • System installation (S-Mode): Configuration and Planning of the installation are done using a PC with the installed ETS Software. The manufacturers’ product data is contained in the ETS database. System Installation (S-mode) is intended for KNX certified contractors and planners and large size installations

KNX does not depend on any software or hardware technology. KNX can be registered on any microprocessor platform. It can also be implemented from scratch.

Though, for easy market entrance, KNX manufacturers can also provide recourse to KNX system components providers. It is also free of extra royalty fees for approved KNX members.

KNX can be integrated with other systems. Several KNX manufacturers provide gateways to other networks (such as other telephone networks, IP networks, multimedia networks, building automation systems, etc.).

KNX systems can be linked to BACnet objects or offer the possibility to interface with the DALI technology. Checkout the official website to learn more.