It’s a common thought among design and technology manufacturers that if something is easy to use, people will want it. That idea is what made iPhones, Keurig coffeemakers, and the Roomba so popular. The same goes for motorized window shades, and consequently, the most important consideration when shopping for one is usually how you control them. Whatever the method, it must be convenient, easy to use, and 100 percent reliable.
Every system available today, whether professionally installed or designed to be installed by a do-it-yourselfer, comes with a wireless handheld remote with just a few simple buttons to move the shades up, down, and to any preset position. Most remotes have just three buttons, and even remotes that can control up to five shades as a group or individually are very intuitively designed.
Other modes of control come in the form of a simple wall-mounted keypad or mobile app, the latter of which is quickly becoming the most popular, due to the fact that many homeowners already own at least a few smartphones and tablets. Despite the fact that apps are convenient and affordable (many are free), wall-mounted keypads are still a good option because they’re impossible to misplace and never run out of battery power. Also, consider the process of using a smartphone app to control the window shades. First you need to take out the phone, press a button to wake it up, enter a password if you have one, open the app and then make your adjustments. If all you are trying to do is lower a single shade, wouldn’t it be easier to have a remote on the table or a keypad on the wall that requires just a single button press?
Hard-wired, professionally installed solutions also include remotes and apps, often with the option of adding wall-mounted keypads. This is especially useful and necessary if you already have or are considering investing in a home control system. When when you do decide to fully automate your home (lights, thermostats, A/V equipment, and more), your shades can become a part of that complete system where one universal app controls everything—including the shades. If you’re going to pull out your phone or tablet to adjust the lights, turn on the TV, or arm the security system, it’s more convenient to be able to control the shades from the same app instead of having to launch a separate shade control app.
Another benefit of integrating motorized shades with a home control system is the ability to choreograph their operation with the operation of other electronic devices in your home. Picture walking into your home after work and disarming your security system. With that simple, everyday gesture, you could watch as your lights turn on, your HVAC system starts humming along, and your window shades automatically adjust to the perfect level for the time of day. This saves time, money, frustration, and energy, and lets you enjoy your home as soon as you walk through the door instead of fussing with everything individually or just dealing with imperfect settings.
Most major home control systems will support some brand of motorized window shade and offer advanced automation based on time of day, outdoor sunlight, security events, interior temperature, or preset schedules. If this is something that interests you, it is highly recommended that you speak with a home electronics professional, even if you want to go with a plug-in or battery-operated shading system. They’ll be able to tell you which products are compatible, how much they cost, what benefits are available for your unique needs and, if you hire them, they will likely provide ongoing support and help you learn to use the system quickly to maximize its potential. EH