Control the lighting from the comfort of your sofa? Building automation makes it possible


You can use your smart phone to quickly pre-set the heating and select the lighting scenario: The advantages of building automation are increasingly useful for residential buildings, especially since the solutions are becoming cheaper and easier to control. And they enable a significant increase in energy efficiency.

Around 45% of Switzerland’s energy is used in buildings. A 2016 study by Energie Switzerland shows that efficiency measures in building technology alone would reduce energy consumption by 15% and greenhouse gas emissions by 40%.

This is not merely conjecture, as a project with 120 households in the city of Rösrath near Cologne shows: In the spring of 2016, a smart home system was installed in the conventional single-family houses with gas-fired central heating systems. The analysis done in 2018 revealed that some households were able to reduce gas consumption for heating and hot water by 20 to 30 percent. These top savers familiarized themselves with the system and automated numerous functions.

More comfort with building automation

But this also shows that ease of use is an important factor in the further spread of intelligent building automation. Interoperability should also make smart home solutions even more universal. For example, household appliances made by Bosch or Miele can be integrated via the the ABB-free@home smart home system, thus providing maximum comfort and convenience to customers. The dishwasher status can be monitored from the sofa. Activating the morning scenario turns on agreeable lighting, plays your favorite songs and starts up the coffee machine. And when you leave the house, you can switch off your home appliances and numerous other home automation functions with the command “Everything off. The major advantage: all devices and functions are controlled via the MyBuildings web portal.

This is our company’s home automation system for private customers; it can be set up and operated without extensive programming skills. It is more cost-effective and intuitive than the KNX bus system for the more complex applications used mostly in commercial or public buildings.

The future starts at home

This system, which is used by bonacasa (see below), is also available in a wireless version with components that can communicate with each other using integrated radio modules. This transforms the apartment wirelessly into a smart home. Whether blinds, lighting, heating, air conditioning, door communication or scenarios, everything can be operated remotely via smartphone, laptop or switches and panels on the wall –with easily programmable scenarios as well.

Increasing energy efficiency is certainly a factor in the increasing importance of building automation. However, the increase in comfort and safety is no less important for end users in their own homes. More security is provided by elements such as door communication with remotely monitored access control, motion detectors, presence simulations, window monitoring or panic switches.

Smart homes on the rise

Just as assisted driving systems are increasingly becoming standard in cars, digital automation solutions are soon likely to make our everyday lives easier, even in residential buildings. Market penetration in Europe is still low, compared to the leader North America. At the end of 2016, less than 4% of all households were equipped with smart technology. According to the market research institute Berg Insight, however, the number of smart homes is expected to grow rapidly, with an increase in the market volume of these solutions by almost 50% per year by 2021 alone.

It’s actually logical: digitalization has long since modernized our everyday lives. Today’s phones and cars have very different features than they did a decade ago, let alone twenty years ago. Homes are not being redesigned as quickly. But digital functions will be taken for granted at home as well in just a few years.

Smart Living

Smart living for all generations: Smart building automation increases the comfort and convenience of living at home for young and old alike, and can help older people live independently in their homes for longer. Especially in retirement, automation makes everyday life easier, while reliable alarm systems provide around-the-clock security. For example, since 2016, bonacasa, the Swiss market leader for “smart living”, has combined threshold-free design and its own services for comfortable, safe everyday life in their newly built apartments with the user-friendly ABB-free@home building automation system. This provides residents of all ages with greater comfort and safety – and reduces the energy consumption of the buildings.

ABB Switzerland is a member organisation of digitalswitzerland.

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Author Daniel M. Müller, Head of Marketing and Sales, ABB Switzerland

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