Hunter Douglas Duette PowerView review: luxury sophistication privacy

The primary appeal of motorized top-down/bottom-up shades is their ability to open and close in two directions: They can open by dropping the top of the shade down from the window’s head to the sill, and by lifting the bottom of the shade up from the sill to the head. But Hunter Douglas couldn’t justify the lofty price tag of its Duette with PowerView Automation shades unless they were also the most luxurious and innovative shades we’ve reviewed to date.

Top-down/bottom-up shades are a fantastic option because they enhance privacy without completely blocking light from entering the room. If your window faces a busy street, you can lower the shade down from the top to admit light without exposing your room to a view from the street. Or you can drop the top of the shade down in the early morning, so the room is bathed in morning sunlight without impeding your ability to move about the room freely—anyone looking toward your window will only be able to as much of you as you wish to expose. And since these are motorized smart shades, you can create automated schedules to reposition the shades as many times each day and night that you’d care to program, including at sunrise and sunset.

This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best smart shades, where you’ll find reviews of competing products, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping for this type of product.

Michael Brown / IDG

Hunter Douglas’ Duette honeycomb shades with PowerView automation can open from the top down, the bottom up, or both.

I had this shade installed in a guest room that has the same southern exposure as my home theater (where I have a Graber Virtual Cord Motorized Shade installed), so I selected Hunter Douglas’ Duette honeycomb shade with a room-darkening cellular fabric (there are a host of other options to choose from). Where Graber’s shades use two cells made with metalized fabric to enhance the fabric’s ability both to block light and to reduce heat transfer into the room, Hunter Douglas’ Duette shades use a cell-within-a-cell design consisting of fabric laminated to Mylar. Lutron, meanwhile, lines its cellular shades with aluminum, but like Hunter Douglas, offers only single-cell construction. Hunter Douglas says its design allows the cells in its shades to be larger—this shade has .75-inch cells, but 1.25-inch cells are an available option—while enhancing the shade’s energy efficiency and room-darkening ability.

Insulation and room darkening features

Using a Westward 1VER1 non-contact laser infrared thermometer, I recorded ambient temperatures 12 inches from the window with the shade open and then closed and saw a heat reduction of 6.5 degrees Fahrenheit with the shade closed. My master bathroom window, where I have a Lutron Serena honeycomb smart shade installed, and my home theater window, where I have the aforementioned Graber smart shade installed, all have the same southern exposure (albeit with different overhead eave widths), so I performed the same measurements in those rooms. The Serena shade reduced the ambient temperature at one foot by 3.5 degrees, but the double-celled Graber shade slashed it by 13.5 degrees.

hunter douglas duette detail Michael Brown / IDG

The honeycomb-like cells in Hunter Douglas’ Duette shades reduce heat transfer into the room. The room-darkening shade shown here features fabric laminated to Mylar.

All three shades did an excellent job of darkening the rooms they’re installed in, although there was some light leakage around the edges in each case, because I chose to install them inside the window frame. This wouldn’t have been an issue had I chose an outside mount, but I didn’t want to cover up the decorative molding that’s around all the windows in my house.

That said, the Hunter Douglas leaked the least amount of light at its top rail, and Hunter Douglas also offers an added-cost option that will significantly ameliorate the issue: The company’s LightLock system consists of U-shaped side channels that mount to the window sill and the left and right window jambs. The company says micro ridges on these panels absorb and deflect incoming light, and that the bottom panel overlaps the front and back of the shade’s bottom rail and feature magnets to create a secure closure. I did not evaluate this option, which adds $35 per foot for the vertical panels and $8 per foot for the bottom panel (prices are determined by the length and width of the shade). If I were installing this shade in my home theater, I would spring for the additional cost.

hunter douglas light lock Hunter Douglas

Hunter Douglas’ LightLock system is designed to prevent light from leaking around shades mounted inside the window frame.

Power options

The Hunter Douglas shade looks better when viewed from outside the window than Graber’s shade does, but the optional panel you can buy for Lutron’s Serena shade completely hides its mounting hardware. And Lutron’s battery compartment is inside the headrail—accessible from the front—so you don’t see that, either. Hunter Douglas shades can be hardwired for power or they can run on battery power, with two options available. You can purchase a battery pack that uses alkaline batteries, but the better choice is the company’s rechargeable “battery wand.” This mounts to the back of the shade’s headrail, much like the battery pack on Graber’s shade, but a magnet secures the battery to its socket. When you need to replace a dead battery, you just reach up, pluck it out, and then snap in a freshly charged replacement.

hunter douglass duette battery wand Michael Brown / IDG

The battery wand is held in place with magnets and is supremely easy to replace when you need to swap it for a freshly charged one.

The battery wand isn’t the cheapest solution—it adds $65 to the price of the shade if you choose it as the power source—and the battery-charger options cost extra. It is, however, the most sophisticated power solution I’ve seen in this space. There’s a $50 charger that connects directly to the mounted shade, which means you’ll see a dangling wire while you recharge the battery. The $95 Dual Charging Station that Hunter Douglas provided with this review unit is a far more elegant solution. You can put it anywhere there’s an electrical outlet, and it can charge two battery wands simultaneously. Spare batteries cost $70 each, so for a combined cost of $135, you’ll never need to worry about not being to operate the shade due to a dead battery. The charging station is even more useful if, as will be likely, you have more than one shade installed in your home.

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