KNX: a progress report

Andrew M. Taylor considers the past, present and future of the building control technology.

David Davies

It is now 15 years since the EIBA, EHSA and BCI founded the KNX Association to support and promote the KNX worldwide standard for home and building control. Commercial Integrator has reported many high-level KNX projects over the years – but to what extent has the technology really become a crossover success?

David Davies sought a KNX progress report from Andrew M. Taylor, who handles technical sales for JUNG UK and is also a certified KNX Association Tutor and KNX Partner. He also represents Abrecht Jung GmbH on the board of the KNX UK Association. His responsibilities include training prospective KNX partners, writing technical and product articles, presenting at trade shows, and technical sales in the UK.

The last few months have seen a number of specific KNX training events, including in Germany. What were the aims for these sessions, and were they met?

The largest event in KNX world is Light + Build, which is held every two years at the Messe in Frankfurt. This event brought together manufacturers and integrators from all around the world to present the latest products and developments in the industry.

The KNX Association had a prominent position at L+B and showed how the open world of KNX has expanded and encompassed a range of new countries including Central and South America.

The major development is the announcement of the upcoming release of ETS5. This will introduce a new medium in the form of KNX/RF and is an exciting addition to the trusted stable of KNX mediums (TP, KNXnetIP & PL).

Attendees of L+B were able to get hands on with KNX in the KNX City section, and workshops and presentations were provided by the multitude of KNX companies who were presenting their products. For people embarkin -on or interested in KNX, this show was an eye-opening event and for seasoned professionals it was a chance to catch up on the latest innovations.

In general, how would you describe the awareness of KNX and its capabilities at this time in the European CI business?

The awareness of KNX in the CI industry has grown in the UK market (where I work) in a significant way. KNX was previously dismissed as ‘another lighting control system’ for which there are many competitors in the UK. This has changed over the last 5 or so years, with CI companies now understanding the genuine value that KNX offers.

KNX gives real value by not only being able to control lighting and HVAC (amongst everything else), but by also being able to interface with a multitude of HVAC and other building control protocols. Virtually all big CI companies in the UK now have at least one person who is a KNX partner.

What more can be done to increase its profile and spread the word about KNX’s benefits? And more specifically, what is the KNX Association doing along these lines at present?

Like all products and systems, there is a gestation period where forward-thinking enthusiasts will embrace the concept; however, it will always take time for the market to adopt the concept holistically. In my opinion, the UK has got to the point where KNX is now a part of the everyday language in the industry. Obviously there will always be those who do not see the benefits and then there will be those who are enthusiasts, but for the majority it is the acceptance of the protocol as a robust tool to provide well-engineered solutions.

The growth in the market will be driven by the majority acceptance of consultants – who in the UK are traditionally resistant to change – and part of this process is consumers requesting the design and finishes that KNX manufacturers offer the greatest choice for. The training of enough KNX partners and their ability to advise and direct clients to provide the correct solutions (which in my opinion is usually KNX) for their requirements, are also key to facilitate this process.

KNX UK is focused on all these elements, providing a register of qualified KNX integrators (also manufacturers, wholesalers and training centres), promotion and exposure to various trade bodies plus presenting at a selection of exhibitions. There are new initiatives to support entrants to the KNX market and a focus to help make training more widely considered and available.

Can you give me an idea of your day-to-day use of KNX?

My day-to-day use of KNX is based on providing support on the correct products for the requested solutions. This involves checking the application software for products and also familiarising myself with new product software by setting up the products using ETS4 and test-installing them in the office KNX system.

Periodically, I provide KNX partner training which requires the course attendees to achieve a competent level in the use of ETS.

I also have seven years of experience designing, specifying, programming and commissioning KNX systems. This has included providing fault and solution services for clients who have not had a smooth run with their KNX installation.

What can you tell us about forthcoming KNX Association training events in Europe?

The next KNX partner training course that I will be running will be held in the BEMCO training centre in London (Wandsworth Bridge). This course will run from 8-12 September 2014. Other training centres in the UK can be found on the KNX UK website and these training centres can advise on the dates of their next partner training courses. Last month JUNG ran a workshop for new KNX products and we will run more workshops in the future but these dates have not been set yet.