Infrared This is the most common way to control your window coverings. Just as you point your television remote control at the front of the television to change channels or adjust the volume, IR (Infrared) sends a line-of-sight signal to a receiver on the shade that performs the action you sent via remote control. This is a good and cost effective solution, but again there are some drawbacks.
IR signals have limited range, typically around 20 feet or so. Since you are sending a light signal, if there is a lot of competing light in the room, let’s say from the glaring sun, the signal may not read accurately. It is really hard too to keep shades from operating that you did not intend to move. Remember, if the shading gets the signal, it’s going to move. So, if you have two side-by-side windows and you want to make one go up, while the other one remains stationary, you have to ensure that the signal is not received by both receivers. This is something that can be handled by proper programming, but it is an issue nonetheless.
Radio Transmission Systems I would say that this is the new standard in operating mechanisms. By using Radio Transmission Systems, or RTS, you can program special needs and moods into your room. It is possible to work only one shade, all the shades in unison, or create special groups of shades based on real needs.
For example if you had 4 windows in a room, you could program them to all work at once, or to work individually, or you could have windows 1 & 4, or 2 & 3 or 1, 2 & 3 all working at once based on the programming.
RTS is also a great option when line of sight operation is not possible between the shade and the remote control. For example, many people like to have valances or other top treatments mounted over their window treatments. Because the top treatment would block the path of an Infrared signal, they are forced to use RTS, or add a satellite eye to the IR receiver. A satellite eye is a receiver with a cord on it that allows you to relocate an IR receiver, usually above or below the top treatment allowing for line-of-sight operation. Effective, but not very clean looking. With a radio receiver, the remote control doesn’t even need to be in the same room.
Direct Drive This is a fancy name for button-pushing. With many motor systems, there is a small button directly on the motor, usually placed on the headrail that can provide simple on/off functions. Essentially, a motor will do one thing. Turn. All you are doing with these buttons is telling it to do that one function. The other signal that it needs is a “stop doing that” notice. Much of this is handled in programming which is done prior to installation, but the button on the headrail provides this simple “start turning” function. Wall switches are provided as standard with many hard-wired systems. This is a toggle switch that usually has a up/down/neutral position. These are mounted in the wall by your electrician and are pretty bullet proof.
Radio Transmission Systems also offer wall switches, but these are not actually wired directly to the shade, but rather send signals through the air. This is the standard system that many people have for their ceiling fans in their homes. There is a receiver in the fan that accepts the signal from the transmitter that sits on their table. It is the same thing with window coverings.
Home Automation systems are the crème de la crème of operating systems. These systems can be programmed to do just about anything that the shade can do, in any increment. So, for example, let’s say you wanted the shade to raise 23% in the morning at 8 a.m., then go all the way up at 11 a.m. and lower 85% at 3 p.m… you get the idea. With home automation systems you can do that. These systems are designed for hard wired applications. A low cost option to get a bit of this idea is to use radio frequency timers. They can be mounted, or kept on the counter or in a drawer. They can be given simple commands which will be carried out at the proper times by the appropriate shades/motors.
There are so many motorization options available these days that it is virtually impossible to expound on them all here. In the future, I will try to tell you about the different applications that can be motorized. For example, roller shades, draperies, cellular shades, etc. Each application will have different options available. As I so often say, “you really need to talk to a professional” if you want to do motorized window coverings and want them done right the first time. I just checked my schedule, and I have an availability to talk to you!