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My last posting was about lifting heavy shades. I wanted to link to another posting about all the options you have, when I realized that I hadn’t written the article yet. So, here goes.

It’s funny how things happen. For years and years, people lifted their shades and blinds by pulling on a cord. Then, for various reasons, some due to the natural progression of industry and others for reasons of government involvement, there are a whole slew of new ways to lift your window coverings. I’m not going to go into the rational behind the regulations that now affect the industry other than to say that eventually these changes will benefit the end-user.

Standard Lift Cord System with Cord Lock-
The original lift cord system is still in use. In most cases, this is the no charge option that companies will offer you as a standard. The major difference between the older versions and the current version is that due to safety concerns, you will receive cord cleats in order to tie the cords to the wall and out of the reach of young ones. The major drawback to standard corded window coverings is the length of cording that hangs down from the headrail. This is especially a problem on very tall windows, where it can be common for the cord to be touching the floor when the blind or shade is stacked all the way up to the top of the window.

Cordless Systems-
This is the strongest of the new entries into the lift system market. There are many different types of cordless window coverings and they are all very popular as people like the clean look of the product without cords. With these lift systems, you literally grab the rail that you want to move and adjust it manually. The mechanism in most cases is spring-loaded, so it makes moving large shades quite easy. There are some drawbacks as well. Because there is a finite amount of movement within the mechanism itself, there are size restrictions that will limit the window you may be able to do. Also, because there are no cords, in order to lift a bottom rail to the top of the window, you will need to be either able to reach the top of the window with your hand or use some sort of a tool to make your adjustments.

Retractable Cord Systems-
One of the leaders in the industry is Hunter Douglas. They have come up with a proprietary mechanism, named UltraGlide. This system is kind of a combination between a corded and spring-loaded cordless system. What happens is that you pull down on the cord to its limit, and then the cord retracts, thus resetting the spring mechanism and allowing you to “pump” the cord. In effect, because the cord always returns to its original position, you could almost call this a cordless product, because you can shorten the position of the cord to basically just hanging directly out of the headrail. There are a couple of issues to be aware of with this product. One, there is a learning curve. It is not the best system for a guest bedroom, for example, as it can be complex for those that are not instructed in its use. Also, durability can be an issue, though the current generation is better than previous ones.

Continuous Cord Loop System-
Other than the standard cords, this is the oldest of the specialty lift systems. Originally they were designed to help lift very heavy shades and to avoid having cords hanging down to the floor. They still work very well at both of these goals. Essentially, what is happening inside of the headrail is that the continuous cord goes through a clutch, which is attached to an axle that spools the cords that run through the product down to the bottom rail. (If you were able to follow that explanation, you get bonus points!) If you have very tall windows, keep in mind that it takes a LOT of hand over hand pulls to raise and lower your shades. It is an effective, but not very efficient method to operate your shades or blinds.

Motorization
This is one article I DID write, and so I’ll just link to that. The main point is that there are two different types of motorization. One is powered by an integrated system that comes from wires embedded in your walls. The other is essentially a battery operated system, but there are a few variations on this theme.

As you can imagine, this is NOT an exhaustive discussion of this topic. There are variations on this theme and more products will be coming to market in future. Therefore, if you are trying to figure out which combination of products and lift-mechanisms is best for you, contact your window coverings professional and let them help you.

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