KNX powers the energy transition

With climate change at the top of the agenda, the concept of the smart city and the transition from fossil fuel to zero carbon have never been more relevant. So what role has KNX to play, and how do we move forward?

Whilst the benefits of KNX are obvious and well-understood by those in the business, there is still a lot of education to be done. For example, as widespread as KNX may be today - in Germany for example, the share of KNX in smart homes and commercial buildings is 56% - the system is still far from being a no-brainer. The smart home landscape is still too fragmented and there are many competing and overlapping systems.  

As KNX is an open, worldwide standard with which over 500 manufacturers comply, it should be an easy sell, especially since you can mix and match products from different manufacturers and they will work seamlessly together. That affords the customer future-proof protection and means that they are not hostage to any one supplier. Since 2009 we have seen many a system disappear into oblivion - proprietary solutions tend to do this. Which is why we need to choose KNX for smart homes and buildings, precisely because it is not a proprietary system.


Security and robustness

Another advantage of KNX is that a KNX system can be set up not only as an open system, but also as a closed system. That is an important aspect in terms of security. For example, what happens if the internet should fail? With KNX, whatever happens, the smart home will not cease to function but continues to work undisturbed. This is due to the fact that KNX uses intelligence that is distributed across the system, rather than centrally-located or outsourced to the cloud, so there is no central point of failure that can bring the system down. Whichever device might fail, everything else continues to work. KNX also offers powerful cyber security through KNX Secure technology.



Yet another benefit of KNX is the growing number of certified installers worldwide, which, Bernd Zeilmann, head of the Bayreuth Guild for Electrical Engineering and Information Technology, argues is key and means that customers are not left stranded should their installer no longer be available. The more tradespeople that are skilled in KNX the better, so that any company can immediately pick up where another has left off. So it's important that we get into the vocational schools.

Ultimately it will be the electrical trade that has to implement home and building automation and set up the energy management systems on site. Energy consumption has to be reduced by 50% by 2050, but the electrical trade is not involved enough and many companies don’t know this field well. We can only meet the target with young skilled workers. That’s why, the new profession of 'Electronics technician for building systems integration' is a must for the future professionals. It is our concern that we barely manage to meet the demand that will arise in the near future for new training.


A seat at the table

The electrical trade is facing completely new demands. Anticipatory energy control is the goal, so we have to take into account self-generation and self-consumption, monitor the state of the grid to reduce grid costs, take into account the electricity market because there will soon be flexible electricity prices, and plan the entire process 96 hours in advance. At the end of the day, we must rely on the trades to implement all of this in an economically-attractive way. KNX professionals need to be at the table when technical regulations are drawn up concerning sector interconnection such as e-mobility and grid integration.


KNX and the energy transition

How do the functions of existing KNX systems and the products of KNX Members measure up to the challenges of successfully implementing the energy transition? The fact that KNX is independent and already widely used is a good starting point. KNX must create intelligent interfaces that everyone understands - something comprehensive, like KNX IoT. In order to achieve that, more intelligence has to go into the systems. Building on this, we would like to see fewer device types in future, for example by integrating actuators and sensors.

According to Helmut Haßenpflug, KNX is equipped to play an important role in the transition. "All of the necessary products are available, and we can use them with existing home energy management systems, which already works well in smart homes. However, there is still work to be done with respect to heaters and ventilation. Too few providers currently equip their devices with intelligent interfaces or do not even want to disclose the interfaces - especially in the higher performance ranges."



Thanks to the resourcefulness and innovative spirit of the 500+ KNX members in approximately 50 countries, who now offer a wide range of different KNX devices, almost every problem can be solved and every automation wish fulfilled.

The variety of KNX devices that can now be used in the IoT environment means that KNX already meets the requirements to be able to realise sector interconnection and load shifting. In particular, charging points for electric cars can be integrated into smart homes and smart buildings – an important aspect of successful energy transition.

The technical advantages of KNX are clear, but it is also important to bring end users with us. As Jürgen Leppig suggests: "The entire topic of home automation needs to be brought to the attention of the general public. This is not about the technical discussions in detail. End users should not even notice the complex technology behind it - it only works if we can offer convincing solutions." The smart meter gateways that now have to be introduced offer new opportunities for this - the combination of smart metering and smart home could achieve the final breakthrough. But this would require more standardised solutions instead of proprietary ones. With demand for energy efficiency growing, KNX can play a major role not only in the home or building, but throughout neighbourhoods and cities. Bernd Zeilmann puts it more strongly: "Sector interconnection, the energy transition and climate protection are not possible without KNX."


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