Smart Home interview: The relentless rise of KNX

posted on Wednesday, 26th August 2015 by Steve May

Home automation  KNX  MyKNXStore 

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The KNX building automation and control system has been a popular control solution in Europe for years, and it’s now starting to make headway in the UK, not least because of the efforts of system evangelists like MyKNXStore. The technology's appeal is considerable. KNX enables the integration and programming of a wide range of products from a wide range of manufactures. The choice in hardware and solutions is considerable. It can also be integrated successfully with other proprietary control standards, such as Control4. To learn more, InsideCI quizzed MyKNXStore General Manager Paul Kinghorn…

KNX has been around for almost as long as home automation has been a concept. What’s keeping the technology new and fresh?

Paul Kinghorn: “I think there are three aspects to the UK KNX market which is keeping the technology current: the software, the products and the commitment in terms of European manufacturers staffing levels to the UK market.

“We are now up to ETS5, and with each version brings increased functionality and integration. With every update the scope of works increases so for example on ETS 5, an easier interface and new layout simplify the whole programming element and in this day when time is money, that’s a significant saving in manpower. The current version also includes RF programming, a much welcomed addition."

The choice of KNX product is looking very impressive…

Kinghorn: “It’s taken a while for it to gain momentum, but this represents a commitment to the UK market, in terms of translated literature and the right mix of technical and sales staff targeting the right market or influencing specification. Gone are the days of one guy covering the whole of the UK, for technical support, specification and sales…"

So why is now a good time for installers and integrators to buy into KNX as a technology solution?

Kinghorn: “Well, it’s always been a good time to buy in, really. Although recently there has been an increase in the number of accredited training centres in the UK, which has made the training more accessible. Introducing KNX into your business allows you to increase revenue from future jobs, and it maybe for some businesses this is the right model to adopt, doing the same number of jobs but gaining increased revenue. Alternatively it can be an extension to your technical offering and allow you to quote and tender for new works. It’s also super-flexible and prevalent in both commercial and residential."

The smart home concept finally seems to be gaining traction. Why do you think that is? Is the market being price and app led.

Kinghorn: “yes. I think this has been helped massively by the media and the growth in popularity of shows such as Grand Designs, and other self-build/renovation based programmes.  On the back of this we have also seen the introduction of exhibitions which have turned aspirations into reality and made access to smart home installers and products far easier.

“Of course as smart phones and tablets progress to manage most things in our lives and environment it’s a natural extension that home control sit comfortably alongside our music and video libraries, and all other on-line resources/apps”

Where are the big opportunities for smart sparkies these days?

Kinghorn: “Judging from the amount of electrical installers we have on our course the smarter electrician has already clicked on the opportunities KNX certified training can bring. It’s likely the electrician may have worked with KNX installers on certain projects, he/she may have even followed wiring instructions which dovetail the electrical install into the KNX headend. To my mind, I’d be thinking ‘well I’m here on site, I might as well get paid for this.’

“For contractors it’s likely they are seeing KNX more and more on tenders so rather than having to sub contract it out, they choose to bring the expertise in house.”

What is it about the MyKNXStore offering that sets it apart from other distributors and resellers?

Kinghorn: “Two things – heritage and people. As part of a larger company we have a distribution network to which we can instantly tap into, and benefit from, our customers also don’t have to pay for our business overheads, which is part of a Park Head Office function. We have the benefit of a large warehouse facility, so availability on stocked items is not an issue.

“Let’s face it our products can be bought elsewhere, absolutely, we endorse a free market. But we have had positive feedback from our customers on how easy we are to deal with, we like to think we are a friendly bunch and believe wholeheartedly that people buy from people they trust and like and on the basis we strive to build open, honest and solid relationships.”

How does KNX fit with other control brands such as Crestron, AMX, Control 4, RTI etc. Is it an either or choice for integrators?

Kinghorn: “No, KNX is an enhancement to branded control systems, it’s not to be seen as a challenge it's recognized by most major brands who acknowledge this by including a KNX gateway in the product range.”

For more on KNX, and the products and services offered by MyKNXStore, visit our partner page here.

Steve May

Inside CI Editor Steve May is a freelance technology specialist who also writes for T3TechRadarHome Cinema Choice, Trusted Reviews and The Luxe Review.

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