New Blinds Project

We are doing a remodel and I need to tell our architect what wires to put where. Basically, we want shades that can be controlled through a wall mounted switch as well as through the vera. Three important points are:

  • Instant and reliable reaction to control from wall switches
  • No batteries
  • Cost

The windows are relatively small so DC motors would be ok but I am not sure if that is more cost effective or AC is better. Also does the power/control cable to the shades/blinds come from the wall-mounted controller or from some central location (where the vera is located)? In case of AC it seems I always need 4 wires (line, up, down, ground). Is this correct? How about with DC? Do I also need 4 wires (2 for power, 2 for control/data) or is power enough?

Comfy seems to be quite popular here but are there other solutions that are more cost-effective but still work reliably with the vera (or other controllers if I should ever switch, which I probably won’t)?

You need to decide what type of window treatment you want because it will determine what type of motor is used. If you are looking at traditional roller shades, there are options like the Somfy motors you mentioned, but there are also a ton of other tubular motors and motor controller combinations on the market. It just depends on if you want to figure out how to make it work with Vera, where Somfy, Lutron, Rollertrol, etc are all being used with Vera currently. All of those options require something to communicate to the shades, zwavemotors.com has the only tubular motor with embedded zwave so it only required 110VAC power. But there is not way of doing a wired switch with wireless motors.

If you want a wired switch that will narrow things down. You could use the less expensive AC powered dumb motors from whoever Somfy, China, etc and add an RSScene AC1-ZW motor controller but ask RSScene to make them special with a switch output. Fibaro may have something too. Someone just posted about that here:

http://forum.micasaverde.com/index.php/topic,22302.msg150288.html#msg150288

So you’ll have a low voltage connection to the switch and AC connected to the motor controller and then 4-wire AC out to the motor.

Thanks, Shady. I did look at the Fibaro but both distributors for the USA did not list them (or were out of stock). The AC1-ZW from RSScene seems available but not the DC1-ZW. That alone is a worrisome state. Further, I am surprised that so few products with hard-wired switches are available. Why is that? Are most retrofits so a wired switch is not practical and hence the demand is slow? Or do the wireless switches work very reliably and without any significant delay for precise control? In the later case I might ditch the idea of wired switches and safe the cost for wiring them.

In case of wireless switches, what devices talk to each other? Is the switch sending a signal directly to the motor controller (for manual control) and the vera is also sending a signal to the motor controller (for automation), hence the motor is connected to two devices (switch + vera). Or is the switch connected to the vera and the vera to the motor. The latter is probably more likely but does this indeed allow immediate and fine manual control of (venetian) blinds/shades? I am going to have an issue with my better half if I spend a bunch of money on motorized shades and they don’t work very reliably…:wink:

Check out Somfy DecoFlex for wall control. You then can get a Somfy Z-Wave controller so that Vera can also talk (but wall switch can stall operate solo)

More details here: http://forum.micasaverde.com/index.php/topic,23556.0.html

[quote=“maja, post:3, topic:184445”]Thanks, Shady. I did look at the Fibaro but both distributors for the USA did not list them (or were out of stock). The AC1-ZW from RSScene seems available but not the DC1-ZW. That alone is a worrisome state. Further, I am surprised that so few products with hard-wired switches are available. Why is that? Are most retrofits so a wired switch is not practical and hence the demand is slow? Or do the wireless switches work very reliably and without any significant delay for precise control? In the later case I might ditch the idea of wired switches and safe the cost for wiring them.

In case of wireless switches, what devices talk to each other? Is the switch sending a signal directly to the motor controller (for manual control) and the vera is also sending a signal to the motor controller (for automation), hence the motor is connected to two devices (switch + vera). Or is the switch connected to the vera and the vera to the motor. The latter is probably more likely but does this indeed allow immediate and fine manual control of (venetian) blinds/shades? I am going to have an issue with my better half if I spend a bunch of money on motorized shades and they don’t work very reliably…;)[/quote]

If you are OK with a wireless switch then Somfy RTS is a great solution as @AgileHumor suggests. It will talk directly to the shade and whatever interface you use like the ZRTSI it will also talk to the shade as if it was another remote. Somfy motors can store 12 transmitters in their memory so one could be a handheld remote,one a wall switch, and one a Vera interface and have room for 9 more. The main caveat with Somfy RTS is that it is a one-way transmission, there is now way to tell where the shades are in the window, so up/down/stop is the level of control with no monitoring ability. You couldn’t have both Z-Wave and RTS controlling the same motor unless it is through a Z-Wave to RTS interface but that isn’t really true Z-Wave control with bi-directional communication.

The DBMZ or a DC1-ZW should both be available, especially the latter one from RS Scene since the link I had attached to the other thread talks about them making custom version on demand. You’d need that customized version of the DC1-ZW to allow for a hardwired switch. But the best part about this solution is that you’d have the ability to send the shade to percentages of openness and get confirmation of movement and monitor position in Vera. This is often used for automating your window coverings either by time schedule or the Helios plug-in. If that isn’t important to you then RTS motors and wireless switches are a good option.

There are no good wireless Z-wave control options for shades, nothing that gives to the simplicity and quick/easy operation of an RTS remote or switch. I use a Leviton scene controller with raise/lower buttons, but it is cumbersome. I recommend you go RTS unless you have some need for the Z-Wave features. While RTS can have reception issues, it typically works very reliably up to 70ft away through a concrete wall.