How to convert your window blinds into smart blinds

Natural light might sell homes, but there are times when it just becomes an inconvenience — like when it throws a glare on your TV screen in the middle of your favorite show. Window blinds are the perfect solution, but what about when you don’t want to get up and close them yourself?

Smart blinds are an option, but they tend to be prohibitively expensive. The good news is that there are many options for DIY kits that can transform your old, standard window blinds into smart blinds for a fraction of the cost of purchasing new ones.

What is a smart blind?
Smart blinds are just window blinds that can be opened and closed via an app, voice control, or another smart method rather than by hand. Smart blinds are useful in that you can schedule them to open and close or raise and lower at set times of day, or in response to other inputs.

For example, you can connect a UV sensor to your smart blinds to close when the light reaches a certain point in your home.

The downside is that smart blinds tend to be pricey, and equipping every window in your home with smart blinds can cost an arm and a leg.

Are smart blinds easy to install?
Smart blinds are relatively easy to install. Many of them mount to the window frame like regular blinds, with the only caveat being that they require batteries. Other smart blinds just use a rechargeable pack you can plug in when the power is low.

If you can install traditional blinds, you can install smart blinds. The exception is smart blinds that are hardwired into your wall. In many cases, this requires electrical work that many people are not comfortable with, nor should they attempt on their own. In a situation like this, an electrician might need to do the wiring before you install the blinds.

Smart blind battery life depends on how often you open and close them, and it will of course vary between companies. Users of the Ikea Fyrtur smart blinds report an average of two to three months on a single charge.

Installation does become slightly more complicated when you set up DIY smart blinds. Many DIY kits make installation as easy as possible, but it still requires removing your blinds and installing a motor inside the housing. If you aren’t much of a tinkerer, this can feel like a daunting task.

What components are involved?
The main component involved in smart blinds is the motor. Some kits are just that: A motor and nothing else. In this case, the various sensors and receivers for smart functionality are built into the motor. In other cases, those components are separate.

Some smart blinds also include a solar panel to provide nearly unlimited power. This removes the need for any hardwiring or battery packs and is a much preferable option to more complicated installations.

If your blinds use a pulley system to raise and lower them, some kits are as easy as attaching a motor to your wall below the blinds. This motor pulls the cord to raise or lower the blinds. It can also be outfitted to open and close them.

Blind technology is about as straightforward as it comes, but you can outfit DIY kits with sensors to make them work with smart assistants and other devices.

How are they controlled?
The majority of smart blinds are controlled through a remote control, an app, or through a voice assistant.

Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are the two most compatible voice assistants. There are a limited number of options that are compatible with Apple HomeKit. The Lutron Serena works with HomeKit, as do the Ikea Fyrtur and Kadrilj smart blinds. Some DIY kits may work with smart blinds, but the options are limited. The widest range of compatibility we’ve seen with DIY kits are those that people have built completely from the ground up.

Are there automations?
If you buy smart blinds off the shelf, there are a lot of different automations you can set up. Even those that lack compatibility can often be tweaked as long as they work with Alexa or Google Assistant.

There are also IFTTT automations already made on the site with hundreds of users. Blinds can be set up to open or close based on time of day, temperature, light level, and a number of other settings.