ABB’s EIB/KNX system provides firm foundation for Gibraltar mansion

ABB’s European Installation Bus (EIB)/KNX controller will form the hub of a building management system being installed into a large, exclusive home in Gibraltar. The controller will provide full control over the house’s main functions including heating, ventilation, security, lighting and AV.

ABB’s EIB/KNX controller was chosen as it was one of only a few intelligent building control systems available that offered contractors an open-standard platform. This simplified the process of incorporating other dedicated intelligent control systems, such as AV, air conditioning and security controls; so that all elements could be controlled from a central interface.

The project is unusual in that the EIB/KNX system was set up in the UK and then shipped over to Gibraltar for installation.

The whole installation is project managed by Modern Control. They supplied the products, and designed, installed, commissioned and integrated all the control elements. Modern Control employed CSE, a Buckinghamshire-based electrical control systems contractor, to supply, design and commission the motor control centre, which formed the communications hub of the system. It was then transferred to Gibraltar, where Modern Control is managing the complete installation in the house.

Andy Walsh, Contract Director of Modern Control, found that the open-standard of ABB’s controller saved time setting up the whole system: “It was a straight-forward process. We were able to integrate and operate all the elements via the controller in only four weeks, and then one more week to conduct pre-panel-testing, integration and sign-off. If we had done it using traditional means it would have taken eight to twelve weeks from start to practical completion”.

ABB’s EIB/KNX system works in a fundamentally different way from conventional smart building systems, in which central controls open and close a separate electrical circuit to activate each individual device, such as a light, blind or heating element. This conventional approach relies on hundreds of power cables to effectively distribute commands around the building. In the EIB/KNX system, a sensor or control device such as a light switch sends a control signal over a twin-core data cable or bus to an actuator, which then controls a device locally. This approach yields a true two-wire system, without the need for hundreds of wires providing separate circuits between a central control point and each light or other device.

The system has also enabled Modern Control to provide a service where it can monitor the house’s smart applications offsite, using IP connectivity. Walsh explains that the EIB/KNX controller enables Modern Control to offer a complete facilities management service from the UK: “As the owner requested that we maintain the house’s functions, we needed a system that would enable us to monitor the house’s controls, and manage any faults remotely. ABB’s EIB/KNX system will alert us to faults at a moment’s notice. Using the system’s software, we can also isolate faults, so that we can identify, for example, which part of the air-conditioning system may not be working.”

For Modern Control, a key feature of ABB’s EIB/KNX controller was its flexibility. The controller can be reprogrammed to meet changing demands placed on any of the pre-configured elements of the house, such as the boiler or lighting system.

Modern Control is very pleased with the EIB/KNX controller’s performance and the value it has brought to the project: “This was the first time we’ve used ABB’s EIB controller, and I have found that nothing else quite compares. I believe that we would not have been able to do this project, according to the owner’s requirements, with any of the other controllers available on the market. The fact that it is recognised and certified by an independent authority adds credence to the professional standard of the system”, says Walsh.

Walsh explained that the biggest challenge facing parts of the industry is that manufacturers have not always built their products with residential properties in mind. However, some are now starting to adopt EIB/KNX as they see the advantages of an open-standard platform. Gareth Rowlands, ABB’s EIB/KNX Product Manager adds: “The open-standard nature of the platform means we can customise the system for a number of different applications; whether it’s for residential, commercial or industrial properties.”

Modern Control Limited designs, installs and commissions an extensive range of control, lighting and security products, in both the commercial and private markets. Our services are tailored to the individual user’s requirements, whilst we always have the future in mind. We cover all aspects of property, from residential to commercial to leisure.

Modern Control Limited, Kingswick House, Kingswick Drive, Sunninghill, Berkshire, SL5 7BH.

Tel: 01344 875444 Fax: 0845 2808787

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