If you are juggling between Loxone and KNX then you’ve already decided to invest into some type of a wired smart home.
Great, we promise you won’t regret it - especially once you’ve read this article and learned everything about both systems people haven’t told you about yet. 🙂
Full disclosure: We are a company providing Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Apple HomeKit integration for Loxone and a variety of KNX smart homes. We know the industry inside out - not only in terms of technical knowledge, but practical as well. Our knowledge is based on thousands of conversations we have held with people that actually live in those smart homes.
Get to know more about what we do.
Where are KNX and Loxone similar?
Firstly, let’s emphasize that you can hardly go wrong selecting either KNX or Loxone home automation ecosystem. Both systems are considered one of the most prosperous in the world and for a reason. We agree with the above even after researching other non-wired communication protocols.
What makes them the best?
Stability & Reliability
Well, both KNX and Loxone have brought reliability and stability to the basic level of electricity. Devices that are part of those home automation systems are expected to work for 20, even 30 years, and because of the wired communication you can expect them to always work. This is something wireless technologies have yet to figure out.
Diversity & Scale
Both smart home systems offer a range of different products and device types. The possibilities are limitless. There are all possible sensors you can imagine which can be connected to all possible devices you can imagine. And once automated together, your home practically controls itself on its own, with your permission, of course :) At the same time, those systems can handle hundreds of devices connected together, something other protocols still have a hard time achieving and maintaining.
Ability for central management and control
With KNX and Loxone all devices can be connected to a central unit in the house, enabling centralized control over the whole home. The central unit is called a gateway and it is the brain of the house. In the case of Loxone there is a Loxone Miniserver and withKNX you have plenty of different options (e.g. Gira HomeServer, Gira X1, Divus KNX Server, Jung Smart Visu server etc.). The central gateway will provide you with visualisation and management control (a mobile app for controlling your home and dedicated professional software for programming it).
Keep in mind that some servers are better than others. To help you out, we’ve prepared a list of questions to ask yourself before buying (Loxone only offers the Miniserver so the questions below are mostly helpful for KNX):
- How does the mobile app communicate outside the home’s network?
(Make sure your installer handles security in a proper way when enabling this) - this question is relevant for Loxone Miniserver as well.
- What does the mobile app look like?
Does it offer a nice user experience?
- How open is the server to another feature?
(e.g. Integrating a wireless security camera in a single mobile app, or a Roomba, or Alexa for voice control etc.). - This is relevant for Loxone Miniserver as well.
- How many servers are out there approximately?
You will need your system integrator to help you out from time to time and you don’t want a product these people haven’t had experience with as you will then have a hard time finding someone to manage it for you.
Both systems are (usually) installed and programmed by a certified professional. There is a lot of wiring that needs to be done right, then electrical cabinet installations and at the end, programming with custom tools like KNX ETS or Loxone Config - dependent on the system you choose.
Selecting your installer is a very important part of the process, do your research and pick an installer with a lot of experience, not one that has just added this system to their portfolio of services to boost their revenue a little bit. At the same time, keep in mind that you will be meeting your installer even after the installation. From time to time you will want to adapt something in your home and you will need your installer to do that via dedicated tools (ETS / Config).
Here is what to look for in an installer:
- Ask them if they have ever had to take a project after another installer.
(Good installers get called up to intervene in a project all the time, as the previous installer did a poor job).
- Ask them if you can visit to their showroom.
Showroom is a sign of scale and dedication to the smart home business. Installers with showrooms are usually 100% dedicated to either KNX or Loxone which means they do at least 5 smart home projects per year. Experience matters and showroom is a great sign of it.
- Ask them if they are able to program your home remotely and securely.
Transit fee is where you get ripped off as a customer of KNX or Loxone. As the hourly fee for a system integrator is around 100€/h, they include the same amount for transit although there are technologies available (which forward thinking installers are familiar with) that enable them to do that remotely.
- Observe how they handle the process.
A good system integrator understands that smart home should be an extension of your lifestyle and ask questions about your wishes and lifestyle to understand you better.
- Hourly rate for system integrators in the EU will vary from 30€/h in smaller markets like Poland or the Czech Republic, to 150€/h in more developed markets like Germany or Switzerland. So make sure the offer you’re getting fits into this range.
We have personally worked with a great number of installers and can provide the best one given your location. Simply fill out THIS questionnaire and we'll get back to you with the best installation company to manage your project.
It won’t be cheap
Both systems are considered high-end and therefore costly, although we have witnessed a couple of projects where users were able to achieve great things for a modest price. It depends on your wishes. But in any case, you should expect to pay 15k €+ for a home of 200 m2. This number can of course increase if you have custom requests, so make sure to ask about the final price before deciding to build a spaceship 🙂
Privacy & security
There is no doubt Loxone & KNX home automation systems are one of the most secure and privacy-focused. KNX, for instance, started before the term “smart home” even existed. This means that you have the ability for your data to never enter a cloud, It stays in your home. But even though we agree those topics are important, we feel the user experience could skyrocket by using this technology. So it's on you to decide whether to be 100% data secure or have a 100x better user experience by adding cloud technology to your system.
But how are they different?
In practice it really depends what you’re trying to achieve and how robust of a home you’re building, in order to decide between KNX or Loxone. If you want our in-depth advice on what to choose - simply fill out a couple of questions about the home you are building and we will get back to you in the shortest manner possible.
But for a general picture, read on.
Pros & cons of KNX
KNX is an international standard with more than 400 manufacturers developing products on its basis. That consequently means that you have a wide variety of pricing and different products to choose from. At the same time, keep in mind that you are building a home for at least 20 years and there are not many companies that survive such a timeline. That being said, the biggest advantage of KNX being a standard is that even if your manufacturer ever goes bankrupt - you can still replace an actuator with the device from another KNX compatible manufacturer. Standard also provides a strong and supportive eco-system behind it. There are tens of thousands of KNX installers that will be able to manage your home even if your manufacturer goes bankrupt. At the same time - KNX is a decentralised system - meaning that even if your smart home gateway fails your heating, lighting, ventialtion etc. will still work independent of the gateway. With Loxone this is not the case - and since they are still using SD card memory with the Miniserver - this is a situation likely to happen during your smart home ownership period.
Those are practically the only real advantage for KNX as otherwise you can expect the same quality and functionality for a lower price with Loxone (If you go really deep into tech, you might also be able to put together a cheaper KNX home than Loxone - working with 2nd-tier manufacturers like MDT. And though these brands don’t have as much appeal as the 1st-tier manufacturers, the German brands usually offer exactly the same quality) . At the same time, we can assure you that Loxone, even though a quite younger company, is not going anywhere for quite some time as they are killing it at the moment.
There is also a second thought when it comes to KNX being an “independent standard”. This is true in theory but in practice the KNX association is controlled by the biggest KNX manufacturers that have the majority voting rights in this “independent standard”. It’s noticeable that this organizational structure affects market movements.
One of the cons of KNX is also its sales & distribution system. Usually the smart home will be sold to you via installer/system integrator - in most cases with no standardized pricing. This means that installers can apply as much margin as they see possible based on your budget or familiarity with the market. The pricing is not standardized. Installer can also be biased as to which manufacturer you should go with. Usually it is good to compare pricing on your Pro Forma invoice with German KNX web shops - as there can be a huge difference in the price. You should use this data to haggle with your installer. The best webshop to compare pricing is Elektrowelt Zwickau. If you choose to haggle the price, make sure you are not paying for it in the programming fees. So it might be smart to get two offers - one, where you haggle with pricing from the webshop and one where you don’t. So you can see what the programming cost should be in reality.
Pros & cons of Loxone
As already mentioned, Loxone is a proprietary smart home system that manufactured everything from the wire to the push button on the wall. And while there’s an argument for longevity of such a company, being a proprietary system has its own advantages.
The first one is definitely the sales & distribution system. Loxone has standardized pricing and their installer network so you can always count on getting a fair price and quality of service. The margins are set upfront and installer hourly rates are usually in the same ballpark. But keep in mind that the pricing is usually fixed - so there is usually no chance for you to haggle down. Loxone has also organized a network of showrooms and even sleep-in showhomes to present their experience in, which are available through the whole of EU.
One of the big advantages for Loxone is also its tool for programming. The Loxone config is far simpler than KNX ETS to use - and you might want to learn how to, at some point. If you have a big desire to constantly adapt your home automation, then mastering such tools can save you a lot of time and money.
So what should I do?
The best option for you would be to get in touch with us, as there won’t be a lot of unbiased opinions on the market among the vendors. Those will advise you, but at the same time they’ll be selling or reselling preferred solutions. We as independent and familiar with both systems can be your address for neutral opinion.
Hit us up, we always love to talk smart home!