Now that you’ve learned about the different motorized shading systems, fabrics, and benefits, it’s time to think about how you’ll actually install them. If you plan on installing them yourself, be sure to pay close attention to the specifications when you’re researching and buying both the motors and the shades. A lot of brands offer several levels of motors that will accommodate different shades, particularly concerning the size and weight they can handle. The last thing you want is to finish installing your motor and then find out the shade you bought is too heavy for it to lift.
Some brands of motors, such as those from Crestron, are made specifically for their own shades and control systems, while other motors boast wider compatibility. Also available are specialized shading systems such as the FlexLouver slat-style shade from Draper, which can be an ideal solution for odd-shaped windows and allows the user to stop the slats at various angles for precise control over incoming sunlight.
Chances are you’ll need to order the motor rig and shades in specific sizes so that everything fits exactly as it should and covers the entire window. Every brand, from Bali to Hunter Douglas, has an online selector where you can choose each component of a motorized shading system, including the remote, shade, motor, and power supply.
Once you’re certain that you have the proper equipment and the correct size motor and shades delivered, it’s time to install them. If you chose an in-wall wired system or are having a professional do the installation, feel free to skip this section. It’s not recommended to install a hard-wired system yourself unless you are experienced with electrical work (it can be dangerous).
However, if you are comfortable doing the electrical work, you’ll find many systems are relatively simple to install and can be done using a cordless drill, a tape measure, and a level. For whichever type of shade and motor you happened to buy, if you’re mounting the shade inside the window frame, there will be two mounting brackets to screw in on each side. These brackets will hold the shade roller or box. The process is not that much different than mounting a traditional shade—until you get to the power supply.
For heavier motors and wide windows, expect to install additional supports on which to hang the equipment. Be careful to measure everything correctly so you put the screws and brackets in the right place the first time. It’s probably best to double-check your measurements before putting even a small hole in the wall or window frame.
For the most basic DIY options, like those from Maestroshield and RollerTrol, a slightly more complex installation is required, because you have to assemble the motor components inside the roller tube. Still, this is generally a simple process that can be completed in about 15 minutes, and can be the best option if you already have shades that you like and simply want to motorize them.
The Lutron Serena line with Smart Bridge may be the best option if you want to handle the installation yourself and still have a powerful mobile app with grouping, scene, and automation functions. Plus, with Serena, you get the added bonus of climate control if you add a Honeywell Wi-Fi thermostat, and the option of using the industry’s first Apple Watch app for shade and lighting control.
If you purchased a plug-in electric shading system, one end of the cord plugs into the motor at the top of the window, and the other end of the cord into an AC outlet. The addition of a wire channel can make this otherwise unsightly setup aesthetically pleasing. Mounted to the wall or inside the window frame, it provides a conduit for the wire to be routed, and can be painted to match your mounting surface.
Battery-powered shades are the best choice if you are absolutely opposed to anything going on the wall or don’t have a nearby outlet. These solutions are powered by a battery pack or stick that most often houses D-size batteries (usually 8 or more) and can be mounted either behind the shade’s box or roller, or along the inside of the window frame. Brands such as Somfy now offer solar options as well, which use small solar panels mounted to the top of the window and have their own battery pack.
Hanging the shade is usually straightforward but can still give people some trouble. It’s important to make sure the correct side is facing forward, particularly for slat blinds and roller shades. Typically, professionals will orient roller shades so that they fall over the front of the motor rod for in-frame shades, and over the back of the motor rod for over-the-frame installations. This ensures that the shade doesn’t actually touch the glass for in-frame shades, and that it offers complete blockage for over-the-frame shades. Otherwise, you could end up damaging the window or be left with light spill from the inch or two between the shade and the wall.
Drapery system installations are also similar to the installation of traditional, non-motorized draperies, but with the added task of dealing with wiring or batteries. Hiding a battery pack might be more difficult for a drapery that opens from both sides, making plug-in and hard-wired solutions a better choice for many applications. EH