Motorizing Blinds

I'm a strong believer that home automation should make life more enjoyable and that it's not just about having some "cool" new gadget. I actually enjoy the more obscure and transparent automation devices. Take a look at this picture and you'll notice a lack of anything technical. It's just a picture of the blinds in our home office.

Typically, a person will go into a room and open the blinds every morning. Then at night they'll go around closing all the blinds. If you're in my house then the blinds typical stay closed since doing the same task every day just seems boring and wasteful of my time. Though having closed blinds leads to less natural light, more use of artificial light, and less enjoyment of my natural environment; it's like living in a cave.

I ended up purchasing Somfy RTS motors for my blinds and installing them myself. These work with 2" blind systems and have the option to plug into an outlet or be powered by a battery wand. You'll need a RTS remote to program and use them. You can also purchase a RS-232/485 interface so you can control them with an automation system. I believe they sell a few other options for interfacing them as well.

You can purchase blinds with these motors already installed but I found that the blind companies wanted at least 250 dollars more per window covering and installation had to be done professionally. These motors cost me 135 dollars per covering. The savings of doing it myself allowed me to buy the RS-232 interface.

Installation was pretty easy. I followed two videos from youtube (Video1 Video2).

When I was done with installation I programmed the automation system to close the blinds at dusk. It's really nice not to have to go around the house and close the blinds. The next step will be figuring out when to open the blinds and if I'll have the system ask if we want the blinds open prior to them opening. That's a decision for another day.