Book review: Building Automation: Communication Systems with EIB/KNX, LON and BACnet

After last week review, I’ve decided to try another book from a much higher standard publisher, Springer. The price is also far higher, but it covers what I think are the current best supports for building automation.

Content and opinions

There are three book’s authors, three German people, as Germany is one of the countries where building automation is well developped.

The first chapter describes what building automation is. Its sub-categories are also explained (control, measurement and management), and I have to say that there are some differences that I didn’t apprehend before. Automation has several clear benefits: comfort with automatic heating, lights, … but also economies as a good heating control will lead to less consumption. This can really help in commercial or industrial buildings. It’s also astonishing to see that even new bulding do not come with a complete automation system. Heating is almost handled, but lights and blinds are not. Heating is not completely handled in my opinion because settings cannot be given outside your office.

The second chapter is perhaps the less interesting of the five. If you have basis in telecommunications, it will be a rehearsal of your first class. If you have not, you will at least know how it can work.

Now, the book has three chapters on each of the main automation technologies, Konnex, LON and BACnet. Each time, the chapter is independent, and sometimes you even learn something on a technology when reading the next one. When I say independent, I mean that you don’t need to read the other chapters if you want to read only one. It also means that you will see redundancy. This could be explained by each author writting his own chapter without much interaction on their content.

Each time, you will learn every detail of the different busses, with perhaps sometimes too many. For BACnet, you will go through the Ethernet interface in detail, although it is something really common in the ISO model. But to select the right bus, you need to know everything it can provide.

Conclusion

Contrary to my last book, this one was really interesting. I didn’t know that KNX was mainly based on one BCU (Bus Coupling Unit) with different actuators. Although you can also do management with KNX, I concur that it is a control bus at heart. I also appreciate the fact that each bus is open in the sense that there are several manufacturers that can provide appliances, and that their operation is clearly explained.

If you don’t know what building automation is and if you want to build your home, a commercial building, or if you renovate something, this book can help you should an adequate automation bus. Don’t forget that in these times of peak energy, economy associated with better comfort is a horse that can win the race.

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