We offer the most innovative motorized window blind and shade technology in the industry. When you are looking for the best system for your needs, take advantage of our expertise working with and installing motorized or battery-operated shades. We’ll walk you through the various options for systems that can raise and lower window treatments and adjust the slats, vanes, and louvers, or others that can move the window covering from side to side, rotating the vanes and louvers.
Power Options for Motorized Blinds and Shades
Hardwired is considered to be the most reliable method of motorizing window coverings. You will never have to change batteries. The window covering will always have constant electrical current powering your treatment, so the speed will always be consistent, assuming the motors are the same.
Most window shading systems offer motors to support either AC electric (household line voltage) and DC electric (battery operated). Keep in mind that DC provides less power and requires a power supply such as a battery. The size and weight of your window treatment will determine whether you can power your blinds and shades with DC.
AC Power Considerations
- They have provided years of extreme reliability with few to no motor failures.
- In the past, the motors were typically quieter. This is not the case as much anymore.
- AC motors are stronger. These motors can lift enormous window shades, awnings, rolling security shutters, etc. with ease.
- No additional power supplies are needed as they can be plugged directly into household plugs or hardwired.
- Electrical wiring must be pre-planned. AC motors hook directly into line voltage and they can be difficult to disguise. A window treatment will be shipped with a power cable connected to the motor. These pigtails (power cord without a plug, designed to be hardwired into a junction box) can be equipped with or without a plug. They will need to terminate into an electrical junction box. The motors are all equipped with a factory crimped end (can not be duplicated) that plugs into the motor head. Therefore, you can not terminate line voltage into the motor head; you must use the supplied power cord. Also, no window shade is designed to use its fascia, valance, or head box as a legal junction box. You MUST plan on placement of a junction box.
- Due to the size of AC motors, the narrowest width available for most shades is just under 30″. This can be problematic in homes that have narrow windows. Though there are ways to address this, it is still an area of concern, especially when trying to keep all the motors consistent. You can notice a difference in sound level and travel speed when intermixing motors.
- The overall size of the head box can present a challenge in tight applications.
Battery (DC) Power Considerations
Huge advancements have been made to the DC motor. Today, motor manufacturers are offering much quieter, reliable and more powerful DC motors than ever before.
- Ease and simplicity of running wire. This is huge! Low voltage motor wire can be easily disguised and run. And they do not need a junction box. Most low voltage motors will use no greater than 16/23 gauge wire (depending on how long the run). Typical wire used would be 18/2. Keep in mind this is just for powering the window shade. When it comes time for communication with the shade, some applications use cat5/6 wire. Some models share the cat5/6 8 conductor wire to serve dual purposes by sharing it for both power and communication.
- Size. The minimum size for DC motors can now be under 16” wide.
- Strength. New reports show low voltage motors lifting window shades greater than 12′ wide and tall.
Communication refers to the devices used to “speak” to your window treatment. Typical control devices include remote control, wall switch, iPhone, iPad or other automation system.
Each window treatment needs power, as described above. This connection is guided by your communication through the various devices. Every window treatment has a motor control. Intelligent motors have embedded motor controls, while non-intelligent motors have motor controls located elsewhere. These controls are typically located in a central location of the home, office or project.
Wireless Transmitters: Remote Control or Wireless Wall Switches
Wireless transmitters send a radio frequency (in most cases) signal from the transmitter to the radio receiver. Intelligent motors will typically have an embedded radio receiver within the motor (in most but not all cases). Ten (10) intelligent shades require ten (10) radio receivers to receive this signal. With non-intelligent motors, the same ten (10) motors will be wired back to a central location where the motor controls are located. One (1) radio receiver receives the signal for all ten (10) shades. This is desirable if controlling a whole home or large amounts of window treatments.
Hardwired is a term commonly confused, misunderstood, or communicated. This can be a real problem if multiple trades are involved to build an automated shade system and each party is assuming something else. Some products that are completely intelligent with their own imbedded motor control and radio receiver can be plugged into the wall. This is sometimes mistaken for “hardwired”. In this case, the only thing hardwired is the power. Communication is still 100% wireless. True hardwired systems would have both the communication and power wired.
True hardwired systems would have both the communication and power wired.
- These systems, once in place, can have receivers attached for the use of remote controls.
- They can also be tied into wifi for an IP control through smartphones or tables.
- These systems are most commonly tied into home automation systems for complete control.
IP communication (Internet Protocol)
Wireless networks are rapidly growing with evolving technology. Window shades are actually programmed and integrated through the internet. Several shading manufactures have this cutting edge technology available.
All of our products can speak to home automation systems. However, some window coverings can be more challenging than others. We would encourage involving us with your window covering needs and integrator as early on in the project as possible to assure a seamless transition.
Somfy Digital Network (“SDN”) Features
SDN, the Somfy Digital Network is the latest generation of bus-line enabled intelligent motors and controls. The SDN components are integrated into a cost effective system designed to operate a wide range of products such as roller shades, sun/screen shades, wood blinds, Silhouette shades, exterior shades, draperies, etc.
- This is an excellent example of a complete hardwired system, utilizing a Cat5/6 bus line for communication.
- Commonly used in commercial applications due to its ability to control thousands of window treatments with extreme reliability. Because of this reliability, the SDN network is finding its way into more and more residential applications.
- SDN is easily integrated to automation systems using RS-485.
Radio Technology (“RTS”) Features
RTS, Radio Technology Somfy is Somfy’s exclusive control platform which enables users to operate motorized interior and exterior window coverings wirelessly. This is the most popular and widely used operating system Somfy offers and that we sell and install.
- RTS is an intelligent motor system that can be either hardwired for power (AC or DC) or batteries area also available for their smallest D/C model.
- RTS systems can be easily added to run on the SDN system. An example of this would be using an exterior awning or interior battery operated shade on a door that you want included in your SDN network.
- Our favorite go to motors for the RTS would definitely be the AC motors. With the thousands of motor systems we have installed, we have the fewest troubleshooting issues with this motor.
- These are very popular for all applications but are a fan favorite with large exterior shades, awnings, rolling shutters, large interior shades, and draperies in that you only need to provide power.
- Communication is all wireless.
- Easily integrates with automation systems using the URTSI (universal RTS interface) via RS-485, RS-232, or dry contact.
- Offers incredible range with all their transmitters including, sun sensors, timers, wall switches, remote controls, and wind sensors.
- offers ease of use and customizable, programmable features
- provides near noiseless motorization
- offers compatibility with a wide range of home automation systems
- conceals the batteries and offers an exceptionally long battery life (up to 5 years)
- offers a user friendly wireless remote that stores nicely in convenient wall plates as well as the option for manual operation
- a wide variety of transparent, translucent and black out fabrics