Next time you’re helping a customer design a new lighting layout (or upgrading an existing one) don’t forget the blinds. That’s right. Window blinds.

Help Customers Control Lighting with Motorized Shades and Blinds

Steve Maurer, IME
Next time you’re helping a customer design a new lighting layout (or upgrading an existing one) don’t forget the blinds.

That’s right. Window blinds.

Along with the wiring and floor plans for main lighting fixtures and accent lighting, remember that shades and blinds are now part of the design. Even in homes where electrical wiring upgrades aren’t possible or feasible, motorized blinds are still a potential design upgrade.

While hardwired motorized blinds were the only automation choice in the past, today’s shading options include battery-operated models that can be installed quickly. And many can be integrated into the smart home technology that many homeowners love.

Yeah … homeowners like me.

But even if they don’t have a smart home, choosing motorized shades and blinds is still an intelligent choice.

Back when we remodeled the carport, turning it into a sewing room for my wife and copywriting office for me, we didn’t know about the motorized window treatment option. I don’t know … probably wasn’t around back then. We opted for 2”-wide wooden slat blinds throughout the house and they looked quite stylish. Really dressed up the old homestead.

But when we redo some of the rooms, I’m definitely looking into a more modern look.

Battery-powered, wireless control
Many of the new motorized shades on the market use a battery-powered motor. Battery tech and DC motors have seen some upgrades lately. And the batteries in select units can last for quite a while.

Now the price range for blinds can run from below $100 to units costing in the hundreds of dollars. And the old saying rings just as true for window blinds as it does for anything else: you get what you pay for.

Cheaper models will work for sure. But the motor often runs louder and the movement isn’t as smooth as in more expensive motorized blinds. You might want to factor in the motor control as well.

Many have simple wireless remotes with just up and down, and stop. If you’re customer wants to control the blinds via smart home technology, that’s going to require a little more sophisticated electronics.

Some blinds will use an app on the phone to set up and create scenes and other scenarios. For example, the app can be set to open the blinds slightly in the morning to give you a gentle wakeup call. Often they’ll use a wireless hub or bridge to control the entire house via the home network. You can even integrate some blinds with smart lighting to set the right mood for various events and situations.

Integration into many popular smart home apps is possible with name brand blinds. Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple products, to name a few.

But there are other reasons the moderate to higher priced brands might be better choices for your customers (and you, if you’re upgrading your own home).

Colors, fabrics, and mounting options
With the most popular brands, you have a greater selection of colors, fabrics, and mounting options. And with a few, you can order shades with transparency options:

  • Sheer fabrics preserve your view of the great outdoors, provide some sunlight filtering, and are great if privacy isn’t of great concern. Think kitchens, dining rooms, and game rooms.
  • Translucent fabrics change harsh outside sunlight and give you a soft filtered glow. For spaces where privacy is more important, like bathrooms, this might be the fabric style needed.
  • Blackout blinds are best for high privacy rooms such as bedrooms. They block all light from entering into the space when closed. That also makes them a great choice for media rooms and home theaters.

Mounting the blind can be either inside the sill or fastened on the wall above the window. That’s purely an aesthetic choice, although above-the-window mounting often blocks out more of the sunlight.

Cheap models are limited on color options as well, many with only one or two colors available. Top brands have a vast selection of fabrics to complement almost any color scheme.

One other advantage to wireless control is you now have the capability to put blinds on high and hard to reach windows often found in foyers. Instead of unsightly and potentially dangerous long cords hanging down, you can raise or lower them with the touch of a button on a remote or app.

Roller blinds or honeycomb design
Most of the time, you’ll find blinds that roll up on a spindle. Almost all the cheaper options just have this one configuration.

However, when researching motorized blinds, I did find one style from Lutron with a honeycomb design. The honeycomb fabrics come in single cell and double cell light-filtering configurations, and a double cell room-darkening option. The honeycomb design can also be constructed with a degree of insulating capacity. These are the first blinds I’ve seen with an R rating.

If your customers are really into upgrading their homes with the latest in lighting tech, talk to them about remote control window blinds to complement their smart lighting. And remind them that what they pay for is what they’ll get.

Not all blinds are created equal.

Make sure they love them when you install them. And hopefully they’ll still love them months and years down the road.
Photo courtesy of Lutron
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