KNX automation clears the view of the Northern Lights

2017-10-04 - At Santa’s Hotels, KNX automation keeps the luxurious glass igloos in optimal condition. In every igloo, the temperature, ventilation and even the operation of the glass heating can be individually controlled. For the hotel owner, the automation guarantees that the energy costs remain in check.
By the time that the flight of guests from Singapore arriving in Rovaniemi for a Christmas vacation touches down, ABB’s KNX automation has already begun its work. In Santa Claus Village, a couple of kilometers from the airport, the window heating of a hi-tech glass-roofed igloo clears the frost from the glass to give a perfect view of the sky, an air source heat pump starts running, and the floor begins to warm.

Santa’s-hotellin ylellisten lasi-iglujen

The design of the Santa’s Hotels glass igloos appears simple, but they conceal a lot of high technology. The igloo’s air source heat pump, air supply unit, underfloor heating, and the heating of the inside and outside of the glass roof are connected to the KNX bus. If there is a water leak, a magnetic valve immediately cuts off the water supply, and an optical fiber connection relays an alarm to reception and maintenance personnel.

Maarit Aho, the managing director of Santa’s Hotels, says that the top-class building system has already been tested in use. The first 29 igloos were completed in December 2016. “Nearly all of our guests have come from abroad. The largest groups came from Singapore, China and Japan,” Aho says. The demanding customers have come a long way, so the service must be top-notch. For instance, the guests’ expectations of an appropriate temperature may be radically different from the local standard, according to Aho.

Santa’s-hotellin lasi-iglujen visualisointiAll the igloos’ functions can be controlled from the user interface at reception.
“With the help of the KNX bus control and the optical fiber connection to the igloos, all the functions can be controlled from an info screen at reception,” says Teemu Koivisto from Sähkötapio, who was responsible for programming the KNX.

In terms of equipment, the glass igloos compare to a high-end detached house. The 20 m2 igloos have enough space for a full set of equipment. For instance, the heating resistors on the outside of the glass roof remove frost from the glass and melt any snow and ice on the roof. The glass walls are heated from the inside, offering additional comfort to the regular heating system.

Even though the igloos are a unique type of building, programming the KNX automation controlling the functions was quite successful at the first attempt. Teemu Koivisto has only had to do a little fine-tuning based on operating experience.

“The underfloor heating has been increased, the operating times of the glass heating systems have been shortened, and ventilation boosts were prevented at night to avoid extra noise,” Koivisto says.

Santa’s-hotellin lasi-igluhuone

According to Maarit Aho, the idea in the design stage was to automate all the everyday routines. For instance, being able to switch the window heating systems for 71 igloos on and off in one place saves the staff time. Another important design criterion was to save energy. When all 71 igloos are in use, even small energy savings amount to a lot over the course of a year.

“With the help of automation, we can lower energy consumption to the minimum when there are no customers. During the winter, the igloos are not heated unnecessarily, and in the summer, they are not cooled.”

Automation also enables customers’ expectations to be met remotely. At night, the around-the-clock on-call service for the igloo village is handled remotely from the reception of Hotel Santa Claus, located seven kilometers away in downtown Rovaniemi. High-class building automation improves both service and energy efficiency. “We do not waste any energy or money,” Maarit Aho says.

KNX automates hotel routines

KNX bus technology guarantees a pleasant stay for hotel guests. The lighting, cooling, heating and ventilation of the accommodation facilities can be individually controlled. Automatic alarms for e.g. open doors or drops in temperature improve safety. For the hotel owner, KNX technology offers better energy efficiency. With automation taking care of the control of lighting and heating, no energy is wasted.

KNX bus technology is an automation solution with a long service life. The technology rests on broad shoulders, as there are globally approximately 400 component manufacturers, located in forty different countries. The system, which is based on an open standard, can be extended and adapted for future needs at any time. There is also plenty of technical expertise available. For instance, in Finland there are several hundred certified KNX programmers.

Hi-tech igloos in Santa Claus Village

The first 29 igloos of the Santa’s Hotels glass igloo village, located within the Arctic Circle only a couple of kilometers from Rovaniemi Airport, were commissioned in December 2016. By Christmas 2017, there will be a total of 71 igloos in use. A main building with reception and restaurant facilities will be constructed at the same time.

The lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation, and window and floor heating systems of the igloos are connected to a KNX bus. Every igloo will have a high-speed optical fiber connection. All functions can be controlled remotely from the hotel reception.