Before you even begin to think about purchasing motorized shades, you’ll have to decide on how you want to power them. This choice can affect your measurements, how you want to install your shade, and even shade brand or model itself. This is because many different brands only offer certain types of power, and usually, the power type comes along with other considerations such as how to mount it, how often you need to maintain it, and whether you have a cord that you need to hide or not. So before you get too far in choosing the right motorized shade for you, think about whether you want to choose plug-in power or batteries.
Let’s look at your options to help you make a choice.
There are two main types of plug-in power options available. The first is hard-wiring, which generally involves running your own wiring from your fuse box to a power transformer, and then to each of the motors on your shades. This sounds complex, and it generally is, and we suggest you get an electrician to help you run wiring if you decide to go this route. So why would you want to do hard wiring for your shades? Simply put, it can really pay off by allowing you to run hidden wiring inside your walls and have power plugin directly to each motor. This gives you an extremely clean look and has extra cordage or wiring exposed on your window. Because you power each shade to a central location, your shades’ power is neatly organized as well. Consult your manufacturer before going forward with this option, as not all shades can be hard-wired, and often they require the purchase of a central power transformer and a certain wire gauge.
The second type of plug-in power is individual transformers which each plug-in to a wall outlet. These transformers basically look like a cell phone charger and plug into your motor directly. The advantage is that it is simple and easy to install, and can use any ordinary wall outlet. The disadvantage is that you can have exposed wiring that may be unsightly or pose a strangulation hazard to kids and pets, or that you may not have a wall outlet nearby every window that you are planning to dress. Generally, we recommend this option if you do not have many shades but you still don’t want to deal with batteries. As an alternative, you can have an electrician wire a wall outlet to each window opening to have a similar effect as direct hard wiring, allowing you to conceal the cords.
Similarly, before choosing batteries, there are two main types available: non-rechargeable, and rechargeable. Non-rechargeable battery power is generally an external battery case that you plug into your motorized shade, which can be refilled with batteries when it expires. They usually take AA batteries, but different shade models can have different types of battery cases. For most shades, batteries will last about 6-12 months depending on usage and the size of the shade itself. Batteries are also very easy to install as you can mount them alongside the window opening or behind the shade itself, giving your window a sleek look with no visible cords. One downside is that these types of battery cases often are limited to certain sizes due to their power restrictions.
Rechargeable batteries are an ideal alternative to their non-rechargeable cousins. These rechargeable cases generally have a similar lifespan of 6-12 months, however, once they expire they just need to be plugged in for about 5 hours for another full charge, lasting another 6-12 months. This requires very little maintenance and cost and so is an ideal alternative to the hassle of purchasing and replacing batteries. This option can be hard to find but thankfully are becoming more popular as manufacturers develop their own rechargeable battery options for their shades. Most recently, shade window covering manufacturer Graber released a new rechargeable battery pack for their Virtual Cord shades that is quickly becoming the number one option for homeowners for its convenience and ease of use. Graber’s new rechargeable Virtual Cord battery pack is also more powerful than previous iterations (3100 mAH), allowing for use on larger sizes as well as a greater lifespan than alternatives.
So which power option is right for you? For the most convenient option, rechargeable batteries are the way to go. But if you are doing a complete reconstruction or building a new home, hard-wiring can be an ideal solution with a little more effort.
For any questions feel free to reach out to our support team and we are happy to help.