Home and business automation is continually evolving. This affects not only each audio/video and lighting control company; this affects the entire market for the window coverings industry. In essence this affects you, the reader of D&WC. To thrive in this competitive world of shades, blinds and draperies, you must work smarter and harder to secure the jobs you want. You must also pull them off without any major hitches.
Motorization is playing a bigger and bigger role as time goes on.
Specifying, selling and installing a number of products in a home
takes on an entirely new dimension once you add motors to the mix.
But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Motorization may be somewhat
intimidating at first, but it is not rocket science. With proper planning
you can easily avoid problems and pitfalls that many of you may have
seen. This is the second installment in a series of three articles
to aid you in your motorization endeavors.
Armed with the information on the various motorization methods and
systems we discussed in the first part of this series (see D&WC,
March 2005, page 58), you have successfully recommended the appropriate
window coverings system(s) to be motorized. They can be traversing
systems such as draperies or verticals, or any type of roller or lift
system for shades or blinds. Because you have gone through all this
counseling and selling work, you now want to be sure that the client
gets exactly what she wants and that your order to your supplier leaves
no room for error.
You also want to make sure that you firmly lock in the sale at this
time. It does not suffice to make an offer that just states: “drapery,
motorized,” or “wood blind, automated.” This is the
point at which you become the expert in eliminating uncertainties
and the risk of creating wrong expectations. It is important to draw
up a specification that both you and the client agree on. It should
clearly spell out the size, mounting and functioning method of the
motor and hardware, as well as the operating system. You then have
a very strong chance that you have the sale locked in, and at your
The specs do not have to be highly technical and detailed in every
aspect, but they should set out the unique advantages of your recommended
system, especially those features that set it apart from your competition.
The key categories to cover in your specs are:
• Logistics: mounting space and methods for hardware and controls
• Functionality: the way the system operates
• Power supply/wiring
• Operating controls
As a rule, motorized systems require more space and sturdier mounting
than most manual systems, first of all because motorized systems are
usually bigger in size and therefore heavier than manual systems.
This means that solid blocking to attach headrails and brackets is
a must. Also, headrails for motorized roller and lift systems are
often larger in size than most manual headrails. Make sure that the
pockets are of the right dimension, width, height and depth. Specify
the exact drop length for shades so that the limits can be preset
precisely. Consult the BTX specialist or refer to the Web site for
the exact space requirements. This saves time and money during installation.
Bear in mind that in many cases motorized systems operate automatically.
Once they are switched on, they will open or close all the way, and
unlike a manual draw, no one will be watching. If drapery pockets
are too narrow or stacking areas too short, systems will bunch up
and malfunction. Very likely the motorization system will get the
blame, not the true cause, that the pocket was too narrow. If cornices,
valances or non-motorized secondary treatments are required for aesthetic
or cosmetic reasons, be sure to get all pertinent measurements and
information, including jam dimensions, returns, etc., concerning the
interaction of the motorized treatment and the manual covering. Also,
watch out for obstructions such as window and door handles, and specify
a clear path for the system to run.
Make sure your client understands how your system works and why this
For instance, two butting draperies for a wide opening must travel
at the same speed. This requires synchronous motors. Make sure you
specify them, because most motors are not synchronous. The use of
non-synchronous motors may result in the draperies operating at varying
speeds, and that can be ugly. Make sure that operating paths for roller
shades are accurately specified so that end stops can be set precisely.
All BTX roller shade systems are carefully calibrated according to
specs prior to shipment. For verticals, make sure to specify the stacking
position and which way the verticals should rotate to the fully closed
position. If you are not sure about something, call your BTX consultant
rather than guessing.
POWER SUPPLY AND WIRING
A careful review of the required wiring can eliminate many headaches.
Each motorized system needs wiring to provide the electricity that
drives the motor. The only exceptions are the smaller battery-operated
units, but because these are usually off-the–shelf, they require
less designer input.
Carefully go over the location of the systems and the available power
outlets, including J-boxes, switch box locations and wire runs. Use
the floor plan sketch or make one, indicating the preferred location
of the system(s). This minimizes the wiring required. For multiple
systems with grouped or network control, it pays to have your BTX
consultant prepare a wiring schematic. That greatly helps in installing
the confidence level with your client, and it keeps the electrician
on the straight-and-narrow.
Standard RF, IR and switch controls will suffice in most standard
applications. If the customer wishes to have a double treatment with
a solar roller shade and a blackout drapery, you must make sure that
the client understands the timing and functioning of the motors. Assuming
this is a remote- control situation, you need to make it as cut and
dried and easy to operate as possible—channel one, channel two
and an “all” function. For most customers, it is not necessary
to have too many functions on a transmitter. Too many options tend
to confuse, and that is the last thing you want. Keep it simple unless
the customer or situation requires more features.
For more demanding installations, some customizing may be required.
If systems are to be hooked up to operating networks, interfaces will
handle the connection in most cases. Often clients require additional
control flexibilities to operate groups of systems to match a specific
layout or to achieve the effect desired. BTX operates a special department
that develops and builds custom control systems to precisely fulfill
such requirements. The necessary specifications include a layout indicating
the location of the systems, a description of the type of system(s),
the desired operating groups, and the desired type of control (RF,
IR, switch or network). Our technicians will gladly assist you.
To eliminate the risk of confusion, delays and added costs, it is
very important that you identify for your customer who is responsible
for what. Most problems appear to occur when window coverings specialists
interact with control network technicians and electricians who work
independently. Make sure your client understands what you plan to
deliver. Avoid taking responsibility for operating networks or electrical
switching systems that were installed by others.
Automated window coverings systems can be installed, checked and fully
operationally delivered without hook-up to control systems by others.
BTX will provide a test cable unit that permits you to demonstrate
completed operational delivery and get punched out without having
to go through the finger pointing process with third-party suppliers.
This will save money, time and ultimately result in the high customer
satisfaction level that you were aiming for.