Where Can I Find Automated Shades/Blinds?

A homeowner wants to automate his window treatments -- here are some manufacturers and their product offerings to help.

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Q. What are some suggested manufacturers of automated blinds for shading windows? — George

A. George, there are a handful of respected companies that you can check out, or work with a custom electronics pro to have professionally installed for your windows. Many of these offerings can be integrated into single-room or full housewide automation systems, to help make your home more energy friendly if that’s influencing your decision.

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Our sister publication CE Pro surveys a list of 100 custom pros each year and asks what brands they use the most. In the shade control category, Lutron Electronics is far and away the most popular, thanks to its quiet, reliable and smooth-operating Sivoia QED (Quiet Electric Drive) shade options. Of course with window treatments, system prices vary, depending on how many and what size windows you have, as well as the extent of the motorization and automation you’re looking for.

Straight from the Electronic House 2009 Buyer’s Guide, here’s some more info on Lutron and other companies, with descriptions from them. Check with the company or your local CE pro for more info and pricing.

Lutron – The Sivoia QED family of controllable shades offers control of roller shades, Roman shades and draperies. All systems operate with quiet, low-voltage drives and offer ranges of fabrics and controls. They can be programmed to different stopping points using handheld remotes or wall-mounted keypads, and they integrate with Lutron lighting systems, providing touch-of-a-button control.

Crestron – The company’s 2-channel Shade and Drape Controller controls motorized window treatments as well as motorized doors, sunroofs, lifts and projection screens. It’s a Cresnet device with two independently controlled 120V AC outputs. Each output provides up/down or open/close control of a conventional three-wire bidirectional type motor. Integrates with Crestron control systems, using touchpanel and keypad interfaces.

Draper – Draper makes shades with Greenguard-certified fabrics, and with Okotex-labeled fabrics by Ferrari and Mermet. The Okotex eco-label certifies that the product is recyclable. Also, Draper offers shades with PVC-free and Halogen-free fabrics. All of Draper’s standard, quiet and low-voltage motorized shades can be incorporated into home control systems, including Crestron, Extron and Z-Wave technology. Mesh and blackout shades are available.

MechoShade Systems – The company’s Home Automation Shading Division provides contemporary Window Management solutions. The Mecho/5 system in tandem with EcoVeil was certified as a “Cradle to Cradle” product by process and product design firm MBDC.

Somfy Systems – Designs products to motorize interior and exterior coverings such as awnings, rolling shutters, exterior solar screens, interior shades, wood blinds, draperies, projection screens and more. Somfy also offers wireless switches, timers, handheld controls, sensors and automation devices.

Mirage Retractable Screen Systems – The Mirage Solar Screen Solution prevents solar gain inside the home and minimizes the need for air conditioning. The solution includes: exterior woven fiberglass screens that reduce infrared emissions into home interiors up to 90 percent; sun-sensing automated controls that activate screens; and programmable automated timer controls that integrate with programmable thermostats.

Makita U.S.A. – The Makita ADO (Automatic Drapery Opening) System is easily installed and can be retrofitted to control existing draperies. A digital interface unit allows integration and control by all third-party lighting and automation systems. The system is modestly priced.

Add-a Motor – Add-a-Motor’s motorized curtain tracks are available in 10- and 20-foot lengths. IR remote and batteries included. Track control can also be achieved by contact closure, or most third-party remotes that can learn the IR codes.

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