As long as I’ve owned my house, there’s one smart home technology that has eluded me – the motorized window shade. I recently installed my first AC-powered window shade – courtesy of company called PowerShades – and I became an even bigger fan of what I often call the most undersold technology in the smart home.
I only have one window shade, so far, because almost all of my other windows are already covered by high-quality wooden blinds. There were only a few windows that were left “clean” by the prior owners of our home, and until recently they only sported drapes or decorative sconces. The biggest of these “uncovered” windows is located behind our family room sofa, where late afternoon sun tends to blast through the room in the summer and cold air hits you in the back of the neck during winter nights.
Although I haven’t yet spent a summer with my new PowerShades shade, pushing a button to close it at night since installing it in December has certainly made me think I feel warmer while I’ve watched my favorite Netflix shows during the winter, particularly now that we’re practicing social distancing for the foreseeable future due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The PowerShades window shade is also an aesthetic improvement, in that we can now set the stop point a little lower than the highest point of the window, which better “frames in” our window, which is already bracketed on the sides by drapes.
During the winter, in addition to the sensation of cold that we would get just by sitting in front of a large set of windows with poor thermal properties, we also felt like we were in a fishbowl, at times. Now we can push a button and have our PowerShades shade roll down and provide us with a bit of privacy, as well.
My experience with started when PowerShades asked me to measure and provide photos of my window. Although it is preferable (for aesthetic reasons) to install the brackets inside the window frame, mine was too shallow, so we had to opt for mounting the brackets “over” the window. PowerShades sent me a fabric-sample book where I was able to choose fabric color and opacity. I chose a fairly think shades in a neutral color that would match the style of my room and draw too much attention.
Installation of the PowerShades window shade, for someone who likes DIY projects, was not difficult. The instructions were tad bit little limited and the online video only a bit more helpful, but I was able to figure it out pretty quickly. I’m told that PowerShades is making improvements all the time to their installation procedures, and with a bit of experience after installing one, I’m sure it would be easier the next time around. You only really need to know how to properly position the brackets on either side of the window (I accidentally flipped mine the wrong way on my first attempt) and how to set your “stops” for the roller.
Access to an AC outlet is essential, of course, and mine required an extension cord. For me, drapes on either side of the window enabled me to hide the powerline running down the window frame to the floor. I also could hide the extension cord behind my sofa. For more conspicuous locations in the home, however, running the cord inside the wall might be a better approach.
In retrospect, this is really a two-person installation, due to the weight of the roller and shade and the awkwardness of positioning it to confirm proper location before installing the brackets. Fortunately, I was able to muscle my way through the project without assistance.
My only minor gripe is that the shade motor is a little louder than preferred, but it’s not really an issue. Perhaps if I were opening the shades more than twice a day, the sound of the motor might bother me, but it’s only of minor note for my review.
My Control4 home automation system integrators from Indianapolis-based Millennium Sounds were not able to acquire drivers to add the PowerShades to my system when they were in my home in December but promise to do so next time I have a service call with them. Having my PowerShades shade show up in my Control4 app and on my home’s three touchscreens will be a bit of extra coolness and convenience but walking over to push a button on the wireless, wall-mounted controller behind my drapes is far from inconvenient.
My experience with my PowerShades motorized window shade has been so positive that I know that someday I will commit the swapping out all of my wooden blinds for motorized window shades. Having them automated on an astronomical time clock to lower during the hottest times of the day and at sundown is the kind of home automation that I can really see as a missing benefit of my particular home automation system. Managing the the lights and music through a home control system in my home is a fun and appealing convenience, for sure, but someday keeping my house warmer or cooler without running up my energy consumption would benefit not only my family, but the planet as well.