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What I learned Automating Blinds

ntlord

New Member
zenix said:
I have seen the "Platinum App Bridge", pictured here on the third page of that PDF, is that the one you got? Small black box with light strip, has only ethernet connection - no RS-232, and while most of the time it seems to work OK, every once in a while it starts dropping connections - every five minutes or so. As a result, two way integration with it isn't completely reliable.
 
http://www.hunterdouglas.com/assets/pdf/PlatinumAppSoftwareGuide.pdf
 
My understanding is that you can make a cable that will allow rs-232, see this:
 
http://advanceblindsanddrapery.com/AdminCenter/FileHandler.ashx?ID=10979
 
But, I've never tried that, so it might not work. I agree that it is not super reliable, but I've for the most part solved that with my python script. It sends keepalive packets, and if it gets disconnected, just restarts. That seems to do the trick.
 
I wish the new technology was backward compatible, that seems a lot better. 
 

ano

Senior Member
O.K. We spoke with three blind company's and today ordered the blind portion of our window coverings. 8 motorized blinds and 1 non-motorized. The one that is non-motorized was just to narrow to use a motor. The motorized blinds use Somfy Sonesse 30 RTS motors which are 24VDC motors.
 
We went with cellular shades which are relatively inexpensive. (As blinds go.) The motors basically doubled the price, but its also easy to spend much more on blinds then we did on blinds that don't have motors. Motors are just one option you can add to blinds and they certainly aren't even the most expensive option.
 
We are still getting prices for bedroom drapes. As i said earlier, i purchased the Somfy drapery track from Automated Shade Inc. for about $1000.  My guess is that the drapery itself will cost much more than for the drapery track. We are also doing a second window in the bedroom with a Romain shade to match the drapery. 
 
Blinds should take 2 to 3 weeks to make. The drapery, maybe 2 months.
 

NeverDie

Senior Member
ano said:
O.K. We spoke with three blind company's and today ordered the blind portion of our window coverings. 8 motorized blinds and 1 non-motorized. The one that is non-motorized was just to narrow to use a motor. The motorized blinds use Somfy Sonesse 30 RTS motors which are 24VDC motors.
 
We went with cellular shades which are relatively inexpensive. (As blinds go.) The motors basically doubled the price, but its also easy to spend much more on blinds then we did on blinds that don't have motors. Motors are just one option you can add to blinds and they certainly aren't even the most expensive option.
 
We are still getting prices for bedroom drapes. As i said earlier, i purchased the Somfy drapery track from Automated Shade Inc. for about $1000.  My guess is that the drapery itself will cost much more than for the drapery track. We are also doing a second window in the bedroom with a Romain shade to match the drapery. 
 
Blinds should take 2 to 3 weeks to make. The drapery, maybe 2 months.
Were you able to procure the monolithic piece of drapery fabric you were searching for, and if so, where?  I asked my wife if she might have suggestions for you (she knows far more about drapery than I'll ever want to know), but she thought it might have to be stitched together out of narrower bolts.
 

ano

Senior Member
In our last house we did do something like that for a smaller curtain. There are shops that sell giant peices of fabric, but that curtain was simple compared to this one. In our master there are two windows. One smaller one on the side we won't open, and one 10' X 8' big window which I'm using the Somfy track with. The big window needs a big curtain and also a cornice to hide the track. The side window will be a roman shade with the same fabric and a small cornic. Neither me or my wife are that good with a sewing machine or good design sense to complete such a project. There are places called "workrooms" where interior decorators go to have things like curtains made, but even that is risky. Design it wrong and you wasted $1000 in fabric. There is where its worth the cost of paying someone that knows what they are doing and can guarantee it. If we tried it ourselves, yes some money could have been saved, I'm sure, but I would have to hear about what is wrong with it for the rest of my life, and how we should have hired someone to do it. So I decided in advance to just hire someone to do it.  :unsure:
 

NeverDie

Senior Member
Neurorad said:
Lutron QS kitchen window shade and power supply, $1300. Measure and install $250. Plus 9% sales tax. Plus custom wood valence made by a carpenter. And, I added a RA2 keypad next to the window for local control.

Local shade installer was outstanding, extensive Lutron experience, very helpful. Sometimes you get what you pay for.
How big is the kitchen window?  Was it standard shade material or something expensive?   I assume it came with a remote control, but any in-wall keypad or control wasn't included in the $1300.  It sounds like the $250 measure and install was in addition to the $1300, not a part of it.  Right so far?  Just trying to get an idea for how the $1300 breaks down.
 

ano

Senior Member
Neurorad said:
Lutron QS kitchen window shade and power supply, $1300. Measure and install $250. Plus 9% sales tax. Plus custom wood valence made by a carpenter. And, I added a RA2 keypad next to the window for local control.

Local shade installer was outstanding, extensive Lutron experience, very helpful. Sometimes you get what you pay for.
And was it installed by a blind company (3-Day Blinds, Budget Blinds, JC Penny, etc.) or was it installed by a home automation company?  We had 3 blind companies give use estimates, and none charged a separate fee to measure and install. In fact they each even included single channel remotes which we had to take if we wanted them or not, typically one per room (not window).
 

ano

Senior Member
Heard back from the blinds company. Apparently one of my blinds that was to be motorized is too narrow and long, so manual it is.
 
I also put up my Glydea 35 track in the bedroom. and it seems to work great.  My Somfy serial interface can seem to control it from anywhere in the house, so i don't think range will be an issue, at least not with this one.
 

ano

Senior Member
LarrylLix said:
Split it in half or thirds?  Motorise one part and manual the easy to reach portion?
Just not worth spending $800 for a small window to do that.
 

ano

Senior Member
O.K. Things are moving along.  We had three blind companies give us estimates for the blinds and a separate estimate for the drapes/cornise.  We got a "rough" estimate from one, but they never got back to us with a formal estimate. A second one, we never heard back from at all.  We did hear back from a third one, and went with them. They were very knowledgeable on the automation side, and had a good price. they should be installed this week.
 
The prices we were hearing for the drapes were ridiculously high, so we tried a place called the Shade Store. This is an interesting company because they are an on-line store, actually one that has been in business many years, but in the last year they opened up a number of showrooms, one of which is nearby to here. We measured ourselves and then went in to pick fabrics. They were great, and very helpful. They emailed the quote, and then we pay on-line. The drapes/cornice and Romain shades should arrive in 10 - 12 days. (The time was 6 - 8 weeks for the other guys.) 
 
I was still amazed on how two of the three companies we had over never even gave us a price.  This tells me that they knew that they were considerably more expensive than others, and that if we weren't going to purchase then and there, then it wasn't worth their time to even give us a price.
 

jkmonroe

Active Member
artificial pricing strikes again!  it amazes me that some people just dont perform their due diligence when making large purchases.
 

ano

Senior Member
Update:
So the blinds were installed today. they are double cellular shades. 7 were motorized, 2 were not. They work well.  The company provided a singlr channel remote for each room of shades, 4 remotes in my case. the remotes control all the shades in a room as a group. 
 
Next I programmed my Somfy RS-232 controller which will be eventually connected to my Omni Pro II. It has 16 channels, so I programmed 1 channel for each blind, 1 channel per room for each room of blinds, and 1 channel for ALL the blinds in the house. This way i can close/open all the blinds in 1 room or all the blinds in the house with a single command.
 
There has been some discussions about range, but I can say this serial controller can access all the blinds in the house without a problem, and i just have it on my desk. Eventually I will mount it higher up. My house is not huge, but i don't have any repeaters, which you can use in bigger houses.
 

MSG56

Member
ano, thanks for all the detailed posts.  I'm about to go through this beginning next summer (when we plan to move into our new house) but I'll also be beginning from nothing with the whole automation process, so I'll be quite busy.  Glad to learn as much as I can from others.  Once you get a chance a few pictures would be nice.
 

ano

Senior Member
I'm in the process of getting my home automation system up and running. I've been busy with work after my move and it has goon slower than planned. In any case, one thing that really helped me is buying this $199 device: http://www.autelis.com/shade-control-for-somfy-rts.html
 
Its basically a box with a web server and timers built in that connects to a Somfy serial RTS interface.  The Somfy serial RTS interface is the device you'll eventually need to connect your blinds to your home automation system (should you do that) but in the mean time, this device allows you to open/close blinds/drapes from the web, your phone or from 100 timers that it contains.  Its not a 100% replacement for connecting to a home automation system, but it does give you lots of capabilities until all is connected.
 
This box does even one more nice thing.  The Somfy serial interface is serial (obviously) and connects to your home automation with a serial connection.  So this implies it needs to be near your home automation box.  But the Autelis box adds TCP/IP to the Somfy serial controller, so you connect a serial to TCP/IP converter to your panel/home automation and it can connect to the Somfy controller over IP.  This lets you move the Somfy box anywhere in your house so it can best transmit to the drapes.
 
If your building a house, you can wire for the controllers, but for me wireless has worked great, and all the wiring is not without added costs.
 

NeverDie

Senior Member
Ano,
Glad to hear you got your blinds automated.  :)  When motorized with a Somfy solution, are the prior manual means of manipulating your blinds (pulling on cords/chains and/or twisting rods) still present and continue to work, or are they removed/disabled?  One could argue that blinds look better without those anachronisms dangling down in plain sight, but perhaps there are reasons (?) to kept them in place and functional.
 
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