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Skylight shade or film options?

cobra

Active Member
I've got a pair of living room skylights I'd like to use something like a blackout shade on for TV use during the day.  I asked for a quote from a local supplier expecting to get something like the Lutron Sivoia QS tensioned shades that I could remote control.  They came back with a Somfy quote, because the Sivoia doesn't support a narrow skylight opening (about 14" across.)  The Somfy control didn't look very good going to a Lumina/Omni system though, compared to the controlled position capability of the Sivoia system.  (And the price was pretty high as well...)
 
I started looking at some of the smart window films, as they have much less footprint for a window install.  Has anyone integrated one of these to a home automation system?  Which one do you like?  One brand is available at http://www.smarttint.com.  The pricing may be high as well though.  If you have tried it, how does it work in a blackout application during daylight hours?  They advertise for privacy, and some of the films seem to have very high light blocking ability (4% light in blocking state in one case, the black Smart Tint), but they don't seem to advertise for blackout applications.
 
What do you all think?
 

johngalt

Active Member
I looked into SmartTint for a font door. The idea being at night I could make it opaque for privacy and during the day make it transparent.

I got a quote for $65 per sqf which was too much for me.

For something small and compared to to a Lutron blinds that price might be fine. You can see if they offer a sample or maybe you could buy just a scrap to test it out.
 

wkearney99

Senior Member
Narrow openings are a challenge for most automated shades.  There's just not enough room for the mechanisms.  I ran into this problem with Lutron and Hunter Douglas, the architect spec'd windows that were, in some situations, just 3/4" too narrow.  Damned irritating.
 
Have you considered going side-to-side instead of top-down?  Is there enough length on that axis?
 
My concern for the skylights and film product would be condensation and cleaning.  Anything you put in-between the skylight and the conditioned home air has the potential for condensation due to temperature differences.  
 
I doubt any of them are going to guarantee blackout as even the tiniest of gaps would be immediately obvious.  I think 'light reduction' is about the best you're going to get from a electronic film.  
 

ano

Senior Member
cobra said:
I started looking at some of the smart window films, as they have much less footprint for a window install.  Has anyone integrated one of these to a home automation system?  Which one do you like?  One brand is available at http://www.smarttint.com.  The pricing may be high as well though.  If you have tried it, how does it work in a blackout application during daylight hours?  The advertise for privacy, and some of the films seem to have very high light blocking ability (4% light in blocking state in one case, the black Smart Tint), but they don't seem to advertise for blackout applications.
 
What do you all think?
You might want to check how much these tints really block the light. From what I have seen, its not great.  They do offer selectable privacy, but who cares about that on a skylight? I would also check with the company on a skylight application. They may not recommend it.
 
I have a houseful of Somfy blinds controlled by an Omni and it works great.  You can basically do open, closed, and one preset position.  Not 100% positional control, but I've never really seen a need for that anyway.
 

wkearney99

Senior Member
ano said:
... Not 100% positional control, but I've never really seen a need for that anyway.
 
I actually use positional control more than I expected.  That and I definitely need more than one preset.  I have night, wake-up, daytime and afternoon settings for most of the shades.  Night being obvious full closure, but wakeup is partial top-down to allow for privacy.  Daytime is full open, afternoon is typically to mitigate harsh sun.  This gets fine tuned through the year.  At some point I hope to capture and be able to 'reset' them. 
 
But for skylights I'd imagine either open or closed would be sufficient.  Not unless there's a particularly bad sun angle that causes reflection problems for the TV viewing. 
 

cobra

Active Member
wkearney99 said:
Narrow openings are a challenge for most automated shades.  There's just not enough room for the mechanisms.  I ran into this problem with Lutron and Hunter Douglas, the architect spec'd windows that were, in some situations, just 3/4" too narrow.  Damned irritating.
 
Have you considered going side-to-side instead of top-down?  Is there enough length on that axis?
 
My concern for the skylights and film product would be condensation and cleaning.  Anything you put in-between the skylight and the conditioned home air has the potential for condensation due to temperature differences.  
 
I doubt any of them are going to guarantee blackout as even the tiniest of gaps would be immediately obvious.  I think 'light reduction' is about the best you're going to get from a electronic film.  
I'll have to check on side-to-side.  The original contractor quote didn't suggest it.  I suspect the suspension shades don't work for something this long and narrow.  These are about 18" x 52" and recessed a varied depth from top to bottom.
 
Light reduction would be fine, I suspect something in the 90% range would be enough.  I could apply some moulding or trim to the edges of film to remove edge leaks as well.
 
ano said:
You might want to check how much these tints really block the light. From what I have seen, its not great.  They do offer selectable privacy, but who cares about that on a skylight? I would also check with the company on a skylight application. They may not recommend it.
 
I have a houseful of Somfy blinds controlled by an Omni and it works great.  You can basically do open, closed, and one preset position.  Not 100% positional control, but I've never really seen a need for that anyway.
 
How do you like the Somfy's in angled mounts?  These would be about 60 deg from the vertical.  I'd prefer to have control of position, but a preset might not be to bad.  How is the preset changed?  Does it require climbing up to the window again?
.
wkearney99 said:
I actually use positional control more than I expected.  That and I definitely need more than one preset.  I have night, wake-up, daytime and afternoon settings for most of the shades.  Night being obvious full closure, but wakeup is partial top-down to allow for privacy.  Daytime is full open, afternoon is typically to mitigate harsh sun.  This gets fine tuned through the year.  At some point I hope to capture and be able to 'reset' them. 
 
But for skylights I'd imagine either open or closed would be sufficient.  Not unless there's a particularly bad sun angle that causes reflection problems for the TV viewing. 
 
One of the reasons I like the film is that rather than being positional, it can adjust light transmittance 'dimmer style'.  If I'm going to put something like this in, I'd like it to do that.  It's really a projector room, but not usable in daytime now because of the amount of light leakage.  When not being used for TV, dimming the skylights would just be a neat benefit.  If you're gonna spend the money anyway...
 
Of course, if it ends up being $1000 a window, it'll take some thought before I'll commit.
 

cobra

Active Member
johngalt said:
I looked into SmartTint for a font door. The idea being at night I could make it opaque for privacy and during the day make it transparent.

I got a quote for $65 per sqf which was too much for me.

For something small and compared to to a Lutron blinds that price might be fine. You can see if they offer a sample or maybe you could buy just a scrap to test it out.
Yeah, I took a quick estimate on one of their DIY kits, which was bigger than a sliding glass door, and the price looked to be about $1000 for one panel.  That's kind of pricey.
 
I was curious if anyone has it, to get some feedback, like ano said, about how much light it really blocks.
 

wkearney99

Senior Member
I did a google image search on 'smarttint skylights' and several pictures came up.  It appears there's a bluish-purplish tint to the shading when it's as dark as it can go.  This kind of coloring could be problematic for a projection setup.
 
My comment about not going totally dark was directed more toward the cell boundaries themselves in the screen, not the edges.  These things are essentially LCD panels and there's only so fine you can make the grain cost-effectively.  Even a pinpoint of light would shine through.  Witness any kind of computer display with a stuck pixel and you'll know what I mean.  
 
On our boat the hatches are covered with a rolling section of vinyl that has side slides that effectively capture the material and block out the light.  This works great, but mainly because it's a flat material and the length is short enough that the roller housing isn't overly large.  No doubt similar arrangements can be made for skylight shades.

As for pricey, ugh, shades (automated for sure, but even regular ones) are the last bastion of wretchedly over-priced home products. 
 

ano

Senior Member
You actually can control the Somfy position if you have a need. You need to measure the time to open or close the shade, then just stop it after the correct time. If it takes 25 seconds to close and you want 40%, just stop it after 25 X 40% = 10 seconds.   The position it remembers is set with the remote. I keep a remote by each blind, or set of blinds. Move the blind where you want it and hold the "My" button.
 

cobra

Active Member
Thanks picta, sounds like that is Bravo blinds.  Looks like them and Somfy have sizes that would fit.
 
ano, how did you interface your Somfy's?  I read there is a serial interface and it can connect to a RadioRa2 hub of some kind, is that what you are using?
 

ano

Senior Member
cobra said:
Thanks picta, sounds like that is Bravo blinds.  Looks like them and Somfy have sizes that would fit.
 
ano, how did you interface your Somfy's?  I read there is a serial interface and it can connect to a RadioRa2 hub of some kind, is that what you are using?
Somfy makes a device called a Universal RTS Interface II (1810872) which is basically a transmitter with a serial connection. You can send simple ASCII commands to it from the Omni. 
 
The serial interface can control 16 channels, and a "channel" can be one blind or many blinds.  Each blind can respond to something like 16 channels, so one channel might control blind #1, where a second channel might control blind #1, #2, and #3 together.  So with 16 channels you have lots of flexibility.
 

drvnbysound

Senior Member
I haven't looked at any of the products, but just thinking if you could put the covering at the ceiling level vice the window level to accommodate a slightly larger shade if needed. I could see where this may not be as aesthetically pleasing and maybe some additional trim may be needed to hide some components, but just wondering as an option...
 

cobra

Active Member
drvnbysound said:
I haven't looked at any of the products, but just thinking if you could put the covering at the ceiling level vice the window level to accommodate a slightly larger shade if needed. I could see where this may not be as aesthetically pleasing and maybe some additional trim may be needed to hide some components, but just wondering as an option...
Yeah, that's an option.  It would not look as good on the ceiling, but it would allow larger shades to be used.
 

cobra

Active Member
Got a material quote back from SmartTint at ~$1000, which isn't as bad as I expected.  And 1/3 of that is for their dimming controller, so the shade material is about $600 for two windows.  The downside is that while they said it was compatible with home automation systems, they mean you can hook in to the relay for on/off control.
 
They specify that the dimmer must do true sine wave control.  Anyone know of a pure sine wave UPB/ZWave/Zigbee dimmer? (it'd probably need voltage control as well, but was looking around to see if anything like this existed.)
 
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