17.04.2021   KNX HVAC Solutions Conference Review


KNX is a future-proof standardised technology that works in all areas of home and building control automation, including HVAC (Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning). To help inform the market about how powerful KNX is in this area, the KNX Association hosted the KNX HVAC Solutions Conference online over two half days during 30 and 31 March 2021. The event comprised an expo area featuring promotional videos for sponsors, a reception, a networking area, the main stage and a session area. Chat and Q&A facilities for each session were also provided.

The following summarises the presentations given.

The Future Landscape of HVAC Integration with KNX - Watch here -

In this keynote, KNX Association Marketing Manager, Casto Cañavate, acknowledged how HVAC integration has always been a complex application to include in smart home and building projects, but that it is more important than ever to provide a more sustainable approach to smart homes and smart buildings as HVAC moves away from the use of fossil fuels to electrification. The presentation explained important concepts such as KNX IoT, services with KNX and energy management.

KNX Energy Management with KNX Classic and KNX IoT in Relation to the EN50491-12-2 Standard - Watch here -

KNX Association CTO, Joost Demarest, explained how KNX Classic has been controlling HVAC since the 1990s, and went on to provide an insight into the objectives of the EN 50491-12-2 standard. This aims to standardise energy flexibilities between a central customer energy manager (CEM) and devices or systems in a home or building. Joost explained how these concepts could be realised with traditional KNX system features and with forthcoming KNX IoT features, and how current and future KNX devices will then interact. He also clarified that KNX IoT is an extension built upon KNX Classic, does not replace KNX Classic and will not be included in ETS6 when it is released (expected Autumn 2021).

KNX Solutions for Integrated HVAC Control and Monitoring in Residential Buildings - Watch here -

Roberto Rocco, Business Development & OEM Account in Building Automation at Ekinex, explained that the case for KNX smart solutions is becoming ever more compelling as the focus intensifies on indoor environmental quality (IEQ), sustainability and energy-efficient integrated HVAC systems. Among the topics covered in his presentation were air renewal with energy recovery, demand-controlled ventilation and dehumidification. He gave examples of control using voice as well as Ekinex KNX pushbutton interfaces with temperature sensing and thermostatic functions.

HVAC Solutions and KNX Sensor Control Elements - Watch here -

Thorsten Reibel, Global Support and Training Specialist at ABB, discussed management, generation, distribution and consumption using ABB and Busch-Jaeger HVAC solutions for commercial buildings. For smaller or less complex buildings, he gave the ABB ClimaECO as an example of a configurable, water-based HVAC solution using KNX. For more advanced requirements, he showed how the company's recent acquisition, Cylon Controls, provides freely-programmable, comprehensive HVAC and building management solutions using BACnet. Among the products covered were a valve drive controller, fan coil controller, heating/cooling circuit controller, boiler/chiller interface, and interfaces with non-KNX devices. Busch-Tenton flush- and surface-mounting pushbuttons controllers with integrated, CO2, and humidity and temperature sensing were also discussed, as well as the Busch RoomTouch touch display and a freely-programmable building automation controller.

Full HVAC Integration by Airzone - Watch here -

Airzone's Project Engineer & Key Account Manager, Daniel Nuño, and Engineer & Training Specialist, Aarti Khemlani, presented the company's latest Smart HVAC Control KNX Gateway and controller for small- and medium-sized residential and commercial projects. They discussed control of different types of HVAC technologies including direct expansion, fan coils, air-to-water heat pumps etc. They also looked at how integration with KNX can be done via two Airzone devices, namely the Aidoo KNX controller for individual VRF units, and the KNX Communication Gateway that allows all Airzone systems to be integrated and controlled with KNX.

The ION App Remotely Controllable Room Controller - Watch here -

Elmar Löffler, Head of Technical Support & Services for Theben AG entreated everyone to be excited by the fact that the room controller solution he demonstrated for heating, ventilation and lighting could take advantage of smartphone apps without the additional cost of a visualisation server. Among the Theben products discussed were Ion controllers for air quality and comfort. These include a temperature sensor, allow external probes to be connected for dirty industrial areas and can control actuators such as the flushmounted Theben HMG 6T for heating and the Theben FCA1 and FCA2 for fan coils. With decades of experience, Theben includes standard settings in its products, that can then be customised.

Siemens HVAC Use Cases with the Touch Control TC5 Room Unit - Watch here -

Global Product Manager at Siemens Infrastructure, Jorge Sanchis Barcenilla, presented several HVAC applications using the new Siemens Touch Control TC5 room unit. Whilst the product can be used for lighting, blinds, energy efficiency and display of metering values, the focus of this session was on HVAC applications, including control of radiant ceiling, floor heating and radiators; control of 4-pipe fan coil; operation of VRF systems; and control of ventilation.

HVAC Control to Reduce Covid-19 Spread - Watch here -

Intesis Marketing Team Leader & Brand Development Manager, Maria Elena Cabello, and Product Management Director at BU Intesis, HMS Networks, Sofia Oses Moreno, began by pointing out that Intesis was acquired by HMS Networks and is now the brand name of the products. They discussed how the pandemic is affecting all of our businesses, how clean air is required in public buildings and how the increased use of the home office means greater need for comfort and energy savings. The session looked at Intesis KNX technology and tools to help systems integrators to control all parameters of an HVAC system, including integration of mechanical ventilation with heat recovery, controlled mechanical ventilation, and maintenance and filter cleaning schedules. It was also pointed out that Intesis collaborates with at least 40 major AC manufacturers, and offers gateways to outdoor units.

The KNX Room Controller - the Ultimate Solution for HVAC and Home Control - Watch here -

KNX Tutor for Bemco, Gordon Fry, described the benefits of using a KNX room controller in simplifying the user experience. It can bring together all of the aspects of room functionality, reduce the number of wall-mounted devices required, and hide any control ‘complication' whilst providing full system control through a simple and elegant user interface. Examples were given of controlling lighting, blinds and curtains, heating (underfloor and radiator) and AC (including fan coil) using products from Jung, Zennio, Siemens and ABB, with helpful descriptions of key features.

Developing HVAC solutions with KNX - Watch here -

KNX Association's Membership & Business Development Manager, Jesus Arias, gave an impressive overview that addressed systems integrators and companies interested in targeting the HVAC industry. He described how KNX offers numerous opportunities to create outstanding HVAC solutions: from field devices to full services that rely on the rich data produced by KNX installations. The presentation looked at the process of developing HVAC products, from single devices, through boilers, to complex systems using KNX IoT. It also covered sustainability, green building certification, services, advanced analytics to save money, and predictive maintenance. Among the examples of HVAC products given were sensors, room controllers, valves (including wireless using KNX RF), fan coil controllers with simple switches or inclusive thermostatic functions, boiler interfaces, AC interfaces, dew point sensors for cooling systems, and temperature probes for protection (for underfloor heating for example).

Indoor Well-being and Efficiency with Schneider Electric SpaceLogic KNX - Watch here -

With a focus on occupant comfort, Schneider Electric's Global Business Development Director, Marco Banzato, and Application Specialist - Smart Space, Global Competency Centre, Hashim Assanar, presented the company's latest KNX SpaceLogic product range. They emphasised HVAC control at room level, whilst integrating to a BMS for end-to-end control from the plant room to the room level. The range includes 24-230V and 0-10V fan coil actuators; a valve driver controller for heating and cooling; the Multitouch Pro room temperature controller with up to 32 buttons and an internal temperature sensor (connection to an external temperature sensor is also possible); the Pushbutton Pro T with touchless function and temperature sensor; and the Air Quality CO2, humidity and temperature sensor. BACnet and Modbus compatibility was also covered, as well as residential and commercial HVAC applications.

ClimaECO: ABB i-bus KNX and HVAC - Watch here -

ABB's Global Support and Training Specialist, Thorsten Reibel, explained how the ABB ClimaECO offers a holistic approach to HVAC using KNX, including room control, heating/cooling circuit control, boiler/chiller interfacing, central automation and seamless integration into higher-level management systems. Various examples of different types of HVAC system were provided, including a water-based heating and cooling system with detailed diagrams of flow and return. It was also pointed out that since ABB acquired the Cylon building management system, its i-bus KNX system can be integrated into the Cylon solution for BACnet or Modbus control.

ise Gateways for Convenient Integration of Heating Systems - Watch here -

ise Individuelle Software und Elektronik GmbH makes a wide range of KNX gateways for proprietary building control systems for a variety of applications. In this presentation, ise Head of Product Management and Technical Support, Robin Geide, looked at KNX gateways specifically for HVAC systems including Vaillant, Saunier Duval and Viega. He described their key features and gave plenty of practical examples of their application.

KNX Connectivity for HVAC Applications via Modbus - Watch here -

Demonstrating how easily Modbus devices can be connected to KNX, Weinzierl Engineering's CEO, Thomas Weinzierl, and Software Developer, Stefan Matsche presented the Weinzierl KNX Modbus RTU Gateway 886, which allows connection via RTU protocol (RS-485), whilst the new KNX Modbus TCP Gateway 716 offers a TCP/IP link. It was noted that data mapping from Modbus to KNX was one of the challenging parts of the development. Most common Modbus commands are supported, plus additional functions such as multiread requests, up-to-date register value, and diagnostic objects.

KNX RF Valve Drive for Wireless Room Temperature Control - Watch here -

Peter Sperlich, MD of Smart Building Services, pointed out that there are more than 20 companies that have developed KNX RF devices, and there are at least 80 KNX RF products already on the market. For wireless control of convector radiators, Peter talked us through the energy-self-sufficient KNXdrive4u valve drive from Smart Building Services. This uses KNX RF S-Mode to wirelessly integrate with KNX room temperature control. It is made from metal, not plastic, fits directly onto Heimeier/Oventrop-compatible M30x1.5 radiator valves, and can be attached to Grässlin valves using an adapter. Energy generation is via a Peltier element that uses the heat difference between front and back of the device. The KNXdrive4u has an internal temperature sensor, and can be programmed using ETS5 via a laptop with a KNX RF stick plugged in.

Connected Room Automation for the Ultimate Occupant Experience - Watch here -

Eelectron Chief Technical Assistant & Product Specialist, Andrea Pontoglio, discussed the latest solutions and devices from Eelectron, that include human-centric design for automatic management and guaranteed continuous integrated control, whilst lowering energy costs and improving efficiency. Products covered included the 9025 series room temperature controller with rear analogue and digital inputs and integrated temperature, humidity and CO2 sensors, with the possibility to connect an external probe. The elegant touchpanel has various glass cover options with customisable icons and up to 10 capacitive buttons. The Eelectron Multi.Sensor range was also covered, as well as actuators for heating and cooling management using valve and fan coil systems, plus a mobile app and voice control. Examples of hotel and residential applications were given, as well as COVID-19-specific applications involving air quality and occupancy monitoring.

Siemens RDG200 Range: KNX Communicating Room Thermostats - Watch here -

Product Manager for Room Automation and Smart Thermostat for Siemens, Guido Antonini, gave an informative account of the Siemens RDG200 communicating room thermostat range, which has built-in multisensors, supports fan coil, universal and heat pump applications, and comes with a wide range of preloaded applications. It offers seamless integration with the Siemens Synco and Desigo systems as well as KNX. The RDG200 is available in two basic versions, namely 24/230V and 0-10V. All models are wall-mounted, include three multifunctional inputs, and support commissioning via DIP switch, ETS or Siemens smartphone app. Fast commissioning whilst the device is unpowered in the box is also possible. Guido gave examples of applications in classrooms and office spaces and told us that master/slave functionality and a local time program for residential applications are planned for the autumn.

Conclusion

The KNX HVAC Solutions Conference was considered a great success. Focussing on a specific application provides more in-depth and high-quality information that can really benefit KNX professionals and those interested in finding out just how powerful KNX is.

The programme of presentations was an informative mix of topics that provided a good overview of trends, inspiration for areas in which business can be developed and useful technical information on a range of products and their application. Sessions were generally very engaging and not too long, with plenty of time for Q&As at the end. There was also the opportunity to be matched randomly, through the time-limited face-to-face meetings, in the Networking Area - a nice way to meet old and new acquaintances.

Yes, there were some areas for improvement, such as leaving sufficient time between sessions for comfort breaks, simplifying the presentation areas and perhaps finding even better ways to engage with delegates, but KNX Association is already aware of these and is ever-improving its offer. Well done to all who organised this event and participated in it, including KNXA's Sara Fan, who did an excellent job of live mediating!

Recordings of the above presentations can be found at the KNX YouTube channel

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