Product Showcase

Hands On: Crestron Roller Shade Solutions
The automation manufacturer makes a splash with motorized shades.
May 15, 2013 by Arlen Schweiger

Most of our installations went rather smoothly, but the first one highlighted a couple of those common issues that may arise. My team was thrown a small curveball on that initial install of a Décor Series mount, as we were told to design the shade system so that it was level with the ground. Another group had to level theirs to the window. You can imagine how this difference might affect the look of a shade, but from my own experience I can say that “cockeyed” isn’t desirable: when my living room flat-panel TV was being wall-mounted above our fireplace, it needed to be adjusted because at first it was made level to the ceiling … which made it appear way crooked because the ceiling was about a half-inch higher on the left side, leaving an odd, noticeable gap between the bottom of the TV and the mantel on that side; so we leveled it to the mantel and the TV looked more in sync.

And that’s what we got a taste of by leveling our Décor Series shade with the ground—as it neared the sill, you could see that there was a small gap on the left side. In order to cover the entire casing, the bottom hem bar needed to dip below the sill, which isn’t a total eyesore, but to a homeowner that’s paying to have the smoothest-looking installation possible where the bottom of the shade lines up nicely with the sill, it’s not desirable. It reminded me of when Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir would banter between songs when the band was tuning its instruments that “we want to make sure everything is just exactly perfect.”

Along that same thought, installers need to make sure there’s enough room with the bracket-to-bracket dimensions as we found out with the Décor Series installation as well. We had enough clearance beyond the window casing so that the shade descended and covered the window without any light gap, but then discovered we could have used about an eighth of an inch more because toward the top (and because of what happened with the “crooked” leveling) the right side of the shade was too tight with the right bracket—which could mean it might snag, or if it did go up and down all the way after several uses it could start fraying. Again, it’s a game of inches.

Custom electronics pros work on putting a Decor Series roller shade into place.

Throughout the training, which was led by Crestron’s Stan King and Shayna Bramley, I was impressed with the quality of the mounting hardware and the fabrics, as well as the ease of using the motor buttons, in this case, to configure the start and stop shade presets. The Architectural Series and Designer Cassette series installations we followed with went smoothly, and produced eye-pleasing results. They were ear-pleasing too—the Quiet Motor Technology (QMT) that Crestron uses really delivers on its promise of silent operation, especially the larger QMT 50 motor that offers 6 Newton-meters of torque and can be used in applications from 37 5/8 inches to 12 feet wide. Standing next to the shades they were barely audible while going up and down. I will say that the QMT 50 was quieter than the smaller, 2 Newton-meters QMT 30 (good for applications 18.5 to 37.5 inches wide), which we used in our fourth installation—there was a small amount of whirring, which also felt more pronounced after having gone from the ultra-quiet QMT first. Still, it was far quieter than, say, a motorized projection screen.

In terms of the aesthetics, Crestron seems to be on the right track with its nascent motorized shades program. The Architectural Series will be most commonly employed, and provides for plenty of back-and-forth talks with homeowners and interior designers concerning the type of pocket that will cover the roller, making this a good personalized tech decision. I really like the seamless appearance of the Designer Cassette option too, as the shade just descends from its housing that together feel like one flowing piece.

The big takeaway from learning more about motorized shade solutions in general—and especially for homeowners who wind up hiring CE pros that specialize in Crestron systems that can now integrate shades into automation and lighting projects—is that there’s more to shades than meets the eye, so don’t take this part of a tech renovation lightly. Style, functionality, application, remote operation … though they may not look the part, these are high-tech systems. Now more than ever there’s no reason for your “A/V guy” not to include them in your home.

See Also:
How Motorized Shades Can Help Promote a Better Night’s Sleep
Motorized Shades, Lighting Control Keys to Great Room’s Greatness
Top 5 Reasons to Get Motorized Shades


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Arlen Schweiger - Contributor, Electronic House Magazine
Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for and Electronic House magazine.

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