The Future is Bright for Shade Control
Operating window coverings manually, via cords or complicated tilt mechanisms, will soon become as dated as manual, wind-down car windows. In fact, the future of blind control is already here.
According to a CEDIA survey last year, blind control is an increasingly popular element of smart home projects, with 46 percent of all respondents having provided a motorised window treatment solution in the past year.
Advances in technology are helping to drive this growth. In particular, wire-free technology has allowed home technology professionals to install shade or blind control in both new-builds and retrofit projects without having to re-wire, chase out walls or install unsightly wire covers, offering seamless and discreet integration. This type of automated blind is ultra-energy efficient thanks to a patented counterbalancing spring system which keeps motor power consumption to an absolute minimum (battery supported only when necessary) and delivers near silent operation in every application.
Easy to set up and configure, this approach to blind control is also enhanced by innovation in two-way control for easy integration with third-party control platforms. This enables installers to integrate shade control seamlessly into a whole house or single room automation system, whilst simultaneously enabling accurate feedback on shade positioning for improved performance, remote monitoring and maintenance. As a result, blind control can be integrated much more quickly, easily and effectively into a system, and add more value.
Fast and simple integration with third-party control systems and two-way feedback are important keys to help installers fully unlock the business opportunity in blind control.
ZigBee control now delivers these benefits for installers who can specify blind control that’s quiet-running, looks great aesthetically and performs consistently well as a multi-position solution for the home.
Every automated blind in this type of system is wired to a compact co-ordinator device which connects to a home’s wi-fi network. Each of these devices can support up to 32 blinds or up to 60 blinds when used with a range extender on larger installations.
Blinds, up to a maximum 3500mm in size, can be easily grouped and automated to raise and lower to three selected, programmable positions. They also feature automatic safety braking to ensure they never pass completely over the top of the roller, when rising.
A Window Solution and More
As well as being aesthetically attractive, automated blinds offer clients a number of additional functions including privacy control, security, energy efficient lighting and personalised scene settings.
Firstly, high quality blind and shade control is essential to get the most from both natural and artificial light. For example, different fabrics and textures suit different room environments. Blackout blinds provide maximum protection from the sun and external light, ideal for home cinemas or bedrooms. For a softer effect, translucent blinds allow light to pass through the fabric, whilst still providing privacy from other buildings or passers-by. Motorised dual blind systems are also available for clients unable to choose between the two!
Used in conjunction with smart lighting and the home automation system, blind control can help enhance a room’s ambience and use. For example, in the morning, blinds can rise prior to the client’s alarm helping aid the user wake naturally with the sun, or can stay lowered to keep the house cool. Similarly, a night or movie scene setting can be created to dim or turn off the lights whilst simultaneously lowering the blinds at the touch of a button.
Shading control is also an important aspect of many energy-efficient building design strategies. Blind control systems can be programmed to work in sync with lighting control technology, raising or lowering shades in accordance to the natural light present, saving money on unnecessary lighting energy.
Motorised blinds can also be used to provide an extra level of security when the homeowner is away from the property. Using a built in time mode, the blinds can be programmed to open and close when desired, creating the effect that the property is occupied. Building on this, the latest two-way communication technology allow users to control and monitor the whole house or single room blind automation system remotely, with instant and accurate feedback on shade positioning. This is ideal for installers who provide system support and after-care maintenance.
Installers: Roll Up, Roll Up
Blind and shade control is a potentially important revenue stream for installation companies, offering a high margin product and a new level of project engagement with homeowners, interior designers and architects.
The near future holds many more possibilities for blind technology, including the opportunity of voice and even more sophisticated sensor-driven control. From an installer’s perspective, blind control offers the chance to add significant value to an integrated scheme, and most importantly, a route to building a better, more secure and more efficient smart home for the client. A guaranteed win, win for everyone involved.
Ian Claxton is Director at QMotion UK.