The practicalities of taking HVAC out of proprietary silos.

26 July 2021

Sourced from The Essential Install 

HVAC is a core application to include in any home and building control project, but it needs to be taken out of its silo and be part of an integrated whole-building approach to control if we are to meet goals for energy-saving and occupants’ wellbeing. As soon as you start to think in terms of cross-application integration, then all roads lead to KNX and there is no reason for a proprietary manufacturer resistance, because over 500 of them (including all the majors) are manufacturing KNX certified controls.

KNX is the common language that enables products from different manufacturers to work together with guaranteed compatibility. It is the global standard that enables all control applications, including heating, ventilation, lighting, security, blind and façade control etc to be fully integrated. This interworking creates opportunities for flexible and innovative system design, energy saving and futureproofing. The secure and scalable system works over IP, TP, PL and RF and KNX certified products are available from over 500 world-class manufacturers.

HVAC accounts for over a third of a building’s energy consumption (lighting comes in second at about a fifth).  So, whether it is cost or conscience or both that drives them, owners and occupiers are going to take a keen interest in finding ways to control consumption and costs. Of course, they will not want to compromise on their comfort or enjoyment of the premises, so they will expect creative solutions. They will also be looking for assurances that whatever steps they invest in now will not paint them into a corner, because we will surely see more new regulations for certification standards as we move towards climate change targets.

The pandemic and growing awareness of indoor air quality (IAQ) has also made systems designers and building managers more aware than ever that they need more than an historical overview of all the parameters of their HVAC: they need the automation that enables them to achieve the best-possible outcomes and provide a safe environment in “real time”. For instance, there’s a dynamic balance between staying warm and comfortable and ensuring optimal clean airflow from natural or mechanical ventilation sources.

That brings us back, inevitably, to open systems and cross-application integration as the preferred approach as it gives integrators flexibility to create custom systems: in other words, KNX. The idea of being only a lighting designer or only a HVAC engineer is long gone – systems designers need to address every application. 

What is KNX?

A quick reminder about KNX.  First conceived as a successor to the EIB(European Installation Bus), KNX is the only global standard for integrated control of all aspects of home and building control, from lighting and AV to HVAC and security with: a single, manufacturer-independent design and commissioning tool (ETS), support for all comms media (TP, PL, RF and IP), and a complete set of supported configuration modes (system, easy and automatic mode).  

All products bearing the KNX logo share data in a standardised way. They are certified to guarantee system compatibility, interworking and interoperability, and all newly certified products are guaranteed to be backwards compatible. A KNX system is futureproof and will be infinitely scalable and flexible over the years. Gateways to BEMS and proprietary protocols are commonplace, as other manufacturers have recognised the need to cater for growing demand for the global, open standard.

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