Design & Installation Technology

Keep an open mind

Don’t look backwards, the saying goes. You’re not going that way! writes Simon Johnson, Sales Engineer, Theben and KNX UK board member

As an apprentice you are in the great position of being able to learn the theory and fundamentals of your trade in the classroom whilst picking up the necessary hands-on skills you need on the job. You need to have an eye for the future and be prepared.The industry is changing and the way things your mentors are doing things now may not be the way your career is going to pan out.

We are now onto the 18th edition of the BS7671 wiring regulations and, while the changes over the years have dramatically improved safety and installation standards, the basic wiring structure has pretty much remained the same. Sticking with that, I’m afraid, isn’t going to be your key to a successful and prosperous future.

Going forward modern buildings, both residential and commercial, will need to be controlled more intelligently and more efficiently to meet increasingly demanding energy efficiency regulations. Our existing installation habits simply will not achieve these demands. We will rely on the next generation of installers – that’s you – to learn and adopt new approaches.

Surrounded by the glitz and PR of the high-end controls industry it can be hard to choose what to adopt, especially as things change so fast. To my mind, the open and future proof KNX approach is the only logical answer.

KNX is an open protocol for bus wired systems developed over the past 27 years. It has adapted over the years into a very flexible, scaleable and intelligent wiring system with over 400 manufacturers now investing in and developing KNX approved devices that are guaranteed to work together. Using KNX you are free to choose the mix of devices you want and programme them using the KNX software.

Currently learning about the KNX approach is not included in your syllabus, an issue the KNX organisation is trying to address.T here are numerous training centres that offer the KNX training in different formats, with additional units on HVAC and manufacture specific training days as options. The benefits of adding KNX “Partner” status to your qualifications is that it will  help open doors and could help increase your future earnings potential.

But why KNX in a world of alternative control systems? A quick search on Google may help you answer the question. With a wide range of KNX installed buildings across the UK, Europe and the World, from individual homes and flats, large MDU’s (multiple dwelling units), modular buildings, stadiums, airports, hospitals and educational buildings, 400+ manufacturers, 400 training centres and 70,000 KNX Partners. KNX is the only truly open protocol industry standard.

The wiring structure of KNX unlike our traditional standards separates the input wiring (switches, thermostats, presence detectors, C02 sensors) from the output wiring (light fittings, heating systems, air con systems, extraction, air handling and solar shading).

This gives you the ability to then link multiple commands within the KNX software using the KNX Engineering Tool Software “ETS5”. So, devices from totally different manufacturers will all “talk” to one another, even devices installed 20+ years ago are compatible with newly released 2018 devices, so fixing or upgrading older installations is easy.

KNX UK is the national association of KNX manufacturers, integrators suppliers and training providers. Do get in touch. Any of our members will be happy to point you in the right direction.