Smart blinds, shades, and other window coverings are known for their functionality through connectivity. This can sometimes be complicated as it can be hard to know what third-party hubs and apps to use with your blinds. If you’re someone who prefers something with a little more ease of use, then we suggest you try Graber blinds with integrated Somfy motors. Somfy uses its standard wireless signal motors (called RTS, or Radio Technology Somfy) and also has motors with built-in Z-wave communication. Before you buy Somfy motorized shades, you’ll want to decide if you want the Z-wave style or the RTS style.
Each Somfy Z-wave motor links to a Z-wave digital motor interface which interacts with it by sending control signals as well as receiving status signals from the motor itself. Think of the motor as a node and the z wave digital motor interface is the hub that is responsible for controlling it.
So let’s start with what Z-wave actually is: Z-wave is a mesh network of low-energy radio waves, a communication method that has actually been around for almost two decades. Z wave technology is still used very reliably for wireless control of heating devices, security technology, and many more. As Z-wave technology runs on a different wavelength than wi-fi, it will not interfere with any existing wi-fi technology you may own. Z-wave shades are advantageous because they can connect to many different Z-wave smart hubs, allowing for automation and scheduling functionality as well as allowing them to integrate with a smart home network.
On the other hand, Somfy also has a device called the MyLink for those who would rather stick with RTS technology. Somfy’s RTS motors are designed to let you flawlessly communicate with your blinds with remote control. However, with the MyLink device, you can connect your motors to a wi-fi connection to also get scheduling functionality.
Somfy is one of the few entities that have the authority to use Z-wave technology, which it has added to its already impressive repertoire. In addition to creating its own brand of wireless light control technology and a splendid range of shades and blinds, Somfy is also a source of wireless motors for other popular brands and merchants. Somfy Z-wave motors and nodes are used with Graber shades for their reliable wireless control capabilities. Somfy Canada has been known to be at the forefront of creative living solutions in most cases.
If you have existing Somfy RTS motors, but would like to connect them to a Z-wave hub, there is a solution. You simply need to get a Z-wave bridge that would link to your shades and then link to your Z-wave smart hub to allow control. Motorization with the Somfy Z-Wave to Radio Technology Somfy Interface (ZRTSI) is incredibly simple. This bridge is designed to receive commands from your smartphone via wi-fi through your designated smartphone app. It then sends those commands to your shades.
Somfy’s ZTRSI bridge does have limits, a single hub can handle up to 16 channels or nodes but this can be solved by multiple ZRTSI units. Theoretically, you should be able to control dozens (or even hundreds) of nodes at once with an effective Z-wave mesh network. It also only supports open, close, or preset position commands (rather than open to a percentage), and does not allow the shades to report their position back to the smart hub.
Somfy’s motors also work effectively with voice assistants (chiefly with Alexa) and can be assigned voice commands through either the MyLink hub or your Z-wave smart hub when using the ZRTSI. This is not just a novelty, but a useful way to control your shades hands-free and without having to go through menu options on a device.
In all, when buying Somfy Shades you should decide mainly on if you want Z-wave shades for advanced automation or RTS shades for simple remote control. If you do decide to go for RTS shades, thankfully there are options that allow more advanced functionality through the MyLink or ZRTSI bridges. And even if you go for Z-wave shades, there are remotes available for simple control as well (though not as many options). So, in the end, the differences become minor and aren’t worth sweating over if you aren’t too picky about what you need.