The adoption of smart home technology has exploded over the last five years — and for good reason. When done right, a smart home can add convenience, maximize privacy and security and increase energy efficiency, among many other perks.
Along with other smart home gadgets, there’s been an increased demand for smart shades. So, to find out more about their value, usage and function, I interviewed Scott Stephenson, the director of product management and motorization at Hunter Douglas, via email.
Stephenson has over 13 years of experience in the product design arena under his belt, and now manages integration strategy for all automated shading solutions at Hunter Douglas — which is why he’s an invaluable source of information on today’s topic of smart shades.
(Note: This interview was edited for grammar and style).
What are the current trends that play into the demand for smart shading?
Homeowners are paying more attention to the technology in their homes. The smart home market has been growing steadily. Because homeowners are seeking benefits from convenience, safety, privacy, energy savings and comfort, 35 percent of households now own some type of smart device or system.
Among other popular choices — such as smart assistants, thermostats and lighting systems — smart shading has a unique position in the market. It can provide a homeowner’s first experience with smart home technology or be an addition to a growing smart home ecosystem.
The flexibility, various benefits and applications of smart shades within the smart home are fostering demand in the market. While not every home needs a smart doorbell, all homes have windows. Automated shades can enhance any room, providing a balance of privacy and natural light in bedrooms and bathrooms, filtering light in bright kitchens, or darkening a living room or home theater for movie night.
Automated shades can be adjusted on demand or integrated into a smart home system. Homeowners can add the system to one or a few rooms and, once they experience the benefits, they can add more automated shades throughout the home.
How can automated shades enhance and add value to a home?
The right smart home system or device can add enormous value to a home. For example, an integrated home automation system becomes the infrastructure within the home and is transferred to the next homeowner, whereas do-it-yourself devices are not permanent fixtures and do not add value.
Smart shades follow the same principle. While custom window treatments are a permanent fixture in the home, selecting connectivity and not compromising on quality and aesthetic will add to the value.
Choosing between adding wired or wireless smart shades to a home can also impact the value and installation needs. For example, Hunter Douglas offers a wired option for new construction as well as battery power for shades that are installed in the home after construction, or as a part of a later smart home addition.
On top of these options, the style and fabric of shades can impact both the benefits the shades provide (whether they’re light-filtering or room-darkening), as well as the potential value to the home. Hunter Douglas offers over 20 styles that can be automated in any size, color and fabric to suit the decor, which adds a unique opportunity to simultaneously add functionality, variety and beauty to any room.
Why would a homeowner choose custom smart shades?
To capture the benefits of a smart home, systems must be personalized. Flexible window treatment options work to fit the needs and aesthetics of each room and add more value to a home. Custom smart shade options also allow every window to be automated, with the ability to suit floor-to-ceiling windows, skylights, banks of windows and more.
Automation adds the advantage of having shades adjust on command or via a schedule suited for any homeowner’s specific lifestyle and lighting needs. This provides convenience, hassle-free privacy and lifestyle simplicity.
For example, a home theater or living room may need a darkening shade, while a living room with a sliding glass door may need an option that can both filter the light on bright days and provide privacy at night. When all kinds of shades can be automated, they can adjust to perfectly accommodate lighting needs at any time of day without the need for manual adjustment.
Each of these customizations make the smart shades more seamless additions to the home. Backed by a robust technology platform that is compatible with popular systems and control methods, design-first shade options can suit the homeowner’s lifestyle in scenes and schedules.
What are the paths for adding smart shades to a home?
Automated shades are unique in the smart home, as they can be both an entry-point to connectivity and an add-on to an extensive system. There are also different installation approaches.
While some homeowners opt to include smart shading solutions from the beginning of the building or renovating journey, others discover the need later in the process and decide on retrofit solutions.
Those exploring a custom build or gut renovation can take the opportunity to have the home wired for automated shades. A hardwired option removes the need for batteries or charging. Wiring can be put in place for automated shades to be added down the road. PowerView+TM is the new hardwired power solution from Hunter Douglas, which was designed to suit this need and offer an easy upgrade path, as well as increased reliability.
Homeowners who want to add smart shades to an existing home can take advantage of wireless options. With rechargeable battery options, charging is simple and quick. Hunter Douglas introduced the new Rechargeable Battery Wand as an option to reduce battery waste and make it easier for homeowners to keep their shades powered, with no wires showing and a simple wand design that’s easy to remove, recharge and replace.
For any automated window treatment, the technology platform is important, as solutions that only work with one system, voice assistant or control method will limit the benefits.
To suit any smart home, PowerView Automation can function either as a standalone solution, operated by its own PowerView App or Pebble Remote, or it can be integrated with an existing smart home system such as Control4, Crestron, Elan, Savant and more.
Whichever path a homeowner takes for smart shading, customization for both design and technology will be payoffs for the benefits of the system and value to the home.
Brandon Doyle is a Realtor at Doyle Real Estate Team — RE/MAX Results in Minneapolis and co-author of Mindset, Methods & Metrics – Winning as a Modern Real Estate Agent. You can follow him on Twitter.