The idea of this article is to help you to know what’s involved in order to perform a smart blinds retrofit and automate your blinds or shades easily. If you are interested in purchasing a kit, you’ll find out exactly what you should be looking for, in this article.
Installing motorized blinds or shades is a common practice when it comes to home automation. With DIY kits available, not only is it an easier task, but also one that has become far more affordable in recent years.
Here is some information on choosing your ideal smart blind kit based on features, and some tips about setting them up.
Is it difficult to install a retrofit kit?
The short answer is no, it’s actually really simple and I think anyone can do it.
It’s just a matter of removing your old window blinds or shades, assembling the new components onto the old blind according to the instructions. Then you can reattach them to the window frame. It’s really as simple as that.
So, this small project should be quite easy to accomplish.
Here is an article explaining more about the installation process.
How much does a smart blinds retrofit kit cost?
Here are some examples of common motorized blind kits and their prices:
- MySmartBlinds Horizontal Kit with Solar Panel: $159
- Brunt Blind Engine for most types of blinds: $99.09
- SOMA Smart Shades: $149.99
So as you can see, not too pricey at all for the comfort it gives you. Hook these up to a smart voice assistant to control them and life becomes even better!
Other more premium
These kinds can easily go for around $350 per window. In the event that you are someone like that, have a look at Hunter Douglas and Lutron Serena.
Three main different types of DIY smart blinds kits
The main types of blinds that you can automate are as follows:
Your common type of horizontal blinds can be retrofitted with a DIY MySmartBlinds kit. This recommended product comes with a solar panel to keep the batteries charged.
Recommended horizontal blind kit
Motorized vertical blinds DIY
For vertical blinds, the kit works a little differently. The kit actually fastens to the pulley chain itself and is usually mounted on a window frame or wall.
A separate solar panel attaches on the inside of your window in order to keep the kit charged.
Recommended vertical blind kit
This is a really easy way to make your vertical blinds smart. It avoids having to replace your entire blind itself, by offering a way to simply operate them for you.
DIY Smart shades
Smart shade kits work very similarly to the vertical blind kit, however, there is an alternative solution.
Instead of operating the bead chain to open close the window shade, a tube motorized mechanism does a better job. Although it’s slightly harder to install, the payoff is worth it. It is quiet and leaves you with a neat and tidy installation.
I personally prefer it as it’s not relying on a chain drive to operate roller shades, but motorizing the roller mechanism itself should be an easier task for the product in terms of strain relief of certain components.
Somfy also makes motorized systems for projector screens using a similar design.
Recommended smart shade retrofit kit
If you want it to work with Alexa, a separate product called the myLink is available to add on to make it compatible.
What makes them smart?
You can have them open or close for you, at any time you want.
It’s simply motors attached internally that does the manual work of operating mechanisms for you.
Added to this is the smart element, which allows you to control them with your smartphone, voice commands or a simple switch.
This gives you the ability to preset your them to any position, at any time of the day.
You can schedule them how you want, any routine for any given day.
Or have them close throughout your house when wanting to leave your house for a period of time, to give an example.
blinds save on your power bill?
Yes, they definitely can. How does it do this?
By letting in sunlight at all times of the day, requiring less warmth generated by your heating devices. It accomplishes this by automatically adjusting them incrementally.
It could also be used in the opposite way. Keeping enough light in your rooms, but shading direct sunlight automatically, requiring less cooling. Like having to run your smart ceiling fans slightly less for example.
All this will make the energy usage more efficient and allow your smart thermostat to do its job more effectively. Here is a review we done on smart thermostats.
Personally, I think that the power saving alone is a worthy enough cause to install motorized blinds.
How long does the battery last?
Typically around six months. Obviously, it depends on how much they move during an average day.
Recharging the battery can be avoided by installing a solar charging unit. These are normally quite commonly available through various manufacturers.
Can it be controlled with a smartphone?
This depends on the make and model you are considering.
However, the most common makes and models include this feature. So yes, it will most likely have a smartphone app instead of remote control.
What features you should expect from a smart blind kit?
Here is a list of features I think should be included in most products and important factors for these kits:
- Full control: Control of the directions and the opening or closing operations of the entire blind.
- Sun following ability. This feature allows you to set how they are positioned at any time in the day. This can be useful if you want the amount of sunlight maximized all day. The opposite can also be set up to avoid direct sunlight all day, but give you enough light to keep your room lit.
- Solar panel and charging ability. This is very important. You don’t want to keep plugging a charging device into them every 6 months or so. Having a solar charging system allows them to keep doing its thing, without you having to worry about recharging its battery.
- Compatibility. Integration with your existing smart home products is important. Before buying anything, check the compatibility of your smartphone, existing hub or voice assistant.
- Scheduling. I expect the ability to have them set to my liking at any time through the week or month.
- Battery level access. The ability to see the battery level on your mobile device so you can keep an eye on it.
Blinds and shades are obviously found in most buildings today, and that could slowly start to change as smart glass becomes more affordable.
But for now, it’s still the most common way to attain some privacy.
And installing a kit is definitely one of the easiest methods to automate your blinds.
As you can see, it’s not a difficult project, and relatively low in cost. It may be what you need for your next DIY smart home project.
Marlo is currently working full time as a professional computer programmer, electronics engineer and computer technician. Besides having a great passion for computers, he is fascinated by smart homes of the future.