Summary and outlook

Regarding new constructions in the industrial and commercial sectors, a progressive rise in building automation can be observed. In the residential building sector, however, this technology is not yet widely used. Like decades ago, the electrical installation is still limited to transporting and distributing electrical energy. Yet, the requirements for modern building installations have changed and increased in many respects - for instance, regarding:

• comfort/amenity;

• options for the flexible use of spaces;

• centralized and decentralized controls;

• intelligent linking of systems belonging to different building disciplines;

• options for communication;

• environmental compatibility; and

• minimizing costs for energy and maintenance.

The bus technology enables us to implement these and other functions, as well. There are several different bus systems available on the market. The largest share of the market is held by the EIB system. This bus technology is based on a common European concept. The manufacturers of EIB components have joined, on a European basis, in the European Installation Bus Association (EIBA). EIBA member companies ensure that bus-compatible products are available all over the world, and that electric installations conducted with the EIB installation bus will work with all building disciplines without giving rise to complications.

The local operating network (LON) bus is not only used in building automation applications; it is also used in process automation, machinery control and telecommunications. Applications in buildings are encountered mainly in medium- and large-scale functional buildings. So far, residential buildings are still an exception. For retrofitting a building with a home automation system, wireless bus systems are recommended. In this system, actuators and sensors work on battery supply. Another possibility for retrofitting installations without laying additional cables is the EIB Powerline system, which uses the 230 V supply network as the transmission medium.

Besides the European Installation Bus Association, in which companies manufacturing EIB components have joined, there are another two organizations - namely, Batibus Club International (BCI) and the European Home Systems Association (EHSA). In 1999, some member companies of the three major organizations founded the Konnex Association (KNX). Its aim is to merge the existing systems into one common, consistent standard on an EIB basis. Thus, a standard is accomplished under the name of KNX, which is based on a uniform system platform. Existing EIB products are already satisfying the KNX.

The options of saving energy by way of building control systems cannot be calculated globally since they depend on many factors, such as a building's standard of thermal insulation and the thermal mass of a building. According to the regulations on energy conservation (EnEV), the electronic single-room control with window-state monitoring function is supposed to have an energy saving potential of 2.9 kWh/m2a compared to conventional thermostatic valves. Other studies state energy saving potentials of up to 15 per cent. The additional costs for installing a home automation system in a building (compared to a conventional building without building control systems) depend on the building's standard of equipment. If the standard of equipment is low, the additional costs will exceed costs for the conventional electrical installation by more than 30 per cent. If the level of equipment is high, the costs will be about the same, or may even be less.

The future development of building control systems is highly dependent on the potential users' acceptance. In the past, the multitude of different standards had rather an inhibiting effect. In future, the Konnex Association is to merge the existing systems into one common, consistent standard on an EIB basis. This will be conducive to accomplishing greater transparency and to promoting user acceptance.

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