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The maestro behind the Smart Home symphony: Our interview with system integrator Klaus Geyer

If you’re planning to install Smart Home technology into your property, you’re probably hoping to end up with a home that is a more high-tech, comfortable, safe and efficient place to be. System integrators are qualified experts in building technology, and their job is to help people realise their Smart Home vision by exploiting the full potential of the smart technology on the market and designing a system that will work for you and your home. Klaus Geyer has a number of years of experience as a system integrator and has worked on countless successful projects for satisfied Smart Home customers. In this interview, he tells us more about what makes his job so unique – and which smart solutions he recommends to his customers.

G-Pulse editor: Mr Geyer, you work as a Gira system integrator. What exactly does this role involve?

Geyer: A system integrator is an expert in building technology. We know and understand how to install and configure a wide range of Smart Home products and we have the skills required to plan and install solutions made up of products from different manufacturers and associated with different technical trades. This knowledge extends beyond the “standard” knowledge that an electrician, for example, might possess. I view myself more as a conductor of an orchestra: My role is to get a number of different systems working together in harmony. These systems complement one another to reach their full potential.

G-Pulse editor: How did you end up embarking on a career as a system integrator?

Geyer: To be honest, I chose this career path simply because chaos bothers me. In my home, I had around 50 different timer switches: There were switches for the heating, circulation pump, filter controllers, fireplace, watering system – all of which worked in very different ways. And that’s without even considering the remote for the video recorder. Without instructions, it was virtually impossible to get these systems to do what you wanted. And there was little knowledge of how to combine products from different manufacturers. Because of the problems I was having in my own home, and because I didn’t want to have to keep wasting my time figuring out how all of these devices work, I started thinking about how to solve these issues. I was an early adopter of the concept of system integration, and one of the first to start thinking about the Smart Home and technological compatibility.

G-Pulse editor: What does a normal day look like for you? How do you approach a new project?

Geyer: There’s no such thing as a normal day in my job – every single project is different, so my approach to each is different too. There’s no one-size-fits-all way to tackle things.

Projects are planned based primarily on whether the property is an industrial or residential building. For me personally, residential projects are the more interesting of the two. They are often much more complex and require really smart planning. At the end of each project, we always look back over what we’ve learnt and use this information to improve our processes for future projects. To help us do this, I worked with my team to develop a “room book” containing all of the potential options and solutions we’ve come up with in the past, to act as a guide during the planning and consulting phases. This approach guarantees that we always provide our clients with the very best advice and ensures that we don’t forget anything.

G-Pulse editor: What makes your job so special?

Geyer: I love the fact that every day is different. The profession is developing all the time and I’m always learning something new. It’s great working with other people and seeing a project that you’ve worked on together come to fruition. I still find it fascinating how this job brings so many people from different trades together – a project can involve all kinds of specialisms, from engineering to architecture.

G-Pulse editor: From your projects to date, it seems that the Gira HomeServer is one of your favourite Gira products. Have you got any other favourites? If so, what is it that you like about them?

Geyer: You’re right – I’ve selected the Gira HomeServer for many of my projects, because I believe in the quality of the product and its functions. I was really excited to hear about the updates to the HomeServer announced at this year’s Light + Building. I’m already looking forward to testing out the free and individual visualisation feature, which will allow the tried-and-tested Quad Client to be combined with individual pages. The update will also allow users to call up functions directly from third-party programs.

I also really like the flush-mounted switches from the Gira E2 design line. My clients always appreciate the minimalist yet elegant design. My other favourites are the Gira G1, which is a simple and convenient control system for all Smart Home functions, and the Gira KNX DALI Gateway Plus. This product establishes a single lighting control standard for buildings and is compatible with solutions from various manufacturers – it’s ideal for large properties like offices and hotels.

I might have more products to add to my list of favourites soon too:

At the Gira stand at Light+ Building, I was incredibly impressed with the Gira Studio design line. I can imagine these switches becoming real focal points in some of my projects.

G-Pulse editor: You worked on many of the Gira credentials. Which was your favourite and why?

Geyer: [pauses] Hmm, I’ll have to think about that one for a moment! One of the projects I really enjoyed – but that was also an enormous challenge – was a residential building in Thüringen. I liked that the clients knew exactly what they wanted. They were au fait with all of the technology and they wanted to strike the right balance between drawing inspiration from nature and natural materials and a high-tech specification. The challenge was that the building was self-sufficient, generating its own energy with any excess being fed back into the grid. All of this relied on a photovoltaic system. Any energy generated by the system that cannot be immediately used to meet the home’s energy needs is sent to a series of high-performance batteries connected to the system. At night, the energy stored in these batteries powers the home; only when these reserves have been used up does the system resort to external power. This project also used KNX and incorporated the Gira HomeServer.

KNX or wireless: Which system is right for your Smart Home?

G-Pulse editor: Mr Geyer, you’re not only a system integrator, but also an author too: You recently wrote a book. Where did your inspiration for the book come from and what’s it about?

Geyer: I never thought that I’d have my name on the cover of a book. But the VDE Publishing House approached me with an idea, and I thought why not share the knowledge that I’ve acquired over the years and that I use every day of my working life? The book is intended to provide advice and help people plan their installations. It covers common design errors and provides helpful tips on how to use KNX technology to best effect.

G-Pulse editor: Do you use smart technology in your own home?

Geyer: Of course. After all, I have to know what I’m recommending to my clients. I have a KNX system at home.

And you can probably guess what else...Yes, the Gira HomeServer.

G-Pulse editor: What trends do you think will emerge for Smart Homes over the next few years?

Geyer: The sector has grown so fast in recent years due to the ever-increasing degree of digitalisation and constant flow of new technological developments. I think that one of the next major steps will be the development of an algorithm that can adapt to the customer, enabling systems to detect who is home and learn new things. There are exciting times ahead, and I for one can’t wait to see what’s in store for the next few years.

G-Pulse editor: Mr Geyer, thank you for talking to us and giving us an insight into your work.

Have you ever worked with a system integrator? To get advice on your project, find a local expert here.

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