DIY home automation

Basic Automation is now playing as increasingly an important role in the domestic sector as it is elsewhere. In this interview, expert Frank Schönauer explains how the logic module and its self-programmable app enable users to automate their home inexpensively, monitoring and controlling its functions via a smartphone or tablet.
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An attractive overall solution

Home automation systems not only have to offer high levels of quality, they must also be cost-effective. As such, Frank Schönauer relies on the LOGO! logic module from Siemens for his app "PLC Smart Home". 

There are many building automation systems that are referred to as “Smart Home,” including networks employing special luster terminals or wireless controls for lights, window blinds, and power sockets. Why do you base your solution on the LOGO! 8 logic module?

Frank Schönauer: While many of those systems do have high-end functionality, they have little ability to exchange data among themselves. With logic modules, I can not only integrate a wide range of different applications, such as garage door control or garden watering, into one system; I can also tailor them to customers’ wishes. Thanks to the continual upgrading of LOGO!, this latest version offers me many possibilities, and I am able to provide ever better solutions. For example, thanks to the Ethernet port on LOGO! 8, I no longer need an interface converter, and the integrated Modbus TCP/IP communication permits ideal interaction with other systems. Another benefit is of course the integrated web server, which makes user control easy.

Simple functions, such as raising and lowering blinds, are standard smart home features nowadays. What you need to gain a competitive edge in the market are add-on functions, but that is where things can quickly get expensive. How do you make sure your customers can get those add-on functions without incurring too much extra cost?

Frank Schönauer: Cost is a key aspect of building automation. But you can make savings even in small ways. Products such as temperature, humidity and dusk light sensors, or motion detectors, do not necessarily have to be expensive; lower-cost models will do the job. Incidentally, that was also one of the reasons why I chose LOGO! 8; the controller offers me lots of functions and good quality at a fair price. I have intensively tested a wide range of accessories and rated them for my applications. So users can be certain that the product they buy is low in cost but high in quality. That also makes the overall solution attractive to them.


A logical decision

Frank Schönauer has relied on logic modules for building automation for more than ten years. For LOGO! 8, he developed the app "PLC Smart Home" as a means of monitoring and controlling home automation systems via a smartphone or tablet. 

Numerous possibilities

Alongside comprehensive applications and simple operation of the logic module and app, consulting services play an important role in the field of home automation. 

A view to the future

LOGO! offers many possibilities for home automation. The latest trend in this area is the integration of voice-controlled assistants, alongside operation using smartphones and tablets.

What led you to program your own app for monitoring and controlling building functions via a smartphone or tablet?

Frank Schönauer: Logic modules fit in building distribution systems, are approved for use in residential buildings, and feature special function blocks for building services. So they have all the features necessary for building automation, but are mainly marketed as universal controllers for industry. That’s why there was previously no app specifically tailored to smart home use. I closed the gap.

Home automation is continually advancing. The latest market trends are voice-controlled assistants, such as those launched by Amazon and Apple. What are you doing in order to keep pace with the latest developments?

Frank Schönauer: Such assistants are indeed ideal for home automation. Simply telling the assistant to lower the blinds or close a skylight window is not only much quicker than using a smartphone; it’s more convenient. LOGO! 8 can function as the heart of an IT infrastructure running a voice-controlled smart home. An upgrade enabling voice control in addition to app-based control is currently undergoing testing, and is scheduled for release in the summer.

Note on industrial security:
Appropriate security measures (e.g., network segmentation) must be taken to ensure secure operation of the system. Find out more about industrial security.


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