- I am a professional designer of motors for shades
- I would like to develop a motorized shade drive to integrate perfectly with ST
- If approved, I will have manufacturer backing at the company I work for
- Current thinking is to start with motorized roller shades, other types to follow
- System will be professional-grade quality, think Lutron and Somfy
- Can lift shades up to 100 sq. ft. in size
- Battery integrated (hidden), rechargeable via USB or solar
- Projected battery life per charge approx. 1 year
- Modular control architecture, support both Z-wave and ZigBee, and others if needed
- Need ideas as to how to make it suitable for DIY
- Target pricing: $<100 per set (excluding shade)
- Any input or comments greatly appreciated!
OK, this is my first post. In fact I only found this community a couple of days ago, and must say that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading many threads and basking in the overall vibrancy. This might turn out to be a long post, in which case, thanks in advance for your patience.
So after reading about people’s experiences with motorized shades for home automation, I came to the realization that there is a lack of quality options available. It appears difficult to find shades that work great with ST out of the box. When people do buy shades, there seems to be a lot of hacking involved just to get shades to work, and, even then, reliability tends to not be great. It simply should not be that hard to get a properly working shade integrated with your home automation system. And it should not cost an arm and a leg.
Then it hit me. Why not develop the perfect motor for ST together with the ST community? A bit of background: I manage a small-medium scale ODM of shade motors and work as the lead designer. We supply motors to high-end shade manufacturers and have products installed in several high profile commercial projects. Even President Obama himself has used our motors (albeit for a one night stay at one of our hotel projects)! That last bit was a shameless grab for credibility, but the point stands - we know this stuff.
Here’s my product proposition: An affordable, professional-grade motorized shade system with Z-Wave integrated into each unit. We will naturally then build any apps necessary to ensure perfect compatibility with ST. Beyond this, I will be fully receptive to any input that you guys may have on features that you would want. So any comments will be greatly appreciated! Note that at this stage, the primary consideration is roller shades as that is what we have most experience with. However, if there is greater demand for a different type of shade, we can consider that as well.
Now, we are not starting from a blank canvas. We have an underlying hardware platform that I think is ideal for this scenario. With this platform, we can lift shade sizes up to 100 sq. ft. yet operate quietly and smoothly. For installation flexibility, the shades are cordless, rechargeable and can last for about 1 year per charge. They are rechargeable via any USB socket and can optionally also be recharged via solar panels if sun exposure is good. Frankly I have seen some of the Kickstarter projects being talked about and those things are nothing more than toys in my opinion.
Development costs aside, the biggest challenge I foresee is how to get this thing into your shades. As a motor manufacturer, we don’t make the finished shades. If we were to supply a kit, there is an overwhelming likelihood that it will not be compatible with your existing shade system. My current thinking is we will support popular hardware systems like RollEase and Louvolite and you will just have to make sure your shades are made on those systems. Of course I’m open to any suggestions here as to what you guys feel is the ideal method of product delivery. The last part is product pricing. Can only be an estimate right now, but just doing some sums in my head, the end-user price would be in the range of $150-180 per motor. Feel free to let me know if this is an acceptable price or not. If it’s too high, we’ll try to figure out on where costs can be saved.
Lastly, this is not a small project and could take the better part of a year before the product is ready for the market. If we proceed with it, I intend to keep the community updated on any progress we make. A Kickstarter campaign might become a possibility down the line if we need some way to fund costs. Any way, thanks for reading and hope I didn’t break any forum rules with my first post! Look forward to receiving your comments.