The smart shades at the CNET Smart Home are usually the first things people ooh and aah over when they tour the place -- especially when you show off cool tricks like opening or closing them all at once with a simple voice command. But all of those fancy, motorized automations consume a lot of battery power over the long run -- and the last thing your smart home needs is a dependency on D-cells or AAs.
Now, Hunter Douglas has a new solution. The company's PowerView line of customizable smart roller shades have relied on AA batteries for years, but now, customers can keep things powered with new rechargeable battery wands, instead.
The battery wand is designed to work with most of the company's shade styles, and it can be retrofitted for existing Hunter Douglas smart shade setups, too. To use it, you just slide it into the magnetic dock behind the top of the shade, where the batteries usually go. When the battery runs out, two wands at once can be fully recharged in a dock accessory within a few hours.
Hunter Douglas says that a fully charged battery wand will power a shade for up to a year, and adds that you'll be able to track the each one's battery life in the PowerView app. When one's running low, the app will send you an alert to remind you to swap it out.
The company also says that the battery wand features "the widest operating temperature range of any rechargeable solution for window coverings on the market," and that it includes an auto-shutoff feature in case the battery ever gets too hot. That's a nice addition for something that's going to sit in a window, and potentially in direct sunlight.
None of that comes cheap, mind you. Each battery wand costs $70 on its own, or $65 if you're buying it with a new shade. Add another $95 for the dual-wand charging station. And that's on top of the price of the shades themselves. After contacting Hunter Douglas' network of dealers to get a custom price for each one, you'll need to spend $299 per shade to add in the smart, motorized roll, as well as $285 for the system's hub. You'll need both in order to enjoy Hunter Douglas integrations with smart home platforms, including Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, Control4 and Savant.
All of that makes Hunter Douglas a much more expensive option than simpler smart shades like the, which starts at $129 per shade and comes with rechargeable battery packs of its own at no extra expense. Still, you can't customize the look or the material of basic smart shades like those, so those shopping for something high end might appreciate the convenience of rechargeable battery wands (not to mention those who've already bought in).