The 240m² family house, built in 2008, is not just all about the technology – it makes ordinary life in the home its highest priority. There are loads of practical functions, tailored exactly to the owners’ needs. These functions are affordable, easy to set up, and simply make everyday life a lot easier. The centrepiece of this project is the Miniserver which, with its intelligent control of everything from blinds and lighting to the sauna and home cinema, makes life in the home much more comfortable, and meaningfully supports the owners.
This detached house, close to the town center, was rebuilt on the foundations of an old 1960s house in 2008 and is a real gem, both inside and out. As the owner was not happy with the initial KNX installation, everything under the hood was replaced with the finest technology Loxone has to offer.
Blinds that look after themselves
Our blinds adjust themselves fully automatically. It initially took a bit of getting used to, but now we couldn’t do without them. In the morning they open to capture the sunlight and warm the room. Around midday, depending on room temperature and how much sunlight there is, the blinds will shade the house, then close in the evening to provide privacy. Of course, we can also adjust the blinds whenever we want manually form a switch, or with an iPhone. But most days they go all day on their own without any input from us. More on this later…
Give us some privacy! The ‘good evening’ function
Although our house is pretty well positioned away from prying eyes, once it gets dark, we still need some privacy. As soon as the sun sets (i.e not on a fixed timer – but using a local calculated sunset time) the blinds for the rooms facing the street come down to block out the view. That’s how we’re able to leave the blinds to do their job in the evening too.
Cock-a-doodle-doo – our ‘good morning’ function
Each morning as it gets lights, each blind is either raised, or set to ‘shade’ (i.e. slats in the horizontal position), depending on the room.
This function is triggered as soon as it’s light enough outside that you don’t need any more lights inside. It goes off at the earliest at 7am on working days, and 8am in the holidays.
Bye-bye cold! Free insulation.
People often discuss whether closing all your blinds or curtains really helps insulate a house or not. Purely from common sense I’d say yes. If you open a window when the outside shutters are closed you can really feel their insulating effect – especially when it’s windy as the air movement is less.
At no extra cost
Since the Miniserver does it all – and it won’t charge you any extra – we simply run the same shading program in winter when it’s less than 5 degrees after sunset.
Keep the sun out – automatic shading
For those hot summer days we’ve set up Loxone’s automatic shading feature to provide just the right shading we want. With this feature, by using relatively simple functions, we can get the best from our blinds, and make them do what they were designed to do: provide shading.
Each window is managed separately, so when the sun hits the south-east side of the house in the morning, all the blinds there get into position. The slats close only as much as is necessary to stop any direct sunlight getting in and over-heating the house.
Even when we’re not at home, the blinds look after themselves – so we never have to return to an overheated house.
We’ve put contact switches on the patio doors so that the blinds can’t come down if a door’s open – stops us getting stuck in our own garden!
Keeping a (window) handle on shading
It’s nothing too exciting, but possibly for that reason also one of my favourite functions. Above the shower we’ve got a little window we can open to air the room quickly. However, when the blinds close automatically in the evening, opening the window doesn’t do anything. Our solution: opening the window when the blinds are down automatically triggers the blinds to open. As soon as the window’s closed again, the blinds close automatically. This saves the hassle of having to press a switch every time – simple, yet highly effective.
Sauna control with iPhone
We turn our sauna on via iPhone on the way back from a day’s skiing. 40 minutes later, once we’re home, nothing stands in the way of us having a cosy sauna. Temperature, humidity, lighting and music are set just the way we want them. You can also set the temperature, humidity and sauna mode with the app.
When we’re out of the house, our motion detectors serve as alarm sensors. If someone unauthorised gets in the building, the final level of our alarm is that all the lights in the house flash, the blinds open, and our Sonos box plays Rammstein at full volume. I also get a call on my mobile straight away. If it’s a false alarm, I can also reset the system over my phone.
In some rooms we also measure humidity – e.g. in the room where we dry cloths and in the bathroom. If the humidity reaches a high level for a sustained period then I’m sent an email. If the humidity reaches extremely high levels, I get a call on my mobile.
The home cinema enabler for mothers-in-law!
Definitely one of our most loved functions. The main reason for setting it up was for my wife: “When my parents come to visit or to look after the kids, they can’t watch our TV!”. A good enough reason for giving them a single switch which does everything for them.
Smart music & Sonos
As a central music solution, Sonos is just the job. You can control it with Sonos Controller or with the Sonos app. To allow you to find your favourite music quickly and easily, you can use the traditional buttons for the most important tasks:
• Louder / Quieter
• Play / Pause
• Next station
This means you no longer have to search for the controller or fiddle around in the app. For certain zones, music is turned on by presence detectors, and in the bathroom, our favourite radio station comes on in the morning.
Perfect lighting with lighting scenes
Throughout the house we’ve set lighting scenes, both to save on light switches and to make the most out of every single light in the house – which certainly wouldn’t happen if every light was controlled by its own switch. In our kitchen for example we’ve got five different light circuits assigned in the various scenes.
Zoned heating control
Zoned heating control looks after the temperature in each room, all the time. Whatever the weather, amount of sunlight or time of year, this automation makes sure our underfloor heating is always at exactly the right level. Thus the bedroom is always kept at a pleasant 18°C, whereas we keep the bathroom and living room at a cosy 23°C.
Of course, we couldn’t leave out a ‘central off’ switch. It makes sure that, when we leave the house, all lights and appliances are turned off, and depending on the mode, the alarm is set.
And the unique feature: every switch in the house turns into a central off switch just by triple pressing – so we’ve always got this practical function close to hand.
Room lights off
We do like using this function: If you double press any of the light switches, then all the lights in the room turn off – saving time looking for the right switch.
A splash of colour
Throughout the house we’ve installed coloured LED lights to emphasise the house’s main features. These are controlled either through automatic sequences or with lighting scenes. The choice of colour is either made automatically, or with a traditional button – no need for a separate controller or other remote.
Access from anywhere
A firewall and fixed IP address allow us to access our home easily from anywhere in the world. Perfect if we want to turn the heating up before getting back from holiday, let the delivery man in, or get the sauna ready from the ski piste.
Opening up remotely
By integrating the garage doors, front door and side entrances we can open or lock up remotely, for example, to let in a delivery. It is also particularly useful to open up for the neighbours who just wanted to bring some doughnuts or quickly borrow a drill.
Control Screen – All doors / windows closed?
When going on holiday, or even when we’ve just popped out the house, so we can do a few quick checks we’ve got a control screen on the app and user interface where we can check that all doors and windows are locked and that no lights or sockets have been left on.
Warning if the garage door’s still open
Because you can’t see the garage doors from our living room, we particularly value this function. If one of the doors is still open at dusk, a timer starts. If a door is still open after two hours then I get a call on my mobile telling me to shut it.
With the user interface for iPad, iPhone and PC/Browser, we have a simple and clear way of accessing all functions and settings in the whole house. We often use the user interface for remote access, or an iPhone / iPod as a simple remote control.
Automatic safety lock
To provide additional security, all outside doors and gates which are electrically linked are locked automatically at night. This makes sure we don’t accidently leave one open.
Make sure we know what’s going on in the rain tank
The water level in our central rain water tank is continuously monitored with a suitable sensor. If the water level is low, then the power to the pump is turned off to prevent it running dry. We’re also sent information by email.
The exact weather for our house
The weather forecast we get is calculated exactly for our house. So we can always get the current weather, and a two day forecast: whether we’re out and about with an iPhone, or with the iPad on the wall. What’s fantastic: the weather data isn’t just used for information – the sunlight data for example is used to decide whether or not to activate the automatic shading.
Just for fun – data recording
Just out of interest, and because it doesn’t cost a penny extra, I enjoy plotting out various bits of data from the house, like the water level in the cistern, temperature in different rooms, wind speed etc.
- Loxone Cloud Services: Caller, Weather
- Cisco firewall, Telekom internet connection
- KNX sensors – switches, motion sensors, weather station
- Ultrasound sensor to measure water level in rainwater tank
- EnOcean motion sensors and door contacts for the retrofit in the basement
- Warm white and coloured LED lighting
- CFL with dimmable balasts, controlled via 0-10V signal
- Reed switches on garage doors for security
- Controlling Dreambox & Denon AV receiver via LAN
- Control of Sony TV via Loxone IR module
- Sonos multiroom audio system (controlled via LAN)
- Mixture of 0-10V and I/O valve actuators for UFH and radiators
- Loxone room sensors for temperature and humidity measurements
- 1 Miniserver – the brain for all tasks
- 11 Extensions
- 1 IR Extension
- 1 1-Wire Extension
- 3 Dimmer Extensions
- 2 DMX Extensions
- 2 EnOcean Extensions (retrofit in the old basement)