Just a few short years ago, only the Jetsons lived in a space-age home full of smart appliances. With the Internet of Things (IoT) technology, home automation is no longer cartoon fiction. Smart appliances and systems help make our homes more secure and comfortable. Z-Wave blind kits offer a convenient way to manage your home’s blinds and shades so you can maintain comfort in each room of your home.
Easy to install, these kits are designed to work with the blinds you already have so you don’t have to buy new ones. Kits are managed through an app that you download and install.
This post explains what Z-Wave is and how Z-Wave blinds work. We’ll also go over what’s in a Z-Wave blind kit and how to install it on the blinds you already own.
What is Z-Wave?
Z-Wave is an IoT communications protocol that provides a simple means for management of security, climate control, lighting, and other home automation systems. Z-wave can be managed via the internet with a controller serving as the hub and portal to the outside.
Originally developed by the Danish startup Zen-Sys, Z-Wave was later acquired by Sigma Designs. Currently, There are over 1,500 Z-Wave products on the market from a wide variety of brands.
Z-Wave uses radio frequencies (RF) for wireless communication with compatible devices. It has a physical range of about 300 feet. All Z-Wave compatible devices are marked with a symbol from the Z-Wave Alliance, a formal association that focuses on expanding Z-Wave and continued interoperability of all Z-Wave devices. This association is made up of multiple leading names from various industries.
How Z-Wave Blinds Work
The various Z-Wave blind kits are designed to work with existing blinds by attaching a motor to the cord or chain used to raise and lower the blind. Another motor is attached to the rod used to control opening and closing of the blinds. The blinds can then be manually operated through the app or programmed to operate automatically.
If you like, you can even buy light sensors and mount them in your window to provide a trigger for automatically closing the blinds when direct sunlight starts shining through your window. This can save substantially on energy costs by blocking the sun during the warmest hours of the day. It also improves comfort by preventing the sun’s glare from shining directly into living spaces making it difficult to read, watch TV, or work in a home office.
As the day yields to nighttime, you can program the sensor to send another trigger that automatically closes the blinds for privacy and improved energy savings on cold nights.
There are professionally installed window treatment solutions that have all the premium features you could possibly want, for a premium price. DIY options are cheaper because you are doing the installation yourself, while the kits are still a bit expensive.
What’s In a Z-Wave Blinds Kit
At the time of writing, none of the Z-Wave kits appeared to be in regular production. Some estimate availability beginning in March 2017 (this month!), but availability could not be confirmed. Most kits include one motor, a rechargeable battery, a small solar panel for recharging the battery, and hardware for adapting the motor to fit the blind cord or rod. A blind management app is available to download and install on your devices as well.
It was a little disappointing to see that each kit only offered one motor. Some were designed to raise and lower the blinds, or open and close them. None of the kits included motors for both aspects of blind operation. Buying two kits per blind basically doubles the cost, depending on what you buy. This is far from an ideal solution, one that may improve as these kits move into production and consumers demand kits that allow them to fully control their blinds.
Z-Wave Blind Kit Installation
Regardless of the manufacturer, each kit is easy to install without any tools or professional skills. Blind motors are attached to the wall with some kind of adhesive strip. You may have to make your cord into a loop for the motor.
Mount the solar panel close enough to connect it to the battery pack. Once these items are mounted, you then pair it with your Z-Wave system. Once paired, you can calibrate it by following the manufacturer’s instructions. After calibration, you’re good to go!
For automation of blinds based on triggers such as direct sunlight or nighttime, you will have to purchase a light sensor. Once the sensor is installed, you can set triggers that will automatically operate the blinds.
For example, you can use the light sensor to set a trigger that lowers the blinds when the sun is shining directly on the sensor. Or, you can set a trigger to automatically close your blind in the evening after the sun goes down.
You can also program your home system to automatically close all blinds when you leave your home or when you go to bed at night. By fully automating your blinds, you improve the comfort of your home, save on energy costs, and improve security.
Companies Working on Z-Wave Blinds
There are two main companies working on affordable Z-Wave blinds solutions. Unfortunately, neither of them are shipping yet, but you can follow their progress on their websites!
The components necessary for building your own blind controls are readily available, but you will have to do some research to find the right kind of DC motor for your blinds. You will also need an arduino board with a driver interface for the motor, some DC circuitry knowledge, electrical skills, such as soldering, and arduino programming skills. You will also need a Z-Wave Controller to automate the blind.
This is a great DIY Z-Wave blinds example.
For What It’s Worth
Most of the ‘kits’ that are available are offered as part of a professionally installed window treatment system. These kits are expensive and great if you can afford them. For those who cannot afford to lay out up to $300 per set of blinds, there are simple kits that are very easy to install and use at a fraction of the professional installation cost.
Unfortunately, it is uncertain if they are even available yet. As a true DIY project, having a sufficient knowledge of DC electricity and basic electrical skills will be a big help when purchasing, installing, and connecting the components. As for the kits, it’s hard to say when any of them will be made available for purchase. Until then, we must wait. 🙁