If you want all the features of smart blinds but don’t want to replace your current blinds, don’t fret, because there are options to help you with this type of project. Usually, these kits and devices will require a simple setup and installation which adds convenience and control to the room’s lighting and ambiance.
To turn your existing blinds into smart blinds, you’ll require some extra hardware that varies based on the type of blinds. Some solutions hide motorized mechanisms in the blind’s housing, while others clip onto the beaded cord that controls the vertical movement.
It is worth noting that there’s a big difference between motorized blinds and smart blinds. They both accomplish the same task: automating the blinds, but only smart blinds will integrate into your smart home system and features like voice control and scheduled openings. There are many kits out there that will transform your blinds but make sure you are on the lookout for features like voice commands and smart home connectivity.
Benefits of Smart Blinds
When it comes to smart blinds, there are a ton of great reasons to have them installed. Not only will they impress anyone who has just seen them for the first time, but they also can offer your home some excellent benefits including the following list:
- Add Value of Your Home – With smart products being more and more standard in modern home design, you can quickly provide future buyers with more incentive by installing home features like smart blinds.
- Hands-Free Operation – With automated blinds, you can easily open and close them without the need to get up and fumble with the cords.
- Added Security – Being able to control your blinds remotely means you can open and close them when you are away, giving the illusion that you are still home. This can deter potential burglars from considering your home as their next target because they’ll think you’re still at home.
- Protect Furniture and Electronics – Sun damage can cause years of life on your furniture and electronics to slip away; using your smart blinds to block the sun during crucial hours can be excellent added protection.
- Make Your Home More Efficient – Control when the light is coming to add more heat to your home. This helps limit not only heating costs but also costs of running light fixtures.
- Extra Safety – If you end up going with a cordless option, you will be preventing a tripping hazard for pets and children by getting rid of the cord.
Of course, the most popular reason to get smart blinds in your home is the convenience. With functions that integrate with other smart devices, this means you can open and close your blinds from your phone, tablet, Smart TV, and use voice commands through a smart speaker. Smart blinds can also provide you with automated controls that let you schedule when blinds should be open.
This means that you can follow the sun as it moves over your house and track the light to either block it or let it in. In the winter months, this can be a great way to warm your home or cool it during the summer. Another great application of automation and smart blinds is having the blinds gradually let light in over the course of an hour or so – something similar can be done with a smart plug which can often act as a light dimmer (our guide).
People love this feature because you can use it during the morning to have a more natural wake-up cycle. This can benefit your overall mood in the morning and throughout the day. Smart blinds aren’t just great for your home; they can also benefit your health and wellbeing, in fact, we have a whole other guide on their many applications. Now that we have discovered what benefits smart blinds can offer a home let’s explore how we can use our existing blinds in a smart way.
How to Install Smart Feature to Your Existing Blinds
If you are craving all the smart blind features but just don’t want to part with your existing blinds, there are some great options out there that allow you to transform your regular blinds into smart ones. This usually requires some special hardware and maybe some basic installation know-how. The type of installation will depend on what kind of retrofitting kit you choose to go with.
There are a few popular options, and they offer different benefits when it comes to ease of installation and look. These are the main types of conversion kits you see, and there are pros and cons to each design, so make sure you do your research and decide which one is best for your home.
- On-Chain Design – These use a small motor attachment on your existing blinds vertical control cord. They don’t work with all types of blinds.
- Inside Design – If you are looking for a hidden look, this design places the motor inside the blind housing out of sight.
- Roll-up – If you have a shade and not blinds, this option uses a motorized tube to roll the shade up and down.
If you opt for this smart blind conversion kit, you will be greeted with a relatively simple installation. The beauty of this design, in particular, is that it uses the existing mechanism of your blinds to provide automation. This means you may not even need to take the blinds down to get things working. Products like the Axis Shade Motor (on Amazon) clip right on to the beaded line that controls the blinds.
With a small motor housed inside, this device can connect to smart hub devices and provide features like scheduled opening and voice commands. The installation is effortless, but it works with only specific types of blind cords, including the ones that are beaded. If your blinds are the pulley variety or have a lock, this solution will not work for you.
Inside the Blind Installation
If you are looking for a more sleek and natural look, then the inside-the-blind design will be the best for you. My Smart Blinds (on Amazon) makes a conversion kit that aims to provide smart features to your existing blinds without the need for any visible mechanisms. They do this by housing the motor that controls the blinds inside the upper part of the blind housing.
Because of this, the installation for a product like the My Smart Blinds is a little more involved than for the Axis Shade Motor. It will require you to take down your blinds and start disassembling the inner components. The smart blinds conversion system works by replacing key parts that operate the blinds’ vertical function with automated motors.
While this may seem like an involved solution, in reality, it won’t take up too much of your time, and for most people, it will not be a complicated installation. To add smart features to this product, and often with other conversion kits too, you will need to purchase a smart hub to connect your new smart blinds to the rest of your home system.
This solution only works with sun shades. Most of these solutions, like this Wireless Tubular Roller (from Amazon), will require you to take down your existing shades and replace the roller mechanism with a motorized version. You will need a similar amount of DIY skill, similar to the My Smart Blinds System, to get this installed.
Keep in mind that most of the conversion kits available for shades don’t come with smart features. Most of them are controlled by a remote and can’t be hooked up to other devices. While these products exist, like the Tuya Wifi Motorized Roller (also on Amazon), they tend to be more expensive.
What About Tilting the Shades?
If you own Venetian shades, then you are already used to being able to tilt the blades of the shades to control better the amount of light that is entering the room. You may have already noticed that most of the solutions offered above only account for automating the up and down function of your blinds.
If you want to add more control, you can easily add an automated tilt wand to your setup. The Current Products E-Wand (on Amazon) aims to accomplish this task while adding some automated functions that can add a lot of versatility to your setup. While this product lacks the smart features you see in other conversion kits, it is one of the few products designed to automate your blinds’ tilt function.
Battery Power Vs. Hardwired
Most solutions out there will have one or the other, so consider whether you are willing to deal with charging batteries or finding outlets. Fortunately, the motor on your blinds will usually not draw too much power, so they won’t need recharging as often as you think. Since your blinds only need to be running when you are pulling them up or down, they will be off most of the time.
These two factors combined make it so the batteries can last upwards of six months. If you opt for the hardwired option, you will need to make sure that all your blinds have access to outlets. If you have windows that are far away from outlets, that will mean you will need to run a power cord across the floor or wall to get things working.
One option that is becoming more available is solar. Since the batteries don’t need too much juice, a small panel across the top of the blinds on the sun side of the window can charge the battery no problem. This feature will most likely cost more, but it will keep your blinds charged and in no need of maintenance for a long time.
Is it Cost-Efficient to Retrofit Your Existing Blinds?
It will depend on how much automation you are looking for and the type of blinds when it comes to cost. Some products, like the Smart Blinds Kit, cost upwards of $200 to automate your current blinds. Keep in mind the price is for one set. Put simply, if you are looking to replace multiple sets, you could see how the price starts to add up.
Compare this price to the cost of an out of the box solution like actual smart blinds. To get one of the more popular options for smart blinds, the Yoolax Motorized Blinds (also on Amazon), you are looking at spending about $20 less than the Smart Blinds Conversion Kit. If you take into account the easier installation and built-in smart compatibility, this could be a more attractive option.
But if you are satisfied with the look and feel of your current blinds but just want some extra smart features, you have a lot of options. With some additional hardware and a little installation time, you can have control of your blinds at the tip of your fingers or the call of your voice. You just have to make sure you’ve done the proper research first.