Power Up your Window Coverings

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Thursday, March 31st, 2016
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In the past five years, the most dramatic developments in the window covering industry have come in the area of motorisation.

As we move into an era of smart homes that enable the occupier to operate anything in the home from a remote control or from a device  such as an iPad or smartphone, window covering professionals have to get savvy about some of the technological issues that accompany this trend.

The current leader in window covering motorisation, Somfy, is constantly developing new hardware (and software) that will ensure the smooth operation of blinds, curtains and awnings, both interior and exterior. The challenge is to make operation user-friendly and economical whilst ensuring the end user does not incur extra energy expenses or increase their carbon footprint.

There are basically two major installation types for motorisation. C-Bus is a system in which the entire home is controlled from a central point and devices such as wall switches or even tablets and android phones can control everything. You don’t even have to be in the home for these items to work, as long as you are connected by your mobile device. This means you can arrange to have all your blinds down when you walk out the door, and have them up in time for your arrival back home. You can put items on a timer so that when you are absent, it looks like someone is still home.

The other installation type is remote control operation. This is more cost effective and suitable for smaller homes or those with a more modest budget. An electrician simply hard-wires the windows that require treatments and then the blinds or curtain tracks are connected to the exposed cables. A hand-held or wall mounted remote control operates the window treatments, and the end user can have numerous options as to how these window treatments open and close.

Motorisation is a huge consideration in rooms where windows are inaccessible and still require operable window coverings. Also, those who may be incapacitated would benefit greatly from motorising their window treatments. Of course, those who simply love gadgets will also appreciate this technology. There are a few things to watch out for if you decide to utilise either of these technologies, however:

  1. Neither system is cheap. Remember you need to add the price of the motor to the price of the window treatment.
  2. Look for a motor with a warranty that is backed by after sales service from the supplier (not just your  salesperson).
  3. Purchase the quietest motors you can afford. There are different grades of motors and some are quite noisy.
  4. If you don’t have an electrician, look for a supplier who can offer an electrical service as well as the motors. In some cases, this also extends your warranty.
  5. Be careful of cheap Chinese motors as the jury is out on some of these

If you only have one or two small windows and don’t want the expense of a motor, you might want to consider battery operation. Apart from being a cheaper option, batteries are great for small blinds and can be retrofitted in some cases. Generally, you can expect a battery to last about two years before it needs replacing or recharging.

So, if you are building a new home or completely replacing your window treatments, why not consider having them motorised?

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