Britain’s shift towards ‘Smart Homes’ is growing fast, with UK householders dramatically increasing the number of smart devices they own. And according to the most recent YouGov survey from 2018, 23% of homes have at least one smart device, with 11% having a smart speaker, 5% with smart lighting and 3% having smart security in place.
A modern smart home is one that uses internet-connected devices to enable the remote monitoring and control of electrical appliances and systems, from your lights and heating, to blinds, gates, security cameras and, well, anything that can be electrically and remotely controlled. And you can connect the devices and appliances in your home so they can communicate with each other and with you.
So, if you want to check the kids are doing their homework rather than watching TV, or ensure your furry four legged friend is behaving, you’ll probably want to invest in some smart home tech that is a little more advanced than say Alexa, Siri or your mobile app.
And it’s not just millionaires and celebrities with private cinemas who are taking the smart tech home beyond gadget level. It can sometimes be the key to unlocking energy savings and greater security, and is increasingly seen as the way ahead for assisted living for our aging population.
One of the big barriers to investing in the latest smart home technology, as opposed to a few wifi apps, has been cost. The people who think they have the answer to breaking down the price barrier are the smart home automation specialist companies who are using global open communications protocols, like KNX.
KNX lets controls from different manufacturers talk to each other so installers can mix and match the best devices to suit individual requirements and there is keen price competition,
Many installers belong to the KNX UK Association, and we asked them to tell us about some of the best projects from recent years, to see what ideas are going to be trickling down to those of us living in somewhat less aspirational homes!
At Villa Neo on the Caribbean island of St.Barthélemy the owners wanted advanced levels of building control but, as the Villa is often let, the controls had to be simple despite the sophistication that lies behind them.
The system designers also had to allow for the local climate. Intense sunlight makes it harder to control temperatures in a building with a lot of glass, plus there’s the need to consider hurricanes and frequent power failures.
So, at this villa, high winds cause the storm shutters to close and the outdoor cinema screen to retract. Sensors also detect power outages and, because the whole system is integrated, they trigger other systems to run in setback modes until the power is restored.
Closer to home, a 12000sqft 7-floor super-home at Richmond Park demonstrates how KNX can be scaled up to meet increasing demand. It now has 185 circuits of lighting, 34 zones of heating, 26 external venetian blinds, garage doors, gates and garden features and a discrete cinema, all seamlessly controlled using KNX and all fully accessible from a single app purpose-written by KNX UK member GES Digital.
It works both ways of course and you can scale KNX down to retrofitting an individual flat. Bear in mind though, that whatever you choose, any cabling work is almost certainly going to need the freeholder’s permission.
This approach to smart tech is also becoming attractive to developers of new blocks of flats. At London’s 270-apartment Paddington Gardens development, KNX control was chosen instead of a traditional building management system. Designer and installer Ark M&E says the platform slashed the cost of providing control for shared underfloor heating, ventilation with heat recovery systems, lighting and blinds, while giving each apartment its own control panel. The system also automates essential periodic flushing of the developments heating systems.
According to KNX the benefits of the system include future proof technology, endless flexibility and personalization, safe and secure, fully integrated and easy to install – Inspector Gadget will be delighted!
Reviewed 14 April 2022
The opinions and views expressed in the above articles are those of the author only and are for guidance purposes only. The authors disclaim any liability for reliance upon those opinions and would encourage readers to rely upon more than one source before making a decision based on the information.