Sustainable smart building solutions are on the rise, with big benefits for both builders and homeowners. In order to unpack the biggest trends in this area, Connected World editorial director Peggy Smedley recently sat down to discuss all of this with Bastian Elsner, who is not only member of the executive board for sales and marketing, but also drives forward organizational development at Elsner Elektronik.
Peggy Smedley: What is Elsner Elektronik and where are you based?
Bastian Elsner: We are a producer of smart building technology. Our products are developed and manufactured in Ostelsheim in the southwest of Germany
Smedley: What is the product or solution? Is this for both buildings and homes?
Elsner: We offer stand-alone solutions for smart home beginners as well as devices for standards like RS485 and above all KNX. Especially the KNX technology can be used for both, private and commercial buildings, small and large projects. You simply pick devices for the applications you want to realize. If you have once laid a KNX cable in your building, you can add other devices at any time. This gives you great opportunity for future ideas and plans.
Smedley: How does it integrate with KNX and why is this important? Can you describe why we should care about Elsner and KNX?
Elsner: For KNX, we have a wide range of sensors for outdoor and indoor climate as well as actuators and devices needed to set up the system. A lot of our devices contain smart automation functions. That allows a perfect interaction of room climate, sun shading and ventilation with presence and timer control. We lay a focus on those sophisticated functionalities and aim to make them easy to set and integrate. And we are aware of the importance of a good design. Which does not only mean, a product has to look nice, but also offers a convincing user experience.
Smedley: Are your solutions available in the United States? Are there supply chain issues now since COVID we need to be aware of?
Elsner: You can buy our products all around the globe, directly from our web shop. It is open for installers and for end users. And as KNX devices use low voltage, they can be used in countries with 110 V and 230 V mains voltage.
We unfortunately feel the impact of the chip crisis and the disruption of the supply chains. But we always found a way to keep our products available up to now.
Smedley: Why is there such interest in Europe and do you expect widespread adoption of this in other areas of the world in the years to come?
Elsner: The need for sustainability is not only common sense in Europe, but also manifested in many new regulations for building construction. That speeds up the movement into the direction of smarter buildings. And as building automation also offers comfort, protects your home, and helps save money, it is attractive for anyone.
We believe it can solve many issues in living and working life. Every part of the world will find a different aspect as main benefit. For example, the hotter climate zones will learn how to keep buildings cooler without consuming so much energy. The cooler climate zones will find out you can also use the incoming solar heat to keep your home warm. And we will not only able to save but also to route and store energy intelligently in our homes and cities.
Smedley: What benefits does this provide to builders and homeowners who ultimately want a connected home?
Elsner: KNX is even today an association of more than 500 manufacturers. As every one of them is a specialist in its field, you will get really good products. There is a solution for any building, or even several to choose from! And the areas covered by KNX will likely grow when new markets in other parts of the world get bigger.
Smedley: How will it improve sustainability and energy consumption in homes?
Elsner: As all areas of the smart home are connected through the KNX bus cable, you have brilliant options to connect things and let them interact. Close shadings on the sunny side to avoid too much heat. Let the sunshine in to warm the room before shading closes. Stop the heating while a window is open for ventilation. Shut down lights and cooling when no one is in the room or even in the house. Ensure human centric lighting, which means to have the light bright and cool in the day and dim and warm in the evening. And many other individual wishes that generate more comfort, safety, and sustainability.
And you have the protective aspects such as wind and rain protection. These alarms close windows so that no rain comes in or retract shadings so that they don’t get damaged and have a longer lifetime.
Smedley: What’s your vision for the future?
Elsner: We as Elsner Elektronik will do our best to contribute to a wider spread and a deeper understanding of building automation. We believe smart homes will help us to live sustainable, healthy, and safe in the near future. There are even more benefits that you might not think about in everyday life: Looking at the increasing average age, ambient assisted living it will assist us when we grow older or get ill.
We are also sure the “KNX family” will grow. More and more integrators and users worldwide will rely on KNX and more specialized producers will make devices for the standard.