Motorized blinds and drapes started out as luxuries available mostly to those living in mansions and penthouses, but, today, increased competition, new hardware, advanced technologies, and a variety of materials and price points have put this former extravagance within reach of virtually every homeowner. Whether you’re considering motorized shades or drapes because they are easier to operate, are a safer option for young children, or provide energy savings and privacy protection, there are many options to choose from.
Ranging from professionally installed full-home systems, in which every window shade, blind, or drape is controlled via a smartphone app, to do-it-yourself (DIY) systems for a single window or room, the range of motorized window treatments available can make it difficult to sort through all of the choices. But according to David Parrett, director of motorization at Hunter Douglas, one of the world’s leading makers of window blinds and coverings, the public’s increasing comfort with technology and the easy-to-understand benefits of shade motorization are driving rapid adoption.
“Consumers are demanding more of the products in their lives,” says Parrett, “and window coverings are a product with which they interact daily that can provide a host of benefits when motorization is added. Moving forward, motorized window coverings will continue to gain relevance for consumers who embrace connected home technologies.”
It seems that motorized blinds are available everywhere today, from Home Depot and Amazon to specialty retailers and through professional installation companies. Nearly every type of window covering can be motorized and automated, and many solutions are easy enough for most homeowners to install themselves. These are usually a bit cheaper and increasingly battery-operated. More robust systems may require professional installation, particularly ones that require in-wall wiring.
The explosion of wireless technologies and smartphone apps has helped simplify the installation and operation of window coverings. Many modern systems offer the ability to control an entire room at once, to preset a schedule or scenes for specific events like watching a movie, or even to use sunlight sensors that automatically lower the shades to darken a room during intense periods of sunlight. And, as Parrett mentions, these benefits can be increased further when combined with a home control system that also integrates smart lighting and heating and cooling systems.
With so many choices, and prices ranging from $150 to $500 for a single shade all the way up to $10,000-plus for an entire home, buying motorized window shades can get confusing. In our Motorized Window Shades Buying Guide, we will examine the most important features, compare different products, their benefits and how they fit different needs, and share our recommendations for the best professionally installed and DIY products on the market. EH