Control Options for Horizontal Blinds and Shades
I’ve seen people wanting to buy window blinds and shades scratch their heads with brows wrinkled, wondering what sort of lift control options to go for. Others don’t seem to give it even a second thought and opt for whichever lift control is offered at no extra cost. Of course, when retailers extrapolate the various advantages and disadvantages, it’s most often assumed that they shove most expensive of the lot down the throat. But it’s also true that the cheaper a system is, the less efficient it is. Have you considered the effort and irritation that goes into lifting, say wood blinds, that you’ve opted to use on a 30-foot bank of casement windows? An utter waste of time and energy, considering that you have broad windows because you want a great outdoor view with well-ventilated interiors. So the blinds remain lowered at all times, with the occasional tilt of the vanes to adjust brightness. Fact is, there are several control options you could choose, depending on the size of windows, the light and insulation factor of rooms, and privacy.
The most basic and yet still popular blind lifting option is the traditional cord lift control. This system employs cords and strings lift, lower and tilt vanes of venetian blinds and a host of other shadings. This is the standard control option used in most window covers. Many people prefer this to more modern options, but the problem posed is that it can be cumbersome to handle on large windows, and trailing cords can be unsightly, and engender tangling, which is always a danger to children and pets underfoot. Many manufacturers provide cord cleats to secure cords out of harm’s way, at no extra cost as a commitment to their customer’s safety. An upgraded version of this blind operation system is the continuous cord loop lift control. Smoother and easier to manipulate than its predecessor, it’s infinitely more efficient to use with wide window shades or large window shades. It has a clutch system incorporated that stops the shading at any desired point, and up top or down low, the cord length remains the same, hence the term ‘continuous cord loop’. This cord and clutch system is often color coordinated to the shade material. Also provided is a hold down device to keep the cord in place, so this is by far a safer choice of lift control than the previous one.
That said, the safest control is the cordless blinds lift system. While cords still connect the slats of the blind to the head and bottom rails, cords aren’t used to raise or lower it. A spring-loaded device incorporated in the bottom rail is attached to the cords, so that all that is required is only a push upward of the bottom rail to raise the blind, and pull on the bottom rail to lower it, to whichever point required – easy peasy, lemon squeezy! Among all three manual controls mentioned so far, this provides the safest lift option for homes with kids and pets running around, playing hide and seek, all the while providing clean lines to your window.
Enter the motorized window blinds remote control! This means that window treatments of any shape size and style can be raised or lowered with the flip of a switch or a single touch of a button on a remote control. This includes angling of vanes in motorized wooden blinds, as these aren’t motorized to lift and lower. There are two types of motorized controls –
1. Stand alone control systems – that are wireless and use infrared or radio frequency technology.
2. Integrated control systems – which employs a physical control wire connected to a wall switch/keypad/touch screen.
Individual or group settings for blind operation can be set with both systems, though the integrated system is the more sophisticated option, allowing for specifically timed automated lifting and lowering – morning, bedtime, party time, ‘away from home’, etc. It can also be synchronized with lighting, air conditioning and the A/V system to create seamless energy efficiency and theft control.
With energy efficiency a prime factor in sustainable window dressings, motorization has become a necessity rather a luxury it was previously considered. Green window dressings with LEED certification (a green building certification program) earn you carbon credits. According to LEED, “All exterior openings, such as windows, must have shielding that can be automatically controlled and programmed to close from 11:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. An example is a timer-controlled automated rolling shade with the appropriate light transmittance.” For precision and effortless control of your window covering, motorized controls trump all others, be it to block the overpowering sun which can result in uncomfortable solar gain or the glare of the sun which can irritate as it bounces off shiny surfaces or its intensity which can cause harm to the human skin, and result in fading of upholstery, carpet, wood and artwork. Studies have indicated that the use of such automated window shadings results in energy savings to the tune of a wholesome 30%. So, I wouldn’t complain about the initial costs, as it results in excellent long-term savings and benefits, apart from the added advantage of it being a completely child and pet friendly option – no strings and dangling cords awaiting the unwary!