By Richard Sagar, Sagar Smart Homes.
This triple award-winning high-end project combines off-grid living with unbridled luxury. Based in Melbourne, Australia, the Melbourne Super House has allowed the homeowners to realise a lifetime of dreams, and features a fully integrated automation system to complement the needs of the property, made possible via the versatility of a KNX system.
The property is split across four floors, with a subterranean level hosting a wellness centre and entertainment facilities, including a golf simulator. The ground floor features expansive living areas, while the second floor comprises a dedicated master suite.
Among the challenges facing us was the fact that, as a London-based company, our client was on the other side of the world, so meticulous planning and management was essential.
The brief was to provide a fully-integrated automation system that catered to the luxury lifestyle of the homeowners, whilst also managing the available energy resources in this challenging off-grid location. The system was to control lighting, wet underfloor heating and comfort cooling, and blinds, curtains and shutters with solar tracking, and to provide complex electricity and energy management.
We achieved this feat with maximum benefit thanks, in no small part, to the reliability, adaptability and functionality of technology built on the KNX protocol. Uniquely, for such an ambitious project, one of the main aims was to fulfil a dream of the homeowner for totally off-grid living. As such, sustaining a self-supported power supply presented unique challenges, but also demonstrated how a system built on the KNX control protocol can bring significant advantages.
A PV array located on the roof of the property is used to provide energy throughout the day. Solar energy is converted to heat in multiple ways. A 300,000-litre rainwater storage tank acts as a reservoir for heat exchangers used to charge a hot water ring that distributes water to under-floor heating throughout the property. The same method is also used to heat the 150,000-litre swimming pool, along with the spa facilities. A further series of heat exchangers provides energy to a VRF (Variable Refrigerant Flow) system, with units providing cooling and heating when required.
The solar generation system is fully-controlled and integrated with sensors that monitor the solar generation as well as battery storage levels, health and usage. This information allows the system to make intelligent decisions on how energy can be used in the building, isolating areas as required. The KNX integration of the lighting, heating and cooling means that areas can be easily and reliably switched between occupied and unoccupied states, with relays used to isolate non-essential small power circuits.
Lighting controls give the homeowner the opportunity to configure scenes to exactly meet their needs. Tangible enhancements can be seen with the use of the KNX platform, such as a single presence detector in the bathrooms that controls lighting, ventilation, towel rail and climate.
To keep everything discreet, Basalte Sentido switches were chosen. The integration of a temperature sensor and thermostat into a switch improves the aesthetics and functionality of a room, reducing wall acne whilst ensuring that the end user enjoys the most comfortable environment possible, with no conflicts between heating and cooling systems. Some of the built-in thermostats were also programmed to open and close automatic doors.
With the property being on the other side of the world from our London base, we faced some major logistical challenges, not only for project management but also project delivery. KNX was the only choice to provide the backbone for the property, providing a holistic platform that integrates all elements at local and global level.
We are proud to have been recognised for our design and integration work on this long-distance project, having won ‘Best International Project’ at the KNX Awards held at Light + Building 2016, as well as ‘Residential Installation of the Year’ at the KNX UK awards, and the top award at the 2016 CEDIA awards for the ‘Best Integrated Home Over GBP250,000’.
ABB AE/S 18.104.22.168 KNX Analogue Input Module, 4-fold
Arcus SS-WAQ – KNX Water Quality Sensor
Arcus SS-EFT KNX Soil Moisture Sensor
BEG RC Plus KNX External PIR
Basalte Auro KNX Internal PIR
Basalte Sentido KNX Switch
GIRA 1006 KNX Switching Actuator, 8-fold
GIRA 1021 KNX Analogue Sensor, 4-fold
GIRA 1022 KNX Analogue Actuator, 4-fold
GIRA 1023 KNX Line Coupler
GIRA 1038 KNX Switching Actuator, 8-fold
GIRA 1046 KNX Switching Actuator, 8-fold
GIRA 181 KNX Single Position Switch
GIRA 184 KNX Two Position Switch
GIRA 2174 KNX Shutter Actuator
GIRA 2164 KNX Window Actuator
GIRA 2168 KNX IP Interface
GIRA 2173 KNX 3 Phase Electricity Meter
GIRA 2174 KNX Dimming Actuator
GIRA 2180 KNX DALI Gateway
Theben Meteodata140 KNX Weather Station
Theben HMT6/HMT12 KNX Heating Controller
Theben TA2 KNX Input Module, 2-fold
Theben TA4 KNX Input Module, 4-fold
Zennio Lumento C3 KNX RGB Controller
Zennio Quad KNX Input Module, 4-fold
Zennio KES KNX Energy Meter
Zennio SKX KNX RS Interface
Richard Sagar is a Director of Sagar Smart Homes, a London-based building automation and audio visual consultancy and installation company.