When looking for motorized shades for your home, one crucial aspect that you’ll be looking for is the power type. It is important to know what kind of power your shades require, and the options available that you can choose from, as this determines on your mount type, measurements, and whether or not getting the motorized shade is even feasible or not. You’ll also want to be aware of the kind of maintenance that a cheap motorized shade would require, for example, if it requires charging or changing batteries, etc. Many different brands also come with different options available, so it can be a crucial aspect of determining which brand of motorized shade is right for you. Let’s take a look at the different types of power options in broad strokes so that you have an idea of what to look out for.
To start – what are the most commonly offered types of power available? There are four: battery-operated, plug-in power, and solar-powered.
Battery-Operated: When using battery-operated shades, your batteries come in a few main flavors: Built-in (rechargeable), External (non-rechargeable), or External (rechargeable).
Built-in rechargeable batteries are very convenient as the power package is hidden inside the shade itself. These shades generally are able to last about 6-12 months on a single charge (depending on usage and size), and you only have to plug them in for about 5-6 hours to have them charge fully again. One downside of this style is that the battery is built-in and not replaceable, so over time it may decrease in battery lifespan (though this is rare). Also, the size of these shades can be limited to the type of battery installed, so they may not go up to larger sizes. For this kind of product, take a look at Crown Motorized Shades.
External non-rechargeable batteries are battery cases that must be plugged into the shade and require replacing once they expire. They don’t require charging (you just have to swap the batteries), however, they can be expensive if you have many shades in your home. They can have two battery packs connected to allow for the operation of larger sized shades. Look at Graber’s Motorized Cellular Shades for this type of product.
External rechargeable batteries are sometimes seen as the best of both worlds. Although these are external, meaning that you need to mount them or hide them behind your shades, they can be swapped in and out for easy charging and can be replaced easily if something goes wrong with the shade’s battery. Graber’s new rechargeable battery packs are a high-powered solution for their Virtual Cord shades, and they allow for long life and easy use. They are higher powered than most other batteries (3100 mAH), which allows them to power larger sizes with ease.
Plug-in Power: Many shades have the option to plug in your shade to a wall outlet, or to hardwire them directly. These generally require the purchase of a transformer or power supply. In general, plug-in power is ideal if you are able to do it while hiding the cords, otherwise you can have a long dangling cord coming out from your window to your power outlet. When hardwiring, get a professional’s help to run wiring through your walls to each window opening.
Solar-powered: Some shades have the option of solar power. In this case, make sure your window opening has access to at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. Most solar panels trickle charge the shades and are only designed to allow for one open and close per day. This is a great option if you don’t operate your shades that often.
All in all, the best way to power your motorized outdoor shades depends on your needs. The most common option is battery power, in which case we recommend using rechargeable batteries. Take a look at Graber’s latest rechargeable battery pack for their Virtual Cord shades for a simple and versatile solution. If you are doing a major renovation or constructing a home, hard-wiring is an ideal way to go (but of course not always practical).