Located in a quiet Derbyshire village, this cottage had been uninhabited for more than 20 years and was virtually derelict when the current owners decided to buy it. The oldest part of the cottage was originally built in 1799 as a single dwelling, and the original parchment title deeds show that the house, garden and orchard were bought for the princely sum of £60.
Before renovation work began, the ground floor consisted of four very dark rooms. Now the house includes two bright reception rooms, a conservatory and three bedrooms. The house boasts a new oak staircase, along with oak internal doors and floorboards, giving a feel of the traditional, but that belies the secret – all the lighting, heating, air conditioning, audio and security are controlled by a KNX system that brings the cottage from the 18th into the 21st century. The system’s finish has been carefully selected to bring modern life choices to perfect ‘olde worlde’ surroundings…
The picture on the left shows how KNX integrates the functions of heating, lighting and audio controls, all in the convenient form of switches adjacent the dining table. The client has also been able to choose from the wealth of styles and colours that are available from the large number of manufacturers to match the switchplate and frames with the property’s interior design values coordinating beautifully with their green glass dining table.
Why choose KNX?
KNX Consultants helped the owners through the difficult process of deciding what systems to use. Many systems were considered before KNX became the only sensible choice. KNX caters for all the intelligent requirements of a modern home including heating, cooling, lighting, enhanced security and remote access. As KNX is based on a control platform available and unchanged since 1984, it is already widely known to be absolutely robust and reliable. With over 250 manufacturers and more than 10,000 products, all able to communicate with each other down the same twisted pair cable, and each forming a single part of a distributed intelligence system, there’s no risk of a single manufacturer going out of business and denying spares for the future, and no single point catastrophic failure can ever leave the house “in the dark”!
How KNX was installed
The owners did much of the renovation work on the cottage over a period of 15 months. KNX Consultants worked very closely with them to develop their specification for the control system and made sure that they were fully aware of the possibilities that were available to them. Having completed this task, KNX Consultants produced a full set of detailed installation documents for the system. They teamed up with a good local electrician who was able to work from these installation documents with ease. The owner, already a qualified engineer, decided to take on the commissioning himself and as long as all the ‘live side’ was done by the electrician then certification of the electrical installation would be no problem. Having talked to KNX Consultants, the owner bought the system programming software and quickly got himself trained to the appropriate level. He knew that if he got stuck or just wanted some advice he could call on an expert at KNX Consultants, to help out, which was invaluable during the course of the project.
The cottage has 45 dimmed and switched lighting circuits that can be used to set moods in each room. As one would expect from a serious lighting control system, this allows for scenes to be set for particular circumstances, and in addition KNX allows lighting to be incorporated into other features of a house.
Some examples are:
A “welcome home” function incorporating a motion sensor by the front door so when you walk into the house at night the lights in the hallway, landing, kitchen and family room light automatically. The owners will never have to stumble around a dark building with arms full of groceries.
A “nighttime discreet” scene has been set for the bedrooms. In the master bedroom, the “nighttime discreet” button turns on the wall, landing and bathroom lights at a very low light level, effectively but very discreetly lighting a pathway there and back so that they don’t needlessly wake anyone asleep.
Simulated occupancy where the house repeats previously recorded switch pushes and blind movements when the owners are out. The actions are played back at random intervals to give a very powerful illusion that some one is always at home.
A porch light and architectural lighting are programmed to come on at dusk and turn off at a random time in the late evening. The rear courtyard and garden have numerous lighting circuits that allow for scene setting at night, depending on how the space is being used. Infrared patio heaters have been built into the garden walls and provide heat for cooler evenings.
Heating & Cooling
The 9-zone wet underfloor heating system is controlled using GIRA Sensor2Plus thermostatic light switches (removing the need for non-matching traditional wall thermostats and separate light switches), and Theben HMT6 24V AC manifold controllers. The whole KNX system works seamlessly lowering temperatures both at night when everyone is asleep and a few degrees lower than normal when the house is unoccupied. This represents a big saving in fuel bills. The thermostats send a proportional value to the HMT6 manifold controllers which results in a pulse width modulated opening and closing of the manifold values, so delivering very even temperature regulation over time.
The same thermostats also control the room-by-room air-conditioning. If the temperature rises above a set point, then the heating will have been switched off and the cooling will take over. By use of a dead-zone and hysteresis the thermostats ensure that the heating never “fights” the air conditioning and vice-versa.
Integrated audio which is controlled via the KNX system offers music in the main living spaces and the bathrooms with no need for any further wall controllers or switches. The source is selected and volume level set using the same switch style that controls the rest of the room functions, such as lighting and heating. There is luxury without the need for a wall full of technology that would spoil the period appearance of the cottage. The preamplifier and controls from WHD are all centrally located, with active speakers in the ceilings providing excellent sound pressure levels in each room.
The whole house can be accessed by an internet connection anywhere in the world using the GIRA HomeServer IP addressable controller. With a multitude of high end features such as direct heating and lighting control, security monitoring, remote diagnostics, IP camera viewports, email transmissions for security breaches or activated smoke detectors, this Linux based box is fantastic for higher end KNX projects.
In summary, the owners are now delighted with their very stylishly appointed period cottage, packed with features that enhance their lifestyle, improve the security of the property and help them reduce the operating costs of their home.
Post Script: By the end of the project the owner liked KNX so much that he refocused his company, to concentrate full time on KNX design and installations. KNX Consultants continued to work with him beyond the end of the project and was instrumental in helping him to make this transition a success.