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Blinds and Control Mechanisms

Cordless, Automatic, Remote, Electric, RightRight and LeftLeft

A wide variety of information related to the advantages, disadvantages, appropriateness and choices of window treatment options is available in the public domain, in magazines, newspapers, brochures, the internet and websites of suppliers. While being very informative, it can also be a bit confusing for the layman who is looking to have the best treatments installed within a defined budget. However, information about the mechanism for controlling blinds, shades and drapes is normally mentioned only in passing. Noticed that? Is it because the options are limited, in any case, and the price differential between the vintage cord and modern mechanized control is so high that both the buyer and seller feel that they would be treading on quicksand if they lay emphasis on this aspect of window decoration?

When we use the word control, we refer to the mechanism that is used to operate blinds, shade, drapes, curtains and every other device used to dress up our doors and windows. Controls are used to raise, lower, tilt, open or close dressing. Controls may be cords, chains or wands that can be manual, semi-automatic, fully automatic and these days remotely controlled using a cell phone, depending on the type of product.

Most controlling mechanisms perform two basic functions. They either open to allow light and air or they shut both light and air. The effectiveness of the control mechanism is measured by its ability to fine tune the opening, closing, lifting and lowering functions, to allow minute adjustments with minimum effort. As can easily be guessed, the cost is also directly proportional to the ability of the mechanism to provide this fine adjustment with minimum of effort and co-relationally the fixture is described as the more sophisticated the more slick it is and hence adds to the real estate value of the property. Thermal insulation is of great importance especially in colder climates and is of great import when choosing the type of dressing. In fact, thermal insulation properties become so important in such environments that aspects like even aesthetics are compromised to fulfill this function. Efficient and easy control is of paramount importance in such environments because inefficiency can result in discomfort and additional utility expenses.


Blinds and its components.

Blinds are made of individual slats that are strung together to work in tandem. Braided ladders run through slats to help tilt, twist, raise and lower the slats. A continuous loop lift cord with a clutch comes into play for raising and lowering horizontal shades when they are very wide. The bottom rail technique is used to secure the cord running through the stats to provide stability to the assembly. Every year a number of children are hurt, some fatally by control cords. The excess cord that results when a blind is raised needs to be controlled with utmost safety; cord cleats are used for the purpose. Two or more cords need to complement each other and work together. To prevent the cords from getting entangled, cord equalizers are used. Once the desired positioning has been achieved, it can be locked into place. Normally the control for blinds is towards right lift and left tilt. In certain installations, this can become inconvenient; like for example, when the window requires two individual blinds on one headrail. In this case, it would be more convenient to have the control of the one on the left on the left end and the control of the blind on the right towards the right end.

In some case you have to specify your need of both controls on right or on left, it depends on the accessibility of the controls. One of my friend choose a blind with standard control over the bathtub, of course for blinds to have one side controls there is cost involved, so he saved at the time of purchase but when the usability part came every time to tilt blinds he has to get into bathtub. Every day when he uses washroom he think of the bad decision made at the time of purchase to save few dollars he sacrificed the whole convenience.

Plain vanilla blinds are not very efficient thermal insulators. Keeping in mind the inherent advantages like ease of control, ability to fine tune adjustments and amenability to advanced automation in addition to its ability enhance the aesthetic ambiance of any interior, manufacturers have introduced innovations to design blinds with cells and honeycomb slats to compensate for heat gain, loss and retention. These pose additional control challenges because honeycombs and cellular slats need to collapse, expand and gather if the user so desires it.

When we look at a blind, the first thing that strikes us is its simplicity. Slats, either horizontal or vertical and cords are readily visible. But it does comprise many more discrete components like brackets, rollers, springs, locks etc. each of which contributes towards keeping it together and working to satisfy the user’s desires for light, air and heat – a tall order. Each component has the potential for innovation to provide that little extra convenience to make a difference. A lot of thought and research goes into designing and providing efficient control mechanisms that are rugged, safe and easy to use. In the long run, a smooth functioning control mechanism makes the difference between a good blind and one that is not so good.

A blind can function as an inanimate companion, ready to be micro-adjusted to keep one comfortable by catering to the light, air and temperature requirements of the user. It is the control mechanism that is the catalyst here; the easier and more efficient it is, the greater the satisfaction. Hence, it does make sense to give more thought to the control mechanism when we think blinds.


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