There are so many ways to automate various things around the home to make repetitive tasks less of a burden, allowing you to focus on the more important things in life. The smaller solutions include plugs and switches, while the more complex solutions can control HVAC, automate doors, and even window coverings. The latter, being something that Somfy is looking to make a little more user-friendly.
One of the two biggest setbacks that prevent most consumers from considering their window coverings as part of their smart home is power. It would be nice to be able to automate your blinds or curtains around the home, but that also means having to run power to all of your windows. that, or relying on batteries that either need to be replaced to constantly recharged throughout the year.
Somfy is looking to make this easier with its new Wirefree Lithium-ion Solar Panel. This panel can bring wireless (at least when it comes to having to run anything to a plug) power to your window coverings. Taking energy from the sun each day, allowing for an easy install.
These solar panels attach in various ways (either by a hook system or stuck directly against the glass via adhesive pads) and then send power to your shades so that their internal motor/batteries can function/charge. Making for one of the easier ways to finally add your coverings to your daily automation needs.
If your coverings require an external battery to operate, then the company has an additional battery option you can buy so that power runs from the panel to the battery/motor pack, and then to your window coverings (blinds, shades, curtains, etc).
Obviously, these products are designed for Somfy’s line of products, supporting a number of models, but not supporting other brands. So if you already have automated solutions installed on your coverings from other companies, you’ll have to wait for them to come out with their own solar solutions.
There is also the other of the two setbacks that prevent many consumers from investing into automating their windows coverings–which is cost. These solar panels do not come with the motors for these coverings. Instead, they run in addition (averaging around $150 per unit depending on where you buy them or if they are on sale or not) to these devices. So you have to still buy the shade, blinds, or curtain solution from Somfy (which is already pretty expensive). Then you buy the solar panel to add to the mix.
Then if you need the external battery, that is an additional $60-$70 each, on top of that. So the price per window just keeps climbing. Adding to the problem that already gives justification to so many users for sticking to manual control of their window coverings. A few manual adjustments a day (or throughout the week), or spending thousands of dollars to automate all of your windows around the house. Assuming you want to automated multiple windows, at least.
So the industry still has a long way to go before the regular consumer is tempted to jump on these products. Currently catering to those with bigger budgets for now. Meanwhile, it at least shows the direction the industry is headed into.
Do you think this is something you’d add to your own smart home setup? Do you think the price points of these solutions are justified or badly in need of adjustment? Feel free to share your own thoughts and opinions below in the comments.