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Thread: Automating our boiler; a beginner's query.

  1. #11
    Automated Home Legend chris_j_hunter's Avatar
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    yep, agree / don't disagree - many ways can work !

    perception's a big part of it, too, and how carefully the protocols are managed ... and spreading risk is also a big point ...

    then again, most of this sort of thing is niche - ie: the world doesn't always fall-apart if they fail !

    when we look at what works well for us, about the house, open free-for-alls don't figure highly - hassle / chaos / failure to deliver often feature ...

    every way's a compromise, has its merits, pros, cons, risks, benefits - nothing's perfect ...

    still, there are quite a few possible systems to choose from, some very open, some quite closed, some in-between, and none able to do it all ...

    how about a short-list : EIB/KNX - EnOcean - C-Bus - Idratek - Comfort - Dupline - Nice - X10 - Hager Tebis - Hometronic - Rako - xAP - Netiom - Arduino - Cebek - Velleman - Picaxe ... and more ... each with benefits & omissions, each requiring different levels of involvement, and offering different degrees of freedom ... everyone's choice will be different !
    Last edited by chris_j_hunter; 30th January 2011 at 11:01 AM.

  2. #12
    Automated Home Legend TimH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kris2lee View Post
    I think that you should also consider that how many companies do support the platform.

    When you choose a system that is provided only by one company then you find yourself in the situation that is called a vendor lock-in.
    I do get your point re: sole sourcing (and I've read your later reply too). Which solution would you recommend to avoid a lock-in situation?

    Cheers,

    Tim.

  3. #13
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    Unfortunatelly I do not know a really good answer.

    I would say that it is KNX because it is supported by really big amount of companies (over 100) but it is rather expensive (specially when you do not look around and take what is provided by the big and famous companies and especially when you compare it with the X10).

    What makes it specially expensive for DIY is that you do need the configuration software. Its licence does cost 900 euro (without VAT) and you need this every time you want to change something in your configuration.

    This is no big deal for the installer who does many installations in one month. So you can cleary see how KNX business is meant to work.

    There is now (from about last year) actually a light version that does cost 100 euro. When you can stay within 20 device limit then it would be an option too.

    Of course when you do choose KNX and when you do not plan your wiring then you are limited to the KNX system. It has huge support but you are still limited. It is because it is the BUS system - every device is connected on single BUS and you can not use that wiring for something else. This is not a problem with the cable in the fuse box but with the cable you run around the building.

    It is possible to reduce this risk. For example when you want to automate the lights and the heating then do not connect them on the single cable. Run separate cables and connect them in the fuse box.

    Another issue is that there is no English speaking KNX community yet (or I'm not aware of it). KNX is quite popular in Germany (from where it mainly is from) and there is quite active user forum about it (http://knx-user-forum.de/) but its main language is German (you can still ask the questions in English and get the reply).

    KNX is also not the silver bullet (yet). For example its support for security system is quite weak. It does not support functions that are common in the evolved security systems and the devices are expensive (100 euro for the KNX connected PIR sensor is way over the limit I think).

    So it would be more reasonable to have non KNX security system. For example Cytech (Comfort) has a KNX gateway. It did look really nice (the gateway) but the Cytech system is limited to 64 inputs. This should be quite enough usually but I did run over it.

    Also KNX is not widelly supported by the heating device makers. This can be worked around and it is usually non issue. And with the heating devices I mean the boilers and heat pumps etc. The room control is excelent with the KNX and several companies do support KNX as an boiler or heat pump control option.

    When you do not mind the wireless then you could also look into the Z-Wave and Zigbee. I have not investicated it much because I think that wireless systems are unsecure at least in the long run and quite silly (you still have to run the wire for the power or constantly change the batteries (when you do not choose EnOcean)).

    Now what I really do not suggest is taking the system that is supported only by one company.

    I have a sad story to tell you about the Velleman (makes Velbus). Friend of mind does have Velbus system in his house and this is actually how I got into the home automation.

    So I first checked the Velbus. He told me that he got the dimmers by 45 euro. When I did check the prices then the price had raised to 110 euro. This made me thinking.

    Several months ago he told me that his neighbor also did choose the Velbus and is quite unhappy with it. He did somehow manage to get the dimmers with the lower price first but needed more later. Now it appeared that the cheaper dimmers were the previous version and are not available anymore. The new version is much more expensive and instead of 300W it supports only 250W load. But he does not have any other options.

    Friend of mine also told me that one of his dimmers died. When he opened the case then he found out that the fuse was broken. He told me that it was actually clearly on the limit. But to make things worse they also soldered it. So to fix this he must desolder the broken fuse and solder new one. He could also buy a new dimmer (with higher price and lower load support). Or atleast he still can do this today.

    With KNX you can choose dimmers from about 10 (or even more) companies. They have dimmers for every kind of loads.

    So my advice is that stay far away from the products that work only with the same company products.

    Do not try to take everything from one company but choose products that are the most suitable for the job (or with the most reasonable price). You could even mix different systems but when you do then count in the integration cost.

  4. #14
    Automated Home Legend chris_j_hunter's Avatar
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    ISTM, a combination of Idratek + xAP + Netiom-xAP might resolve nearly all those issues ...

    we very nearly went for EIB/KNX - good quality, expensive, but not as smart as Idratek, or as well supported ...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Plavixo View Post
    Does anyone have any suggestions, or entry-level resources you can point me to?
    Check these links about KNX.

    http://www.automatedhome.co.uk/Revie...dy-Review.html

    This is some story about one DIY KNX installation (it's quite old, from 2006, but it is on this website).

    http://www.knx.org/news-press/knx-journal/

    This page contains KNX organisation publications about their and their members doings. This website contains also some other usable information.

    http://www.knx-developer.de/

    This is one horrible website with frames but author of this website has right that there is not much information about KNX available (in English).

    Click on the "General information" and then on "Introduction to the system".

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KNX_%28standard%29

    This is should be also mentioned. When you want to dive deeper into the system then it might be good to check the websites of the manufactors.

    http://www.eibhandel.de

    This is German online shop mainly for KNX stuff with quite good prices.

    http://www.knxshop.co.uk

    This is UK KNX online shop.

    http://www.ivoryegg.co.uk/

    This is last shop owners website that contains also quite usable information.

    http://www.freebus.org/index.php/en

    And finally, this is open hardware version of the KNX (this is not completely in English).

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by chris_j_hunter View Post
    ISTM, a combination of Idratek + xAP + Netiom-xAP might resolve nearly all those issues ...
    Now it really depends on the location but where I live, we are in the situation where I can tell to the most of the electrician that I want a KNX system and they know what I mean.

    Another side of the story is when you want to sell your property. With the KNX I can tell to the potential buyers that this is the KNX system, it is a standard and every electrician knows it, it's cool and don't worry about it.

    I was also tempted to take the similar direction but these two points did hold me on the ground.

    I'm not saying that this is the only way. You just have to understand what you are doing.

    Quote Originally Posted by chris_j_hunter View Post
    we very nearly went for EIB/KNX - good quality, expensive, but not as smart as Idratek, or as well supported ...
    I do not know when you did check it but you actually can include smarts into the KNX too. There are several options from high end to the DIY but I'm not really familiar with this yet.

    I did order my electricity project from the company that is specialized in the KNX. They design them and build them. Well, that is the third side of the story.

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by chris_j_hunter View Post
    ISTM, a combination of Idratek + xAP + Netiom-xAP might resolve nearly all those issues ...
    I'm actually really sorry that Idratek invented it's own communication protocol instead of using existing standard. It really looks like their idea could work really well in the KNX system.

  8. #18
    Automated Home Legend chris_j_hunter's Avatar
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    excellent points (!) ... it may be that these systems (EIB/KNX, C-Bus, Idratek) were initiated at about the same time - they have lots in-common, in basic objectives, but also a lot to distinguish them, especially in how ambitiously they set their sights ... AIUI, KNX is quite popular in Germany & Eastern Europe, but it's unusual in the UK - not sure why. 'wonder what they think / do in France, and Benelux, Scandinavia ?

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by chris_j_hunter View Post
    KNX is quite popular in Germany & Eastern Europe, but it's unusual in the UK - not sure why. 'wonder what they think / do in France, and Benelux, Scandinavia ?
    I can only guess from my readings and local experience so I actually do not have any statistics.

    Hager is probably pushing the KNX a bit in the France so there probably is something happening. There exist quite usable information in French and I found also couple of blogs about some KNX installation progress. So something is happening but because I'm not any good in French I have not checked it latelly.

    From my own experience in Luxembourg I can tell that every electrician I talked about the KNX did know it and were willing to install it. From these talks I know that it is considered quite expensive (compared to the traditional direct wiring).

    There is probably not much happening in this direction in Netherlands. At least nothing visible on the Internets. There exists greate home automation forum (that is mostly in English btw) but it is more about mixing and matching different (cheap) stuff together with Homeseer and without it (http://www.domoticaforum.eu/).

    There is certanly something going on in Belgium (there is one user forum (but with not much activity) and several online shops that sell KNX stuff) but again I have not much information about it.

    Again I have no idea what is happening in the public sector.

    But it is really intresting question so please everyone who reads it and has some clues, please let others also know.

  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by chris_j_hunter View Post
    it may be that these systems (EIB/KNX, C-Bus, Idratek) were initiated at about the same time - they have lots in-common, in basic objectives, but also a lot to distinguish them, especially in how ambitiously they set their sights.
    I do not know much about the Idratek history but the first post here is from 2007. Wayback machine shows that there is something on Idratek site from 2003. I belive that KNX momentum was a bit different back then even when it had existed quite a lot time then.

    I think that this is actually a good question to the Idratek people that what were their considerations. Did they consider something else and when they did then why did they choose to create their own. Maybe they can give little insight into this matter.

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