The Smart Home Guide: A DIY Project for Z-Wave Automatic Blinds

With the help of Z-Wave Automatic Blinds technology, you’ll be able to make your home even smarter. The best part is you’ll be able to achieve that on a budget!

October 2017, Update: Added new options, changed old ones. Overall article update. 

Can you imagine waking up and sun rays gently touching your face? In some Sci-Fi movies, you will find people not having to push buttons or roll levers for the window’s blinds to open and close up. And with the smart home technology we have today, it’s hard to imagine that people still control their window blinds manually. With creative ideas from all around the world, people make their homes smarter in a variety of different ways. However, we believe that one of the first steps one should do to make their home smarter is to automize their window blinds or shades. That’s why we’ve decided to start out our Smart Home Guide with a few ideas and tips on Z-Wave automatic blinds and shades.

You may find a lot of ready-to-install solutions online and in stores, but the truth is that most of them have a huge price tag. Furthermore, if you are tech savvy, you will be able to make the automatic blinds yourself.

Going Completely D-I-Y for a Z-Wave Automatic Blinds Solution

Budget: $150-$250

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Last update on 2017-11-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you want to turn your ordinary blinds and shades into Z-Wave controlled automatic blinds, there are a few key items you will need. Depending on the size and type of your blinds, you’ll need:

  • A Motor – It should be able to sustain and have enough energy to roll your blinds.
  • A Power Supply – This could also be replaced by a solar panel with a battery
  • A Z-Wave Communication Device – Any Z-Wave Controller you typically use.

Venetian Z-Wave Automatic Blinds

Z-Wave with Servo for Venetian Blinds

If you have Venetian-style blinds and you’d like to turn them into Z-Wave Automatic blinds, your best bet would be to go with an analog servo, such as the Futaba S3003 Standard Servo. Arduino is easy to use and by using a cheap compatible board, such as the Elegoo Nano, and driving a standard servo to perform the actual opening or closing of the blinds, you’d be good to go. Additionally, to add Z-Wave connectivity, you might want to use a relay module, such as the Remotec ZFM-80. What’s right about this relay is that it has a manual button that will allow you to control the blinds manually as well.

The steps to automize your blinds are simple. Open up the standard Venetian blinds gearbox that is used to tilt the blinds and connect it to the servo. Make sure that you properly program your servo and z-wave module via the arduino nano board. Mount the servo in the frame of the shades, if possible. If you prefer going wireless, make sure you find a good power supply option for your set-up. Also make sure to devise a small mount, where you can attach the battery. Otherwise, just plug the setup into the socket with an AC adapter, and you’d be good to go.

Roller Z-Wave Automatic Blinds

Standard Roller Motor and a Z-Wave power Supply for Roller Blinds

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Last update on 2017-11-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

There are quite a few options for you to choose from if you have Roller Blinds. However, if you want to stay within a budget and be able to automize your blinds simply and quickly, you should go with the roller motor and z-wave power supply solution.

The Add-A-Motor D80 is powerful enough for standard roller blinds, and if you need a more robust solution, they have other models, such as the 2000 model. The motor is relatively cheap, and if you combine it with a Z-Wave power supply, you’d be able to make your house smarter. You’ll also avoid diving into complex Raspberry Pi projects. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you can’t use rPI for automation. However, with rPI it would take you more time and effort to finish the project. The Z-Wave Power supply will give you the ability to quickly and safely control the motor and the blinds you have installed.

Drapes Z-Wave DIY Automatic Blinds

Ready-to-Install Solutions

Of course, these are not the only Z-Wave blinds options you have. With the increased popularity of the protocol and the rise in home automation solutions, you are able to get ready-to-go solutions that are easy to install or complete kits that feature everything you might need for your DIY project. Let’s check a few of them out and see which one is better for you.

DC1-ZW Single Motor DC Shade Controller

DC1-ZW Single Motor DC Shade controller
  • Intermediate stops as a percentage of shade travel
  • Supports tilt for horizontal blinds
  • Z-Wave certified compliance insures compatibility with control devices from other vendors
  • Two piece terminal connector makes installation easier

Last update on 2017-11-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

While this solution is not exactly ready right out of the box, it does save you a lot of time dealing with arduino boards, relays, servos and the like. Instead, everything is packed in a simple to use DC shade controller for motorized blinds. Of course, like many other z-wave devices on the market, the documentation of this product isn’t exactly up to par, so you might have to spend a couple of hours playing around with the device, but it is ultimately a great solution.

Morning Rising DIY Kit + Z-Wave Adapter

Last update on 2017-11-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Another option that is simpler to install is the Morning Rising DIY Kit combined with a z-wave plug. While this option doesn’t give you much control, outside of opening and closing your blinds, you will nevertheless be able to control your shades via a smart hub or another z-wave device.

Somfy Blinds Control Automation + ZRTSI Z-Wave Module

Last update on 2017-11-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

In case you have enough of a budget to spend, you might want to go for Somfy blinds control. Allowing you to easily automate your blinds, the somfy blinds control has an automatic relay option that allows you to connect with Z-Wave. The ecosystem of Somfy is amazing, but the downside is that it is rather expensive.

Alternative DIY Options – MIMO Z-Wave Dry Contact Bridge

Wireless Z-Wave Multi-Input/Output Dry Contact Bridge; Cert ID: ZC08-16040002
  • BEFORE YOU BUY: Check to make sure your home automation controller / security panel is interoperable with our device. NOT ALL Z-wave Controllers are compatible. Please visit our website, ask your controller manufacturer, or call us with questions.
  • One 24VDC / 110 VAC Relay to control any low voltage device via Z-wave. Controls garage doors, motorized shades, gates, solenoid valves, etc. Relay can be set as momentary or Latched.
  • One SIGNAL Input terminal block to receive low voltage (digital, analog, or pulse) signals via Z-wave. Use with reed sensors, contact sensors, door bell buttons, Security panel relay's, water leak probes, water level sensors, temperature probes, float switches, etc.
  • 9V AC power adaptor included. Low voltage wire is NOT included
  • Please visit our website and youtube page for application details and how-to video's. Wiring diagrams are also downloadable on our website product page under "files"

Last update on 2017-11-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

In case nothing else works, you can purchase almost any motorized blinds or shades kit and use a z-wave dry contact bridge, such as the one from MIMO, to make everything work through the wireless protocol. Of course, this isn’t that easy-to-install option, but it is still relatively easy to setup and install.

A Sea of Possibilities

Like with any other DIY Smart Home project you have hundreds of opportunities and options to choose from. For example, you can even go with an IR controlled motor, put a gadget, such as the Global Cache WF2IR iTach Wi-Fi to IR to connect the motor to your Z-Wave Wi-Fi system, and your Z-Wave Automatic Blinds will be still ready to go. In this guide, we’ve decided to go for the options, which we believe are the easiest for a new Smart Home enthusiast and are well within a person’s budget. However, we’d love to hear out your ideas, thoughts, and projects in the comments below.

Also, make sure to stay tuned to BuildYourSmartHome.co for everything new that’s happening in the Smart Home world and for our new reviews and tutorials!

 

About Author

With a degree in programming, Ivan loves anything that can engage his thinking. He explores topics ranging from particle physics to religious debates. In his free time, he likes to think about what tech will be in the future.

3 Comments

  1. I like the idea for the Venitian blinds. Is there a different option for the Remotec ZFM-80 to serve a z-wave relay instead of a switch that I could fit in the blind header? I have a Wink Relay that I can use as a remote switch.

    • Hi HERDFIVE,

      Thank you for your comment. Of course, there are a number of solutions we just decided to include the Remotec ZFM-80 module, because of it being a Z-Wave ready relay and the simplicity of installing it.

      As you have a Wink Relay you can use as a remote switch, I would strongly suggest purchasing a simple WiFi Relay board, such as this one:

      http://www.electrodragon.com/product/wifi-iot-relay-board-based-esp8266/

      Your Wink Relay should easily be able to connect to this device.

      If it’s not, you should go for the bit more expensive option with the Particle Photon.

      The Particle Photon costs around $19-21 and it is a more sophisticated board that allows you to connect your project more easily to IFTTT.

      Once connected to IFTTT, you can use your Wink Relay to control the Particle Photon board.

      However, note that you’ll need additional batteries for your Servo with the Photon. And of course, you’d need to power your Photon with a standard USB cable connected to a nearby socket.

      The good thing is that with the Particle Photon board, you have the ability to achieve smooth control of the Servo, allowing you to open and close your blinds more seamlessly.

      Hope this helped.

      Cheers,
      Ivan

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