Basic capabilities of smart home systems
A Smart Home system enables you to control a building's central functions, light, heating, window blind circuitry, etc., from any point in the house, according to your wishes. System expansion and changes to functions are also possible, at any moment, without the need to alter the physical installation, as would be the case of a traditional system. In a smart home this is achieved through reprogramming of the appliances.
Basic features of KNX/EIB systems are:
1. Control of light - whether switched on/off or with dimmer
2. Creation of light scenes with option of their modification by the investor
3. Control of air parameters (HVAC)
4. Control of security blinds, window blinds and curtain rails
5. Control of garage doors, driveway gate and entry gate via remote control units and consoles
6. Use of central management functions for the whole building
7. Consoles and appliance aesthetics
8. Use of LCDs in system control consoles
9. Mirror heating in bathrooms
10. Intelligent structural networks
Ad. 1. Control of light - switched on/off or with dimmers
Lighting is one of the most important components of the house. Currently people spend most of their time at home in the evening. So, lighting appropriate for the mood and situation is an important component of satisfaction in our house. If a room should have many doors or if there are many sources of light, a traditional installation soon becomes too complex. In case of intelligent control it poses no trouble. We can let imagination soar and swiftly create an unmatched atmosphere in our house.
In certain rooms additional dimmers for lamps are worth considering. Such rooms are the living room (i. e. to achieve a special atmosphere), the corridor between the bedroom and bathroom (so that in the night bright light does not blind anyone sleepy), the bedroom and the children's room (children don't like to go to sleep in the dark). Dimmed lamps can gradually achieve full intensity so as not to expose the eyes to a sudden flash of light.
For rooms in which one usually doesn't spend long amounts of time motion detectors can be installed; such rooms include corridors, passages and toilets. Light intensity sensors will switch lamps on only when the light intensity is low in a particular room. In corridors planning two light zones is worth it - i. e. dimmed light when nobody is present and full intensity light when anybody passes. This option contributes to vast electric energy SAVINGS.
If one installs lamps in the garden, it's also worth creating different light scenes for various occasions. It's worth it to implement radio remote control of these lamps; one can then carry the remote unit in the pocket instead of having to go into the house each time. Light control outside of the building is executed through consoles, motion detectors, radio remote controls, and centrally through a dusk sensor installed on the roof.
- when a child is afraid to go from the living room to their room upstairs in the evening (or from the room to the kitchen downstairs) it can simply press one button to light all lamps in its path (corridor, stairs, room)
- in case of fire all lights are turned on to aid evacuation
- in case of absence of the family, the lights are activated automatically, simulating the presence of occupants
- automatic lights in the driveway and garage
- automatic external lamps at dusk, which are turned off for the night
- lighting activated depending on the presence of anyone
- option of creating light scenes (sets of lamps turned on simultaneously with adapted, pre-programmed intensity), i. e. for dinner, reading, guest visit.
Ad.2. Creation of light scenes and their modification
In large or representative rooms it is worthwhile to program several light scenes (moods). You need one type of light for a romantic dinner, different when having guests over, and still other when reading or watching TV. A light scene is comprised of several lamps activated simultaneously, each at its own specific power level. At the touch of a button you can change the 'atmosphere', i. e. from general to romantic. In one moment certain lamps are turned on while others are turned off. And all of this with the press of a single button. A scene can also cover control of window blinds, heating and other appliances allowing the mood in a room to be changed more swiftly. Light scenes can be modified by the investor directly through the consoles or via the digital visualisation from any computer.
Ad 3. Control of heating, air conditioning, ventilation and air humidity
Thanks to the use of Smart Home systems one can make optimum use of the heating installation, making a great contribution to savings. The energy consumption is kept at the minimum level required to provide the highest comfort. Intelligent control allows each room to have its own temperature (one needs different conditions for the living room, bedroom or children's room), independent of the outside conditions (two similar rooms located in different parts of the house require a different amount of heat at various times of the day, which isn't achieved easily with traditional methods).
In each 'mood' zone (of a room or building) one can achieve independent control of the temperature (heating/air conditioning). The system also takes care of appropriate air humidity and freshness (ventilation). Thermostats controlling the ambient temperature are integrated with the control consoles for light, blinds, etc., thanks to which the aesthetics of the appliances is not corrupted. One can read the current temperature of a selected room off any thermostat, as well as set the desired temperature (if a room does not require heating - ventilation switches on; if the humidity sensor detects dry air - it is also humidified). If a particular room is not 'inhabited', there is no need to sustain a comfortable temperature. Should it be required, one can remotely switch on temperature control (without the need to enter the room) i. e. an hour before the arrival of guests.
Control of temperature in rooms is exercised by aesthetically pleasing thermostats (they can be integrated into control consoles), heating control units or adjustment units installed at radiators (or heating splitters), control units connected to air conditioners and the central unit, as well as temperature sensors outside and inside the building. They increase the comfort and allow for energy savings.
- Individual temperature settings for different rooms increase comfort and contribute to family health.
- When everyone leaves the building the temperature is reduced by a few degrees in the whole house, contributing to energy savings (1 ˚C = 6% savings on energy).
- Automatic reduction of temperature at night time and in 'uninhabited' rooms also contributes to savings.
- The house is aired out before the family arrives.
- Air conditioning is on only when anybody is in the house so as not to waste energy
- Warm air heating can be controlled; the air heated by the fireplace (or furnace) is distributed across the whole house via ducts.
Ad.4. Control of window blinds, security blinds and electric curtain rails
The smart home system allows much more effective use of blind, window and gate control. Central control, as well as control from any spot in the house, and the option of programming automatic events, provide unmatched comfort and security.
After the family leaves the house, external blinds close, curtains are raised not to gather too much dust, temperature is lowered, and ventilation switches to minimum power. The user will be informed by a warning signal of any window or security blind still open.
Window blind control is effected using the same consoles that govern the light settings. A longer press of a button, over 0,4 seconds, closes or opens the blind all the way, whereas shorter presses cause gradual movement or stop the movement. In the range of window products there are control and actuator units that cater to various needs - rails for ordinary curtains, vertical and horizontal blinds, external as well as internal blinds, special curtains and duette blinds.
- The blinds are rolled down when sunlight warms the room too much.
- The blinds are rolled up when the use of sunlight allows energy savings.
- During strong wind the control unit of the marquees will retract them to protect them from damage.
- Sensors control windows, doors, gates, and report any malfunction, on demand also via phone or the Internet.
- At dusk, window blinds, windows and security blinds close to protect the family against alien eyes from the street.
- Unique, electric curtain rails allow the closing and opening of traditional curtains.
Ad.5. Control of garage door, driveway gate, entry gate from remote control units and consoles
Selected radio remote units controlling the operation of gates and doors, as well as other investor-selected functions. The opening of the driveway gate activates for one minute the lamps along the driveway leading to the garage. Opening of the garage door activates the lamp over the driveway.
Ad.6. Use of central management functions for the whole building
Several central functions can be installed in the building:
- when exiting the house, all lights can be switched off and all window blinds rolled down with the press of one button
- common control of heating and lighting allows to effect temperature reduction in rooms for which there are no motion detectors installed
- when retiring to bed, one can switch off all lamps, reduce temperature and roll down all blinds with one button; the system will check whether all windows and doors are closed (requires integration with alarm system)
- when we want to take a nap. the curtains will automatically shut, and the telephone, entry phone and door bell will be switched off - nobody will bother us (requires integration with central telephone unit)
- wake-up - the system opens the curtains and informs about the temperature (weather station required)
- central clock controlling the lighting of any chosen part of the building, can also order temperature reduction (clock and/or light intensity sensor required)
- maximum power consumption control, showing itself through smooth, unnoticeable reduction of consumption, i. e. momentary reduction of light intensity or minute reduction of temperature of any selected room (requires energy meter for the KNX/EIB system)
- locking the door can initiate any pre-programmed procedure to be executed by light, heating or window blind control units (requires integration with access control system).
Ad 7. Console and appliance aesthetics
Free assignment of functions to consoles (switches) allows: switching on/off and power adjustment for lamps/appliances/blinds, central control of building equipment from one console, free changes of setup and control methodology without intervention in the electric installation. The only things visible in the rooms are the electric consoles. Actuating elements are hidden away in cabinets. One console can control even a dozen or more appliances or their groups. A smaller number of consoles brings aesthetic benefits in large rooms. The consoles come in tens of designs and colours.
All of them are powered by safe 24 V DC voltage or use radio/infra red waves, eliminating the risk of electric shock and reducing the risk of fire of the electric installation - the power voltage cables run directly to lamps and outlets (SAFETY). This also, in effect, reduces electromagnetic emissions.
Ad.8. Use of LCDs in KNX/EIB control consoles
Consoles may come with built-in LCDs. They provide information and alarm notifications from sensors and detectors.
Ad 9. Heating of mirrors in bathrooms
Thin heating film installed under the mirror effectively prevents it from steaming up. It can be turned on simultaneously with the light, or independently. The cost of 30 hours of heating is about EUR 0,02.
Ad 10. Intelligent structural networks
An intelligent building consists not only of the control system, but is also formed by a certain proper way of laying the 'media' installations - TV, phone, data network... all these are laid in a star formation, with the central point in one specific place. Such an installation allows free assignment of communication services to rooms, and provides high signal quality. Thanks to this one can watch a film off a DVD on any TV they wish, or answer the entry phone through any telephone (even a wireless one).