How To Make Your Dumb Blinds Smart (DIY Smart Blinds)
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So, you’ve got a bunch of old blinds in your home, and your considering purchasing something to upgrade them to smart blinds. But you probably have all kinds of questions, just like I did about what the best smart shades options are for your room.
I’ll never forget, one day back when I worked for the cable company. I was helping on a cable and internet set up in this guy’s $2.5 million dollar home. The guy wasn’t even there, but his two personal assistants were in the room, along with his AV guy. I wish I had the money to have two personal assistants and an “AV guy”, but I digress.
The AV guy was getting the low down on what they wanted to automate within the house. One of the big options that he wanted was to make sure that the blinds were automated so that he could look out at the mountains from his living room in New Hampshire when he was sitting in his home in Florida.
But not everyone has the money to install new smart blinds let alone purchase a second home.
So I have found a few ways to make your dumb blinds smart.
What Are Smart Blinds?
Smart blinds cover your windows just like regular blinds. The only difference is that they have built in motors which allow you to remotely raise and lower them. You can also set them to raise and lower on a regular schedule if you are not at home.
What Are The Best Smart Blinds?
There are only a couple of smart blind or window shade kits that I can really recommend to you at this point. Both of these come in at around the same price point.
Although, as with everything smart home-related, there are always new companies coming out with something innovative and better than what already exists.
Blind Engine (Smart Blinds Kit)
The first option I’ll cover here is the Blind Engine kit. Blind Engine started off over on Kickstarter and has since become a well-respected brand within the smart home community.
It’s not really that hard to understand why people are so in love with the idea of having motorized blinds and shades for their rooms. Obviously installing your own motorized blinds is a huge pain in the tuchus to install though and can get very expensive if you have a lot of windows that have blinds that you want to convert over.
Enter Blind Engine, who doesn’t seem to get a ton of great reviews though, and I can only assume that it is due to user miscalculation as they have worked justs fine in my tests.
However, it does come with the caveat that you know what kind of blinds they support, the weight range they support, etc.
Blind Engine claims that they work with roller shades, roman shades, horizontal blinds, vertical blinds, and roll type curtains. However, they do not support cloth curtains, blinds with lock buttons, pull cord blinds, blinds with a large connector (which you could change out anyway), and they definitely don’t work with cordless blinds.
It comes with two different gears that can work with normal string cords, small ball chains, and large ball chains. Which are 1.6mm to 4.4 mm and 4.5mm to 6.6 mm on the larger end. Blind Engine’s max capacity is 10ft by 10ft and can hold up to 15lbs of weight. However, those numbers are not necessarily static as they can be affected by variables like type, cloth, etc. So keep this in mind if you are considering purchasing them for your rooms.
The best features of the Blind Engine are:
- Mobile Control (can be controlled through your smartphone)
- Multiple Control (you can control multiple blinds simultaneously)
- Location Recognition Control (they can be set to go up or down based on your phone’s location)
- Voice Control (using Alexa, Google Home Assistant, Homepod, etc.)
- Emergency Auto-Stop (Automatic stop feature if the line catches, or if it detects additional abnormal weight or pressure.
The best part of these blinds for your windows, as far as I was concerned, was the 3-minute easy installation. I highly recommend you make sure that your blinds are compatible before buying though, but otherwise, it is an excellent product and is a very cost-effective option.
If you want to check out their current price on Amazon here’s the link.
MySmartBlinds Automation Kit
So, one of the biggest concerns that I have with smart blinds for windows is how much my power bill will go up from myself, my wife and my 8-year-old playing with them. Not to mention when my best friend shows up and finds out that he can make the blinds go up and down with his voice. It’s cool, but all I see is my power bill going up!
That’s where this company had me! Their blinds run off solar power, so there’s nothing to plug in.
The biggest downside to these is the pain of installation compared to the Blind Engine. The other downside is their compatibility in my opinion. They are only compatible with 2″-3″ horizontal blinds. Also, MySmartBlinds are not compatible with mini blinds, roller shades, cordless blinds, nor cellular or honeycomb style shades or blinds.
They have a great app that is compatible with both Apple or Android devices though and all in all it worked well once I went through the pain of installation.
You can also set daily and weekly schedules to have them automatically go up or down at certain times of the day. Also, you can also pair this with Alexa, Google Home Assistant or Apple Homekit so that you can command and control them with your voice.
If you are interested in checking out the reviews and current pricing you can find them over here on Amazon.
Purchase New Smart Blinds
If the idea of installing something to make your existing blinds smart scares the crap out of you, then you might want to consider just purchasing and installing new smart blinds or having someone else install them for you. There are a few companies out there making these kinds of controls, but honestly, the only one that I would personally recommend is Lutron.
You can control them by using Amazon Alexa, HomeKit, and Google Assistant. The cool thing about Lutron is that they offer smart blinds off the shelf. You can actually go right to their website and create custom designs for each of your windows for the job. You can choose from both honeycomb and shade roller styles for your smart shades as well. Which kind of limits your options, so it kind of is what it is from that perspective.
Their Smart Bridge works with Nest, SmartThings, Wink, Logitech Harmony, and Sonos. That way you can truly get your home connected and working cohesively.
If you want to check them out, you can go directly through Lutron’s website and see if it’s the right fit for you.
However, there’s one more thing!
Ikea Smart Blinds
Ikea has come out with their own line of smart blinds and what’s nice is that Ikea’s Fyrtur and Kadrilj smart blinds are much cheaper than any other bought off the shelf, another nice plus is that they don’t require professional installation.
Ikea’s smart blinds come in a variety of fixed widths, from 23 inches to 48 inches in the US, or 60 cm to a wider 140 cm in Europe. All are 77-inches (195-cm) long. The blinds ship with a pre-paired up/down wireless remote that can control the blinds right out of the box for your room.
However, there’s a catch, you’ll need Ikea’s $30 Tradfri gateway installed on your network to integrate the blinds into your smart home.
They’ll have a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery and in fact, they cost quite a bit less than the Lutron options from what I understand. So if you are thinking about going all-in on smart home blinds, then you might want to consider Ikea as long as you can stand their price point per blind.
The DIY Option
If you are just a die-hard, hands-on, DIY kind of person and want to do this the hard, but less expensive way, you could always try out the instructions given in this lengthy guide on making your own smart blinds and setting them up yourself. This will show you how to retrofit your existing blinds and really take you down a techie rabbit hole that I’m not prepared to get into here in this post.
How Much Do Smart Blinds Cost?
Obviously, there are a whole lot of caveats to this question. But generally speaking installation for smart blinds cost will vary. It really all depends on the number of windows you are covering and whether you are doing it yourself or not, but you can expect to pay anywhere between $35 – $150 per window that is receiving the smart motor blinds.
So, what do I personally recommend that you purchase? For the purposes of this review, I think it really all depends on your comfort level. But I’m personally a big fan Blind Engine if you just want something that works out of the box without a lot of install time involved and their support seemed to be very good.
You could also check Amazon, Best Buy and Walmart for Black Friday Deals if you’d like to find the least expensive smart blinds options for your windows.
The other solutions I mentioned definitely involve more time on this job and at the end of the day, I don’t have that much of it to waste.