At A Glance: Up to three-year battery life • Extremely quiet operation • Simple installation.
Price: Depends on room, number of shades, and shade types.
Of all the “this is the coolest damn thing I’ve ever seen” things a home theater/wholehome automation system can do, the one that is consistently the most mesmerizing, most envied, coolest “coolest damn thing” is the control of motorized window treatments. (Although it sounds like something a doctor would prescribe for sick building syndrome, window treatments is the term people in the know use for what you and I would call curtains, blinds, and shades.) If you’ve never experienced motorized shades (or drapes or blinds)—and I mean experienced in the sense that you’ve seen them in action in someone’s home and not in a too-clean-to-be-believable picture-perfect designer’s showroom or a slickly edited online video—it’s difficult to grasp the enchanted feeling and quasi-mystical pleasure that even the least gadget-savvy person can get from being in a room in which some hidden electronic sorcery conjures the shades to obediently open and close (or stop anywhere in between) on command or makes the curtains part like the Red Sea as if Moses were holding a remote control in his hand instead of a staff. Even the reticent Wizard of Oz, himself, would rush out from his hiding place behind the curtain to watch it open and close by remote control if it were motorized.
It’s possible at this point that you can tell I’m somewhat fond of the whole motorized window treatment concept. But it’s one thing to be captivated by a fairy tale in which adorable Disney-esque birds sing while they open and close the drapes for Cinderella. It’s an entirely different story when you discover that, in reality, it’s only the prince in his mega-square-foot castle on the hill who can afford to have shades or blinds that open or (when he’s tired of looking down on the non-motorized peasants in the fields below) close automatically.
That’s because, until recently, when you added up the costs of the motorization components, the controller, and professional installation (not to mention whatever ritzy fabric material, valances, and other such things you might have chosen), you could easily spend over $1,500 for motorized window treatment—as in, one treatment, for a single window!
What Kind of Shade-y Deal Is This?
Before you sink into total despair and decide to buy a bulk pack of those accordion-style folded-paper temporary shades that attach to the window trim using double-stick tape (for which I am guilty of spending around ten bucks each and using for a “temporary” period of several years) or tack up old sheets over the windows with push pins (again, guilty, but not for as long), you should know that while motorized drapes remain pricey, the cost of quality motorized shades—specifically motorized cellular shades—is beginning to come down. Way down, as a matter of fact, into what a lot of us non-castle-dwellers would consider the realistically affordable range.