Drape/Blind Automation


New Member
I've done some research on this type of automation (didn't see much reference to it in the "wiring your house guide"). I want to be sure that I prewire for this in my bathroom. I was thinking I would pre-wire for LV and HV blinds. Anyone have a wiring plan/diagram or some tips?
didn't see much reference to it in the "wiring your house guide"
Hmmm. That was my baby, and thinking back, yes, I did drop the ball on blinds. My only defense if that at the time it was written, there were a VERY limited set of ready-made options. Most installations were done by the tinkerer crowd, and thus consisted of everything from duct tape to the bathroom sink. Every install was unique. Doing an update on the wiring document is on the agenda, but probably won't happen until later this year. Too many other things on the plate at the moment

In the meantime, take a jump over to Somfy and BTX. The technical literature should be able to give you some pointers on wiring. When I last attended EHX a two years ago, there were boatloads of manufacturers coming out with automated window features. Hopefully they people down there this week will be able to add a few more links.
Anybody have any luck with BTX?

It's been a few month since this thread was active. Has it become clearer what is needed as far as pre-wire for automated window treatments?
The wiring depends on the motor manufacturer and how you want to implement the options. It can range from two conductor, 16 gauge to CAT 5 depending if you will power the motor at the window or run power from a HA Controller.

I am working through this with the ELK Technology House now.
I'm in the process of putting various skylight and window shades, and drapes. I'm running power and control lines to each window/skylight. Here's what I've come up with:

- most units use either 12 or 24 volt power. Some BTX units use 120v. I'm running 14 gauge automotive wire for power to each area, since I've got some long home runs. I like everything set up centrally, as it makes maintenance much easier in the long run.
- since I'm pulling that wire, I'm also pulling a cat5 -- either for control, or future expansion, such as light sensors, etc.
- I'm using Add-a-motor drapery tracks. They are nearly identical to the BTX tracks, but half the price. They use either 12 or 24 volt, depending on track model, and a simple contact closure for open, and a separate contact closure for close. I tested the contacts over at least 500 feet of cat5 with no problems. So, the cat5 I'm running to the drapes will be used to control them.
- The skylight shades have limit switches, and you send 24 volts to open, then reverse the polarity to close. For these, a single pair of power wires is fine.
- I have Somfy roller shades on two windows, controlled the same way as the skylights -- 24 volt, polarity reversal.
- Somfy also has their RTS radio control system. For that, you plug a transmitter into a serial port, and run only power wires to the windows. I went only with hardwired at this point, but for ease of installation, this one probably wins, especially if you use their battery power -- then you don't need any wires. I like hardwired, especially for my skylights that are 14 feet up.

I'm just finishing up a 1-wire plug-in for HS that will control all of this.

Summary: I suggest a 14 or 16 gauge power line to each window or set of windows, plus a cat5. That should give you all the flexibility you need.

If you run a four conductor cable to the window that is suitable for your mains voltage you will be fine. This allows you to use ELV if you go that route and also LV if you decide on a 110V/240V option. A mains rated motor will not draw much current - probably an amp or two (at very most)

Most (such as Somfy etc) have two actives, a neutral and an earth. The actives give the up and down.

If you decide on a 12V track motor you can just run 12V on the cable instead. Most 12V motors have local controls so for ultimate flexibility you can run a cat 5 to them as well just in case your 12V motor has local control that you can then wire back to your automation controller.

I would like to have vertical blinds automated. I assume this would require 2 control signal (lift/lower and tilt). I suppose the power+cat5 would still be fine....or otherwise a 6 conductor cable?

I'm trying to keep the cost of pre-wiring down but there's so many cool things i want to be ready for. Especially for a large glass front with 5 parallel blinds it would be neat to have them automated. Could also keep the temp and cooling cost down during the summer.
Word of warning regarding multiple blind control. In my master bath spa, I have 5 little windows. Each has an automated shade. My security guy wired them all together to a single control, and in less than a year, the shades died. They were the UP HOT, DN HOT, Neutral variety. It turns out that the non-driven lines (say the DN lines when the shade is going up) act like generators. The generators can create enough voltage to fry the limit switches or damage each other if they are wired together. Make sure you use a separate relay pole for each shade if required by the manufacturer.