Motorized Blinds, Shades, Drapery & Home Automation – Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between motorized and automatic window coverings?

A motorized treatment is controlled by you, with the push of a button or the flick of a switch. An automated treatment is controlled by a central home control system, a timer, a light sensor or other automation device. Remember that even with shades that are integrated into your home automation system, you still have the ability to operate them with a remote or wall switch at any time.

Can I operate my shades using my voice with Google Home, Alexa, Apple® or Android™ device?

Yes.  It’s easy to connect your motorized shades to most voice activation systems such as Alexa, Google Home, Apple etc.  All you need is a ‘Smart HUB’.  The voice activation system (ie: Alexa) ‘talks’ to your ‘Smart HUB’ over your homes wifi where your instructions are transmitted to your motorized blinds, shades or drapery.

Your ‘open’ or ‘close’ voice command is transmitted seamlessly through the system without any other inreraction needed.

How much does it cost to have motorized window coverings?

The cost to motorize your shades is less than you might have thought.  It varies depending on the complexity of your motorization needs. It can be as simple as adding battery-operated motor to the cost of a new blind or shade starting as low as $99 or you can integrate all your window coverings into a whole home automation system.

Examples (Canada):

12 volt low voltage motor (includes pre-loaded battery wand)  MSRP $396.00 OUR PRICE –  $147.00 and each additional motor is $133.00

12 volt rechargeable low voltage motor MSRP $420.00 OUR PRICE $156.00 and each additional motor is $142.00

24 volt low voltage Sonesse 30 including plug-in transformer starts MSRP $1,045.00 OUR PRICE $387.00 and each additional motor is $352.00

120 VAC plugin or hardwired Sonesse 40RTS motor starts at MSRP $1,166.00  OUR PRICE $433.00 and each additional motor is  $393.00

Hunter Douglas PowerView 18Volt Low Voltage Motor with power supply and remote starts at MSRP $335.00 OUR PRICE $200.00

What is the difference between battery-operated and hardwired systems?

Battery- operated systems are stand alone and can only operate smaller blinds. The blind headrail must be accessible in order to change the batteries. Hardwired systems can accommodate many larger blinds and have quieter motors.

Home Automation System.  Can I operate my motorized window coverings using my Control4, Crestron or other Home Automation Systems?

Home Automation Systems are software driven.  Integrating your motorized window coverings is easier than it sounds.  Most systems are intuitive.  Connect your Smart Hub to the home automation system and download the appropriate driver (available on-line from your Smart Hub manufacturer) to your system.  Restart your home automation system. Your control panel should then show icons for your window coverings and control is now in your hands along with sound, lighting, security, HVAC and more.

Can I motorize my existing window coverings?

Yes, most types of window coverings can be retrofitted with a motor.

How do I retrofit my existing window coverings for motorization?

In order to retrofit existing roller shades we need to know the following information:

  • The size of the roller shade tube
  • the width and height of the shade/opening. (so we can determine the strength of the motor required to lift the shade)
  • The type of shade
  • The type of shade cover, cassette, fascia or open-roll

Normally we can use the existing mounting brackets but some motors require the use of their own proprietary bracket for the motor end and some shading systems don’t allow for retrofitting.

Motors for motorized shades have a minimum width, determined by the length of the motor.  Some motors without an internal rechargeable battery (external) can be used in a roller shade with a width as little as 12″ where hard wired, 110VDC motors can be as long as 45″

Most window treatment dealers do not want to take the responsibility of retrofitting a clients shades, however it is possible and sometimes necessary when a manufacturers shade is too tall or wide for their motorization components to function and you need a stronger motor that is not offered by that manufacturer.

I have an existing home automation system, can I add motorized blinds?

Yes, we integration components that communicates with any home automation system.

Most manufactures have integration components and software that allows your shades to be controlled through your home automation system if using shades that use a wireless RTS control over wifi.  A simple bridge is required that allows the home automation system  to ‘speak’ to the shades by translating/converting the instructions to RTS.

If you have run CAT cable to your shades that terminates in a central location, you will only need a panel where the CAT cables terminate.  The home automation system is then connected to the panel.

Can I operate all my motorized window coverings with a single remote control?

Certainly, RTS technology is compatible with all Somfy applications and allows for individual or group operation of window coverings. So with a single remote control, you can operate all the motorized window coverings on your property, from your rolling shutters to your interior shades and motorized blinds including lighting, HVAC & sound/video.

Would I have to motorize all my window coverings at the same time with RTS?

No. You can motorize your awning now and your blinds, later. Everything can be motorized very easily, and as your needs change: you can upgrade your installation, or add an application or a new function. RTS is a very adaptable home automation solution.

Is an RTS installation more expensive than a traditional wired installation?

No. Wiring costs are eliminated and more importantly you’re the interior architect and your design styles are completely unaffected. That’s the great advantage of an RTS home automation solution.

What does RTS mean?

It’s the abbreviation for Radio Technology Somfy®. Somfy created this technology that has now become standard across the industry. This is a wireless home automation control system by which radio waves are transmitted from a remote control, or wall switch to operate motorized window coverings.

What is the difference between a wired control system and a radio system?

In a wired system, the control is connected to the electric motor by wires which transmit your commands to the motor. This is the conventional home automation solution. In this case, the control unit is fixed near the motor (beside the window, for instance, for a motorized rolling shutter). In the radio system, the commands are transmitted by radio waves. There is no electric wiring between the motor and the control. The control is mobile, and you can control your rolling shutter within a radius of up to 65 feet, even through a wall. Installation is quicker too, and saves your walls from being damaged. This is the neat, simple home automation solution. Note: with Somfy, a wired system can always be upgraded to a radio installation.

What home products can be motorized?

Retractable awnings, shades, blinds, draperies, rolling shutters, projection screens, garage door screens, TV lifts, other roll-up products.

What is the difference between plug-in high and plug-in low voltage motors

High Voltage motors run on AC (alternate current), while Low Voltage motors run on DC (direct current). High voltage motors run on 120-volt power supply while low voltage motors need 24 volts only. For low voltage motors, limited range and power exist

What is a solar kit?

A solar kit comes with a rechargeable battery which collects solar energy, converts to 12VDC in order to recharge the internal or external battery. For this product, there may be over 5 years of life expectancy

What are some ways to hide the power cord?

You can use decorative side treatments, furniture or wire casing (sold at any hardware or home improvement store) to hide the cord.

What is a Plug-in AC Adaptor ?

A Plug-in Transformer is like a plug you would use for your laptop or your cell phone. It plugs into a standard power outlet and takes the 110V power coming from the wall and transforms it down to the 12VDC, 18VDC or 24VDC that is needed by the motor (depending on the manufacturer of the motor)
It replaces the Battery wands and makes the power for your shade maintenance free.

How are motorized window coverings powered?

There are 3 types of motors: wirefree, plug-in low voltage, and plug-in high voltage

Are there any options for quiet motors?

Low voltage plug in motors exert only 44 decibels of noise, making this the quietest motor. This option is available on high voltage plug in motors as well, but only on the smallest sizes of window coverings.

Somfy Sonesse ‘Ultra’ motors are the quietest motors available.

How are motorized window coverings controlled?

All of our motorized window coverings are controlled via RTS – Radio Technology Somfy. RTS is a radio technology (like your garage door) that can communicate with the MWC from up to 65 feet through two concrete walls and up to 100 feet in open air. No line of site is required.

What is the Range?

No line of site is required to control RTS products. They can communicate with the MWC from up to 65 feet through two concrete walls.
Range can be decreased by building construction and the presence of other radio devices (radio signals) in the air. Trouble zones to note are homes or /buildings very close to airports and radio towers

Will my remotes interfere with other controls in my home?

They should not cause interference by themselves. Your remotes transmit an embedded code that the motors recognize, not the ‘radio signal.’  Outside signals would have to transmit the same embedded code in order to operate your motors with each motor having it’s own digital ‘address’

What happens if my remote controls my neighbour’s shades?

This will not happen. RTS uses 16 million rolling codes to prevent this.

Can I have more than one Motorized Window Covering on a channel?

Yes. You can program shades into groups and sub groups. Each group or sub group requires its own channel.

How many Motorized Window Coverings can I have in a group?

The number of Motorized Window Coverings in a group is unlimited. The 65 feet range is the only limiting factor.