True enough, at the outset of most new technologies, that small niche of folk who want the latest and the neatest adopts them first. But now, like home security, home theatre and other automated home products, motorized window coverings are coming into their own. Residential sales of motorized window coverings have been growing dramatically over the past several years due primarily to the introduction of entry-level, battery-powered motor systems that are both affordable and easy to install in the customer's window.
One of these recent introductions is the Techniku® TrimLight[TM] series of tilt motors for horizontal and vertical blinds. They are affordable, retailing under $150, and they are easy to install. There is no extensive wiring required to supply power to each window. Used with some of the most popular window coverings—wood blinds, mini-blinds and vertical blinds—these tilt motors offer some very simple solutions to some very common challenges for window covering.
EXTENDING YOUR REACH
One of the most obvious applications for the use of motorized wood blinds is in the high windows found in so many rooms of newly constructed houses that have clerestory ceilings such as great rooms and entryways. A lot of people, at first, choose to leave these high windows completely uncovered because they like the light, they don't think there is a privacy issue, or they don't like the idea of long control cords or batons hanging down the wall. Only after they've lived with them for a while do they discover the problems of heat loss or heat gain or the discoloration of furnishings that can occur if these windows face any direction other then due north.
Blinds, with the greatly variable light control that they provide, offer an ideal solution for these windows. Wood blinds, in particular, have proven consistently to be a big seller, and motors are an ideal add-on. In a room with multiple windows both high and low, the extra-long cords or batons typically used to control the blinds can overlap each other creating unsightly lines and be awkward to use. Using the TrimLight[TM] series can eliminate this tangle and let the consumer remotely operate all of the blinds from anywhere in the room.
Most popular of the TrimLight[TM] series is the TH300 motor system for tilting two-inch horizontal blinds. Because the TH300 fits right into the existing headrail of the blind, replacing the manual tilt that otherwise would be in there, it does not alter the general appearance of the blind except to eliminate the baton or tilt cord hanging from the headrail. The only component that must be visible is the infrared receiver eye. The Eagle Eye[TM] receiver is only 3/16 of an inch square, making it very inconspicuous. It also has a tiny fisheye lens so that you can hit it with the infrared beam from any angle. This is important if your customer's window is located high above the door in a small entryway where he or she can't back away to get a straight shot at the receiver. You can hit the Eagle Eye from any angle, even standing directly beneath it. The receiver also is attached to the end of a flexible 18-inch wire, which eliminates the need for using a satellite eye with decorative top treatments.
The TH300 will operate a two-inch basswood blind up to 40 square feet in size. It can accommodate the majority of two-inch wood blinds sold for residential applications. For those windows that are bigger than 40 square feet, there is the newly released TH550, Techniku's latest introduction to the Level One category of window covering automation. The TH550 is capable of operating the tilt function of blinds up to 75 square feet, giving you the ability of motorizing even those larger windows with just one blind, affordably and easily.
GOOD FOR BUSINESS
Mini-blinds have often been the choice of small businesses to cut glare and heat transfer through windows. The clean, compact look of mini-blinds works well in the aluminum mullions of stores and office buildings. But, why motorize them? There are several good reasons. One is to make the building look better from the exterior. Often, you'll see a building with rows of windows, each covered on the inside with mini-blinds that are adjusted to differing heights and angles of tilt giving the building a slightly unkempt look. Motorization can make it easy to reset every blind to its original position and look at the end of the day, or even periodically throughout the day.
In a conference room with a number of windows whenever an audio visual presentation requiring low light is to be made, wouldn't it be easier for your clients to close all the blinds with the press of a button instead of running around the room pulling cords or twisting batons, then open them again the same way at the end of the presentation?
The solution could be the TH120, which will fit into some of the most compact headrails, as small as an inch by three-quarters-of-an-inch. This system can be used to tilt aluminum mini-blinds up to 54 square feet. Like the TH300, the TH120 will work in the existing headrails of many different makes of mini-blinds.
If you need to cover greater expanses using mini-blinds, the TH300 also can be adapted to any mini-blind headrail that's at least one-inch by one-inch. And, it's powerful enough to use in an aluminum mini-blind up to 97 square feet in size, about 12 feet by eight feet. The TH120, TH300 and TH550 even can be installed into many specialty blinds such as angle-tops, arches and skylight blinds.
When you need to cover major expanses of glass such as in an enclosed patio or sunroom, or multiple windows as in a light commercial building, another option is to use vertical blinds. Vertical blinds can be motorized as well, using the TrimLight[TM] TV130 motor system. Because verticals generally can be made in much larger sizes than horizontal blinds, they can be more economical to motorize, requiring fewer units to cover a massive glass wall.
The TV130 attaches to the idler end of the vertical track and provides motorized rotation of verticals up to 13 feet in width. The infrared receiver and the battery pack can be attached directly to the track and can be completely hidden by a standard vertical valance.
Yes, in all of these applications you still need a pull cord to traverse a vertical blind or lift a horizontal blind. But with the economy available with these systems, most home and business owners may decide that tilt is the only function they really care about automating. Usually, when they lift a horizontal blind or traverse a vertical blind, they have walked over to the window or door anyway, either to open it or wash it. They don't mind pulling a cord once they are there.
The infrared transmitter used with all of Techniku's TrimLight[TM] systems has three frequencies, which can be alternated among as many blinds as are in a room for individual control. There also is an "All" button that will transmit all three frequencies at once. For truly automatic operation of any of these systems, Techniku offers the Chronolux[TM] timer, an infrared timer that allows the user to set each of the three frequencies to be emitted up to four times a day, opening or closing each of the blinds on that frequency.
When setting the time, the user also can define "open" or "close" as to what degree of tilt is desired. When leaving home for extended periods, a "Holiday Mode" will vary the set times by up to 15 minutes so that the set operation doesn't occur at exactly the same time every day.
The TrimLight[TM] series of motorized products by Techniku is the first of a whole family of motorized window covering systems to be introduced over the next few months and years. In the meantime, motorized window coverings are available now for the mainstream market, simply and affordably.
John Bagwill is the eastern regional sales engineer for Techniku, Inc., Denver, CO. Bagwill has devoted more than 30 years to the window coverings industry. His experience runs the gamut from installer, retailer, fabricator, wholesaler, trainer and sales representative.