The best smart shades: These luxurious window treatments blend high tech with high fashion

Motorized window treatments that can open and close on command, on a schedule, or even based on room occupancy are the ultimate finishing touch for any smart home. Like smart lighting, smart window treatments offer a host of benefits in terms of convenience, security, and energy conservation. There’s a safety angle, too: There are no pull cords that pose a strangulation risk to children and pets. But the wow factor they deliver also renders them a luxury item—even deploying them one room at a time can cost thousands of dollars if each room has a lot of windows.

We’re using the term “shades” in the headline above, but we’ll cover blinds here, too. What’s the difference? Shades are a soft window covering, typically made of fabric. They roll or pull up to allow light in, and they roll or drop down to block light and provide privacy. Blinds are a hard window treatment consisting of vertical or horizontal slats, typically made of wood, metal, plastic, or a composite material. The angle of these slats can be varied to admit or restrict light, or the slats can be closed tightly to block light and provide privacy. The slats in horizontal blinds can be pulled up in a stack to fully expose the window, while the slats in vertical blinds are pulled and gathered to the left or right for the same purpose.

Here are our top picks in several categories, followed by an explanation of the terms you’ll encounter and the features you should consider when you shop for smart shades or smart blinds. You’ll find a list of all the products we’ve reviewed in this category at the bottom of the page. It’s a relatively short list right now, but we’ll add new product reviews and additional product categories as time goes on.

Best cellular smart shades

Hunter Douglas’ Duette with PowerView motorization smart shades are elegant, sophisticated, and luxurious. These are top-down/bottom-up shades, which means they can open in both directions, a style that provides the ultimate in privacy and light control. And Hunter Douglas’ accessories—from its innovative “battery wand” power solution to its Pebble remote controls—are absolutely top shelf. They are not inexpensive, however, and there is no DIY option available.

Best cellular smart shades with a DIY option

These are beautiful shades, but being geeks, we’re particularly enamored with their battery compartment. The compartment is integrated into the headrail, so you need only tip it down to access and replace the batteries (D cells in the unit we reviewed). You’ll need to also buy an $80 Lutron Smart Bridge to connect the shades to your Wi-Fi network, since the shades rely on a proprietary wireless protocol, but Lutron’s app is very good and the bridge can also manage the company’s excellent Caséta smart lighting products (dimmers, switches, and smart plugs), ceiling-fan controllers, and it has hooks into third-party products, ranging from Ecobee smart thermostats to Sonos multi-room audio systems. Lutron’s product line is available either through dealers, who will handle installation, or direct to the DIYer.


Graber’s Virtual Cord cellular shades are every bit as pretty as Lutron’s, but their motors are slightly louder and their battery compartment needs to be removed from the headrail when you need to swap them out. They come with simple two-button remote controls, or you can spend extra to get more elaborate ones that can control multiple shades at the same time. These shades rely on Z-Wave technology, so you’ll need a bridge to connect them to your home Wi-Fi network. That can be Graber’s own Z-Wave bridge and app, or you can incorporate them into most any smart home system. Graber’s product line is available either through dealers, who will handle installation, or direct to the DIYer.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *