The best smart shades: These high-tech window treatments combine high fashion and high tech.
Window shades that roll up and down treatment systems that open and shut automatically based on occupancy, schedules, or command are the perfect finishing touch for any smart home. Smart window treatments can be used in conjunction with smart lighting to provide convenience, security, energy conservation, as well as increased safety. There is also a safety factor: There are no pull cables that could cause strangulation to pets or children. Their wow factor makes them a luxury product. They can even be deployed in multiple rooms at once, which can lead to thousands of dollars.
In the headline above, we are using the term “shades”, although we will also be covering blinds. What’s the difference?
Shades are a soft, fabric-based window covering. They can be pulled or rolled up to let more light in. Or they can be rolled down to block the light or provide privacy. Blinds consist of vertical or transverse slats that can block light or provide privacy. They can be made of wood and metal or plastic.
The angle of the slats in horizontal blinds can be adjusted to permit or limit light. Slats can also be closed tightly to prevent light from entering and to give privacy. To fully expose the window, the horizontal blinds slats may be pulled up as a stack. The vertical blinds slats must be pulled and pulled to the left or to the right.
Here are the top choices in a number of categories. Next, we will explain the terms you’ll come across and the features you should be aware of when shopping for smart shades. At the bottom of this page is a list containing all the products we have reviewed in that category. While this is a limited list, we will add more product reviews and new categories to the page as time goes by.
Hunter Douglas Duetted Smart Shades with Power View Motorization by Hunter Douglas are elegant, sophisticated, luxurious, and stylish. These shades can be opened in both directions and are top-down/bottoms-up, which gives them the best privacy and light control. Hunter Douglas accessories, which include its innovative “battery and” power solution and Pebble remote controllers, are absolutely top-notch. They are not affordable, and it is not possible to make your own.
Best cellular smart shades that can be made by you
These are beautiful colors, but they’re especially captivating for their battery compartment. The compartment is integrated in the headrail. To access and replace batteries (D cells, the unit that we reviewed), you just need to tip it down.
To connect the shades to your WiFi network, you’ll also need to buy the $80 Lutron Smart Bridge. This bridge is necessary because the shades depend on a proprietary Wi-Fi protocol. Lutron’s app, however, is very good. It can also manage Caseta smart lighting products. (dimmers and switches, smart plugs and smart bulbs), and hooks into third parties products such as Ecobee smart temperature controllers and Sonos multi room audio system. Lutron’s product lineup is available directly or through dealers.
Graber’s Virtual Cord Cellular Shades are just as gorgeous as Lutron’s. However their motors can be a bit louder, and their battery compartments must be removed from the headrail to allow for replacements. These shades are simple with just two buttons, but you have the option to spend more money for more complicated remote controls that can control multiple shades at a time.
These shades require Z-Wave technology. To connect them to your WiFi network, you’ll need to build a bridge. Graber’s Z-Wave Bridge and App can be used, or they can be integrated into most smart home systems. Graber’s product lineup is available to you either directly or through dealers.
Best roller smart shades
We don’t know much about this type of shade but the Power shades True Poe has a unique way to integrate with your home network. Instead of relying solely on disposable batteries, the shade’s motor receives both electric power and command and control messages over an ethernet connection (power over ethernet or Poe).
These shades run twice as fast with hardwired power than any battery-powered models. DIYers beware: Power shades are not available directly to consumers. Instead, you will need to contact a professional to install one.
Best smart blinds
Blinds are a great way to add elegance and style to your home. They can also be motorized, which makes them extremely convenient. Serena from Lutron’s smart shutters are controlled by the smart home hub with Casita smart switches. The follow-the sun feature adjusts the tilt and light intensity of the blinds to match the sun’s position. While they can be costly, DIY is an option that will help you save some money.
Blinds and shades in smart colors
Shade types of Shades come in four basic categories: Roman, Roman or cellular. There are many types, but the most widely used are these. A roller shade works just as it sounds. It involves a motorized roller spinning to unwind a piece of fabric to cover your glass, and then the roller reverses direction to pull back the sheet onto the rolling surface, exposing your window.
Roman shades can also use a single sheet (or any other material, lined and unlined) of fabric. They open by cords running through rings sewn to the back of the drapery-like fabric. Once the fabric is pulled up, fold it into a stack. To close, pull the cord to unwound it and fold the fabric.
Cellular shades are composed of multiple layers made of fabric and arranged in honeycomb-like cells that trap the air. Pleated shades have a similar structure to cellular ones, but they are made from one piece of fabric. However, the pleats are generally wider.
Because they are one-sheet shades, the cords which lift the shade are visible. The cords in a mobile shade run through the middle cells and are therefore hidden. Both pleated shade and cellular shades adjust in an accordion-like manner.
There are two basic types of blinds. Horizontal and vertical. Vertical blinds rotate left and right while horizontal blinds adjust light by tilting the slats.
These blinds are motorized and may only control the angle. Therefore, the user will have to manually open and close them. Horizontal blinds are especially difficult to open or close because of their weight. Blinds, which are almost always made with fabric, can be made using a range of materials such as wood, metal and plastic.
Privacy and light management These considerations go hand in hand. The window shades that roll up and down coverings will provide less privacy for those who have more light through them.
Blinds can be adjusted to allow for more light, but still offer privacy. A sheer shade will also allow lots of light in, but it must still be raised high enough to let the most light through, otherwise the window shades that roll up and down will not be visible.
A room-darkening cloth will block the maximum amount of light and offer privacy. Because of their light-blocking characteristics, room-darkening shades are very popular in home theater installations. Many shade manufacturers offer dual shades. One shade lowers a light-filtering cloth when you want privacy. Then, another shade drops a room darkening cloth behind it when you want more light.
Top-down/bottoms-up shades are available in Roman, pleated or honeycomb form factors. They open and close from the top, bottom, or both. They can also move down from top to bottom, and then meet in the middle. These shades provide privacy and light control, as they lower to block the view straight into the home but allow the maximum amount of light through the uncovered area.
Insulation Value No matter the season everyone likes a room full with sunlight. The U.S. The Department of Energy says that only 76 percent of sunlight that falls on double paned windows turns into heat inside the home. Up to 30 percent of a home’s heating and cooling energy are lost through its windows.
If you aren’t at home, closing the blinds and shades can save energy.
Smart shades make it easy to automate this task. The treatments can be closed during direct sunlight hours, or with a motion sensor that detects when a room is vacant and when it is occupied.
Certain types of window coverings offer better insulation than others. Cellular shades deliver the greatest energy savings. The honeycomb-like cell structure traps air inside the shades and prevents heat conduction through them. To increase their R value, some cellular shades have foil or Mylar lined. According to the Department of Energy cell shades can reduce heat loss from windows by as much as 40 percent in winter. This shade type can reduce unwanted sunlight heat by up to 80 percent.
According to the Department of Energy, roller and roman shades are great at blocking light. However, models made of heavier fabrics have lower R-values. According to the agency window blinds, whether horizontal or vertical, are more efficient at reducing heat gain during the summer than keeping a place warm during the winter.
Power Motors need electricity to work, but it is possible to get that electricity from other sources. Batteries are the most commonly used solution, especially for retrofit installation.
They are usually placed in a compartment attached to the headrail or hanging from the back. Disposable batteries have become the norm. Hunter Douglas, however, recently announced a rechargeable option for its Power View product range that is compatible with retrofit and new installations.
AC adapters, which are probably the most commonly used power source, are also available. However, without having outlets embedded into your window frames, you will only have power cords running down the window to the sill. Power over ethernet or Poe is a unique alternative to battery power.
We recently reviewed a Power shades True Poe roller shading and were impressed with its speed. PoE shades can send electricity, command and control messages and even electricity over an ethernet line to the motor.
It’s best to install an RJ45 plug in your window frame. Or, you could drill a small hole and attach a cable with RJ45 to it. Poe is a low-voltage tech so you don’t need to hire an electrical contractor to run the cable. But, you will still need to have a Poe router switch.
Command and Control Shades and Blinds are smarter than just a motor. To send commands and control messages, they need to be equipped with a communications protocol. In the Power shades instance, messages are sent via an Ethernet cable. Wireless solutions are much more common.
Graber relies on Z-Wave technology, but Serena-by-Lutron shades are powered by the Clear Connect radio frequency specification. Hunter Douglas has its own proprietary wireless protocol known as Power View.
Smart home integration. In the past, being proprietary meant that you had to stay within a specific ecosystem. This is not the situation here. All wireless shades except the Power shades must be connected to your Wi-Fi network. The Power shades cannot be connected to Wi-Fi networks. But, once they are on your network, motorized blinds or shades can also be integrated into other smart home systems.
Graber offers the Virtual Cord product line a USB dongle that can be used to create a Z-Wave bridge. You can use the shades in a smart home hub such as Samsung SmartThings. These shades and blinds are made by Lutron. They can be incorporated into anything, from a SmartThings at the lower end to a high end Savant system to Control or Elan smart-home system.
Smart speakers, smart displays and smart shades are so common that smart shade makers would be mad not to support at most Amazon Alexa (or Google Assistant). Although Home Kit isn’t as prevalent in smart home design, it shouldn’t go unnoticed.
All the products we reviewed have been compatible with Google Home and Amazon Echo smart speakers and displays. Indeed, a smart display or speaker might be all you require to make your home smart. However, this is a much larger topic.