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If you needed more evidence that the smart-device revolution is remaking our homes, consider the growing market for residential automated window shades and blinds. These products have certainly been around for years in high-end, custom homes.

Casting Some Shade on Home Automation

Chuck Ross
If you needed more evidence that the smart-device revolution is remaking our homes, consider the growing market for residential automated window shades and blinds. These products have certainly been around for years in high-end, custom homes. But in the past, they were generally part of expensive, structured-wiring designs that were tied into larger home-automation systems. Now, as they have with light switches, lamps and thermostats, manufacturers have developed wireless shades and blinds we can control with remotes, phone apps or voice assistants. More than just a unique convenience, these products, especially the programmable versions, can play a big role in reducing our homes’ energy use.

Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and other wireless technologies are definitely democratizing home automation. These new window coverings are no exception, as they are completely wireless – even when it comes to power, which makes them an easy-to-install option for any homeowner or renter. Instead of electrical wiring, which would require removing window casings and running new circuits in a retrofit application, this latest version of automated shading depends on batteries. Yes, the batteries will need to be replaced, which could be a chore, depending on how tall your windows are, but many systems are designed to enable battery life of up to two years or more, depending on how often shades are raised or lowered.

Energy-efficiency advantages are tied to the ability to connect these products to third-party home-automation systems, like Apple HomeKit and Google Assistant. For example, shades can be programmed to lower when a thermostat on the same network hits a specified temperature on a hot summer day – or when darkness falls in the winter, to help keep warmth inside. Of course, the material of the shade itself also plays a role in how effective it will be in helping to reduce air conditioning or heating demand and, here, too, manufacturers are stepping up, by bringing the insulating power of honeycomb shades into their automated lines. These shades incorporate air pockets that add an extra layer of protection between indoor comfort and whatever temperatures Mother Nature is providing outside.
Photo courtesy of Lutron
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