When we discuss the topic of smart home lighting, we tend to talk about the Philips Hue range or maybe Nanoleaf Light Panels. It’s easy to forget about the role of natural light in the home, and that traditional methods of light control – such as window blinds – can also be automated and integrated into a smart home ecosystem.
While your standard set of blinds is manually operated, typically with a chain or chord, electric blinds utilise battery-powered motors in order to open and close. This can be handled via a remote control, but they can also be easily configured into smart devices.
To explore this trend further, we thought we’d consult with Swift Direct Blinds, who provide a range of custom fit electric blinds that are smart home compatible.
So, let’s take a look at some of the smart capabilities of these electric blinds and find out how they can be used to upgrade your living space.
The Benefits of Electric Blinds at a Glance
Electric blinds can be….
- Operated from a distance using a remote-control device or via voice commands.
- Synced together on a remote-control channel or operated individually.
- Scheduled to open and close by themselves ahead of time.
- Integrated into a smart home system via a hub device.
Electric blinds are also:
- Less visually disruptive to an interior as they tend to not have chains or cords.
- Less likely to cause damage by snagging or entanglement due to the lack of chains or cords.
- Available in a variety of designs and sizes.
They are however:
- More expensive than non-electric blinds.
- Reliant on battery power to operate, which requires recharging.
Remote Control Function
One of the main reasons to install electric blinds is the convenience factor. It’s certainly far less of a hassle to click a button than it is to manually open and close blinds, particularly if you have multiple blinds installed across different rooms. This factor isn’t ‘smart’ per se, but it’s an integral part of the device, so let’s cover it before we dive into the further smart capabilities.
As you might imagine, electric blinds can be raised or lowered at the click of a button using their corresponding remote-control device. But if you wanted to raise or lower multiple blinds, does that require an equivalent number of remotes?
Actually, you can set different electric blinds onto different ‘channels’ on a remote. So if you wanted all of your living room blinds to raise and lower simultaneously with a single button press, you would put all of them onto the same channel. But if you wanted a particular blind to function independently from the rest – say, your bedroom blind – then you’d put it on its own channel.
It’s a really handy piece of customisation, but for the real novelties, we’ll have to go smarter.
Voice Activation Features
Here is where things get nifty: you can configure electric blinds to be voice activated. All it requires is a smart hub and voice assistant of your choice, such as Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant.
Smart hubs by Somfy, such as Connexoon and TaHoma, can connect a range of devices including lights, heating, garage doors, gates and of course electric blinds and curtains. In order to operate your blinds via voice, you’ll need to use the device’s name (as set in Connexoon or TaHoma) followed by a Google Home or Alexa command word or phrase of your choice – for example, ‘Alexa / Google, open blinds’.
You can take it a step further by integrating your electric blinds with your other smart devices to launch voice activated routines. Let’s explore some examples.
Routines can activate multiple smart devices at once following an input, such as a voice command or an alarm. They can be configured through smart hub systems and IFTTT (If This, Then That) services.
For example, a voice-activated ‘Goodnight, Alexa’ routine could command the blinds to close, the lights to dim, and the heating to go on eco mode.
Or your morning alarm could launch a wake-up routine, in which your blinds open and your coffee machine brews a fresh cup. Hubs like Connexon can even activate routines according to temperature levels, closing or opening blinds to conserve or release heat.
You can get pretty creative with these scenarios, and they can be used for daily routines or novel mood moments – and speaking of routines, you can schedule your blinds to raise and lower ahead of time, without having to give a command or click a button.
You can program your electric blinds to raise, lower, or tilt according to a timer function. Once these schedules are set, you don’t need to manually trigger them – they’ll function automatically.
Aside from convenience, it’s a great way to enhance your home security for when you’re away. You could even control them in-app from anywhere in the world.