Why quantum sensor is becoming increasingly important

Quantum sensor achieve measurement results of unique precision.

In solid-state physics, a quantum sensor is a quantum device that responds to a stimulus.
quantum sensors

Quantum sensors answer questions even before we ask them. In autonomous vehicles, they recognize whether there is a vehicle outside of our field of vision behind the next corner of the house on a collision course with us. Diagnose at checkups for cancer and Alzheimer’s diseases before the first symptoms appear.
In order to obtain these findings, the sensors analyze the interaction between the atoms of the measurement objects and quantum elements such as electrons. “Because these are super sensitive, the sensors come to extremely precise measurement results,” explains Professor Tommaso Calarco, Director of the Institute for Quantum Control at the Peter Grünberg Institute of the Research Center.
Both energetic states such as temperatures or speeds as well as the location and nature of an object can be measured. Quantum sensors can also visualize molecules and their chemical composition. They achieve a resolution of up to 20 nanometers. At 10,000 nanometers in diameter, human hair is 500 times thicker. Even the smallest viruses are around 100 nanometers in size.

Quantum technology explained

What is quantum technology actually? Why are quantum technologies so relevant? You can read answers to all these questions in our big overview: ” What you need to know about quantum technology “.
Here you can find out why the technology is so relevant for Germany and what research, politics, and companies are planning: ” Quantum technology: why Germany must act now “.

Error-free function without calibration

“If we were to entangle two quantum objects in a quantum sensor and use them for the measurement, the sensor would be even more sensitive,” adds Tommaso Calarco. However, unlike quantum computers, quantum sensors usually do not work with the entanglement and superposition of quantum elements. As a result, they are less susceptible to faults than supercomputers and do not have to be operated in cryostatic environments in order to function correctly. Since they compare the measured physical properties with quantities given by nature at the atomic level, they do not need to be calibrated.
“The currently most advanced approach in quantum sensor technology is nitrogen-vacancy technology,” explains Dr. Christoph Nebel, Head of the Diamond Components Business Unit at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics (IAF). Scientists like him and his colleagues grow the finest needles from artificial diamonds. At their point, they remove two carbon atoms from the lattice structure of the gemstone.
They replace one of them with a nitrogen atom. This has one more electron than the surrounding carbon can bind. Therefore, it falls into the vacancy left free next to the nitrogen molecule. There it becomes the smallest magnetometer in the world and turns the so-called nitrogen-vacancy center into a quantum sensor. To get more interesting information related to Quantum technology and other Automation and Electrical engineering go to the given link.

A matter of turns

Like every electron, it is in a natural gyratory motion. “This spin creates a magnetic field,” explains Nebel. “This changes when other magnetic fields act on it.” In a nitrogen-vacancy sensor, these are the magnetic fields of the electrons in the atoms of the measurement objects. This scans the diamond needle like an atomic force microscope.
“The electron in the nitrogen-vacancy center also has a base energy level and an exciting level that is only slightly above it. This level splits when an external magnetic field acts on the electron. The splitting is greater, the stronger the acting field is,” Nebel continues.
Ultimately, this changes the color and brightness of the light that passes through the diamond needle. By analyzing it, the strength and changes in the external magnetic field and, in conclusion, the nature, energy, movement or location of the measured substances or objects can be identified. Since magnetic fields can hardly be blocked or shielded, electrons in quantum sensors also react to the effects of objects that are outside of the human field of vision – for example underground or behind a corner of a house.

New ways of quality assurance of semiconductors

In the future, semiconductor manufacturers will use nitrogen-vacancy sensors to control the quality of their products. Since chips and memory have to process more and more data without getting bigger, a Pentium processor now contains over 30 million transistors. The magnetic structures on a hard drive are now only 10 to 20 nanometers in size. Whether they have errors can only be detected on this scale with the help of quantum sensors

In addition to nitrogen-vacancy sensors, there are numerous other approaches to achieving high-precision measurement results with the help of quantum physics – such as quantum gravimeters, gravitational-wave interferometers, or quantum gyroscopes and accelerometers. They record movements, directions, and speeds so precisely that they can navigate precisely by comparing their measurement results with a digital map, even without satellite support.
This makes quantum sensors a key technology for Quantum sensors. “Because there are always GPS shadows, especially in cities, several sensor principles must be used simultaneously for reliable operation of autonomous vehicles. Quantum sensors would be of great help here,” explains Christoph Nebel from Fraunhofer IAF.

Time measurement in unison of the atoms

“Quantum sensors can also detect raw material deposits, oil fields, or underground water reserves at great depths based on their gravitational properties,” says Tommaso Calarco, explaining another area of ​​application for the technology.
Quantum clocks are also among the quantum sensors. They measure time based on the vibration of atoms and provide ultra-precise time references and geographic longitude standards in the aerospace industry. They can also be used to synchronize critical infrastructures such as line and communication networks or financial transactions over long distances.
In medicine, radiologists are already using quantum sensors in special magnetic resonance tomographs. However, such devices have to cool down for two hours after each use and cost up to 1.6 million euros.
No one has yet calculated how much manufacturers could earn with quantum sensors. In 2023, the technology and market research company Intrado estimates that the market for all quantum technologies – i.e. not only sensors but also quantum computers, cryptography, and communication – will be a good 13 billion US dollars.

German companies in pole position

German and European companies will account for a large part of this turnover. In 2018, every second participant in the “Zeiss Symposium – Optics in the Quantum World” expected Europe to be a leader in the implementation and use of quantum technologies in 2030. Four out of ten respondents see Asia ahead, only 14 percent the USA. That was the result of a survey during the congress.
The confidence is no accident. For example, Bosch is currently working with the University of Mainz to develop gyroscopes for autonomous driving that use quantum laws. Quantum technologies are also at the top of the research agenda at Siemens, Airbus, the laser technology specialist Trumpf and the supplier to the semiconductor industry Zeiss

The EU Commission wants to take Europe to the top in quantum Sensor technology

The European Commission recently also emphasized the opportunities offered by the technologies in a communiqué to the Council and Parliament of the Community. As part of the European Quantum Technologies Flagship Project, the EU has been funding more than 5,000 scientists and 140 research projects since 2018. It will spend a total of one billion euros over a period of ten years.
In quantum sensing, this money will bear fruit sooner than in quantum computing. The supercomputers will probably only change the world in ten to fifteen years. Quantum computers will probably only change the world in ten to fifteen years. “We will already see substantial progress in quantum sensor technology within the next EU funding period up to 2027,” Tommaso Calarco from FZ Jülich is convinced. “The first prototypes of quantum sensors for autonomous driving could already be available by the end of this period,” the physicist expects.
The range of applications for the technology could also expand considerably by then. “Since we can measure more precisely with quantum sensors than ever before, I don’t rule out the possibility that we don’t even know many things that we could investigate with the technology,” adds Tommaso. If so, quantum sensors would indeed answer questions before we even ask them.

Smart Home Control


Everything to do with the smart home for an absolute perspective on the subject of “intelligent living”

Is the stove still on? Is the basement light off? Is the heating in the bathroom still banging on? If you live in a smart home, these questions leave you cold. Because smart homes can be remotely controlled, automated and monitored. There are literally no mice dancing on the table here. But what is this intelligent home actually all about? Why live intelligently? And how does smart homework anyway? Familiarize yourself with the following questions and answers about the Smart Home and the associated possibilities.

  • What is meant by a smart home?
  • Sense and purpose of a smart home
  • How to implement a smart home
  • Setting up a smart home: 5 steps to a smart home
  • Areas of application of various smart home systems
  • Smart home products for more security
  • Save energy with a smart home
  • Conclusion: A new era of living

Due to the high demand, we have updated this article and added the question “Set up a smart home: 5 steps to a smart home”.

What is meant by a smart home?

A smart home is a home in which the various electrical and electronic devices are networked with a central control system. The devices can be switched on and off at specific times, and they can also be activated when specific events occur.
Typical examples are a heater that is switched on automatically at 6 a.m. in winter and a light barrier that switches on the light when it is dark. An “intelligent home” thinks for itself and takes over processes of everyday life that were previously carried out manually. Learn all about Smart Home Designing by Burraq Engineering Solutions

Aren’t modern households all smart homes in some way?

Most households already have some level of ‘intelligence’ as many appliances contain built-in sensors or electronic controls. Practically all modern washing machines carry out certain washing, rinsing and spinning processes automatically, depending on the program, load and water temperature.
For central heating, a thermostat is usually installed on the wall, which turns the heating on and off depending on the room temperature, or there is an electronic control unit that activates the heating at certain times of the day. Vacuum cleaner robots are also part of the family in many households.
All of these things are examples of home automation, but they are not really what is meant by a smart home. This concept goes one step further by providing centralized control. In the most advanced form of the smart home, there is a computer that does what you normally do yourself: it constantly monitors the state of the home and turns devices on and off accordingly.
For example, it monitors the light coming in through the windows and automatically raises and lowers the blinds or switches on the light at dusk. Or it recognizes movements on the floor and reacts accordingly: if it knows that someone is at home, it switches on the lights and music in different rooms as required; if nobody is at home, the intrusion protection is activated.

Sense and purpose of a smart home

Initially, smart homes were seen as part of a luxurious lifestyle, but they have now become the norm for many medium-sized households. If you are not always on the lookout for the latest technology, you may be sceptical about a smart home.

  • However, a smart home promises advantages in many respects :
  • Power consumption: Components such as heating, lighting and entertainment electronics can be switched on and off from anywhere in the house with a single click or an app so that they are used in an energy-efficient manner and as little electricity as possible is consumed.
  • Convenience: blinds, television, light… most electronic devices now have remote control and their own apps. This can be extremely practical, but it can also quickly become a nuisance if you lose track. Smart homes offer a convenient solution here: You do not have to move around the house to carry out different functions. With smart devices, you can centrally control all household operations while comfortably sitting on the sofa or lying in bed.
  • Peace of mind: A smart home also ensures a certain peace of mind. Is the garage door closed? Is the light in the basement still on? Is the skylight closed? All questions can be answered at a glance in a smart home without having to rush through the house.
  • Individual adaptation: Smart homes also make it possible to use electronic devices according to one’s own wishes: The blinds can be opened automatically at a certain time, the brightness of the interior and exterior lighting can be regulated individually. In a similar way, each individual electronic device is optimally adjusted and, in addition, the points in time for various options to be implemented can be specified.
  • Security: Burglary protection is also successful with smart homes. Smart networking of lights, cameras and even doorbells provides additional security and the presence of a smart system can even deter potential burglars. In the event of a fire, the intelligent home can also react and alert the fire brigade.

Tip: A smart home is particularly interesting if, for financial or legal reasons, no energy-related renovation is possible. These solutions are less expensive and usually do not require landlord approval.

How to implement a smart home

There are numerous different systems for the realization of a smart home. While these differ mainly in terms of how the smart home products are connected and controlled in the system, the basic principle can be explained in general terms.

  • The following elements are typically required to implement a smart home:
  • Gateway (central control unit)
  • Networking (by radio or cable)
  • Sensors such as motion detectors or thermostats
  • Input devices such as displays, controllers, switches, tablets and smartphones
  • Devices such as lamps, shutters, televisions

The basis for communication between the devices is a digital data network that works invisibly in the background. All information from the respective sensors, input devices and end devices comes together via a central control unit. Control commands are received and forwarded by radio or data cable. With the help of input devices, the user can individually program, remotely control and automate the smart home.

Setting up a smart home: 5 steps to a smart home

Regardless of how extensive your own smart home should be, a step-by-step and structured approach is important for the success of the smart home project. The following 5 steps are part of the implementation of a smart home.

Step 1: Rough planning

Before you can really get started, the smart home has to be well planned. First, make a rough plan and determine which devices you want to network in the respective rooms.
Consider all aspects such as lighting, security components, home appliances, shading, air conditioning, heating and entertainment equipment.

Step 2: Concrete planning

Once the rough plan is set, you can go into detail and determine the finer points of the smart home system to be set up. Find out the pros and cons of each solution.
Before you move on to the next step, you should know exactly which products should be networked and how. Creating a product list is particularly easy if the smart devices are listed by room.

Step 3: Cost calculation & procurement of materials

Using the product list you created earlier, you can now determine the cost. If necessary, also factor in the labour costs for the installation.
Once the cost calculation has been determined, it is time to procure all the equipment and materials.

Step 4: Installation & Commissioning

In this step, the components are installed and configured as planned. If you take care of the installation yourself, you should start with the core of the smart home: the smart home hub or the smart home centre.
If the heart of the smart home is in place, the system can be supplemented with the devices to be connected using an app.

Step 5: Practice Optimization

Now it’s time for the fun part of the smart home: the intelligent system has to be used and put through its paces. If there is a desire for additional components, the smart home can be expanded accordingly in this post-optimization phase.

Areas of application of smart home systems

The areas of application of smart home technologies can be divided into the smart house, smart living and ambient assisted living. The demarcations between the various systems are fluid.

What is meant by the smart house?

This area of ​​application relates to the automation of the building technology in a house. The purpose of a smart house system is to ensure security and high resource efficiency in the supply in a building.
In terms of security and surveillance, networked smoke detectors, water sensors, surveillance cameras and intruder alarms are used. Heating management systems, intelligent ventilation and lighting systems as well as door and garage controls are implemented for efficient building supply.
What is smart metering?
Smart metering is an important field of application in the field of energy management. With intelligent, networked consumption meters, the energy consumption and the energy supply for water, gas and electricity are measured, determined and controlled with the aid of computers.

What is Smart Living?

With smart living, the main aim is to increase the quality of life and living for the residents of a smart home. For this purpose, home electronics are networked in the areas of multimedia, household and comfort.
Examples of smart home appliances are smart vacuum cleaners, connected washing machines and tumble dryers, coffee machines, as well as cookers and dishwashers connected to the smart home. In the area of ​​entertainment, smart TVs, loudspeaker systems and smart boxes are networked.

What is Ambient Assisted Living?

The term Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) summarizes smart home solutions that are intended to make everyday life easier for people with physical disabilities. The technologies used for this are characterized by the simplest possible operating concepts and can be easily integrated into the everyday life of people in need of care.
Simple examples of the approach, which is often referred to in German as age-appropriate assistance, are the installation of a home emergency call system, but also alarm systems that can be used to notify relatives, for example, if the refrigerator door has not been opened for a long period of time.

Smart home products for more security

Intelligent networking is a smart home that offers various options for increased security with regard to the following aspects:

  • Protection against burglary through prevention and alarm
  • Protection against smoke/fire by detecting smoke development and alarm
  • Protection against water damage

How does burglary protection work in a smart home?

Smart home not only helps to leave the home secure and locked, it can also prevent possible break-ins by simulating your presence. Using networked sockets and roller shutters, lamps, roller shutters, music and televisions can be switched on and off according to the principle of the housekeeping function in order to intelligently simulate the presence of the occupants.
If there is an attempted break-in, networked motion detectors and camera systems detect unusual activities outside and report this via SMS or email. And what if it’s just the neighbour’s cat? No problem, because modern sensors can distinguish people from animals and a false alarm is unlikely.
The motion detectors are installed at potential break-in points such as front doors, on balconies and terraces as well as in gardens and driveways. The sensors can be linked to an alarm system or to the lighting system to deter intruders from the act.
TipMake sure that camera systems have an integrated infrared night vision function.

How does fire protection work in a smart home?

The best way to minimize fire damage is to detect a developing fire at an early stage using smoke detectors. As is known from conventional smoke detectors, these trigger an acoustic alarm in the same room. In a smart home, networked smoke detectors can forward the alarm to the smart home system.
Depending on the setting, the system in the house uses an optical or acoustic signal to provide information about the development of smoke and can also notify the mobile phones of residents and neighbours without any smoke signals. The rapid forwarding of the alarm increases the chances of containing or even preventing the spread of a fire in good time.

How does protection against water damage work in a smart home?

While many security measures to protect against burglary and fire are often considered necessary, protection against water ingress or water damage from storms and problems with drains or sewers is usually neglected. The earlier water damage is detected, the better its costly consequences can be prevented.
A Smart Home not only warns of storms and heavy rain but also helps to notice windows that have accidentally been left open. Water detectors can be used to quickly detect heavy rainfall through open skylights and backwater in the sewage system, for example in the basement, before the damage is too great.
TipIn regions at risk of flooding, an outdoor camera can also be used to monitor the water level and to protect against water damage.

Save energy with a smart home

One of the main arguments in favour of smart home solutions is the savings potential they bring with them. How much electricity can be saved depends on factors such as usage behaviour, the size of the smart home, the building fabric and the installed smart home products. A relatively large amount of energy can be saved when heating.

How can you save on heating costs in a smart home?

On average, more than two-thirds of all energy costs are incurred for hot water and heating. Thanks to intelligent networking within your own four walls, these costs can be limited to what is necessary.
With an intelligent heating control, it is possible to precisely set the periods in which heating is to take place, only a little heating or no heating at all. In addition, the right temperature can be set for each heating period, so that rooms do not become saunas unnoticed. The humidity can also be regulated and mould formation can be optimally prevented.
By intelligently coupling sensors with thermostats, for example, the heating can be switched off automatically while the windows are open for ventilation. The programming of such commands as well as all other settings are made via an app, so the heating system can be controlled not only in the smart home but also when you are out and about.

Which smart home products are used for heating control?

  • Radiator thermostats for monitoring and regulating the room temperature
  • Room thermostats for controlling several radiator thermostats in a room
  • Door and window sensors to detect closed/open doors and windows
  • Humidity and temperature sensors for monitoring the temperature and humidity indoors and outdoors and transmitting the determined values ​​to the central house control

Note: As the savings potential depends very much on the individual conditions, the manufacturer’s information on maximum savings should be viewed critically.

how can you reduce power consumption in a smart home?
Electricity can also be saved with smart home solutions for the central control of electrical devices and lighting elements. In comparison, the energy-saving potential is lower here.
Laptops, smart TVs, chargers, fully automatic coffee machines and printers – many devices are only used for a few hours a day and still consume electricity all the time. Even if less energy is consumed in standby mode, this power consumption can be reduced with suitable smart home products without any loss of comfort.

Which smart home products reduce power consumption?

  • Wireless wall switch: With a push of a button when leaving a room, all the electronics in the room can be switched off wirelessly. In addition to lamps, radio, television and any other devices, there can also be an intelligent coupling with the heating system so that the room is not heated unnecessarily when you are away.
  • Switching and measuring sockets: By connecting to the central control unit, these sockets can be used to switch devices on and off as required. In this way, the coffee machine can even get a smile out of the morning grouch when the coffee has been brewed on time. Using these sockets, the light can also be switched on or off automatically when entering or leaving the room – in response to the signal from a motion detector. The power consumption can also be determined using the measurement function.
  • Adapter plug: Similar to the switch and metering socket, the status of the power supply (on/off) can be timed with this smart home product or called up and checked using an app while on the go. Normally, however, it does not have a measuring function.

Tip: When purchasing smart home products, care should be taken to ensure low energy consumption. While some switches even efficiently use the energy generated when the switch is actuated, widespread use of touchpads as operating elements can undesirably increase power consumption.

Conclusion: A new era of living

As clear and simple as the term smart home sounds at first glance, the solutions and technologies behind the intelligent living approach are as different and diverse. While the typical example is a modern family home, a trailer that has been converted into a home can also be set up as a smart home.
With its diverse areas of application, the Smart Home is on the technical advance and thanks to constantly newly developed fields of application, even the most sceptical Ottosmart citizen may be offered a helpful and convincing solution in the future.
Purpose-oriented goals such as saving energy, burglary protection and fire alarm are contrasted with playful and entertainment concepts: While one person evaluates his home heating statistics over morning coffee, the other comfortably let Alexa and Co. tell his favourite joke. Both in their smart home.


Drill correctly – It’s so easy to track down the power line

If a shelf or the latest family picture is to be hung up, the drill is used. However, before drilling begins, the wall must be specifically examined for the power lines installed behind it. If you simply drill, you risk a damaged cable, an expensive workman’s bill and a life-threatening electric shock. Discover how to avoid such a risk and how to skillfully locate your power lines in the wall.

  • Why should power lines be found?
  • Is there an installation plan for the line route?
  • How do power lines usually run?
  • How do I identify power lines in the wall?
  • What happens when you drill into a power cable?
  • How do I react correctly in the event of damage?
  • Conclusion: think first, then drill

Due to the high demand, we have updated this article and added the question “What happens if you drill into a power cable?”.

Why should power lines be found?

Quickly drill a hole in the wall: It sounds tempting, but it is not recommended. Why? The power lines running in the wall are not visible from the outside and can quickly be hit by the drill unintentionally.
If a power line is drilled into, it’s annoying at first, because you’re most likely sitting in the dark. In addition, damage to the power cable is not only associated with follow-up costs for the repair but may also pose a risk of injury for the eager driller.
Even if you only need to quickly drill a hole for a picture frame, you should make sure beforehand that there are no cables running in the wall provided for this purpose. This is the only way to avoid accidents, injuries and damage to property.
TipWhen drilling, you should not only pay attention to power lines but also to water pipes to avoid water damage.

Is there an installation plan for the line route?

Before you can start drilling, you first have to locate the lines. This naturally raises the question of whether the course is recorded in a plan. If the craftsman responsible for the electrical installation has not just drawn cable figures and has carried out the installation professionally, he has also drawn up a plan for it.
An installation plan of the line route is basically the simplest solution for locating the lines. However, these plans are often not available, even for relatively new buildings, because the relevant electrician is either unknown or not available. After all, very few electricians are happy about a spontaneous invitation to drill on a Sunday.
Note: When drilling according to the installation plan, make sure that subsequent changes to the electrical installation are also visible on this plan. 

How do power lines usually run?

In modern buildings, in particular, it can be assumed that the power lines were laid according to a fixed principle during construction. With a professional installation, the installation zones are observed and the power lines only run vertically and horizontally to the floor and ceiling.

How close to the socket drill?

The first thing to do is locate the outlet or light switch near the area to be drilled. From this point, the cable runs vertically up or down. According to the rule, the vertical power line is converted to a horizontal one about 30 cm below the ceiling or 30 cm above the floor.
Accordingly, the area can be used from a distance of 30 cm from the ceiling to 30 cm from the floor. In bathrooms, the pipes are usually not laid near the floor, but below the ceiling.
Note: This logic can only be used when drilling if there is a certainty that the electrical installation has been carried out in accordance with the regulations. In older buildings, in particular, it cannot be assumed that the cables were laid in such an orderly manner. When in doubt, it’s safer to trace the cables in the wall.

How do I identify power lines in the wall?

If there is no installation plan or you are not sure if the plan is up to date, there are other ways to locate the power line in the wall. Such devices can be the safest solution, especially in old buildings, since there is often no direct plan and the cables in the wall may not have been laid in an orderly manner. Two main types of locating devices are used: line locators and metal detectors.

How reliable are line locators?

Cable locators reveal electrical voltages. Therefore, to trace a power line, run the device over the wall until the power finder deflects. Since this procedure does not detect the line itself, but rather the voltage surrounding a line, the approximate area rather than the exact route of the cable is displayed. Therefore, do not take it too precisely and plan a sufficient distance to the determined area when drilling.
Tip: Since line locators detect electrical voltage, they only work if there is actually voltage on the line. So make sure the fuse is on. It is particularly easy to find the line when the current is actually flowing. It is, therefore, best to switch on the light or your karaoke system.

Which lines can be traced with metal detectors?

With the help of special metal detectors for house walls, it is not voltages that are detected, but metal deposits. They are therefore suitable for searching for power, gas and water lines. The devices are sensitive enough to also detect metal lines that are laid in a plastic conduit.
NoteIn modern buildings, water pipes made of pure plastic are often installed. These are not detected by metal detectors.

Can you find power lines with the app?

Finding the power line with the app sounds like a great idea. Because modern tablets and smartphones usually have magnetic field sensors that can theoretically also be used to detect power lines. However, the sensors are not always strong enough to reliably detect the cables in the wall. In addition, the result can be distorted by electromagnetic waves from devices such as televisions or PCs and is rather unreliable. Neither the search for the line nor the drilling via the app is promising solutions.

What happens when you drill into a power cable?

If you are toying with the idea of ​​just drilling into it, then you should think twice about it. If you drill into a power cable, it can have a wide variety of consequences.
If the power cable is still live when you start drilling, there is a risk of fatal injury, as you could suffer an electric shock while drilling. If you’re lucky, your fuse blows, shorts out, and maybe sparks fly.
Even in the best-case scenario, the result is a nuisance: you have a damaged power cable in the wall and need to have it repaired.

Did I drill into a power line?

Have you been busy drilling and now you suspect that you have drilled into a cable? A clear indication that you have drilled into a power line is a loud bang, flying sparks or a fuse blowing. There may also be a short circuit or you are suddenly left in the dark.
However, it is also possible that you have drilled into the protective conductor. Then nothing happens to the outside, but the most important protective measure of your power supply is damaged.
Even if you turn the backup back on and everything seems to be working normally, it’s not something to be taken lightly. Not only may the protective earth wire be affected, but it could also be that the power line insulation is damaged.
As a result, the cable is no longer so resilient and there is a risk that an apartment fire will develop at some point.

How do I react correctly in the event of damage?

Ideally, you shouldn’t have to ask yourself this question, but sometimes things don’t go well. So what if you did drill into a power line? Then caution is called for and the cable must be repaired.
In most cases, there is a direct power failure and the residual current circuit breaker, circuit breaker or fuse has blown. Never turn on the switch or fuse again. If the switch or fuse has not blown, be sure to turn it off. In any case, secure the switches against being switched on again.
If the power does not fail, the defective power cable is either currently de-energized or was only scratched. Even then, the cable cannot continue to be used normally under any circumstances. If the insulation of the cable is defective, a gradual danger develops: with the continued operation, the cable overheats, sparks fly and the cable fire is inevitable.
Note: Repairing a faulty power cord is not safe for laypersons and can be dangerous. Contact an electrician and have the damage repaired by a specialist

Conclusion: think first, then drill

Sometimes it helps to just get started and see what comes up. Definitely not when drilling in the wall. This becomes clear at the latest when it flashes briefly while drilling and you are sitting in the dark. Therefore, consider the drill site carefully before you start drilling.
Ideally, the line route can be read from the installation plan or, with a little logic, can be deduced from the usual distances to the wall and ceiling. If a plan is not available and the installation zones are not entirely reliable, it is preferable to use line locators to locate the power line rather than a drill.
If you have opted for the optimistic approach and accidentally drilled into a power line, it must be checked extensively. Even if no damage is apparent at first glance, you should definitely leave this part to the professional electrician.

Protection Classes, Types of Electrical Protection, Protection areas

All important information on the subject of protection during electrical installation

Good protection, safe installation and long-term operational safety are the be-all and end-all in electrical installation. The IP protection classes, protection classes for electrical engineering and protection areas for the bathroom are standardized for all installations throughout Germany. But what does IP 44, protection class II or protection zone 0 mean? We will answer these and all other important questions on the subject of protection in electrical engineering in this article.

  • Safe in and around the house – protection classes for lights and electrical devices
  • Which devices are double insulated?
  • Two numbers that say it all – IP degrees of protection
  • In the open air: IP protection classes for outdoor use
  • Electricity and water don’t mix: electrical safety areas in the bathroom

Due to the high demand, we have updated this article and added the question “Which devices are double insulated?”.

Safe in and around the house – protection classes for lights and electrical devices

The protection class designates the security measures that are built into an electrical device or component to protect it and its users against electrical accidents such as electric shocks. There are a total of four protection classes that were defined in DIN VDE 0140-1. This subdivision is important to define a general security standard. It also allows you to see how secure a device is at a glance, without a lengthy investigation.
Protection class 0 – not permitted
Protection class 0 designates devices and electrical components which, in addition to their own insulation, have no protection against electrical accidents and cannot be connected to a protective conductor (see below). Devices with this protection class are not approved for use in Germany, the EU and numerous other countries due to their insecurity. So always pay attention to the protection class if a device is suspiciously cheap – the black zero is only good for accounting.
Protection class I – protection by grounding
In the case of devices with protection class I, all conductive elements of the housing are connected to a protective conductor. This ensures that the device is grounded so that the current is safely discharged in the event of a power accident or a voltage spike and prevents potentially dangerous voltages when the device is touched. Grounding is via a plug or cable. Protection class, I am marked with the symbol for grounding.
Protection class II – double insulation holds better
Devices and installations with protection class II are usually not connected to the protective conductor for technical reasons. In order to still ensure operational and installation safety, they are provided with reinforced or double insulation. The protection class II symbol shows two nested squares.
Note: If the connection cable of the device is provided with a protective conductor, this must not be connected to the housing. Caution is advised because the housing can also conduct electricity.
Protection class III – protection for batteries and rechargeable batteries in everyday life
Protection class III designates electrical elements that work with their own safety extra-low voltage. That means they have a touch current, but it’s harmless to adult humans. Of course, the old mnemonic applies to children: knife, fork, scissors, light… These are not for small children. The same applies all the more to electricity. Due to this special feature, these devices may only be connected to power sources that are approved for safety extra-low voltage or protective extra-low voltage (SELV/PELV).
These are usually batteries, rechargeable batteries or safety transformers. Many Class III devices have additional reinforced or double insulation between the low voltage parts and the main connection. The protection class III symbol shows a Roman numeral 3 in a rhombus.

Which devices are double insulated?

In principle, electrical devices have what is known as basic insulation. In the case of devices with protective insulation, additional insulation is carried out for the protective insulation.
Even if the electrical device is live, you are protected by this protective insulation in the event of contact. The protectively insulated device appears to be completely insulated from the outside.
Devices with protective insulation are devices of protection class II. Devices marked with the symbol of protection class II are protectively insulated.
Devices in protection class II are safer to use than those in protection class I, which is why many domestic electrical appliances have protection class II.
What does the double square mean?
The double square is the symbol for devices of protection class II. It is a square with a second, smaller square inside.
The two squares symbolize the double insulation of the protectively insulated devices. Devices of protection class II or devices with protective insulation are products that have a 2-pin plug and therefore, in contrast to 3-pin plugs, cannot be connected to the protective conductor.
Note: Please note that double-insulated devices are not automatically waterproof. The IP protection class reveals how well a device is protected against water.

Two numbers that say it all – IP degrees of protection

Modern technology can do a lot, but wind, weather and water still don’t get along with electrical devices. While the protection class designates the protection for users of a component, the IP protection class primarily provides information about how the electrical device itself is protected against various environmental influences.
Many devices and components, especially outdoors and in industry, are exposed to difficult environmental conditions and must be able to work safely for a long time (years or even decades). But it does not have to be an industrial company, many of these problems can also be found in the home garden or in the hobby room.

  • These harmful environmental influences include:
  • Moisture, spray and splash water
  • fumes
  • Corrosive substances such as acids or alkalis
  • Pollution (e.g. from oil in the workshop)
  • dust and fine dust

In addition, all electronic and electrical devices have a minimum and maximum allowable operating temperature. This is especially important on the terrace or in the garden – too much sun or a cold winter night is just as uncomfortable for electronic devices as they are for us.

Types of Electrical Protection Valid worldwide, safe for your home

With these types of protection, the abbreviation IP stands for “International Protection”, since the protection standards for devices are internationally standardized – good to know if you are buying devices from a foreign manufacturer. Of course, in the best German tradition, there is also a local version of this standard, namely DIN VDE 0470-1.
The IP code usually consists of two code numbers

. The first digit designates the protection against foreign objects and contact and ranges from 0 to 6:
0 – no protection against foreign bodies or contact
1 – protection against foreign bodies larger than 50 mm in diameter, protection against access with the back of the hand
2 – protection against foreign bodies larger than 12.5 mm in diameter, protection against access with a finger
3 – protection against Foreign objects with a diameter of more than 2.5 mm, such as needle-nose pliers or knife points, protection against access with a tool
4 – Protection against objects with a diameter of more than 1 mm, such as nails or large needles, protection against access with a wire
5 – Protection against dust in relevant Quantity and full protection against contact recommended for industrial and workshop work
6 – Full protection against all dust and contact
The second digit stands for protection against the effects of water. It ranges from 0 to 9:

no protection
1 – protection against dripping water
2 – protection against falling dripping water when tilted
3 – protection against falling spray water when tilted
4 – protection against splashing water
5 – protection against jets of water from a nozzle, for example in car washes
6 – protection against powerful jets of water
7 – protection against temporary submersion, but not at greater depths
8 – protection against permanent submersion, for example in pools or ponds
9 – protection against water from steam or high-pressure cleaners, especially suitable for agricultural operations
Below are some examples of the most common types of protection

IP 44: safe for terrace and balcony

Philips LED wall light
Philips LED wall light

A device, machine or component with protection class IP 44 is protected against the ingress of solid objects with a diameter of up to 1 mm and access with a wire (first digit, protection class 4).
In addition, the device is sealed from all sides against splashing water at normal pressure (second digit, protection class 4). An example of devices with this degree of protection are wall lights for outdoor installations (see below), which have to be rainproof to a limited extent.

IP 54: dustproof for workshop and garden

An electrical operating part with protection class IP 54 is sealed against large amounts of dust and safe from contact (see above). In addition, it is also protected against splashing water. This is particularly common in sensitive electronic systems where dust can cause short circuits

IP 66: first-class for the bathroom

The protection class IP 66 is recommended for private users, especially for installations in the bathroom, as the current-carrying parts are fully protected against contact, dust and strong jets of water, for example from the shower. This also guarantees operational safety if you slip with the shower. Switch cabinets in the industrial sector should also have this type of protection.

In the open air: IP protection classes for outdoor use

From light sources to transformers, outdoor electrical and electronic devices are subject to particular loads. Rain, temperature swings, and wind-blown dust are everyday hazards that these devices should be able to fend off with ease.

Dust- and access-safe outdoors

In principle, at least IP protection class 44 is recommended for outdoor use. In this way, you prevent larger dust particles or insects from penetrating the device, even when installed close to the ground. However, sensitive or highly conductive components should have the first digit 5 ​​or 6. Even small amounts of damp dust can cause major operational disruptions. In addition, this degree of protection ensures that children or pets cannot accidentally come into contact with live cables.

From the entrance to the pond: water protection for the outdoor area

Lights and electrical devices that are installed outside the house under a canopy should at least correspond to protection class IP X4. A covered porch or carport offers some protection, but anyone who has ever stood in the rain in windy weather knows that water can sometimes come from the most unlikely of angles.
To be on the safe side, devices and components that are completely outdoors should either be additionally protected or have a slightly higher second code number of the protection class. This corresponds approximately to protection class X5. A small roof or other rain protection also offers good protection.
Workshops with outdoor facilities should use equipment with IP protection class X5 or higher if spray and splash water can occur. This includes, for example, devices that are used for car cleaning. The water belongs in the car, not in the compressor.

Wibre underwater spotlight Types of Electrical Protection
Wibre underwater spotlight

Devices for installation in wet systems such as pools or garden ponds must have protection class 48 or 58 because they work submerged. This includes, for example, pumps or lamps installed in the pool. In the case of deeper systems, it is important to note that the IP code does not provide any information on pressure security.
Therefore, before you buy, check how deep your water system is and whether the equipment is suitable for the water pressure at this depth. If you can dive into your pool, the device must also be able to handle it.

Electricity and water don’t mix: electrical safety areas in the bathroom

Special requirements apply to electrical devices and systems within the wet cell. If a room contains a shower or a bathtub, DIN VDE 100-701 must be observed, since steam, splashing water and a generally higher level of humidity pose particular risks during operation. Therefore, devices used here should have IP classification 3 or higher, depending on the protection area. Unfortunately, the protection class doesn’t help when the cell phone or tablet takes a bath.

Protection zone 0 – in the tub

Protection zone 0 designates the direct interior area of ​​the shower or bathtub. Here, installations such as sockets are logically forbidden, since by definition they cannot be watertight. Luminaires must have at least IP protection class 7 or 8 since they work temporarily or completely submerged. Cosy bath lighting can become very uncomfortable if it enriches the bubble bath with electric shocks. In addition, all devices must have a safe extra-low voltage of fewer than 12 volts. If the shower is installed at ground level, this does not count as protection area 0, but in a radius of 120 cm as protection area 1.\

Protection zone 1 – above the tub

Protection zone 1 for the bathroom includes areas and rooms above the tub or shower up to a height of 225 cm above the floor. In order to safely avoid electrical accidents caused by jets of water from the shower, all electrical installations here must at least meet the requirements of IP protection class 5. No sockets or switches may be installed because water can get into the pipes through cracks and openings.

Safeguard 2 – How washing machines REALLY live longer

Protection area 2 is also measured up to a height of 225 cm or up to the height of the highest water outlet. The lateral extent of this protected area is slightly larger than that of protection area 1. No sockets are permitted here either. Permanently installed lights or the washing machine can be used in this area, provided that the washing machine’s power connection is also within protection areas 0-2.
When building a house or renovating, cables for lights may also be laid here. Switches are only permitted in protection area 2 if they are installed in the lights and do not reduce the IP protection class. Touch sensors are always safer than switches and still have a sleek, futuristic touch.

Protection area 3 – the rest

Depending on the size of the bathroom, protection area 3 includes the entire remaining room or a defined area. Sockets and switches may be installed in this area under certain conditions. In addition, they must be equipped with a type F1 protective device to ensure operational safety. Extension cords and junction boxes can be used here without any problems, but always pay attention to the layout of your bathroom.
Separate devices such as lights in the bathroom cabinet are a special case. In principle, these may also have a lower IP classification because they are protected by the cabinet itself.


The most important questions and answers on the subject of mini solar systems at a glance

Go to the hardware store, buy a mini solar system and connect it at home… sounds good, but is it really that easy? Since 2017, operators of such solar systems no longer operate in the legal grey area but are officially allowed to use the solar systems at home. But what exactly are these mini solar systems all about? Does such a small solar system even make sense? Do I have to observe certain regulations? Find out everything worth knowing about the sun harvest in your own four walls.

  • How does a “small” solar system differ from a “big” one?
  • How is a mini solar system constructed?
  • Installation of mini solar systems – Where can I install a mini solar system?
  • Legal aspects: Is it permissible to connect a mini-PV system to the household electricity network via the socket?
  • How do I know if my mini solar system is working properly?
  • What are the electricity meter regulations for mini solar systems?
  • How much does a mini solar system cost?
  • Is a mini solar system worthwhile for the garden house?
  • Conclusion: sunny prospects

Due to the high demand, we have updated this article and added the question “Is a mini solar system worthwhile for the garden house?”.

How does a “small” solar system differ from a “big” one?

Basically, mini solar systems and photovoltaic systems have the same purpose: to collect solar energy, convert it into electrical energy and then use it as electricity. A mini solar system is essentially a miniature conventional PV system.
In comparison to a large PV system, however, plug-in solar devices have the following special features:

  • Small and compact
  • “Plug & Play” (independent assembly, installation, use)
  • Electricity for self-consumption in the house electricity network or as an island system with a battery
  • Mobile and flexible in assembly and operation
  • Rated power: 600 W (0.6 kWp)
  • Independent registration with the network operator and market master data register
  • ImageWhat is the best way to capture the sun’s rays?

The special feature of mini solar systems, in addition to their size and compactness, is that they are designed according to the “Plug & Play” principle. With these “small” solar systems, everything from assembly and connection to use should be able to be carried out independently by private individuals. They are mainly developed for self-consumption and only feed electricity into the house electricity network or into a small battery.
With photovoltaic systems on private houses, on the other hand, sufficient electricity can be generated to feed it into the power grid. The installation and maintenance of the components of such a “large” solar system must be carried out by a specialist company. This also takes care of the registration with the network operator, which can be carried out by the consumer himself in the case of mini solar systems.
The systems also differ in their mobility and flexibility. PV systems are installed on the roof for permanent operation and can only be removed and moved to another building with great effort. Mini solar systems, on the other hand, can be installed on balconies, terraces, on facades or in a sunny spot in the basement and can be easily removed and operated at another location.
While mini solar systems usually consist of one or two modules with a nominal output of 300 watts each, PV systems are made up of several modules and produce between 3 and 20 kilowatts.
Note: Mini solar systems are also known as plug-in solar devices, plug-in solar systems, balcony power plants, balcony modules, mini PV systems and guerrilla PV systems.

How is a mini solar system constructed?

A mini solar system usually comes in a set with the following components :

  • solar panel
  • mounting frame
  • inverter
  • battery
  • Plug and cable for the socket

A plug-in solar system usually has one or two solar modules that can be flexibly combined. An inverter converts the direct current generated by the solar system into alternating current so that the current can be fed into the 230-volt household power supply. For off-grid systems that are not connected to the domestic power grid, the inverter function should be able to switch off automatically.

Tip: If you would like to evaluate your yield data and the performance curve of the solar system, opt for a set with a display and Ethernet connection on the inverter. You can use software to visualize your energy yield.

How big and how heavy are mini solar systems?

The standard format of such a solar module is 1 MX 1.70 m with a typical nominal output of 300 watts and a weight of up to 20 kg.
In addition to the standard modules, smaller and lighter solar modules with outputs of 50-150 watts are also available. These are suitable, for example, for mounting on balcony parapets. However, two to four of these modules must be connected to an inverter for it to work efficiently.

What does Wp or Watt Peak mean for a solar system?

Since the performance of a solar system depends on the solar radiation, it varies greatly depending on the day, the weather and the time. In order to have a comparable nominal output, the peak output and thus the output under standard conditions with full solar radiation is specified with “Watt Peak” (in short: Wp).
The power actually generated often deviates from this value depending on the weather conditions. As a guideline, a mini solar system with 100 Wp achieves an output of 90 kWh of electricity per year.

Installation of mini solar systems – Where can I install a mini solar system?

In order to be able to harvest solar energy ideally, it is first necessary to find a sunny place where the solar module or modules can be attached.
Mini solar systems can be mounted in many places such as:

  • balcony
  • terrace
  • facade
  • garden
  • roof

The purpose of a mini solar system is that the consumer can connect it almost intuitively and save installation costs. The systems are therefore usually designed in such a way that the installation can also be carried out by non-professionals.
The mounting frame supplied is an elevation triangle made of aluminium or steel. Not only do they provide secure support, they also ensure the tilt that allows for the best possible yield. Although environmentally friendly frames made from recycled paper reduce CO2 emissions, they can have a negative impact on the yield of the solar module.
Tip: Make sure that the screws are tight and that the mounting frame offers a firm hold even in strong winds.

Legal aspects: Is it permissible to connect a mini-PV system to the household electricity network via the socket?

no . In some EU countries, it is permitted to plug the plug-in solar modules with an output of up to 600 Wp into a normal household socket. In Germany, however, a special power connector is required according to DIN VDE 0628-1. This is a so-called feed socket. In Germany, the so-called Wieland socket and the associated Wieland plug have become established.
If the mini solar system is not used as an island system but is fed into the domestic power grid, not only does the power socket have to be installed by a specialist, but they also check the existing circuit and replace the fuse if necessary.
This topic is still controversial in Germany. While some consider the connection of solar systems with up to 600 watts to the normal socket to be harmless, others warn against it. Technology for the direct transmission of energy via solar radiation has not yet been developed.
The German Society for Solar Energy (DGS) advocates simplified regulations and demands official permission to operate mini solar systems via a Schuko plug. Associations such as the VDE advise caution and generally recommend having the installation carried out by a qualified electrician.
Note: Never connect several mini solar systems via multiple sockets. A separate socket must be provided for each mini solar system to prevent overloading of the power line and cable fire.

How do I know if my mini solar system is working properly?

Everything mounted, connected, in operation… and now? The solar modules themselves and also the inverter does not show directly whether a solar system is working properly and how much it is doing.
Some inverters have an LED that lights up or flashes to indicate certain operating states. However, it does not show if a device is working properly and how much it is performing. If your inverter has a power measurement, you can read out, save and evaluate the performance data externally.
Alternatively, the power can be measured via the socket. Plug a standard power meter between the socket and the consumer – for example, your refrigerator. Depending on the power meter, you can not only determine the power consumption of the refrigerator but also measure the power in the opposite direction and thus determine the power generated. Intelligent sockets, such as those used in smart homes, often have an energy measurement function.
If you use a solar module with a connection using a Wieland special plug, there are still no compatible power meters and intelligent sockets. In this case, small measuring electronics can be installed in the socket, which measures the current flow and transmits the measurement data to a terminal device via WLAN or Bluetooth.

What are the electricity meter regulations for mini solar systems?

Bidirectional meter – Do you also have electricity flowing in all directions?  mini solar systems
Bidirectional meter

If you connect your mini solar system to your home electricity network, there are also special regulations regarding the electricity meter. Your electrical installation must have a counter with a backstop or a bidirectional counter.
The background is as follows: Especially on particularly sunny days, you may not be able to fully use the electricity generated by your small solar system. If there is a connection to the domestic power grid, your excess electricity flows into the public power grid.
In this case, a conventional counter without a backstop simply rotates backwards and that is forbidden in Germany. Because the price for the electricity consumed (approx. 30 cents per kWh) is significantly higher than the value specified in the EEG feed-in tariff (11 cents per kWh). You would get your excess electricity reimbursed for a much higher price through the return function.
In the case of a meter with a backstop, the meter reading cannot be reduced by electricity fed into the grid. If you would like to record the current fed into the grid, we recommend installing a bidirectional meter. It is designed to measure consumed and fed-in power separately.

How much does a mini solar system cost?

In recent years, the prices of solar modules have fallen sharply, so energy generation using photovoltaics is becoming increasingly affordable. With mini solar systems, the step towards environmentally friendly electricity seems even closer. The market for mini solar systems is growing and some models are available for as little as €300.
However, if you are looking for a high-quality and safe product, you should expect costs of between €400 and €1000. The German Society for Solar Energy (DGS) offers a market overview with performance data, manufacturer and price.

Is a mini solar system worth it and when will it pay for itself?

For maximum performance, the sun’s rays must fall as vertically as possible. The right location is therefore essential for a quick return on investment. As a guideline, a good mini solar system with 100 Wp can be expected to yield 90 kWh of electricity per year.
For an estimated amortization calculation, let’s assume a 300Wp mini solar system, which therefore achieves 270 kWh per year. With an average electricity price of around 30 cents per kWh, the mini-PV system offers electricity savings of around €80 per year.
If you have invested a total of €800 in your mini solar system, it will pay for itself after 10 years. Service life of at least 20 years can be assumed for high-quality mini-PV systems.
TipNot only shading but also soiling of the modules can lead to reduced energy yields. Therefore, check and clean your module regularly.

Is a mini solar system worthwhile for the garden house?

Many gardens and garden houses are not connected to the public power supply.
Of course, the purpose of a garden plot is actually to spend some time in the countryside, but for one or the other application, some electricity would be very practical.
While the classic solution for generating electricity is a generator, a mini solar system for the garden house offers numerous advantages:
⦁ Energy is generated from the sun and thus from a renewable energy source
⦁ Mini solar systems are quiet and do not disturb the environment
⦁ Thanks to inexpensive solar systems, no major investments are necessary and the electricity generated by the sun is free
⦁ Plug-in solar systems can be installed quickly and easily
⦁ Very little to no maintenance is required
⦁ Mini solar systems have a long service life of at least 20 years
You often spend time in the garden when the sun is shining and the solar cells are generating electricity. However, if you want to use the solar energy generated during the day in the evening and at night, it is worth buying a battery.
The unused energy is fed into the battery and can be used at a later time. Such an energy store is particularly ideal for evening lighting and for the operation of small electronic devices.

Conclusion: sunny prospects

The concept of the mini solar system offers a simplified way of taking the first steps towards solar energy in your own home without having to make major investments. Mini solar systems are also ideal for stand-alone systems. Above all, they can actually be used according to the “Plug & Play” principle.
If you don’t want to use your mini PV system for the allotment garden or camping trips, but actually want to contribute something to the domestic electricity, you still have a few things to consider. The standard stipulates, among other things, a professional inspection of the domestic electrical installation. In addition, a power socket and the right electricity meter are mandatory.
Even if consumers are still faced with a few obstacles when it comes to repairing their small solar system, the approval of mini solar systems and the relaxation of the law in recent years represent an important step for flexibility and DIY in the field of solar energy.
If you want to protect the environment and at the same time enjoy some independence from the electricity provider, mini solar systems can offer an interesting solution. Will you also follow the sun?

How SMEs with variable use of cobots ramp up production quickly

In times of accelerating economic activity, SMEs also have to ramp up their production again quickly. Cobots can help with this. Combined with artificial intelligence, applications such as “bin picking” are possible that were previously not feasible.

cobots ramp up production
cobots ramp up production

The disruptions to the market caused by the global pandemic are receding – the economy is currently picking up again. For example, after a long period of restraint, orders in German mechanical and plant engineering increased by 47 per cent between March and May compared to the same period last year.
However, this rapid upswing can develop into a problem, especially for small and medium-sized companies: During the crisis, many companies focused primarily on limiting costs, deferring investments and not having too many staff available. Now they have to ramp up their production as quickly as possible and ensure that they deliver their products in the usual quality.

Lean automation can offer SMEs support for a quick restart: By using flexible cobots in production, the companies are able to expand their production volume. It is particularly lucrative for medium-sized companies if they use individual collaborating robots at several different stations in the company. These investments are manageable and usually pay for themselves within a year.

Vema converts cobots in 30 minutes

The plastics processor Vema shows what flexible production can look like: Four cobots are in use here and feed a lighting measuring system, carry out pick-and-place tasks and take care of the packaging. In the future, they will also automate assembly tasks. But flexibility goes beyond various applications here: The automotive supplier makes sure that it can also use its collaborating robots with different machine set-ups and batch sizes.
Within half an hour, employees move the cobots to a new workplace, set them up and put them into operation. This allows the company to react more flexibly to the market requirements of the demanding automotive industry. Within two years, the medium-sized company increased its productivity at the stations with robots by 30 per cent. With the same number of employees, VEMA is now more concerned with the areas of product quality and customer satisfaction.

Collaborating robots reduce costs at Albrecht Jung

The manufacturer of electronic installation components Albrecht Jung, who bases its entire value chain on lean principles, also uses cobots for various tasks such as pick-and-place, screwing, packaging and assembling parts.
After a UR5 from Universal Robots initially supported the employees in assembling smart radios, the medium-sized company from Schalksmühle quickly realized the variety of functions they have: Now the employees themselves are looking for other suitable applications for the collaborating robots and also take on the programming. This significantly reduces costs and throughput times.

A new generation of cobots suitable for material handling

The performance of cobots is constantly being optimized so that they can also take on more demanding material handling tasks.
The current version of the UR10e from Universal Robots, for example, can now handle a payload of 12.5 kg with a reach of 1300 mm. In this way, the cobot can be used variably in different applications such as machine tending, material handling, packaging and palletizing, where parts and products with a higher weight are handled. The more powerful collaborative robot is also suitable for lines in which products with different weights have to be moved.
This new version has already found its way into a Cobo-Stack stacking robot, which MBO Postpress Solutions uses to stack packages with folded signatures behind folding machines for printers. To do this, the cobot grabs the stack and sets it down on pallets using variable tongs. Thanks to the increased payload, the stacking robot can now also lift larger packages and heavier products such as perfect-bound and saddle-stitched catalogues and brochures. Users can thus use the cobot more variably and thus increase their productivity.

Cobots learn to see through vision systems

It becomes even more flexible with a combination of artificial intelligence (AI) and cobots: With the help of AI, users can train the robots, among other things, for the gripping process itself – and no longer for specific workpieces. Thanks to AI, medium-sized companies can integrate cobots into their products in just a few steps. As a result, they act more flexibly and can adapt spontaneously to changing orders in high-mix/low-volume productions.
In particular, vision systems based on machine learning are used here: UR robots, for example, can recognize any object to be gripped if they are equipped with the Robobrain Vision solution from Robominds. A camera mounted on the robot arm or above the station uses AI and vision algorithms to recognize the products without the cobot having been trained beforehand.
Regardless of the coordinates, it finds the gripping points independently: the so-called “bin picking” is possible because the collaborating robot grips in a more targeted manner and also pick up unsorted workpieces individually. This makes it easier for SMEs to automate applications in order picking and logistics – and increase productivity in the long term.

ZF Friedrichshafen automates workpiece pick-up with AI

The automotive supplier ZF Friedrichshafen also uses a vision-based robot control to prepare for gear production. To do this, the robot has to remove metal rings from a box and place them on a conveyor belt.
The application, which sounds simple, has many obstacles for the cobot: The positions of the rings in the box shift, the position of the box varies, sunlight falls on the rings and there is oil or rust on some ring surfaces. Only the human colleague was able to safely deal with these numerous variances.
For this reason, ZF introduced an automated workpiece pick-up that uses AI to enable the cobot to perceive its workspace and correct its movements as needed for each task. The workers programmed the UR10e via its controller so that it positions itself over a single ring in the box.
The AI ​​of the vision-based Mirai system from Micropsi Industries then takes over control: It independently moves the robot to the next ring and places the gripper in the correct three-dimensional gripping position. After this position is reached, it is again the turn of the UR10e system, it picks up the ring and moves it onto the conveyor belt for deposit.
In this way, Mirai solved the problems caused by the variances much faster and more reliably than classic robot programming was previously able to do.

Artificial intelligence expands the possible uses of cobots

Cobots are flexible all-rounders: With the right peripherals and their lightweight construction, they can be used for a wide variety of applications and even as mobile applications. The combination with AI controls will offer users numerous other possibilities in the future since cobots perceive their environment multidimensionality with the help of image processing systems.
The collaborative robots recognize objects even when they are stacked or overlapping, which simplifies their programming. Thanks to AI, they are now also taking on tasks that were previously reserved for humans: for example, handling unsorted parts, volume measurements and quality controls. SMEs can thus integrate their cobots quickly and flexibly – and use them in a variety of ways to increase productivity.


Typical errors in electrical installation – what is correct and what is not

Have you ever questioned your knowledge of electrical circuits? And are you sure that the fire protection regulations are observed within your own four walls? No? Then test your knowledge below and make sure you know better about other assumptions circulating in society. Discover below 8 common mistakes in electrical installation from the socket to the smart home.

  • Misconception 1: I’ll just get started!
  • Misconception 2: I’ll do it quickly…
  • Misconception 3: Multiple plugs are the solution when a socket is missing
  • Misconception 4: One circuit per room is completely sufficient!
  • Misconception 5: The church tower next door is higher than my house – so the lightning doesn’t hit my house
  • Misconception 6: I’m not a tenant, I’m the owner – so I don’t need a fire alarm
  • Misconception 7: Smart Home is only for new buildings
  • Misconception 8: Electrical installations are protected and do not have to be adjusted
  • Conclusion: Little knowledge can be dangerous

Due to the high demand, we have updated this article and added the question “Electrical installations are protected and do not have to be adjusted”.

Misconception 1: I’ll just get started!

As a practised do-it-yourselfer and hobby electrician, you prefer to take matters into your own hands – right away. However, where electricity is involved, a lack of prior knowledge and willingness to experiment can have serious consequences. Before starting any electrical project, first, find out in detail about the appropriate procedure and necessary safety measures.
In electrical work, you should also have a basic knowledge of the various materials and common tools and work practices. As a rule, it is also important to observe standards, rules and regulations. With the previous knowledge, the project can then be ideally planned and you not only guarantee your safety but also save time and money during implementation.

Misconception 2: I’ll do it quickly…

Changing a socket or hanging up a lamp can quickly go wrong. Even if you can almost change the light switch in your sleep, electricity still poses the same danger.
In principle, the absence of voltage must always be established before working on cables or electrical systems. The following safety rules are therefore always a top priority for laypersons and experts alike:
⦁ Only carry out the work if you have sufficient specialist knowledge.

Is your line suffering from tension? voltage tester shows it!
voltage tester
  • Always unplug the power cord before working on electrical equipment.
  • Turn off the power by turning off the circuit of the associated fuse.
  • Provide the fuse box with an information label so that third parties cannot accidentally switch the fuse on again.
  • Use a voltage or phase tester to check that the system in question is dead.
  • Never use protective conductors for other purposes and never remove or disconnect them. A lightning rod offers no substitute.
  • Finally, after completing the work, check the protective conductor function.

Misconception 3: Multiple plugs are the solution when a socket is missing

Multiple sockets are practical, yes. However, they are by no means a safe permanent solution if there are not enough sockets. On the contrary: thanks to the multiple plugs, several devices can use one socket at the same time. It is quickly overwhelmed and gets warm. In the worst case, the overloaded socket can lead to a fire!

So what if the sockets are not enough?

Whether multiple sockets or sockets in a room are sufficient depends on the total load of the devices operated simultaneously in a circuit. If there are permanently too few sockets, the domestic electrical installation can be expanded later. If you are planning an extensive renovation and would like to renovate the electrical installation in the wall, this involves complex work. The new lines may only be installed by a trained specialist!

Tip: An alternative associated with less dust and dirt is offered by so-called baseboard or surface-mounted installation ducts with integrated sockets. These are easy to install and the wall does not have to be prized open.   

Misconception 4: One circuit per room is completely sufficient!

While this statement may be true for some rooms, it can not be taken as a rule of thumb and in many cases, it is simply not true. How many circuits are required depends entirely on which devices are ultimate to be operated in the room.
The correct rule of thumb is one circuit per 3600 watts total load. Individual devices with a load greater than 2000 watts should have their own circuit.
A typical example of a room where multiple circuits are required is the kitchen. A relatively large number of electronic devices are used in most households. In addition, many appliances with high loads such as the electric stove, oven and dishwasher are used at the same time in the kitchen. Other examples of high-load consumers are the washing machine and tumble dryer.

Misconception 5: The church tower next door is higher than my house – so the lightning doesn’t hit my house

Tall buildings are often considered as protection against lightning strikes. But in principle, lightning does not always hit the highest point!
And what about all those church towers struck by lightning? It is true that in many cases tall buildings are struck by lightning, but not always. Lightning doesn’t like church towers, it just wants to get down to earth from the electrically charged cloud. And as soon as possible.
Air is a poor conductor of electricity and has a particularly high resistance. That’s why the flash looks for a building to strike as quickly as possible. If there happens to be a tall building in its path, that’s an appealing option for the Blitz. But the cables in your own home also offer a fast route to earth.
In general, high trees, flagpoles or electricity poles can only offer protection in a very small area. Lightning can strike as little as 50 meters from such an object.

Tip: Protect yourself reliably with a multi-stage lightning protection system consisting of lightning and surge protection. In the event of a lightning strike, this dissipates the energy into the ground in a controlled manner and compensates for the overvoltages that are harmful to your electrical installation.

Misconception 6: I’m not a tenant, I’m the owner – so I don’t need a fire alarm

As the “master of the house” you enjoy a lot more freedom than a tenant, but certain legal regulations and obligations must also be observed in your own four walls. Anyone who thinks that the owner is not obliged to have a smoke detector is wrong.

When the smoke rises to the ceiling
Ceiling Fan


Smoke detectors serve to protect the residents and therefore smoke detectors are compulsory in all German federal states for living space. This affects both tenants and owners. Even those who live on their own property are obliged to install fire alarms.
A fire can be life-threatening, especially at night. Our sense of smell is inhibited in deep sleep and we do not notice the smell of burning in time. In this case, after just a few breaths, the person loses consciousness without realizing it. It is therefore important to install smoke detectors in bedrooms and children’s rooms.
Each federal state regulates exactly where and how fire alarms have to be installed. In principle, however, it is advisable to install smoke alarms at least everywhere where you sleep, stay longer or use smoke signals.

Misconception 7: Smart Home is only for new buildings

A smart home comes with enticing features. And these are not withheld from residents of old buildings! Basically, a smart home is simply a house in which many processes take place independently and intelligent technology regulates certain processes. For example, the heating is turned down automatically when you leave the house.
In order for the house to be able to “think for itself”, the devices must be networked and able to communicate with each other. Here there is the possibility of communication by cable or radio. The advantage of new buildings is that the corresponding control lines can be implemented directly during construction. Subsequent renovation of the electrical installation for cable-controlled communication involves a lot of dust and dirt and can be expensive.
However, simple radio-based solutions in old buildings offer the possibility of networking and intelligently controlling all relevant building components. Motion sensors, temperature controllers, probes and contacts can also be easily installed in old buildings and communicate with each other. Here your heating system learns via radio from the motion detector that you are leaving your house and not via cable.

Misconception 8: Electrical installations are protected and do not have to be adjusted

The standards and guidelines are updated frequently and if buildings and their electrical installations had to be adapted with every change, we would be constantly building and modernizing. Therefore there is the so-called grandfathering, which is a system has that was manufactured at the time of construction according to the standards applicable at the time.
So electrical installations in old buildings are out of the question? It’s not that easy! Because with electrical systems, safety must always be the priority, and from a certain point in time this is no longer the case with old electrical installations.
Old lines alone can pose a safety risk. Electrical cables are assumed to have a service life of around 40 years, as they become brittle and brittle over time and can lead to short circuits. Therefore, the rule of thumb is that the protection of an electrical installation in an old building expires after 40 years.
Wires that are too old or damaged should not only be seen as a reason for modernizing an electrical installation. The electrical installation of a building should also be renovated if there are no FI circuit breakers, too few sockets and circuits as well as outdated fuses and distributors.

Conclusion: Little knowledge can be dangerous

From the light bulb to the smart home, electrical engineering is present in ever larger parts of our lives. We therefore often think that we are familiar with a topic, although we only have half-knowledge.
And that can be dangerous. Because where electricity is involved, it sparks quickly. It is important to get enough information before starting any project. If you want to find out for yourself, you can get advice from like-minded people in forums, for example. When in doubt, however, it is better to play it safe and consult an expert.
Being properly informed is not only safe but can also be worthwhile. This is the only way to find out about the latest developments and discover new opportunities. With new insights, you and maybe your home will become smarter.

This is how Industrial Ethernet and Ethernet differ

Ethernet and especially Industrial Ethernet such as Profinet are popular technical terms in the production sector. Although similar, both have different features and benefits. This article explains Ethernet and Industrial Ethernet and shows the points in which the two differ.

The ISO/OSI reference model defines and describes the seven layers of communication between systems

The ISO/OSI reference model defines and describes the seven layers of communication between systems. (Picture: Profibus user organization)

Ethernet began with a single cable that allowed multiple devices to be connected to a network. Today, an Ethernet network can be expanded to include new devices as needed. Ethernet has now become the most widespread network technology in the world. An Ethernet shares the data streams into shorter parts or data frames, with each data packet containing special information, such as the source and destination address of the data. This data is necessary for the network to accept and send data as needed.

Common terms used in Ethernet technology include a “medium”, in current Ethernet technology a twisted pair or fibre optic cabling that connects Ethernet devices and thus provides a data path. A “Segment” is a single piece of media shared by multiple devices. A “node” is a collection of devices connected to a segment.

The MatrixEthernet allows computers to be connected over a network. Industrial Ethernet is Ethernet used in the industrial sector, which often requires more robust connectors and cables, but above all better determinism. (Source: Carlos Castilla – Adobe Stock)

Standard Ethernet can transfer data at speeds of 10 to 100 Mbit/s. Gigabit Ethernet is a term used in the IEEE 802.3 standard to describe Ethernet speeds of 1 Gbps. The term Gigabit Ethernet was initially used typically for backbone network transport and for high-performance or high-capacity servers. However, over time, Ethernet could also support desktop connections and personal computers. Not to be confused with Wi-Fi, Ethernet uses cables to connect computers and devices. Almost every reference to a network or local area connection means Ethernet.

What is Ethernet?

Developed in the 1970s, Ethernet is now standardized as IEEE 802.3 (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers). Ethernet is a wired data transmission technology made up of hardware and software components that were originally intended for local data networks (LAN). In the OSI (Open System Interconnection) model, Ethernet defines both the physical layer and the data link layer of wired Ethernet media access control. The standard also describes the rules for the configuration of an Ethernet network and the interaction of the network elements with each other.

Ethernet allows computers to be connected over a network – without it, communication between devices would not be possible in today’s world. Ethernet is the global standard for a wired system for connecting multiple computers, devices, and machines over a common network within an organization so that all computers can communicate with each other.

Representation of 4 bottlesIn a bottling plant, the Industrial Ethernet can monitor the correct filling of the bottles. (Source: Analog Devices)

How does Industrial Ethernet work

Industrial Ethernet protocols such as Profinet and EtherCAT modify standard Ethernet by ensuring the correct sending and receiving of specific production data at the exact time required for a specific operation. For example, a bottling plant Send filling data over the network using Industrial Ethernet automation technology to guarantee bottles are filled on schedule. As soon as a bottle is full, the network sends a corresponding signal over the network.

Such a message is less important in an office environment. If a web page stops responding, the user simply clicks the refresh button. In a factory, however, a small problem could trigger a catastrophe – in a company, there is simply no time for someone to notice the error and manually press a button. However, the Industrial Ethernet automation network can detect errors in the filling process and automatically stop the process. Above all, this prevents wasted time, resources and money.

What is Industrial Ethernet?

Industrial Ethernet, the successor to the classic field-buses, is exactly what it sounds like: Ethernet, applied in the industrial sector, often requires more robust connectors and cables, but above all better determinism. Industrial Ethernet uses special Ethernet protocols for better determinism. Widespread Industrial Ethernet protocols are, for example, Profinet, Ethernet/IP, Ethercat, Modbus TCP, CC-Link IE, Sercos III and Powerlink. Industrial Ethernet enables data transmission rates from 10 MBit/s to 1 GBit/s, with 100 MBit/s being the most common speed in Industrial Ethernet networks.

Industrial Ethernet requires additional considerations compared to, for example, Ethernet systems for office use. Production systems in workshops are exposed to high temperatures, vibrations, moisture, dust and other sources of interference such as high EMC loads.

presentationProduction facilities in workshops are exposed to demanding environmental conditions – a fact that the network must also take into account. (Source: Analog Devices)

Other differences between Industrial Ethernet and Ethernet

Ethernet is used more in offices than in industrial environments. For office communications, Ethernet is designed for base-level usage, while Industrial Ethernet is multi-level and suitable for heavy-duty environments. Like field-buses, Industrial Ethernet can better handle disturbances in factory environments, better meet the requirements of factories and is therefore particularly suitable for use in harsh environments. In addition, Industrial Ethernet is able to react better to data collisions inside the factory floor.

Cables and connectors can also vary with Industrial Ethernet technology. For example, connectors for industrial environments do not have snap mechanisms because stronger locking mechanisms are required due to the harsher environment. Even sealed connectors are often used for high-performance applications unavoidable.

The cabling can also differ between commercial or Ethernet for office communication and Industrial Ethernet. Light-duty industrial cables can have a higher quality jacket than regular Ethernet cables. With heavy-duty cables, the jacket and metal used are of higher quality to make them more durable.

Industrial environments require the determinism of Industrial Ethernet

Determinism is an important criterion when defining industrial Ethernet systems and distinguishing them from standard Ethernet. Standard Ethernet is not deterministic on its own. However, industrial environments require determinism – there is a need to send and receive data packets at specific times. In addition, the network must be able to guarantee any delivery of data.

This is because a loss of data or a delay in data exchange between devices and the industrial environment can lead to disaster – such as a weak point in the production process. Real-time information transmission is often an important criterion for companies when selecting a suitable Ethernet solution that also takes into account the company-specific requirements.

What is the difference between Profinet and Ethernet?

What is the difference between Profinet and Ethernet? Can you give us a comparison between Profinet and Ethernet? The Profibus user organization or Profinet International, which also takes care of IO-Link, Omlox and Profinet, is often asked these questions. They are actually easy to answer, since Profinet and Ethernet technologies complement each other or, in other words, build on each other and not compete technologies are. Here is a comparison between Profinet and Ethernet.

First of all, a look at the ISO / OSI model, a seven-layer model that describes the abstraction layers of a communication system in general, helps. Every network communication can be divided into several layers. IEEE 802.3 defines the standards that makeup Ethernet. Ethernet resides at Layer 1 (Physical Layer) and Layer 2 (Data Link Layer) of the ISO/OSI model. Ethernet defines two transmission units: packet and frame. The frame contains information such as the MAC addresses of the sender and receiver, the VLAN tagging (Virtual LAN) and the QoS (Quality of Service). To put it more simply: Ethernet defines how a telegram frame is structured and transmitted over a line. The meaning of the bits and bytes in the data field of this frame

What is Profinet?

Profinet is an Industrial Ethernet standard. It is a communication protocol for data exchange between controllers and devices (IO devices). Controllers can be, for example, a PLC, a process control system or a PAC (programmable automation controller). Devices can be I/O units, vision systems, RFID readers, drives, process instruments, proxies or even other controllers. Profinet is on layer 7 of the ISO/OSI model because it is an application. It defines cyclic and acyclic communication between components, including diagnostics, functional safety, alarms and other related information.

In summary, this means: The structure of the data in a frame and the respective meaning is precisely defined across manufacturers. A user can easily access parameterization data, diagnostic data and, of course, input/output data and does not need to worry about putting them together in a telegram or even setting up monitoring mechanisms. In addition, defined startup sequences with corresponding state machines are specified so that the transitions and the status of the devices are clearly regulated.

Without such a specification, a user of an automation system would have to pull up these processes individually for each device according to the manual at a bit and byte level with the corresponding effort and potential for errors.

These are the differences between Profinet and Ethernet

All in all, it is difficult to make a comparison between Profinet and Ethernet as they are of different nature. Ethernet (Layer 1 and 2) defines the electrical signals within the cable, how the bus is accessed and how telegrams are sent and received on a LAN. Profinet, on the other hand, is an application (layer 7) based on standard Ethernet for layers 1 and 2.

In a Profinet network, the Ethernet cables that connect the Profinet components are what stand out. When users then continue to configure the network, they work with Profinet controllers and devices. With Profinet, a network configuration can be created and the data exchange between controllers and devices in an automation network can be defined.

What about Single Pair Ethernet?

In the future, two wires will bring Ethernet to every corner of the machine – including the power supply: Single Pair Ethernet (SPE). Here there are already first examples in practice. However, SPE has not become established on a broad front, simply because components are still missing and because there are still problems in some areas. In the future of automation, however, SPE is sure to be a crucial one Role-play.

Tips For Saving Energy at Home

Useful tips & tricks for saving electricity in everyday life

Operating the light switch when leaving the room has been common practice for decades. However, a lot has happened since the invention of the lightbulb and we now depend on 24/7 electricity at home. The domestic power consumption is correspondingly high. It is now clear that whoever saves electricity not only protects the wallet, but also the environment. But what is the best way to save electricity at home? Discover 22 tips for saving energy, with which you can easily organize your everyday life to save electricity!

Due to the high demand, we have updated this article and added the 22nd energy saving tip “Work on the laptop instead of the PC”.

Economical devices without battery

Electrical devices such as toothbrushes, electric razors and telephones use significantly less electricity when connected directly to the mains than devices that run on batteries.
The LED lamp is energy efficiency class A+ with a weighted energy consumption of 3 kWh/1000h
You can find out how high the energy consumption of a device is or how energy-efficient it is by looking at the EU energy label. If you are unsure which device consumes the least power, compare the information on the EU energy label for the battery and main models.

Pay attention to the energy efficiency class for new devices

Regardless of whether it is a dishwasher, washing machine or kettle, the basic rule is: the higher the energy efficiency, the better. Therefore, always include the energy efficiency class when making a purchase decision. In the end, more expensive devices can be worth buying if they consistently consume less energy than cheaper models.
As already mentioned, the EU energy label shows you how energy efficient a device is. Products marked with A+++ and in dark green show very high energy efficiency, while red and D stand for very poor energy efficiency.
A revised EU energy label has been in force since March 2021, which no longer has the plus classes A+, A++ and A+++. It is only categorized from A (very good) to G (very bad).

Plug out

With a power strip, you can pull out several plugs at once

Stand-by mode is more energy-efficient than normal mode, but the devices continue to consume electricity in this mode. The best way to avoid this unnecessary energy requirement is to pull the plug.
By the way, it is not only good for your electricity bill to disconnect the devices from the mains. You also prevent possible causes of fire: If an electrical device has a defect inside and overheats, it can quickly lead to an electrical fire.

Tip: If you find it too annoying to pull the plug or if the socket is in an unfavourable place, you can use a socket strip with a switch. This makes it easy to turn off the power.

Energy-saving refrigerator in the right place

There are devices that consume a lot of electricity and we can’t just unplug them every now and then. The fridge for example. Therefore, before you buy, think about whether you need a freezer compartment and how big the fridge actually needs to be.
Not only with the right refrigerator, but also with the right position, electricity can be saved. Put the refrigerator in the coldest possible place and do not cool it more than necessary. This also applies to chest freezers and freezers: Ideally, place the chest freezer in the basement.
Also, make sure to leave sufficient space on the wall for the cooler of the refrigerator. So that the heat can also dissipate upwards, you should place as little as possible on the refrigerator. Incidentally, the air is a poor conductor of heat, so a full fridge is not only a pretty sight, but it is also better for the electricity bill.
Tip: fridge a break when you go on vacation. Simply switch off and defrost in the meantime.

A fully packed refrigerator is in line with the energy saving plan!

Cooking with gas

A gas stove works with gas and is, therefore – who would have thought it – particularly energy-saving. But it is actually more environmentally friendly than an electric stove and uses about half as much primary energy. This is because the gas generates heat directly, while the electricity first has to be generated from other energy sources.
If you cook with gas, it is estimated that only half the CO 2 is released as with a conventional electric stove. You can continue to use your pots, as no special pots are required for the gas stove. By the way, some chefs are convinced that dishes cooked with gas taste better.

Cooking with a lid

Regardless of whether it is a gas stove or an electric stove, it is well known that heat “rises” upwards. If the pot is not covered, the heat has free flow towards the ceiling. If the pot is covered, the heat generated stays inside. In addition, the food is ready faster!
It is best to use a glass lid, then you can look inside the pot without having to keep lifting the lid. This is because valuable heat is lost every time.

Tip: Make sure you choose a saucepan that suits the size of the hotplate and the number of ingredients. In this way, you do not heat up an unnecessarily large pot and no energy is lost on a stove that is too large.

Kettles & Co. are more energy-efficient than electric cookers

You don’t always have to use the stove!

If you have electrical appliances such as coffee machines, kettles and egg cookers in your kitchen, then use them! On average, these appliances consume over a third less electricity than electric cookers.
Only fill the kettle with as much water as you actually need. However, the kettle is rather unsuitable for boiling eggs.
Note: If you are not only worried about your own electricity bill but also about the ecological balance, you should avoid coffee machines with aluminium pads. The production of these pads requires a lot of energy and is harmful to the environment.

Bake without preheating – cook with residual heat

You do not want to generate unnecessary heat that is ultimately not used? Then only preheat your oven if the pre-run is crucial for the success of the food. While pizza or biscuit dough, for example, likes to be really warm right from the start, the oven does not have to be preheated for a casserole.
The residual heat can also be ideally used with electric hobs and ovens. If you only want the dish to simmer or cook a little, you can switch off the hotplate 10 to 15 minutes earlier and the oven 5 to 10 minutes earlier.
The oven is not efficient for small portions. Preferably use the stove. The oven is also like a pot lid: the more often you open the oven door, the more heat is lost and more energy is used.

Defrost the fridge and freezer

The space in the freezer is getting tight because a thick layer of ice has formed? Then it’s high time to defrost! The icing is not only annoying, it also unnecessarily increases power consumption. For efficient operation, the ice should be thawed from a layer of about one centimetre thick.
There is a very simple explanation for the increased power consumption: the ice layer makes it harder for the cold coming from the cooling coils to get inside. The icy cooling coils of the fridge or freezer, therefore, have to cool longer and use more energy overall to create icy conditions and keep your ice cubes in shape.
If your fridge doesn’t have an automatic defrost function, you’ll probably have to defrost it yourself. But you can speed up the defrosting process very easily: put a bowl of hot water inside to melt the ice faster. Don’t forget to wipe the inside dry before using the freezer unit again.

Heater down, door closed

If you turn down the heating and think about sitting in front of the sofa in a winter coat and gloves, then we can put your mind at ease. Because heating energy can be saved without drastic measures.
With every degree less, an estimated six per cent of heating energy is saved. It is therefore particularly important to regulate the temperature correctly and set it individually for each room.
While you like it to be cosy and warm in the bathroom at 23 °C, 16 to 18 °C is enough in the bedroom. In living rooms such as the living room and children’s rooms, a guide value of 20 to 22 °C applies. In the kitchen, 18 to 20 °C is optimal and if you like to cook and bake a lot, it will quickly get really warm anyway.
It is also important to ventilate the room vigorously from time to time rather than continuously tilting the windows. Remember to turn off the radiator while you do this.
Note: Be sure to bleed the heater before winter. If a radiator is not properly vented, it consumes a lot of energy.

Lights out

Provide your light switch with a watchful eye - the motion detector!
motion detector

This energy-saving tip is well-known and still effective: Turn off the lights! If nobody is in the room, the light does not have to be on. Just make sure you always think about the light when you leave a room and switch it off if necessary.
This is especially true for parts of the house that are not used that often, such as the basement and garage. If you leave the light on here, the unnecessary power consumption will most likely go unnoticed for several hours. Even in the hallway or on the stairwell, people like to leave the light on for convenience.
Tip: If, for example, you find it particularly difficult to go to the light switch in the stairwell, you can also have your light switched on automatically via a motion detector.

Use LED lamps and energy-saving lamps

Not only the burning time but also the type of light source can make a difference in terms of energy consumption. Energy-saving lamps use around 70 per cent less electricity than a conventional light bulb. While the power consumption and the CO2 emissions during production speak for an energy-saving lamp, it has fallen into disrepute in recent years because of the toxic mercury content.
So if you want to avoid hazardous waste and still want to save energy, LED lamps to offer a good alternative. The slightly higher acquisition costs pay off over time thanks to the energy consumption that is up to 85 per cent lower than that of conventional light bulbs.

Energy-guzzling apps running in the background

You only charged the battery a few hours ago and now it’s empty again? If the battery charge of a smartphone or tablet seems to be visibly dwindling, apps running in the background are usually to blame.
While some apps have a low-power background mode, others constantly “eat” battery power. The Facebook app is commonly known as a power guzzler. In general, apps that frequently send you notifications are potential battery suckers.
Navigation apps are also particularly power-hungry. Therefore, always make sure to deactivate the location function when not in use. The flashlight function should also not be switched on permanently. By the way, your smartphone needs the least battery in flight mode. So it’s best to treat yourself and your intelligent helper to a little radio silence every now and then.
Note: You can usually display how much battery charge is being used by which apps in the battery settings.

If you want to save electricity, you should also save water!

The best way to save on laundry is to wash less overall. Of course, this tip doesn’t help much when the mountains of laundry are piling up at home. But even if a lot of laundries has to be washed, there is potential for savings.
Basically, it is important to buy a washing machine with the highest possible energy efficiency. If you wash a lot, you can save so much energy with a new machine that in the long run, even an older washing machine will be more expensive.
In addition to the energy efficiency of the washing machine, the washing temperature also has a major impact on electricity and water consumption. For example, if you wash at 40 instead of 60 °C, you can save up to half the energy. The economic programs of modern washing machines therefore usually wash at 30 °C. So just switch it down and choose a lower temperature level.
In addition, with today’s washing machines and detergents, no pre-wash is required. Also, make sure that you only wash when the washing machine is actually full.

Leave laundry to dry on a drying rack

Electricity can be saved not only when washing, but also when drying. Although tumble dryers are convenient, they consume a lot of energy. So use the natural dryer on sunny and warm days and let the laundry dry on the clothesline.
Even if the laundry cannot be dried outside, boiler rooms, for example, offer good conditions for drying laundry on the drying rack. The nice thing about the natural drying process is that it doesn’t need any electricity at all.
Note: The more the laundry is spun, the less moisture remains in the textiles and the faster they dry. While a spin cycle with 1000 revolutions is sufficient for the clothesline, 1200 revolutions or more are recommended for the laundry, which then goes into the dryer.

Reduce water consumption

Save electricity by saving water? Exactly! On average, a quarter of water consumption in Germany is hot water. And in order for water to become hot water, energy must be used.
Even small changes can save water in everyday life. For example, make sure you don’t leave the tap running the entire time you’re brushing your teeth. Also, use a toothbrush cup. You can save even more by turning off the faucet in the sink or shower while you lather.
In the kitchen, you can use a large bowl to wash the vegetables in a water-saving way. If you have many plants or a garden, it is best to use collected rainwater for watering. Incidentally, you can also save electricity in the garden by not mowing the lawn too often.
In general, dripping taps are an absolute taboo in a water-saving household!
Note: Make sure that the dishwasher is a water-saving model. The machine should not consume more than 17 litres per run and only be fully loaded or at least operated in the economy program.

Install economy shower head and flow limiter

While showering with the normal showerer is already water-saving compared to a full bath, you can also save water when showering yourself.
Economy showerheads, aerators and flow limiters optimize the water jet so that less water is used while the shower comfort remains the same. The principle behind it is as follows: The water jet is divided at the tap or enriched with air so that the pressure and surface of the water increase and less water are required.
Water consumption can be reduced by up to half without even noticing it in the shower. In addition to energy-saving shower heads, there is another water-saving hero in the bathroom: the energy-saving cistern for the toilet. While a normal flushing process uses 7 to 9 litres of water, an economy button only uses 3 to 5 litres of water.

An instantaneous water heater only heats the water when you actually need it.
instantaneous water heater

Note: Regularly check that the toilet flush is not broken and that water is not running continuously into the toilet. Similar to a dripping faucet, many litres of water end up being channelled unused into the sewage system.

Turn off the hot water tank or replace it with a flow heater

Hot water tanks or electric boilers offer certain advantages in terms of comfort, as they store a certain amount of hot water and have it ready for later use. So it’s just a matter of opening the faucet and running hot water! However, the constant heating of the water consumes a lot of electricity, which is why boilers constantly consume electricity. Boilers should therefore be switched off at night or when nobody is at home.
For those who do not want to constantly switch off the hot water tank to save electricity, instantaneous water heaters offer an alternative. These only consume electricity when hot water is really needed and only for the required amount of water.
However, a bit of patience or courage is required here: a certain lead time is required, which is why cold water comes first before hot water is finally available. Also, make sure that you only set the water temperature that is actually required.
Tip: Alternatively, you can use solar panels to generate heat for hot water and heating. Even during the cold season, the sun’s energy is sufficient to heat up a considerable part of the water.

Forego air conditioning

In hot weather, use the fan rather than the air conditioner

When temperatures are particularly high, there is only one true solution for many: air conditioning. But just as quickly as air conditioning systems provide pleasant cooling when it is hot, they also drive up electricity costs.
If you don’t want to work up a sweat at the sight of the electricity bill, you should opt for conventional alternatives such as fans and the correct ventilation procedure. An open refrigerator in the room is not an energy-saving alternative to air conditioning.
If you don’t want to do without your air conditioning system entirely, you can also exploit the savings potential in operating it. For example, avoid direct sunlight in the room and keep the windows and doors closed. Position the air conditioner as freely as possible so that the cooled air can circulate well in the room and do not set the temperature too cold.

Saving energy with digital helpers

If you want to reduce your electricity consumption, it is helpful to know your own energy consumption. If you know exactly where and how much electricity you use, it is easier for you to take appropriate savings measures.
There are now numerous tools, apps and websites that you can use to display and evaluate your own consumption. So-called “smart meters” also play an important role in saving energy. These electronic electricity meters can be intelligently networked via a communication interface and can transmit energy consumption in a timely manner.

Generate electricity yourself & switch to green electricity

Free & perfect for a green conscience: solar energy!
solar energy

Save electricity or not, even the keenest saver still uses electricity. In the meantime, there are also options for private individuals to reduce the costs for the remaining electricity consumption in the long term.
A particularly popular source of energy is the sun. While solar thermal energy is suitable for heating water, you can generate electricity with solar cells in the form of photovoltaic systems or mini solar systems. Part of the domestic energy requirement can thus be covered by solar energy.
An alternative source of energy is the wind. Since there are numerous templates and regulations associated with modern wind turbines, a mini wind turbine is particularly suitable. Approval is easier than with a giant wind turbine.
If you don’t want to become a private electricity producer and still want to make a contribution to reducing CO 2 emissions, you can switch to a green electricity provider. Switching is easy and often the tariffs for green electricity are even cheaper than those of conventional providers.
Note: If something goes wrong when you switch to green electricity, you still don’t suddenly find yourself in the dark. Your grid operator is generally obliged to continue to supply you with electricity.

Working on a laptop instead of a PC

Anyone who works or surfs a lot on a PC should use a laptop in the future. Because laptops are designed to run on battery power for as long as possible, they use significantly less energy. The power consumption of a PC with comparable use and equipment is usually (at least) twice as high as that of a laptop.
Do you just want to quickly research something on the internet? Then don’t turn on your laptop or even your computer, but use your smartphone. Smartphones and tablets are a lot more energy efficient than laptops.
Whether mobile device, laptop or PC, all devices can also save electricity using the energy-saving mode. This can be found in the control panel or in the system settings and can be adjusted personally. Determine the screen brightness according to your needs, when the device switches off automatically or goes to sleep and other settings.
And as with all other devices, the devices only consume no electricity when they are switched off. Therefore, always make sure to turn off your computer or laptop when not in use.

Conclusion: With small measures to big savings

Even if you don’t live in a straw hut far away from any electricity, there are numerous ways to significantly reduce your own energy consumption. Whether in the bathroom, in the kitchen or in the basement, there is potential for saving energy in every corner.
It’s often the little things like using the right light source or switching off electrical appliances properly that have a positive impact on the electricity bill. Just being informed about “electricity guzzlers” and being aware of them already influences us when dealing with domestic electricity.
It is up to the consumer to decide which measures are ultimately taken. The devices are still used for household support and even if doing without them completely represents the ultimate saving measure, the convenience for the consumer that was originally intended is lost.
Use your devices consciously and still for your enjoyment: If the sun is shining and you can hang the laundry on the clothesline, whistling happily, that’s ideal. If you just want to throw your laundry in the dryer on a cold, rainy day, that’s fine too. Now you know how you can do something for your wallet and your green conscience with simple tricks!







Electrical Installation in the House

Electrical installation house: planning the house electrical installation – basics, regulations and doing the house electrical installation yourself – everything you always wanted to know about the electrical installation in the house.

Electrical installation in the house: basics, planning, regulations and can you do the house electrical installation yourself?

A house without electricity? Inconceivably! Nowadays we use electrically powered devices and machines 24/7 without even realizing it. To ensure that the electrical supply for the respective devices is also guaranteed within your own four walls, the electrical installation in the house must be well thought out. Do you want to build or modernize? Do certain regulations for the electrical installation then have to be observed? What should be considered when planning the house electrical installation and can you do the house electrical installation yourself? Read on and get an overview of electrical installation in the house!

  • What does the term electrical installation in the house include?
  • Electrical installation House regulations: which standards must be observed for the electrical installation in the house?
  • How does a central home electrical installation differ from a decentralized one?
  • Which types of laying are used for the electrical installation in the house?
  • Which measures help to ensure efficient operation of the electrical systems in the house?
  • What points should be considered when planning a successful home electrical installation?
  • What are the dangers of an electrical installation?
  • Can you do the home electrical installation yourself?
  • Checklist: Which tools do you need for the electrical installation?

Due to the high demand, we have updated this article and added the questions “Checklist: Which tools do you need for the electrical installation?” and “What are the dangers of an electrical installation?”.

What does the term electrical installation in the house include?

An elementary part of every house electrical installation: Sockets - they must be professionally installed and connected.
electrical Socket

The fact that you don’t have to gather around a single socket to blow-dry your hair, watch TV and cook with the other residents is thanks to a sensible electrical installation in your home. From the lighting to the laying of sockets, to the power supply of large household appliances, the term electrical installation summarizes all measures for the power supply and electrical lighting in the low-voltage range in a household.
To ensure the functionality of domestic applications, electrical wiring must be laid. The installation of the distributors, FI switches, circuit breakers, overcurrent protection devices, lighting, electrical devices, sensors, switches, buttons, sockets and other electrically operated machines also fall within the scope of the electrical installation.
Finally, it must also be ensured that the electrical system complies with the applicable norms and standards and that all necessary safety and protective measures have been taken.

Electrical installation House regulations: Which standards must be observed for the house electrical installation?

From bananas to lightbulbs – almost everything is standardized these days. The standards and regulations are all the more important when it comes to electrical installation since it is not just about functionality, but safety within your own four walls. When planning the electrical installation and carrying out the electrical installation in the house, strict compliance with the numerous norms, regulations and standards must be observed.

With regard to the electrical installation in the house, two applicable standards should be emphasized:

  • DIN 18015 standard
  • RAL RG 678

In the DIN 18015 standard, you will find all the information on the minimum equipment of living spaces, basics for planning the house electrical installation, details on the arrangement of cables and their routing as well as the arrangement of equipment. The standard generally regulates electrical installations in residential buildings and specifies, for example, the number of circuits and sockets permitted per apartment and room.

What does the guideline RAL-RG 678 prescribe?

The RAL-RG 678 guideline is an addition to DIN 18015. It defines standards in relation to the requirements for energy efficiency and comfort and divides the resulting categories into classes. The more asterisks mark a class, the higher the standard. The RAL-RG 678 takes into account topics such as lighting, heating technology and roller shutters. But the control of fire and burglary protection also includes these guidelines.
With VDE DIN 0100, the VDE determines which requirements apply to the planning, construction and control of electrical systems. This standard relates to living spaces as well as public buildings and commercial buildings.

How does a central home electrical installation differ from a decentralized one?

If the domestic electrical installation is centrally aligned, all important electrical devices, components and assemblies are housed in a distribution box. The advantage of this embodiment is that troubleshooting can be carried out more quickly and easily. However, the lines are usually relatively long in order to connect the respective consumers in the household to the distribution box. In order to keep the voltage drops as low as possible, the exact calculation of the required cable length is of great importance.
In contrast to the central electrical installation, the equipment in the decentralized embodiment is arranged in the immediate vicinity of the power consumers. This achieves a better overview and fewer lines and cables are required. In addition to the cost reduction due to the lower material consumption, the decentralized electrical installation offers the advantage of better fire protection compared to the central variant.

Which types of laying are used for the electrical installation in the house?

There are various options for laying the electrical installation in the house. The three common methods include:

  • surface-mounting
  • concealed installation
  • In-plaster installation

Concealed installation: Concealed installation is primarily used when the cables should not be visible. Therefore, this type of laying is often used in work and living spaces. The electrical installation is carried out in protective pipes or screeds and must be carried out in areas standardized according to DIN 180 15-3 in order to prevent accidental damage to the cables.

Cable duct: an important and indispensable accessory in the home electrical installation.
Cable duct

On-wall installation: When laying on plaster, the electrical installation runs through cable ducts that are exposed and therefore obvious. When only a few cables need to be routed, pipes are usually used, while cable trays and cable ducts are used for installing many cables. Cables can also be laid on the wall or skirting boards with the help of nail clamps. Surface-mounted installation is often used in garages, attics, damp rooms, cellars and storage rooms.
In-plaster laying: With this type of laying, the domestic electrical installation is laid in plaster with a web cable or something similar.
Furthermore, concrete, wooden or cavities and suspended ceilings offer options for standard-compliant cable laying.

Which measures help to ensure efficient operation of the electrical systems in the house?

An increasingly important topic in companies as well as in private households is the reduction of energy consumption. Even if the energy consumption of pure electrical installations currently accounts for just over 10% of the total consumption of a household, the wasteful consumption of electrical energy can be avoided if the electrical systems are operated efficiently. In addition, household energy consumption in the area of ​​heating and air conditioning is expected to decrease constantly in the coming years, and energy consumption through electrical systems will take on an increasingly larger share. But which basic measures contribute to energy efficiency in one’s own household?
The use of modern and energy-efficient electrical appliances such as refrigerators and freezers, washing machines and dishwashers make an important contribution to domestic energy efficiency. The energy consumption labelling according to the EU directives provides an overview of the energy consumption and the energy efficiency class of the respective device.
In addition to the installation of energy-efficient devices, an effect can also be achieved with the optimized operation of the electrical installation. For example, lighting and large electrical appliances can be controlled and switched automatically. So that these energy-saving measures can also be used optimally, energy efficiency should be considered from the outset when planning the electrical installation.

Tip: Smart homes offer particularly high efficiency and savings potential. Thanks to intelligent control, the heating system, the lighting and the electrical devices integrated into the smart home can be used in an energy-saving manner. 

What points should be considered for a successful home electrical installation?

There are a few things to consider when installing electrical systems on your own four walls. In the following, we will give you a few basic points that you should not ignore when planning and laying the electrical installation in the house.
When planning the electrical installation, always consider the large power consumers that are connected to the power grid. Large electrical appliances such as dishwashers, microwaves, refrigerators and washing machines should each have their own supply line and be protected with a circuit breaker. In general, each room should have at least its own and separately secured supply line. In this way, you avoid high current loads and reduce the risk of electrical fires in the home.
Secure expensive devices in the distributor with surge protection. For particularly sensitive devices such as laptops or computers, it is advisable to also operate them via a multiple socket strip with overvoltage protection. To ensure that the entire house does not remain without a power supply in the event of a problem, you should install an RCD on at least every floor. In households with small children, sockets with child protection should also be provided in the required places. Don’t forget to equip every room with a smoke detector.

The telephone connection socket is also part of the house electrical installation and must be taken into account when planning the electrical installation.
telephone connection socket

Furthermore, when planning the electrical installation, you should not forget to include foreseeable developments and future needs. Even if one antenna and telephone connection per household used to be sufficient, today one is required in almost every room from the office to the children’s room. If you do not need the connections, for the time being, you should at least save space for future retrofitting with empty sockets and empty pipes.

What should be considered when setting up the meter cabinet?

For the mentioned communication connections as well as network, intercom and building system technology, it is advisable to keep a communication field free in the meter cabinet. All communication connections can be accommodated here and routed to the respective components and connections. Also, think about future projects in the meter cabinet and leave enough space for later upgrades. When laying the electrical installation flush, it is advisable to lay pipes so that lines can be easily replaced later and circuits can be easily expanded.
Pay particular attention to the planning of the lighting and use motion detectors in the hallway, garage, stairwell and in the entrance area outside to save energy. Energy costs can also be saved in the heating circuit. To do this, heat each room individually and control the temperature in each case with thermostats.

TipWhen planning, also include special requests such as television and network connections in certain rooms and the installation of an e-charging station. If in doubt, you can use empty pipes to keep space free for subsequent installation work. 

What are the dangers of an electrical installation?

The electrical installation must not only function but also be safe. Because with today’s exposure to a large number of electrical devices, permanently connected consumers and decentralized energy generation from renewable energy sources, the demands on an electrical installation have increased and are associated with numerous risks that should be prevented.
In old buildings, in particular, a load level can quickly be reached for which the electrical installation is not designed. Not to mention sources of danger such as defective cables, loose terminals and screw connections, missing protective conductors and excessive fuses.

The dangers of an electrical installation can be summarized as follows:

  • functional failure
  • Electric shock
  • Electrical Destruction
  • fire

To protect against all these dangers, a comprehensive protection concept should be developed for every electrical installation.

What is part of the protection concept for electrical installations?

The protection options for electrical installations go far beyond basic protection through proper insulation and main equipotential bonding (PE). The use of interlocking protective components minimizes the risk posed to people and systems by hazards such as fault currents, fire and overvoltages.
A protection concept for the electrical installation includes the following components:

  • circuit breaker
  • earth leakage circuit breaker
  • safety switch
  • fire protection switch
  • Overvoltage protection

In addition to basic protection, fault protection, i.e. protection against indirect contact, is implemented using the RCD and MCB.
A further risk minimization can be guaranteed by additional protection against accidental contact with a personal safety switch and fire and end device protection with the fire protection switch and overvoltage protection.
Together, the protective components form a comprehensive and reliable protection concept for electrical installation.

Note: Be sure to regularly check your protective devices for safety and functionality.

Can you do the house electrical installation yourself?

Can you do the home electrical installation yourself? Working on the domestic electrical installation involves the risk of an electric shock and should therefore always be carried out by trained electricians. However, there are tasks in both new construction and renovation projects that you can take on yourself. These activities should always be carried out under the supervision of a trained electrician and with the power off.

While you should leave the planning of the telephone connection, cable connection, equipotential bonding, house connection box and the sub-distribution board in the residential building as well as the choice of the meter cabinet to a professional company, you can also take on the planning activities yourself with some previous knowledge. To do this, take the floor plan of the house and determine the respective circuits and connections room by room. In the case of a new building, consider the wishes of the client and structural cut-outs for electric pipes, cable ducts and distributors.
Once the circuits and connections have been established, slots can now be chiselled and flush-mounted sockets set. You can also install the meter cabinet and set up the sub-distributors yourself. The next step is to lay the pipes and lines according to plan. With the help of a specialist, ensure that the installation is carried out professionally and in accordance with the standards. Particular attention should be paid to areas where no cables or pipes may be routed and sharp bends or routing along sharp edges should be avoided.
A clear installation plan is the be-all and end-all and will help you to implement the electrical installation without dangerous tangles of cables. The final step is to close the slots and close the switch boxes with the appropriate cover for installation under plaster. When you are finally done with the activities you have carried out, have them carefully checked by a trained specialist.

Checklist: Which tools do you need for the electrical installation?

  • Would you like to do some work yourself and are wondering whether you are well equipped? The following tools are often required for electrical installation:
  • Wire Stripper: Where electricity is to flow, cables must be connected and for this, the electrical conductors of the cable must first be exposed. With wire strippers, cables can be stripped particularly easily and without annoying damage.
  • Crimping pliers: As an alternative to soldering, the ends of electrical conductors are often fitted with ferrules. This inseparable crimp connection can be made quickly with crimping pliers or cable lug pliers.
  • Wire cutters: These pliers, known as wire cutters or cable cutters, are specially designed for cutting wire. Even thick cables can be cut cleanly with it. It is often necessary to use them before crimping or stripping cables.
  • Cable tie pliers: Thanks to the adjustable tension, cables with cable ties can be ideally organized. The cable ties can be tightened manually or using cable tie pliers. Sometimes it is also referred to as a cable tie gun.
  • Voltage tester: With voltage testers, you can trace the current. With the help of the single-pole (“phase tester”) and two-pole voltage tester, cables can be checked for current and the level of the voltage can be determined. This tool is not only practical but also safety-related.
  • Multimeter: With a multimeter, you can measure what the stuff holds. This multimeter can be used to measure multiple variables such as current, voltage and resistance for DC and AC voltage.
  • Once you have been equipped with the basic tools, you can also use other tools, such as cable pullers, gas soldering irons, site power distributors, wall chasers and many more, depending on the application, to ensure the success of your installation work.

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