How to Buy Motorized Blinds (And Three Best Automatic Blinds)

by | Other, Smart Devices

Blinds look great, block light, and are easy to install. You can make them even better installing one of the 3 best motorized blinds that we tested and reviewed it is very easy to do. Automatic blinds are also surprisingly affordable with our top pick Link Shades, it will only cost you $200 per windows. 

We tested available option, research the feedback from customers to find the best motorized blinds based on the overall quality but also looked at the following criteria:

  • Ease of installation – clear and simple instruction and with good design of the parts
  • Ability to integrate – ease of integration into SmartThings, Home Assistant or other smart hubs
  • Support – good post-sales support to resolve any issues at installation or during the use

OUR PICK

DIY OPTION

LUXURY CHOICE

~$200 per window

Optimal balance between quality and costs with easy integration to Alexa, but some minor wifi drop issues

~$100 per window

Easy to integrate to smart home (RF); Installation is easy, but strong DIY skills required

~$350 per window

Good quality with convenient controls and battery operated; expensive and only make sense if you have other Somfy products

Best Motorized Blinds: Link Shades Wifi

It is not easy to find a smart home device on Amazon which would have consistently good reviews, but it seems the Link Shades Wifi is one of those. The motorized shades include the shades in two colors, motor, and the power supply. The shades themselves are of good quality and do block the light very well. There were reports that the top of the shades for some users would need to be sealed, but this would not be an issue for the majority of the users.

Installation is simple and not much different from any other normal blinds you might have with the difference that you ideally would want the power supply being near your window. Connecting to the wifi is also easy with mobile apps for Android and iPhone is working well.

They are not noisy and have a nice speed of moving the motorized blinds. There is a skill for Alexa to integrate and it works well although they would recognize as lights as Alexa do not have shades as a type of devices. There is no API for local connection to the smart hubs but having IFTTT means that you can get the controls of the internet.

Another positive thing that we liked is a great customer support with users reporting getting a response in within 24 hours and firmware updates resolving known bugs.

The only downside we saw is the limitation in the number of sizes available, so check your measurements before committing to the purchase.

Best DYI Motorized Blinds: MorningRising 

This is the option for the DIY lovers and requires at least one hour of effort to fit a single shade. This pays back in the cost of the shade with one complete set to cost you $120 which is half of what you would pay for other motorized blinds on the market. This includes the cost of the shade, a motor, and PVC pipe to attach it to the shades.

The installation process is relatively simple. Once you bought the pipe (we recommend to buy 1.5 PVC pipe and not 1.25), you install the motor in the tube, attach shades and sort out the cables. If you encounter issues, you might need to print tops for smaller tubes (link to the 3D form for 30 inches tubes caps) and use duct tape for some modifications as per suggestions.

The automatic shades are controlled via RF-based remote which you can use up to 5 zones. This comms protocol might be unreliable for some products, but it worked great for us. It also means that you can easily integrate them into your smart home hubs like Home Assistant or HomeSeer with RF transmitter or RFCOMX. Another option is to use Sonoff RF so you can use it with Google Home or Alexa

Alternative best motorized blinds: Somfy Altus LT50

Somfy created an outstanding quality product and it almost justifies such a high price. It cooperated with many shades producers so there is a very wide range of colors for you to choose from. It also looks the best when fitted – as the only battery operated smart blind from our selection it does not require significant renovation works.

The installation process is even easier compared to other two option as you do not need to worry about the cables. Installing the battery enclosure (which is basically just eight AA) batteries required some DIY magic (double tape did the wonders). My link hub translates your apps command to the motorized shades protocol and also is easy to set up. It has five channels, so you can control up to five motorized shades or groups. The app works really well with a number actions and smart scenes you can set up.

Integration is out of box functionality, but as with one of the other contenders it is using RF as the protocol, so integrating it to your smart hub with RF emitter should be easy. Somfy also just announce the API and both Home Assistant and SmartThings community just created handles to integrate them.

Two things really bothered us to announce it as the clear winner. First is the price as even if the quality of the product is visible, it is not sustainable for the majority of houses with dozens of windows. Secondly is the future proofing. Somfy is very slow in integration and creating very isolating eco-systems is not a great sign in the connected world of today.

Competitors

Mysmartblinds:

Mysmartblinds this cause a bit of controversy in the office. They are easy to install and the app also was designed with the consumer in mind. However, there were some of the reports of faults after just a couple of months, very poor support and limited options to integrate. The physical controls would also cost you extra.

Link shades were somewhat more expensive but we felt that the price is justified with much better support and reliability of the system. They also are a full motorized blinds set rather than a transformative kit.

Rechargeable Wireless Tubular Roller Shade Motor Kit:

We were on the fence between MorningRising and this option. Both are DIY kits with decent reviews. Comparing to the MorningRising, the kit comes with a rechargeable battery which is very handy for installation and lasts about normally 9-12 months. You can also fit solar battery not to worry about charging it. Also, it is controlled with RF 433 so integration to the smart hubs should not be a challenge.

The reason why we did not put it in our top pick was the installation process. They require specific tube and very specific end caps with unique mounting brackets. This might work well for replacements, but not easy for creating the entire automatic shade.

Lutron Serena:

Those are probably the most beautiful motorized shades by far. And it can also be integrated with the majority of the hubs which is a rarity. The motors can run at the desired speed and they are very quiet. Installation is simple with clear the installation instructions and you can also order some top and sides parts to ensure no light will get to your bedroom.

So, what is the catch you will ask? Well, it is the costs. At around 400 dollars a window for motorized blinds that’s a lot. Because of even if we preferred the ability to integrate Luton, Somfy a bit more real offering.

Further Read

More practical advice on smart home devices:

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *