KNX - The Smarter Choice for Your Homes Electrical System

When building your new home, one of the most important decisions you will make is your choice of how it is wired. Once it's done there is no doing it again without massive expense. It is not like repainting a wall, the decision is likely to be for the lifespan of the house.  This choice will affect the security, comfort and lifestyle that your family enjoys while at home. Your choice will determine your relationship with your home.

When it comes to your home electrical system you have three choices: a traditional 230V system; a proprietary single manufacturer system; or the KNX worldwide standard. 

Traditional 230V system

This is the “standard” electrical wiring which has been common place in homes since the end of the 20th century. It utilises manual light and power socket switches, and offers no security, comfort, convenience, energy management or environmental benefits. This technology is approaching the end of its life cycle. It has the lowest initial cost and offers the lowest ongoing maintenance costs, but typically it has the highest on-going energy costs and the worst environmental impact. 

Homes with this type of system typically have the lowest capital value and the lowest resale value. Over the lifetime of a home this type of system has the highest real cost of ownership.

You should consider an un-automated 230V system if minimising your initial capital expenditure is your primary concern, and security, comfort, convenience, on-going cost of ownership and environmental impact are not important to you.

Summary:

  • Very old 
  • Un-automated
  • lowest cost
  • poor environmental credentials
  • highest cost of ownership
  • inflexible for future
  • No addition to capital value of property

A proprietary single manufacturer system

Several manufacturers have built their own proprietary systems to automate control of the electrical systems and technology within a home. These systems can offer improvements in security, comfort and convenience along with energy savings and lower environmental impact. They typically have the highest initial costs and the highest on-going maintenance costs however they do reduce energy costs and lower environmental impact. 

A home with a proprietary system increases the capital value and resale value compared with a home with an un-automated 230V system.

There are some inherent risks to seriously consider with this type of solution. They are built by a single manufacturer and the technology is solely owned by them. If they decide not to support your product, don’t have adequate spare parts, change their hardware or software, you can end up with a system which can’t evolve as technologies change, or if you have a failure, a system which can’t be serviced and needs to be replaced. 

The cost of ownership is substantially better than an non-automated 230V system, but if things go wrong the real cost of ownership can be much higher. 

You should consider this type of solution if security, comfort, convenience and minimising environmental impact are your primary concerns, you are comfortable with a degree of risk of ownership, and initial costs and real cost of ownership are not important to you.

Summary:

  • Single manufacturer technology
  • Limited switch styles
  • Controls - lighting, shading, drapes, heating, AV (depending on system)
  • Medium-High initial cost
  • Decent environmental credentials
  • High risk of future obsolescence

KNX Worldwide Standard Open Protocol systems

Developed in 1990 KNX is an independent standardised and open protocol that allows building and environmental control products from various manufacturers to work seamlessly together. Since then it has become the worldwide standard for building and environmental control with 400 manufacturers building more than 8000 KNX products. I am but one amongst 65,000 KNX certified professionals in the world.

A KNX system offers the same range of benefits as a proprietary system, but without the inherent risks. A KNX installation typically has a higher initial cost than an non-automated 230V system, but a lower initial and ongoing cost than a proprietary system. They offer the lowest energy usage, the lowest real cost of ownership and lowest environmental impact. The capital and resale value of homes with KNX inside are typically higher than homes with an non-automated 230V system, and comparable to homes with proprietary single manufacturer system. 

You should consider a KNX solution if security, comfort, convenience, minimising environmental impact, initial costs, real cost of ownership, future proofing, future serviceability and security of investment are important to you. 

And, very importantly, with an open KNX system you have a wide and beautiful range of switches to suit and add value to any interior design.

Summary:

  • World standard for buildings
  • Evolves with technology over the years
  • 400+ manufacturers make products that comply
  • Wide switch style choice, more than 8000 products
  • Control of everything - lighting, shading, drapes, heating, AV
  • Excellent environmental credentials
  • Adds to capital value of property
Lee Hyndman