How to Select the Right Motorized Shades for Your Home

One of the fastest growing segments of the luxury home market is electronic shades.

If you are like most people, you have either blinds, curtains or shades covering your windows. What people find over time, is that they simply don’t want to go through the hassle of constantly opening and closing window treatments throughout the day. So the vast majority of homes end up with windows covered up 90% of the time. In the ideal world, you would have window treatments that let the perfect amount of sunlight in, maintain great outdoor views and also ensure privacy when appropriate.

Having designed and installed more electronic shades over the past decade than anyone else in the Southeast, the Audio Advice team has come to love what electronic shades can do for homeowners.

Choosing the Right Brand

If you’re considering electronic shades, the first step in the process is to choose the right brand. Lutron shades have been the gold standard in electronic shades for over a decade and Lutron brags about continually running their shades up and down all day long for years, as a way to prove their reliability. Recently new players such as Screen Innovations, Crestron, and others have also entered the market.

As each brand progresses with their technology, there are four main things to consider -- reliability, quietness, aesthetics, and the ability to integrate them into smart home systems. You want a low voltage motor which is extremely quiet and has high reliability.

Aesthetics and Performance

Audio Advice was an early adopter in the category and it took us several years for our system designers and installers to really become experts at specifying the right attributes and installing them perfectly.

The first thing most people focus on is how much light it lets in. This is known as the Openness Factor. For instance, a 10% openness factor means that 10% of the area covered by a shade is open with holes that let light through. A 5% openness factor would reduce the views through the shade but provide more privacy than a 10% shade would.

Now it starts to get a little tricky from here. The color and type of fabric also impact your ability to see through the shade. A darker colored shade provides a better view than a lighter colored shade because less light reflects in the shade. In general, we find that most homeowners and designers underestimate the impact of light reflecting in a shade and thus tend to over specify lighter colors and later wish they had chosen something slightly darker. Most good shade companies will get you swatches to analyze before purchasing. However, there is no substitute for going into a showroom like Audio Advice and seeing a host of different shades of different colors and openness factors to evaluate what you want in a real world environment.

The next thing to think about related to aesthetics is how you want to mount and cover the shades. If you are building a brand new, modern home, you may want the shades fully hidden into a predesigned pocket. You are going to need a professional to do this, because you can’t afford to get it wrong. You need to think through how to get power to each pocket, the exact size of the pocket and how the bracket size differs from shade length, width, etc.

In main home areas, you will often find 5% and 10% shades with slightly darker colors if there is a good view from the home and slightly lighter colors if there is no privacy behind the home.

In media rooms and master bedrooms, blackout shades are often the norm. Your specifier will help you decide if you want one solid fabric or if you should go with a fabric with a darker color on the inside and a lighter color facing outside. This has some energy saving advantages since the lighter colors will retain less heat.

Additional Shade Options for Luxury Homes

For ultra luxury homes, there are also a couple of other unique options. The first is horizontal blinds. These allow you to create three different environments. The first is completely open for maximum view. The second is a see-through position that simultaneously reduces glare and provides privacy. The third is a full privacy position -- completely closed. These blinds are the most complex to specify as they have to be measured and ordered perfectly with almost zero tolerance for error.

The other unique option that works well in a home office environment is electronic Venetian blinds. These are also more expensive than roller shades but look absolutely beautiful, particularly in a wood-paneled room.

Choose the Right Company for Design & Installation

Finally, make sure to use a highly experienced company to work with you on the installation. Shade companies don’t take custom shades back. So if you misorder by a quarter of an inch or don’t get the right parts to integrate with your smart home system, you will kick yourself.

When designed and implemented properly electronic shades can transform your home by adding more natural light and maximizing great views and privacy in the home.

If you live in North Carolina, we’d love to help out. Give us a call, visit our stores in Charlotte or Raleigh or chat with us at

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