Choices in Automating your Window Treatments.
Technology for automating the different systems in your house has come a long way in the last year. If you have an Amazon Echo (Alexa) or Google Smart home (IFTTT) system in your house, you are half way there to setting up an automation system that will use logic to open and close your window treatments at the appropriate times. The problem is completing the circle. Here are some choices:
Amazon Alexa compatible systems
Somfy systems has created motors for shades for many years. They build them for many different companies. Recently, they have created a hub called “myLink” which is compatible with most older Somfy systems. You will need to download on your phone the myLink software and plug the myLink hub into a centrally located outlet. Following the instructions, you can connect to all the motorized shades in your house and create groups based on the rooms they are in. Somfy and other companies use the metaphor called “Scenes” to help your organize the different activities you want to do with your window treatments during your day. For example, you can set up a scene to open your shades in the kitchen at sunrise.
This scene combines the kitchen shade group with a timer. Scenes can control multiple groups making one scene able to control several rooms at the same time. The advantage of using your phone as the control center is that as long as you can connect to the internet, you can interact with your home from any location.
The myLink software has a “Routine” that can be connected to your Alexa system. This allows you to use voice commands to control groups of shades from anywhere. Download the Routine from the Alexa webpage and follow the instructions to connect it with myLink.
Here is a link on how to do this:
Using Google Home
Google home uses similar software to control myLink connected devices. Googles system is called IFTTT (If This Then That). Like Amazon’s Alexa, it handles the voice interface and then sends commands to the Somfy system.
Here is a link on how to use Google Home’s app to connect to myLink.https://www.somfysystems.com/en-us/smart-home/ifttt
Graber has recently released a Gateway device and App which allows all “Virtual Cord” motorized shades to be controlled by a free App. This software is able to setup automation routines similar to Somfy software and allows Alexa and Google home to control your window treatments as well. Best of all, it is backward compatible with older motorized shades. All you need to purchase is the gateway device which can operate up to 30 shades and install the software. The software will walk you through setting up each room and defining routines to control shades individually or in groups.
Alta Window fashions is a popular window treatment provider. They have a new automation system called Bliss. The Bliss system communicates with Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home systems. The Bliss system is in addition to their Somfy and Simplicity Automation products. Alta is extremely flexible in their choices for how to power your window treatments. You can choose from:
- Rechargeable battery power — rechargeable using a power charger like your phone
- Wired power — wired directly into your homes power circuits
- Plugin power — plug your shade into an existing outlet
You can also control your shades through
- Hand held remotes
- Wireless wall switched
- Using a Smart phone App
- Using a home automation App (Amazon, or Google)
Note: You will need to purchase a “bridge” which will connect, using your network, your phone to your window treatments.
Alta has a wide variety of shades and blinds which are motorized:
- Cellular shades (Sun Screen and Room darkening)
- Roller shades (Sun Screen and Room darkening)
- Double Roller shades (two shades in one window for light filtering and privacy)
- Top Down / Bottom Up shades
Norman Window treatments
Norman is a growing manufacturer of shutters and shades. They offer motorized versions of the following products:
Norman Portrait cellular shades
Norman uses its own remotes to control its window treatments. The control allows you to group your windows and use one control to run all the rooms in your house.
Norman wood shutters
Norman’s shutters can also be motorized so that the louvers can be tilted at the touch of a button.