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Let there be (sun)light!

Everything we learned while installing connected shades at the CNET Smart Home.

David Priest
David Priest is an award-winning writer and editor who formerly covered home security for CNET.
David Priest
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1 of 21 Tyler Lizenby/CNET

A few weeks ago, I decided to install connected shades at the CNET Smart Home. The space I chose for the installation was a wide open living room, a dinette and the kitchen. Each of these spaces had great natural lighting, thanks to tons of windows.

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2 of 21 Tyler Lizenby/CNET

After we knew which windows we wanted treatments for, I did some research to decide which type of shades to order. I'd reviewed a few types in the past, and Lutron's Serena Shades stood out to me as the most connected ones on the market.

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3 of 21

Once we chose the product we wanted, we had to measure the molding in our windows. We found, oddly enough, that the molding was graded on a slant. That meant honeycomb shades weren't an option, because they would lose their shape at an angle.

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4 of 21 Tyler Lizenby/CNET

So we turned to roller shades, which are pricier, but have all the same connectivity of their honeycomb counterparts.

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5 of 21 Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The style of shade was important, because we wanted something interesting and textured, but also something that used the natural light well. We ended up choosing a fabric that filtered light non-uniformly, to give the interior a more naturally lit feel. And it meant the shades could work as light diffusers more than light blockers.

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6 of 21 Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Installing the shades took time. I replaced a dozen standard shades with as many smart shades.

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7 of 21 Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Between replacing shades in hard-to-reach places ...

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8 of 21 Tyler Lizenby/CNET

... Inserting nearly a hundred D battteries ...

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9 of 21 Chris Monroe/CNET

... Connecting each shade to the hub ...

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10 of 21 Tyler Lizenby/CNET

... Syncing all the devices together ...

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11 of 21 Tyler Lizenby/CNET

... And connecting it all to the Lutron app ...

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12 of 21 Tyler Lizenby/CNET

... The whole project took about 10 hours.

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13 of 21 Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Of course, once the shades are installed, it's really easy to use them. You can just tell Siri to open your shades.

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14 of 21 Tyler Lizenby/CNET

You can access them via widgets on your iPhone.

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15 of 21 Tyler Lizenby/CNET

You can control them with a remote.

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16 of 21 Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The batteries are nestled in the body of the shade itself.

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17 of 21 Tyler Lizenby/CNET

And if the batteries ever die, replacing them only takes a minute. You don't even have to take down the shades.

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18 of 21 Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Lutron's shades are surprisingly quiet, so when they make their scheduled moves, I barely notice anymore.

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19 of 21 Tyler Lizenby/CNET

In the end, the shades work because they fit the Smart Home's aesthetic, and because they add to the overall atmosphere without calling attention to themselves. Overall, although they're expensive products, this installation went really well.

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20 of 21 Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The living room space feels much more open with all the windows -- and that openness is complemented by smart shades that move in concert.

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21 of 21 Tyler Lizenby/CNET

One problem I anticipate confronting very soon is losing the remote controls. They're small and easily misplaced. While I can still control the shades with my phone, I wish there were an easier way to keep track of the remotes -- like installing them in light switch plates.

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