How To Turn Your Blinds into Smart Blinds – Ultimate Guide
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Turning your blinds into smart blinds sounds like a dream right? The idea of having your home automated to that point sounds like a futuristic thought. Well, we’ve finally reached a point where there are some decent options.
I have researched nearly every smart blind option there is out there. I can confidently recommend 2 good options depending on what kind of existing blinds you have currently. I will also include an option if you want to go the true DIY route and build it yourself. Or if you have the bankroll to afford more expensive blinds.
If your blinds are controlled by a loop (using a beaded chain or cord loop), the perfect solution for you would be the Axis Gear. Works with a variety of curtains, drapes, curtains, shades, or blinds. Regardless of size or weight, it will work.
If you simply use a string to pull your blinds up or down, it will not work with the Axis Gear. You need a loop.
If you have horizontal blinds then the MySmartBlinds is the best option available today. The blinds must be 2-2.5″ inch horizontal corded blinds in order for it to work.
MySmartBlinds will not work with mini blinds, roller shades, cordless blinds, or cellular/honeycomb shades.
Besides these two suggestions, we have other recommendations and even a big name company who is releasing new smart blind products this year. Stick around to hear more about it.
What Exactly is a Smart Blind?
Let’s explain what a smart blind is before we dive deeper.
Smart Blinds allow people to control their blinds remotely from an app on their phone via WiFi or Bluetooth. Some options allow you to set schedules to open or close the blinds at designated times. Often times, smart blinds are compatible with other smart devices like Amazon Echo, Google Home, or Nest Smart Thermostat.
Smart Blinds like Axis Gear are ZigBee/SmartThings friendly so you can control it from a central hub. Make sure to research which smart blind you are looking into as these features and integrations may vary from product to product.
What to Look for in a Smart Blind?
There are a lot of features that a smart device can come with and it can be pretty overwhelming. These are the biggest factors you need to pay attention to so you don’t regret your smart blind investment.
- Compatibility – Will it work with your
Mini blindsor Venetian blinds? This is a mandatory requirement that you check for compatibility of your existing blinds. Expensive options are customizing entirely new blinds for each window (Can cost up to $500-1200 per blind)
- Smart Home Automation Integrations – Do you have ZigBee or SmartThings? Do you have an Amazon Echo and you’ll want to use Alexa to control your blinds? Pay attention to what smart devices your smart blind can play with.
- Installation Process – Is the installation going to take 5 minutes or 30 minutes each blind. Or will you struggle with it for 2 hours and give up?
- Smartphone App Usability – Depending on which Smart Blind option you go with, using the App may be the only way to control your blinds. If the App glitches,
crashes,or runs slowly, it won’t be a fun time.
- Schedule Setter – Do you want the ability to schedule when your blinds turn on and off? Or do you just need a way to remotely control it from the couch or during vacation?
- Cost – Smart Blinds can get very very expensive
.Especiallyif you want to convert multiple smart blinds. One blind can cost you up to $500+ per blind.
Why You Should Get a Smart Blind
So you’re probably thinking, okay this is going to cost way too much. Why should I even get smart blinds? Well, I have a list of some pretty good reasons that may keep you interested:
- Save time – No more manually opening each blind one by one (this can add up on large homes with a lot of blinds)
- Easier Access – Hard to reach blinds can be a nuisance (multi-story homes with large windows)
- Save energy and money – Opening your blinds during the day to keep your house warm is a great way to save money.
- Security and Privacy – Don’t let the neighbors or the public know if you are at home or not. Deter possible
thiefsif they can’t tell if you’re home through the blinds.
- Smart Integrations – Many
smarblinds are compatible with other smart devices like (Alexa/Google/ZigBee/Nest). Connect all your smart devices together so they are controlled centrally and work together
- Remote Control – Having the ability to control your blinds from anywhere. You can be working or on vacation 1000 miles away.
- Solar Power option – Worried about changing out a battery every 2-3 months? With a Solar Power option, no ned to worry about that anymore.
As you can see, there are a ton of benefits to getting a smart blind. Many of these options actually work on your existing blinds so you don’t have to go out and buy new ones!
I hope you have a loop that controls your existing blinds because the Axis Gear is the overall best choice for smart blinds (No worries though, we have alternatives).
It blows other competitors away by its simplistic installation and ability to work on heavy blinds. This is a major concern many people have and the Axis Gear handles it no problem. The major P
- Smart Compatibility (Alexa, Zigbee, SmartThings)
- Can lift heavy blinds
- Battery & Solar Power Option
- Very Easy Install
Since the Axis Gear doesn’t actually attach to the main component of your blinds, it can be installed in 5 minutes. It simply attaches to your existing loop and uses that to control it.
The actual Axis Gear can be mounted near your blinds or stuck onto glass or metal surfaces. My favorite feature is that you can still open or close your blinds without the app. There is a button on the device that lets you control how much of it you want to open or close.
What Do You Get With The Axis Gear?
- Positioning Template
- Mounting Bracket
- Back Lid
- Double Sided Tape
- And/Or Mounting Screws
The Axis Gear comes loaded with the essentials that you need to get this quick DIY installation underway. It has mounting screws just in case you need to mount it onto your wall.
Decisions To Make Before Installation
You need to decide if you want the Axis Gear on the INSIDE, OUTSIDE, or MIDDLE of your window frame. This will
What Do You Need For Installation?
- Measuring tape
How to Install the Axis Gear
Here are the quick steps. I won’t go into detail with them but I wanted to share with you a quick view so you could get an idea what the installation process is like. It’s fairly simple.
- Remove Any Attachments
- Choose Your Mount Type
- Position Gear on Your Frame
- Installing with Mounting Screws/Installing with Double-Sided Tape
- Attach Your Gear
- Mount Gear onto Bracket
- Install the Power Module
- Power Module Cable Management
- Power on AXIS Gear
The Downfalls of the Axis Gear
It does require an additional piece of hardware to be installed near every single blind you want to convert into a smart blind.
This can add up if you want to turn 6 blinds into smart blinds. It’s not ideal for the person who wants to buy in bulk or hates to see the Gear on every single window with a blind. That’s over $1200 total!
Overall the major Cons are:
- Bulky appearance on each blind/window
- Does not work with other blinds operated by a string
- No Glass or Metal surface means making a lot of holes
Don’t worry, if you don’t have a loop controlled blind or dislike the Axis Gear, we have you covered in the next section.
Tilt Automation Kit (Previously MySmartBlinds)
Tilt is a great option if your existing blinds are horizontal 2-2.5″ corded blinds. They have been on the market longer and are one of the top smart blind brands today.
Some major advantages that they bring to the table are:
- Alexa and Google enabled for Voice Assistant
- Daily and Weekly Scheduler
- Solar Powered Option
- Enable Sun-Tracking
My two favorite feature is the gradual tilt option and the scheduling. The gradual tilt is great for when it gets too loud from the motor. Maybe you want to sleep in on a
The scheduling is also awesome because I actually enjoy being woken up by the sun light shining through my blinds. It’s a much gentler way of being woken up instead of my annoying alarm.
If a major concern is saving energy too, then scheduling blinds to turn on/off can be a great benefit. Using the sun to keep your house warm through the blinds is great during the day.
This is everything included with your kit:
- Custom Lithium Battery
- MySmartBlinds Motor Box
- Manual Switch to Maintain
- Tilt Rod Adapter and End Pieces
- Cable Clips
If you purchased the solar panel option then that will include a set of different parts. Your Kit may already come with it.
Installing the Tilt blinds
Here are the quick run down of the instructions for the Tilt smart blinds:
- Remove Existing Blinds
- Remove the pin from the rod, slide the rod out
- Remove the manual switch C-Clip
- Pull the hook down
- Install MySmartBlinds Hardware
- Lay Battery Pack inside Headrail
- Connect Battery Pack cable to White Connector on Motor
- Connect the manual switch cable to gray connector
That doesn’t sound like too many steps but overall there are roughly 20 steps. This was just
Watch the YouTube Video before installing and familiarize yourself with all the parts and tools before beginning. This will make your life a lot easier.
The Disadvantages of the MySmartBlinds:
Unfortunately, this smart blind kit isn’t perfect, it’s actually far from it. While it does have a good list of smart home compatibility, it comes with a cost. Here is the breakdown:
- Can be Difficult to install
- Additional Bridge Needed for Alexa/Google Voice Assistant to work
- Does not work with Apple Homekit
Motorcan be a bit noisy
- Limited range of 2-2.5″ horizontal blinds compatibility
Overall, without the extra cost of the bridge you lose:
- Integration w/ home automation hubs (Amazon Alexa + Google Assistant)
- Control outside of Bluetooth range
- Setting schedules
- Sun-tracking feature
- Energy Savings mode
- Get battery updates
Overall, the MySmartBlinds isn’t a bad option for smart blinds. You just really need to read every step by step instructions and be ready to invest a few hours installing this thing.
Many owners have mentioned how they struggled with the installation process and how frustrating it could be.
The fact that they can only be compatible with horizontal blinds between 2-2.5″ is tough. That doesn’t cover all the blinds out there and it can certainly be limiting.
There are a few other options that didn’t make the top list. These options are still worth mentioning because it may be a better solution for your blinds.
If you only have a wand (the stick you twirl or twist to open/close your blinds) to control your blinds, then the E-Wand is perfect for you. It comes with a remote and lets you control up to 3 blinds. Their E-Wand replaces your existing wand(s).
Note: This works with all horizontal blinds and wand tilt vertical blinds.
The remote it comes with can be mounted like a light switch on your wall. You can group all your blinds together so when you turn one off manually, the other 2 close the blinds too.
Rollerhouse DIY Electronic Roller
The Rollerhouse DIY Electronic Roller is great if you have specifically Mini Blinds. It is easy to use with a switch or controller.
It’s perfect for roller shades, solar window shades, and sheer shades. The motor is really quiet and can lift up to 4.4 lbs of shades.
The best part? It’s very affordable. Under $50 right now on Amazon (Don’t know fi that price will change in the future so heads up).
Note: Owners have mentioned that the batteries drain really quickly when you first start using it but normalize later.
Smart Blinds, The Expensive Options
We said we have options for those with a little more budget in their smartblinds right? Here are 2 really great options if you don’t mind spending thousands on smart blinds. Serena Shades and Somfy are top notch.
Serena Shades by Lutron are an expensive option if you can afford it. It is highly customizable and automated blinds. They look great from a design perspective and I love the different color options.
Somfy Systems is another pricey option but they are really
Manual DIY Way
We found a way online on how to do this completely on your own. We however did not write it up but found it online on someone
Kyle Stewart-Frantz created his own complete DIY guide on how to create your own motorized blinds. His DIY setup works with voice activated assistants like Alexa or Google. You can find his instructions here.
Essentially, you need a motor, a droid box, blinds, tape, a power adapter, an Amazon device/Google device, and internet of course. After you have all this to get started, be aware of the budget of roughly $700-900.
We found his guide to be pretty helpful and detailed. It’s not too much of a stretch to do it yourself following his steps. At the end of his
Future Smart Blinds Release
Technology is always evolving and we have two major players making impacts in the smart blind industry. Ikea and Loxone.
Ikea is launching smart blinds this April of 2019 which is something to look out for. This giant brand is any apartment owners dream store. Who doesn’t love their meatballs too? Read the full details here at digital trends post.
Ikea is releasing two sets of motorized blinds that rise and lower with a touch of a button. They are called Fyrtur and Kadrilj. Keep a look out for these budget friendly options!
Loxone is an Austria based company so no worries if you’ve never heard of them. They recently opened
Keep a look out for them too!
When is MySmartBlinds making a Z-Wave integration? MySmartBlinds announced they are not creating a Z-wave integration at all. Instead they created a bluetooth mesh network which gives them access to IOT.
What can Axis Gear integrate with? The ZigBee can integrate with SmartThings. With SmartThings you can integrate with Alexa/Google.
Will Axis Gear work with Wink? The Wink 2 Hub can connected as a generic ZigBee lightbulb.
Will Axis Gear work with HomeKit? No, it is not compatible.
Can existing blinds be motorized? Yes, smart blinds can control existing blinds to make them smart blinds.