The Content Of The Article:

The editors met François-Xavier Jeuland, specialized in home automation and multimedia. This engineer, who predicts a bright future for the "communicating house", takes stock of home automation in 2012. His regret: that things do not move faster.

François-Xavier Jeuland explains home automation and gives advice

What is a connecting house?

François-Xavier Jeuland: First, we must forget the myth of the central computer that controls everything. Ideally, a connecting house has three
networks:

• A power network, to operate luminaires, shutters, plugs...

• A control network, which includes the pushbuttons and all that allows to control the equipment.

• A communication network that replaces the old networks of weak current, telephony, alarm... by a single cable. This is called VDI network (voice, data, image). It allows plugs to become universal and ensures the durability of the installation.

How should an individual approach the completion of an installation?

F.-X. J.: It must first assess its needs objectively. Security, even if it is planned for the future, is not the main argument. On the other hand, the energy savings, the scalability of the house and the sound diffusion make sense.
The cost is not much higher, if these positions are planned at the base of a construction project or during a major renovation. Either it is interesting to equip one's house, or one considers that it can become so.
In this case, it is necessary to provide the ducts or pre-wiring to change the house according to the budget and new needs. Home automation must be seen as a cross-cutting issue for many facilities.

When can we talk about installation and home automation?

F.-X. J. In a house, we find equipment of all kinds and different brands. The goal is to converge this heterogeneous set to an array to get a single command.
Imagine: you are at your place of work or on vacation, you press a button that simultaneously pilot, through a scenario, shutters, light, heating and alarm. This feature, which makes you dream of more than one, saves time and money.
If we can federate all these equipment and networks, we can talk about home automation. For me, the communication network is an integral part of home automation. Multimedia and digital legitimize reflection on this network. By changing, for example, the assignment of a socket of the network, I can change my house, changing the equipment of place without any work.

Is this type of installation needed to reduce its energy bill?

F.-X. J. In view of the ambitions of the Grenelle of the environment, it is not only by installing triple glazing and having very thick walls that can be achieved. The reflection of all stakeholders must be global.
This is to guarantee the performance of the home and to consider home automation differently. For example, it would be interesting to integrate equipment that traces information on the behavior of the inhabitants.
On the other hand, installing sensors everywhere does not make sense. We must find the right mix. Things are going in the right direction, thanks to the legislator. A series of decrees and tax incentives, related to certain home automation systems, appear. These are real assets.

Is home automation not considered a gadget?

F.-X. J. Today, she is often associated with luxury or something futile. In general, the media show the high-tech side that is sometimes considered "not for me" by a majority of the general public.
But if we highlight the energy savings achieved or the fact of being able to stay at home in a situation of dependency, the image would be more rewarding.

Is home support for people with disabilities a promising element?

F.-X. J. Home automation in the service of home support is unavoidable. But I fear that a late awareness will lead us to have houses that will become real technological trash.
They will be very difficult to bring up to standard without important and expensive works. Manufacturers should already pre-equip them for these developments.

What are the questions to ask before starting an installation?

F.-X. J. In renovation, we must know since when electricity and equipment (roller shutter for example) have been installed. In some cases, it is possible to integrate radio or powerline home automation functions with the existing installation.
The latter is to repeat the rest of the time, which allows to deploy the communication network and the home automation infrastructure in the rules of the art.

"Home automation alone does not have much interest, we must make choices."

In this case, can an electrician help with the reflection?

F.-X. J. Of course. The only problem is finding the right speaker.
If you want to make the estimate of a home automation system, three times out of four, for lack of knowledge, professionals will answer: "Do not bother with that. "
This is where the main difficulty lies. There can be no good reflection without good accompaniment.

Wiring, Wi-Fi, powerline, which network to choose?

F.-X. J. A wireless installation is much less durable than its equivalent cable. By its nature, it undergoes disturbances and interferences. For everything mobile equipment (computer, phone), Wi-Fi is one of the most beautiful inventions of recent years.

The powerline line (CPL) lies, meanwhile, halfway between the cable network and Wi-Fi. The number one choice is the cable. A wired network will always be more stable, faster and more secure. Next come the CPL and the radio systems. But in fact, the ideal answer is often a mixture of these three solutions.

Can we do everything in radio or CPL?

F.-X. J. Today, Wi-Fi can not guarantee anything. If I have a long house with a heated floor and concrete partitions, Wi-Fi waves will not go everywhere. The CPL also has its limits.
In an apartment of 50 m2, it will work very well. But this will no longer be the case in a house where different generations of installations coexist
electric. In some extreme cases, it will not even work!

Is it possible to associate the old protocols of the house?

F.-X. J. This case is common, for shutters and heating for example. To remedy this, there are gateways that allow to link the different protocols. But, as soon as we multiply the bridges, we fragilise enormously the installation.
The current trend is to converge equipment of different brands to the local IP network (Internet protocol) of the house. It allows to have a single network, controllable from a computer or a mobile phone in a relatively effective way.

What is your view on the evolution of home automation?

F-X J: The interest of home automation is the convergence between everything related to digital, energy saving, security and comfort. If we consider only one of these areas, home automation is not very useful.
In this case, its extra cost is not justified. We must find complementarity and coherence between these areas. What is important for each project is to be defined on a case by case basis.

Is the general public informed about the possibilities offered by an installation?

F.-X. J. Absolutely not. He knows little or nothing about the possibilities that home automation offers. Assessing their needs is one of the major issues facing professionals.
This is my goal through the publication of the book La Maison communicante (Ed Eyrolles) for example or by participating in many exhibitions. This is also the goal of the "Everyone's home automation" campaign, organized by Promotelec in 2009. Last month took place "The days of home automation" where you could visit equipped houses.
These operations are intended to get users to move professionals (prescriber, architect...).

Can we talk about return on investment?

F.-X. J. The argument: "I realize a home automation installation to get into my expenses", is not possible. The equipment is less expensive than yesterday, but the cost of a well-thought-out installation remains higher than that of a traditional installation.
The return on investment remains random. In the long term, the equipment will require updates, to be reprogrammed... We are more computer ready than structural work.

What would be the network in ten years?

F.-X. J. Today digital is everywhere, in our cars, in the office... why would not it be the same in our homes? TVs are equipped with RJ 45 jacks, to be compatible with the various digital boxes on the market.
Some boiler models are also equipped with RJ 45 sockets. We should witness a streamlining of the protocols with simple language, Esperanto species of home automation.

If you had three tips for successful installation?

F.-X. J. Even before choosing equipment or a type of protocol, it is necessary to ask the right questions: What is interesting about home automation? Which functions would be really useful to me? What is the good solution in my case? Each home automation project is unique and depends on the knowledge that we have.
When we deliver a house, it is frozen. What is not the case of home automation that uses a digital and programmable technology. Do not try to do everything right away. If the cabling is well prepared, it will be possible to upgrade the installation at its own pace and according to its budget.

Finally, if we choose this or that equipment by saying: "I put them in relation and I do home automation", there is a risk of being disappointed. Often, it is impossible to communicate the equipment between them. Unless we make it more complex, if we want the installation to be reliable and usable by everyone, we must be vigilant about the interoperability of equipment.

About the Author

Through the European network "Domoconsulting", of which he is a member, François-Xavier Jeuland, an engineer specializing in home automation and multimedia, acts as an independent consultant to architects, installers and private individuals.

Book to read about home automation:

Book to read about home automation:

Successful home automation and multimedia installation
Editions Eyrolles, 420 pages, 34 €, 2012 (4th edition).

Reference book, The communicating house makes it possible to succeed its home automation and multimedia installation project, for professionals and individuals.


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