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Thread: 2008 Brings Smart Home Utopia?

  1. #11
    Automated Home Jr Member nickgale's Avatar
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    OK so here's my opinion, (for what it's worth!)

    Ethernet will not be the solution, but it will be part of it, building control needs relaible, low bit rate communication over an open cable architecture with almost limitless cable length - Ethernet will not deliver this, KNX (formerly EIB) certainly will and coupled with ethernet will offer the sort of control we're all after.

    There are over 100 manufacturers making KNX enabled devices all of which talk to each other with no problems, so on the same project you can mix and match switches, thermostats, sensors, dimmers, relays, heating manifold controllers, etc all from different manufacturers and it will work. 2008 will be the year when KNX makes an impact in the UK, I'm sure, but it is still not going to be the system X that we all want by itself.

    But are we ever going to find the protocol or cable that can deliver high bit rate audio and video streaming at one end and the reliable low bit rate switching at the other? I don't think so and I don't actually want it! How fustrating would it be to find that the light won't turn on when you press a button because you happen to be streaming 4 different HD video feeds elsewhere on the network? A single bit of data can easily get lost on an ethernet network but that single bit might be the light switch you've just tried to operate! I want a rock solid control network like KNX doing the essential control and a less reliable but faster network delivering media, etc. What's more it's just about here, KNX and Ethernet are the solution in my opinion.

    However I speak as a KNX partner, and spent nearly £2000 getting to that stage in training and ETS licences, so maybe I'm biased!!

    Happy New Year!

    Nick

  2. #12
    Automated Home Legend chris_j_hunter's Avatar
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    Default 2008 Brings Smart Home Utopia?

    Nick -

    >control network & Ethernet ...

    'think you're right about keeping them separate in terms of cable & data-flows etc ... but they do need to be linked functionally / logically, if HA is to be really good & convenient ... it's some time since I really looked, but how good is EIB at that ?

    >EIB ...

    if you're right about EIB taking-off in the UK, it would be great ... when we looked at it, it seemed to me it was very well thought-through, technically & market-wise, was first-rate for quality, had a lot of support, offered an awful lot of options, and was very likely to stay the course ...

    we almost went that way, only we found it too expensive ('though, so far as I could tell, the costs would have been not unlike those of C-Bus, which has a good following in the UK), not really accessible to the likes of us (DIY HA), in the way that C-Bus & Idratek (which is also very affordable) are, and not smart enough (in the way that Idratek is), albeit there's room to develop that side of things ('though it was difficult to see when that might actually happen, at least in the short to medium term, and we'd have no choice but to wait for it) ...

    talking with one or two of the guys who can really make it sing, at shows, was always encouraging & impressive ... as was the range of products available (switches, sensors, controllers, actuators, white-goods, and goodness knows what else) & the support infrastructure that was already in-place - especially in Germany & Eastern Europe - how's your German ?

    anyway, good luck - IMO you stand a good chance, and it would be great to see it happen !

    Chris

  3. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by nickgale View Post
    However I speak as a KNX partner, and spent nearly £2000 getting to that stage in training and ETS licences
    And that's just one of several reasons why EIB/KNX is not "X"



    M.

  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by nickgale View Post
    OK so here's my opinion, (for what it's worth!)

    Ethernet will not be the solution, but it will be part of it, building control needs relaible, low bit rate communication over an open cable architecture with almost limitless cable length - Ethernet will not deliver this, KNX (formerly EIB) certainly will and coupled with ethernet will offer the sort of control we're all after.
    I don't think so! (of course, that's just my opinion)

    KNX is really "just another bus" - Personally, I think that seperate ethernet domains would do the same job, much, much better.

    We have incredibly reliable transport using IP over ethernet - the resilience doesn't need to come from layer 1 or 2 (the physical bits): we can easily add resilience up at layer 3 - and despite the bogey man of congestion (There's the sound of the Comp Sci Profs again!), in practice, we all know from our day to day experience that ethernet networks don't drop data left right and centre.

    despite the motley assembleage of crap old telephone cables, routers, switches and nics from a couple of hundred vendors that it will go over, I'm pretty confident that my post will arrive at the Automated Home webserver!

    If I wanted to build a KNX device, I would have to have bloody deep pockets - if it cost you 2 Grand just to become an installer, think how much a vendor needs to pay to become part of the "club".

    building ethernet devices costs diddly squat, unless you want to issue your own MAC numbers - and even that's manageable.

    best wishes for the new year - and happy hogmanay!

  5. #15
    Automated Home Legend chris_j_hunter's Avatar
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    Default 2008 Brings Smart Home Utopia?

    OK ... multiple Ethernet + IP sounds good & (even better) practical ... so, why has no-one gone that way, in HA, already ? It's the question that anyone who comes up with a good idea always gets asked ... it often irritates, but it's a fair question !

    Chris

  6. #16
    Automated Home Jr Member nickgale's Avatar
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    We recently completed a large KNX installation of 150+ lighting circuits, 28 zones of UFH, DMX colour change LED's, etc. This involved over 100 devices, which is only practical on a bus system, (100 port segmented hub and radial cat5 lines? no thanks I'll have a bit of green cable please!) This is why Ethernet will not be the answer by itself (and why it hasn't been the answer so far).

    KNX has a huge market in mainland Europe and in the far east, there are new products appearing regularly with more and more functions. Yes it's a costly system at the moment but it's rock solid and reliable and it isn't 'just another bus system' it's supported by 100+ manufacturers, yes it's costly to join the club but many have decided it's worth it. The Gira home server provides one possible method for viewing and controlling a KNX system over IP (again top end, I admit).

    Will system X ever happen - sorry but I don't think so, plug and play exists in the IT world but there are still many IT support companies out there who exist to make different bits of IT kit work together because a level of expertise is needed to make this happen. Compare the size of the corporate IT market to the HA market, we're small fry in comparison, if ease of interoperability has not happened in the IT world with their R&D budgets what hope do we have of seeing this in HA?

    Cheers

    Nick

  7. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by nickgale View Post
    We recently completed a large KNX installation of 150+ lighting circuits, 28 zones of UFH, DMX colour change LED's, etc. This involved over 100 devices, which is only practical on a bus system, (100 port segmented hub and radial cat5 lines? no thanks I'll have a bit of green cable please!) This is why Ethernet will not be the answer by itself (and why it hasn't been the answer so far).
    You're still not getting it Nick

    A Bus lighting system is fine. X doesn't replace that, in the same way it doesn't replace HMDI as a route between AV devices.

    X is so the KNX system can talk to the Security panel, or the heating Controller or whatever.

    X is the Link, the "Glue" as the xAP and xPL guys have often called it that means each subsystem in the home can converse with all the others.

    M.

  8. #18
    Automated Home Lurker The Masked Installer's Avatar
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    Default Where are the xAP and xPL guys?

    When we started I really thought that xAP or xPL was going to be really useful in what we did. We never really got it and by the time we were ready to get it we'd already got into AMX and Crestron and that was that. Our market had changed and what we wanted to do had changed but I still thought it looked interesting.

    The Electronics world is busily putting ethernet ports onto things because they know that it's a sensible thing to do but they're not about to have a huge group hug and agree some marvelous protocol that allows simple drag and drop type automation integration.

    In that context having the ability to create your own glue is invaluable. Ours is lovely but rather expensive. Where's the xAP and xPL glue these days

  9. #19
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    Default Transmission Medium

    Interesting thread...

    There are a number of issues, in my opinion, when it comes to a suitable system 'X'. In fact the clue is in the word system, rather than protocol or software or firmware or etc. etc.

    The other issue specific to Home Automation is the word 'Home'.

    Some of us have been tinkering with HA for years with varying levels of success. Some of us have been lucky enough to start with a blank sheet of paper (a new build) while others have had to retro-fit, either in one major refurb or room by room.

    For a system to become ubiquitous in the home in the near future, less than 5 years, it needs to respect the fact that the majority of people will not be doing any major wiring work. The average life of a building in the UK, between major refits, has to be 40 to 50 years? For this reason alone the system needs to support some sort of wireless option.

    Wireless has many faults, as well as the obvious advantages. But for domestic appliances it may be the best option? Having said that why would we want domestic appliances connected?

    Personally I like the Node 0 approach with things home run. It then becomes more of an issue about cable management and agreed practices for cable termination, be that Krone, RJ45, Coaxial or whatever. By using the home run approach you maintain flexibility and a more future proof installation. I look to the commercial world where cost is an issue and this is still normal practice. If you have a device / installation that will never change then a fixed (dare I say bus) arrangement is OK. But 5 years later when you want to change or upgrade how much upheaval will it cause? Of course this takes up space but it is relative to the overall system (house), giving over 4 or 5% of a building using low value space (Under the Stairs, Loft or Basement) seems reasonable.

    I suppose what I am saying is that house design needs to be more sophisticated and include provision for the systems we want to implement. Early installations of Electricity and Gas to homes resulted in exposed infrastructure, something we would not tolerate today. I think HA needs to be a fundamental part of a house, be it a new build or refurb, and until that happens it will be very difficult to make it look seamless and ubiquitous…

    On a plus note, when this is done the devices and software are available to help us reach HA Nirvana but it comes back to the old triangle of quality, time, cost… You can have two but never all three of them… You have to decide.

    On a passing note, a friend once said to me; ‘I have never seen someone spend so much time trying to save himself time’.

  10. #20
    Automated Home Legend chris_j_hunter's Avatar
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    Default 2008 Brings Smart Home Utopia?

    interesting, one or two thoughts-back :

    >why ... domestic appliances connected ...

    so we can tell the WM / DW to start after we've gone to-bed (rather than now, or in x-hours time, or at x-o'clock) ... so we can tell if the WM has finished, without having to go-see ... so when it goes-wrong, we get to hear ... so a bell will go, with appropriate tones, when multiple times are up (tea brewed, by type, veg' have cooked for whatever time, time to check the meat, etc) ... so get to hear when fridge is out of range, because door-open, thermostat failed, etc ... so noisy stuff will pause when someone needs to talk (visitor, 'phone, etc) ... so lighting can be auto-appropriate ... so when we're out the HA can do what's necessary ... so when weigh oneself, it's auto-fed to the database and auto-corrected for time of day & trended ... so ....loads more, but the list would never be complete, so flexibility adapt in future needed !

    >node0 ... bus ...

    not sure it's one or the other, more-likely a mix ... if for no reason other than the Cat-5 cabling will have to cover the needs of both the HA & Ethernet (& HDMI), and the cabling can be arranged to be interchangeable (which is where we're headed, I think, with node0 & a few hubs in suitable places - study, bed, etc, etc - around the house, to which power goes, too, of course, so running extra capabilities in the future is fairly easy, hopefully) ... not sure bus is less flexible, because a lot less-wires are involved & topology is pretty / very free, depending on the system used ... both are flexible, but not in the same way !

    >time trying to save ...

    aye, we're all caught by that ... but although we do say it's to save, maybe we just say that because we think that's what people would undertsand ... it's probably more about quality (your triangle, again) ! ?

    Chris

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