Smart styringsprodukt for gardin/solskjerming/garasje/o.l./Smart Control of Blinds/Sun Protection/Garage/Etc.

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Smarte control devices for window coverings/sun protection/garage doors/etc. offer opportunities no other components can give

This is more of a "miscellaneous" category of different types of components, with the common denominator being that they allow smarter control of solutions for opening/closing, for example:

  • Curtains of different types

  • Sun protection of different kinds (blinds, screens, marquees, etc.)

  • Garage doors (and possibly other types of gates)

  • Windows

From the variety of solutions that can be controlled, it is not surprising that there is a corresponding variety of products to choose among, primarily consisting of:

  • Smart relays that typically are installed behind existing control device/switch (very similar to smart relays for installation behind traditional light switches) and that can control a motor for almost any type of solution that involves opening/closing of "something". Some suppliers are Fibaro, Qubino and Dio.

  • Smart control systems for curtains/window coverings, typically consisting of kits with a motor and control device, e.g., from Aqara, IKEA, and Somfy

  • Complete smart curtain systems, of which there are not many on the market, at least not for use in Europe. Somfy is one supplier and IKEA has announced a forthcoming solution, while in the US solutions are offered by, e.g., Lutron.

  • Window control, i.e., more specialized solutions for opening/closing of windows, where one example is supplied in a collaboration between Netatmo and Velux for control of Velux roof windows.

  • Garage door controllers, more dedicated solutions for controlling garage doors (which already have been equipped with motor operation, typically controlled by an old-fashioned remote control), where some manufacturers are Aeotec, Chamberlain, Gogogate, Somfy and Tailwind.

In our smart home, we have installed this type of component in five "rooms" (see the individual room for more detailed information about the physical setup and programming of the solutions):

As the variation in "subtypes" of components in this category indicate, the usage areas are also quite varied. And like many of the other component types, be it control of for example lighting or heating, some levels of increasing benefits and complexity in installation/programming can be outlined:

Smarter control/remote control of different types of curtains/sun protection

As the heading indicates, this can span many types of "window coverings". The principles are in practice identical whether dealing with interior coverings (that move along a horizontal rail, roll up, blinds, etc.) or exterior coverings/protection (like blinds, screens, awnings, etc.). Smarter control/remote control is the most basic functionality, where the primary benefit is that curtains and the like can be controlled (opened/closed/set in desired position) in different ways–from an from an app on a computer/smartphone/tablet/watch, with voice control using smart assistants or remote controls. In many ways, this is pure laziness, but the benefits typically materialize in two ways:

  • Controlling window coverings without having to manually operate a physical switch or other control mechanism, from anywhere in the home.

  • Remotely controlling window coverings, also when away from home. This provides additional opportunities; if having left home with curtains open and it turns to bright sun, they can be closed from anywhere, or even more seriously, if having left exterior coverings closed and the wind picks up, they can be opened before they get damaged, etc.

For more basis control of curtains, etc. this way, there is really no programming involved, at installation and setup, these become available for control.

Programming/automation of different types of curtains/sun protection

This is one level up in complexity and builds on utilizing the remote control capability of the control system for window coverings to set up more or less complicated rules for when they should open/close. Some examples are:

  • Time-based, so that curtains etc. open and close based on the movement of the sun

  • Control based on signals from sensors, typically light/temperature sensors or motion sensors, so that windows are covered/uncovered if the light intensity/temperature exceeds a certain limit or when somebody is in the room (see descriptions of usage areas for such sensors in each sensor’s page)

  • Control based on location data (typically from a smartphone), so that curtains close when the first member of the household is on the way home/arrives to an empty house

Programming of simple rules based on time, sensor signals, or location data can fairly easily be set up in for example the Home app, while more advanced rules involving conditions might require more powerful apps/platforms to set up.

Integration of different types of curtains/sun protection in more extensive scenes/programs

This is not principally much different from the simpler forms of automations mentioned above, but involves that smart window coverings are included in more extensive collections of actions that can be started with one command. Such a scene/program can be activated manually, from a smartphone, tablet, smart assistant, etc., or automatically, like outlined above, based on time, sensor, location, etc. A couple of examples of such “scenes” can be:

  • “Good morning” scene, activated at a fix time every weekday, can turn on selected lights throughout the home, turn on the radio, close East-facing curtains, start the coffee machine, and turn up the temperature

  • “Goodbye” scene, which is activated when the last person leaves the home, turns of all/most lights, lowers the temperature, run up exterior sun protection, turns off on any radio/TV that was on, and locks the front door

Such scenes can be programmed in the Home app or similar apps.

Smarter/automated control of windows

This is arguably not as common an application as control of window coverings–partly there are much fewer products/solutions to choose among and partly this requires more extensive installation work, unless there already are windows in the home suitable for this (which per now seem to be Velux roof windows). But the applications are not much different than described above for curtains and the like, if smatr window control is installed it means being able to operate these more conveniently (which can be especially useful for difficult to reach roof skylights) or automate them based on different signals/programs.

Smarter/automated control of garage door

This is one way quite parallel to window coverings in that it is about opening/closing “something”, but in other ways it is completely different in that the need for opening/closing of garage doors is very situational. From own experience, it is possible to outline some modes of use:

  • The need for opening or closing a garage door to undertake some errand in the garage, without involving driving a car in/out of it. This is identical to other types of needs where suitable components allow remote control, with the benefit being not having to use manual controls and rather open/close the garage using a smartphone/tablet/etc. or voice.

  • Remote control of garage doors, i.e., the possibility of opening/closing a garage door without being home. This can be useful to let someone into a close garage or if a garage door was inadvertently left open and can be closed after getting to work.

  • Automated opening/closing of garage doors, where the most obvious case is that the gate opens when arriving home (by car) and closes when leaving (by car). I have specified “by car” since not all solutions are able to distinguish between moving by car, on foot, on bike, etc. and thus making the door open/close when there is no need for it (see more about this under the discussion of our garage solution). This is of course no crisis, but it is far more elegant when the doors only responds when moving by car. There are other cases when automated control is useful, e.g., having the garage doors close at a given time at night if they are still open, opening/closing based on signals from a motion sensor located on the path to the garage, have doors close if the garage temperature approaches freezing, etc.

  • Integration of garage control in more extensive scenes/programs, completely equivalent to other types of system, where also garage doors can be included in, e.g., a Good Morning scene so that the garage is opened in the morning to prepare for departure.

Physical installation and connection

This is obviously very different depending on the type of component/solution to be installed:

  • Smart relays, which are, as mentioned, installed behind an existing wall control, can be somewhat tricky to install. First of all, such installations should be done by an electrician, and depending on which type of switch and possibly existing automated control solution are already in place (in our case, we had a sun/wind control of our living room sun screen, but which was not online, and which caused some problems and eventually had to be removed), it might be necessary to make some changes before proceeding. Otherwise, this type of solution requires no changes in the motor/window coverings themselves, making this a less extensive installation.

  • Smart control systems for window covering, these typically consist of kits of motor and control unit and are obviously more work to install. I have no personal experiences with such, but installation either involved replacing an existing motor/control unit or installing the whole system from scratch. Some of this is meant for self-installation, but connecting to power is electrician work.

  • Complete, smart curtain solutions, installation of such is quite similar to the bullet above, but also involves installation of the actual curtain/sun protection/etc.

  • Window control, here I have very little insight into the installation process. For the Velux solution, there must either already be electric control of the window installed or this must first be put in place. In the

  • former case, adding smart control seems fairly easy, but the latter is probably quite much work. To the extent it is possible to install motorized control of “regular” windows throughout a house, I foresee that this is a big project, in the worst case involving replacing the windows.

  • Garage door controllers, here I do have personal experience, and the situation is quite different depending on whether the garage already has motor control (and a remote control for this) or not. In the latter case, this is a bigger job that I will not outline here (partly due to bad memories from installing two Bosch Comfortlift units in out garage many years ago). But also where there already is motor control installed, the installation involves some work. Partly, a control unit must be connected to the motor control, typically with wires connected to ports on the motor, and partly there is typically a need for installing sensors to tell whether the gate is open/close (and if these are not wireless, this means pulling wires from the motor to the sensors). This is not per se complicated, but a garage is often a less “clean” installation environment than inside the house and rails/mounts/etc. differ very much from garage to garage so that adaptations might be required. Finally, one should beware of the need for a stable and fast enough WiFi connection in the garage, which might mean having to strengthen/extend the network (we had to install an extra Orbi satellite in the garage to ensure sufficient coverage).

For all the types of installation mentioned above, there is of course also also a “digital” installation to perform, i.e., connecting to the base station (where such is used), connecting to the relevant app/ecosystem, etc.