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.
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.
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.
So we turned to roller shades, which are pricier, but have all the same connectivity of their honeycomb counterparts.
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.
Installing the shades took time. I replaced a dozen standard shades with as many smart shades.
Between replacing shades in hard-to-reach places ...
... Inserting nearly a hundred D battteries ...
... Connecting each shade to the hub ...
... Syncing all the devices together ...
... And connecting it all to the Lutron app ...
... The whole project took about 10 hours.
Of course, once the shades are installed, it's really easy to use them. You can just tell Siri to open your shades.
You can access them via widgets on your iPhone.
You can control them with a remote.
The batteries are nestled in the body of the shade itself.
And if the batteries ever die, replacing them only takes a minute. You don't even have to take down the shades.
Lutron's shades are surprisingly quiet, so when they make their scheduled moves, I barely notice anymore.
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.
The living room space feels much more open with all the windows -- and that openness is complemented by smart shades that move in concert.
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.