Motorized window shades and automatic blinds are some of the hottest products for the savvy smart home buyer. The ability to control your shades with a smart phone, or have them automatically open or close based on timers or pre-programmed conditions is not only a cool home feature, but it saves time and energy.
Motorized shades and blinds can be part of a complete custom home automation system, or they can be added one room at a time, as your budget or needs require. One of the nice things about automatic shades in a home automation that each room can be programmed to run its own scenes in its own way, depending on how the room is used. Here are a few great examples on how automated window treatments can enhance different rooms.
Some people have a lot of trouble waking up in the morning, especially when the bedroom blinds are keeping the room dark. Motorized window coverings can be programed to automatically open when your alarm goes off, or, if you don’t need to wake at a specific time, they can be synced with a smart home system that triggers the blind to open at sunrise (based on an astronomical clock). Conversely, if you need the blinds closed when you’re getting dressed, you can program them to automatically give you privacy when you exit the shower. A professional integrator can come up with several ways to achieve this.
You can use the sun to warm your living room in the morning, and insulate it in the evening, by setting your shades to automatically open when the sun is shining on one side of the house, and close when the sun has moved away. If you’re worried about furniture, rugs or art fading from sun exposure, automated shades can keep those damaging rays away without you having to be home to close anything.
The dining room is a great place to use motorized window shades. Few things ruin a pleasant evening meal than the setting sun blinding you while you’re trying to eat with your family. Set your dining room shades to close at dinner time. They can open automatically an hour later if you like, or just stay closed for the night.
If you have a dedicated home theater or media room, you don’t want any sun washing out the picture on your projection screen or flat panel TV. Motorized shades can be programmed to close at the same time you press the play button to watch your favorite movie. If you’re not ready for that kind of integration yet, simple app or remote-controlled shades can make it easier for you to create the right atmosphere for movie time without costing a lot.
High-hallways, foyers and special windows
Many modern (and classic too) homes feature windows in high, out of the way places. These are nice design features, especially if they capture the morning sun. But they can also be impossible to manage with manual shades or blinds. In the absence of a ladder, motorized shades are not only the best, but are also the only way you can control the light from those high and out-of-the-way windows.
The owners of a 14,000-square-foot home in New Jersey were already investing time and money to update the electronic systems inside their home; so why not also add technology to the back yard as it underwent a massive renovation, they thought.
Since the oweners entertain a lot and wanted the same casual, comfortable party atmosphere outside as the house would have inside the av integrator would install a weather-hardy TV and outdoor-rated speakers to the new, revamped exterior spaces, which would include a fully functional kitchen, a covered bar and seating area, and several patios and decks. A swimming pool, hot tub and fountains were already in place and in good condition, but even they were tweaked to take this to a whole new level of enjoyment.
Although the architectural and landscaping redesign had a lot to do with the new vibe in the back yard, credit also goes to the seamless integration of a home control system. It’s the addition of this technology that affords the owners the luxury of controlling all of the lights, music, video, security devices and water features with nothing more than a couple of finger taps on an iPad.
For example, while lounging at the pool, the homeowners can use an iPad to choose a piece of music to play through all or just some of the dozen-or-so speakers sprinkled throughout the outdoor area. The integration company strategically positioned them throughout the yard so that an afternoon playlist wouldn’t disturb the neighbors.
Through a Savant mobile app, the owners can peruse songs available to them from a rack of audio components stored in an equipment room inside the house. They can control the volume, skip to a new station or source and kick-start the fountains for some additional ambiance.
It’s just as easy to control the landscape lighting during evening gatherings. Or, the owners can let the lighting system’s built-in astronomical timeclock turn the lights on automatically at dusk, and then off in the morning.
Video is piped to a 50-inch outdoor-rated Pantel TV in a similar manner: The owner taps a few icons on the iPad and in seconds a movie pops onto the set from a well-stocked media server.
They watch so many movies outside that we connected the outdoor TV to its own Kaleidescape unit. The TVs in the house share a second server.
No matter how engrossed in a flick the family might be or relaxed on the mosquito-proof deck (motorized screens can be lowered via an iPad command), the Savant system keeps the homeowners apprised of what’s happening elsewhere on the property.
For example, when incoming visitors press a button on a Viking intercom station by the front gate, the Savant system temporarily mutes the music and emits a chime through every speaker on the property. This is the owners’ cue to grab an iPad. On its screen they can see an image of the visitor captured by an camera that’s perched on a pedestal at the gate. The owners can touch a button to unlock and swing open the gate.
Additional surveillance cameras planted around the exterior are used mostly when the owners are inside and want to monitor the whereabouts of their pair of Westie terriers. Shots from all 16 cameras can be brought up at once on the screen of an iPad.
Controlling each element of this made-over back yard couldn’t be easier, but still the owners felt comfortable putting the Savant system in complete charge of some of the features.
They wanted the exterior of the house—the back yard and the front yard—to look their best at certain times of the day, whether they were home or not. The Savant system was programed to activate the fountains and lights automatically throughout the day.