When the afternoon sun starts peaking through your shades and into your eyes, we all wish we could snap our fingers and have the curtains close; well, with smart blinds and curtains, that reality is easier than ever to create. Smart home devices, like smart blinds and curtains, aim to make your home life easier and ultimately more convenient.
Smart blinds and curtains work by adding a remote-controlled motors to automate the raising, lowering, opening, and closing of the blinds or curtains. Some products offer an all-in-one installation solution while others retrofit traditional curtains or blinds with smart features.
Smart blinds and curtains can make a great addition to your home, especially when combined with other smart devices. In addition to being able to work in ceiling fans (our guide), your smart blinds or curtains can regulate and automate the room’s lighting and temperature when working with smart bulbs and a smart thermostat. . This gives you the most control over the climate and light in a room and, when combined together, they can even help you save money on your utility bills.
How Do Smart Curtains and Blinds Work?
Smart curtains work by implementing a motorized system to operate the mechanical functions of your blinds or curtains. The exact function of these motors and how they work will depend on whether you are using blinds or curtains and your product’s brand. The main mechanism you will see in smart blinds and curtains are:
- Track-Based – These types of curtain systems will use your existing rail or rod-based curtain system and connect motors and anchors to your curtains. They provide horizontal movement. Products like the Slide utilize this mechanism.
- Roll-up Shades – This type of mechanism moves the shades up and down. It uses a small motor to turn a rod that pulls in the shade to the top. The Ikea Fyrtur is a good example of this type of product.
- Motor-on-chain – The mechanism here works with your existing blinds to automate operation by placing a motor on the cord that pulls the blinds up and down. Soma’s Smart Shades utilizes this type of function.
Mostly, the difference in the mechanism will depend on if you are using curtains, blinds, or shades. What is most common between different styles and brands is that they will all create an automated system that will replace any physical cords for control. This is one of the main draws of a smart blind/curtain system; it creates a cleaner, more sophisticated look and takes out the tangled lines and knotted cords.
The motor is usually placed in an inconspicuous spot that won’t detract from the blind’s overall look. You will usually find the motor in one of two variations: battery-operated, or hardwired. Each has different advantages and disadvantages that are worth looking into before purchasing one.
- Battery Operated – This will usually mean that a small battery pack is connected to the motor. Keep in mind that these will need to be replaced from time to time on account of the batteries running out of juice.
- Hardwired – While this option replaces the batteries with a more stable power connection, you will need to worry about finding an outlet near your blinds to get things working.
Battery power is also fairly reliable because a fully charged battery can operate a set of blinds for months. This is due to the low power draw from the motor and also the fact that the device is usually used intermittently. As we’ve explained before in our guide all about blinds, some smart blinds can even use solar energy, through a battery that’s connected to a small solar panel at the top of the blinds on the sunny side, facing the window.
Similar to smart thermostats which we’ve discussed in other guides, one of the great advantages of using this type of power is that the sun should be able to keep the unit fully charged and running and with very little or no maintenance at all. On the other hand, solar light can be unreliable if there isn’t enough sun for several days (our guide on rechargeable batteries and solar lights).
One thing to note is that there is a difference between motorized blinds, smart blinds, and curtains. If you’re looking for a connection to your home system and communication through voice commands and other Wi-Fi or Bluetooth devices, you will need to find smart blinds or curtains. Cheap motorized blinds will allow for remote control operations, but they won’t be accessible through other smart home devices.
Installing and Making Them Smart
Installation for smart blinds and curtains is usually a pretty simple process. These consumer products are meant to be user-friendly, and for the most part, they don’t need a lot of knowledge or tools for installation. This will depend on what kind of smart setup you’re trying to achieve, and the types of blinds and curtains you already have, given you are retrofitting and not replacing.
Installing Smart Curtains and Shades
If you opt to install pre-packaged smart curtains or shades, you may face a somewhat challenging process. If you have installed curtains or shades before, you will probably be familiar with most of the installation, but there will be some extra steps that could be unfamiliar. If you are not too comfortable with this type of DIY project, reach out to a professional to take care of things. This will save you a lot of stress and time.
Here is a quick overview of the installation:
1) Measure your window to fit the blinds
2) Install mounting brackets
3) Mount the headrail
4) Install the shades
5) Plug into an outlet for power
Products like the Yoolax Motorized Smart Blinds (on Amazon) are a great all-in-one solution that will work with your Amazon devices to provide voice commands and other excellent features. A great benefit of these smart curtains and shades is they will add value to your home, especially if professionally installed. Smart home devices are becoming increasingly popular, so too are homebuyers’ demands for these features.
Retrofitting Existing Curtains or Shades
This will be a bit easier, and for most people, it can be done without too much headache. You will need to mount the motor and a few anchor points on your curtains to allow for movement. Most, like the Slide system, will need access to an outlet for power. Most systems will have some kind of remote control and allow for smart features like voice commands.
If you still want a physical control on the wall, some products allow this type of feature, like a light switch, for instance. If you have blinds and not curtains, the My Smart Blinds System, which you can find here on Amazon, provides a similar solution to the Slide. With all this in mind, there are other ways to install curtains and blinds, depending on the system.
Some systems are even simpler to install. The Axis Gear Shade Motor (on Amazon), for example, uses a convenient motor that clips right onto the chain that operates the blinds. This type of solution does not require any additional hardware or tools to install. In fact, most of the setup will be done digitally when trying to set up the motor on your network via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.
If you want to use your smart blinds or curtains with other smart home devices, you may need to install a hub, like an Amazon Echo or Google Home, that will allow your blinds to communicate with your other devices. Some do have this function built-in, but that will depend on the brand, however, you should be able to set it up in the hub’s settings.
Why Smart Shades Make Sense
When it comes down to it, there are a lot of reasons why you might be interested in smart blinds or shades in your home. Sure, there is the obvious convenience, and of course, the “wow” factor, but there are also some other great reasons these smart devices just make sense to install, including the following list.
- Better security – With more advanced systems, you can have your blinds set to a schedule. This can give the illusion that your home is occupied when you are away (an excellent deterrent for thieves).
- Safer for children – If you have had a child in the home, you know they get their hands into everything. Cutting the cord can mean you are eliminating a potential hazard for the safety of your child, directly at the source.
- Pet-safe – Just like children, pets can also harm themselves in the cords of your blinds.
- Better control – Gain better control of the lighting in your home. You can even set your blinds to open with the rising sun!
- No more getting up to close the blinds – Next time the sun hits your eyes, just click a button or tell your smart speaker to take care of it.
One of the best reasons to get smart blinds or curtains in your home is to open up the ability to customize the lighting in each room of your house. With more advanced systems, you can automate when your blinds come up and down and even which ones are open at certain times of the day. If you know that the sun hits the living room at 5 pm, then you can set your blinds to be down during that time.
Imagine waking up to your blinds, slowly letting the morning sun peak into your bedroom as a much more natural start to the morning. Another more practical feature of smart blinds is that you can control how much heat your room is getting from the sun. This can be a fantastic feature for the winter and summer months and save you money on your heating and cooling.
How to Pick the Right Smart Shades for You
Picking the right smart blinds for your home means taking stock of all the blinds and curtains you want to replace and asking yourself: Do I want to replace them entirely? If I want to convert my current blinds, what products can help me do that? Is this going to be a DIY or professional installation?
How many blinds do I want to replace? Do I have access to outlets? Will I be comfortable charging batteries? Do I have curtains? Shades? Venetian Blinds? All three? All these questions will help you determine what type of smart blind solution you are looking for. Keep in mind that most of these options will need to have a smart hub installed in the home to connect everything.
This can be something like an Amazon Echo, or a dedicated smart home system. It is also worth mentioning that keeping consistent with a brand can help make communication between products more reliable. You don’t want your blinds to be out of sync or not work together at all. Smart blinds can make a great addition to your home.
They add a lot of control over the lighting, ambiance, and feel of a room. They can also have some great benefits like saving you money on your heating and cooling bills. All in all, smart blinds make a great addition to the growing number of smart home devices that make our lives more convenient.