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Tech Showcase: The Latest Shading Systems

Hot, trending category is spurred along by innovative new products.

Motorized shades have become a major force in the CI industry thanks in part to the evolution of the technology, which keeps adding more and more convenience and design features. Here is a look at some of the more recent entries into this product category.

Hunter Douglas - PowerView Shades

Hunter Douglas PowerView Gen 3 Automation

Hunter Douglas has introduced PowerView Gen 3 Automation. With a completely new communications protocol, new hardware, and a faster, more intuitive setup process, PowerView Gen 3 makes quoting, specifying, and installing Hunter Douglas smart shading easier and more appealing for professionals.

The automated window treatment category remains a strong growth pillar in the custom integration channel. The release of PowerView Gen 3 aims to fuel the category’s momentum by alleviating commonly cited challenges with window treatment installations. Leveraging dealer feedback and industry-favorite features from previous PowerView iterations, the Gen 3 system is built on a solid and tested infrastructure, newly devised to help dealers take on more shading projects, streamline installation, reduce truck rolls, maximize profitability, and ultimately increase homeowner satisfaction.

The PowerView Gen 3 platform expedites the installation process for integrators and delivers personalized control of Hunter Douglas shades for homeowners. The PowerView App’s dashboard enables fast, easy configuration with proximity detection, which displays the shades that are nearest to the user first on the list and offers tap naming and scheduling options. Once setup is complete, ownership of the project can be transferred to the homeowner. At first glance, homeowners can access and modify shades, scenes, automations, and settings in the App.

Somfy Li-on Solar Panel for Shades

Somfy Li-ion Solar Panel

Somfy has launched the Li-ion Solar Panel, filling the need for a greener alternative to power WireFree motorized window shades and blinds. The solar charging solution harnesses renewable solar energy to power motorized window coverings in a cost-effective way that also reduces end-user maintenance.

The Li-ion Solar Panel works in conjunction with long-life batteries that provide enhanced performance and convenience by decreasing the need for battery replacement. Compatible with most Somfy-powered WireFree window coverings, the panel’s discreet low profile is easy to conceal and preserves the design of the window.

Draper EZLIFT Shade String Replacement

Draper EZ Lift

Manually operated window shades are a popular choice in many settings because they are less expensive than motorized solutions. However, shades with cords and chains that are not properly tensioned present a choking hazard for small children. That’s why Draper has added a new control option to the FlexShade Recharge battery-operated window shade. The EZ-Lift option is designed to bring motorization to projects where budget has previously been a barrier.

A rigid control wand is attached to the shade and operates with a simple button press. The battery is rechargeable and accepts any micro-USB charger. And with no wiring, installation is less expensive. The FlexShade Recharge with EZ-Lift motor installs like a manual shade.

Legrand Shades - Designer Series

Legrand Shading Systems Designer Series

The Legrand Shading Systems Designer Series of decorative brackets and hembar endcaps are now shipping. Available in a wide range of finishes to match any residential or commercial space’s unique style, they allow dealers to elevate the style of any window.

Designed to fit 2.6-inch and 3.3-inch universal and open-roll adjustable brackets, the decorative brackets slide on to completely conceal mounting brackets from the outside without interfering with the mounting surface. They hide mounting hardware from view, resulting in a cohesive shading design. Likewise, the Designer Series hembar endcaps offer a redesigned, modern shape to complete the look, and provide a consistent finish.

To match the aesthetics of any space perfectly, down to the last detail, Designer Series decorative brackets and hembar endcaps are available in 15 new finish styles across three collections: Premium, Glass, and adorne. Premium finishes offer clean lines and are color-matched to Legrand’s wiring devices, while adorne finishes perfectly complement switches and outlets from Legrand’s adorne Collection.

Glass finishes are inspired by the Vantage EasyTouch Glass keypad and offer a reflective, mirror-like surface. Dealers can showcase all 15 finishes to their customers with the new Decorative Endcap Demo case.

Crestron Shades

Crestron Battery-Powered Shades

Crestron Battery-Powered Shades offer homeowners a shading solution that natively integrates with the Crestron Home platform. Crestron’s shading portfolio includes wired, wireless, and battery-powered options, giving homeowners the ability to have intelligent shading solutions integrated into almost any space, meaning dealers will never have to rely on multiple manufacturers to outfit a home, whether for a new build or a retrofit.

Motorized shading has long carried challenges with cross-manufacturer integration that limits homeowner control. Crestron’s portfolio of shading options changes that by offering a holistic hardware and software ecosystem that goes beyond the control provided by mismatched systems. At the touch of a button, homeowners can configure, schedule, or execute a shading scene that synchronizes shading throughout the house with other Crestron Home solutions, the Horizon Thermostat, and third-party extensions to optimize comfort and security.

Lutron Palladiom Shades

Lutron Palladiom Wire‐Free Shading System

Lutron Electronics’ Palladiom Wire‐Free Shading System is a sleek shade with a minimal profile. Eliminating the need for pre‐wiring allows this versatile shade to be installed at any point in a project’s lifecycle — even after construction is complete.

“Our goal is to provide our customers with flexible shading solutions that combine superior technology with the reliable performance that integrators have come to expect from Lutron,” says Sam Chambers, senior director‐residential systems. “The Palladiom Wire‐Free Shading System combines that design‐centric aesthetic with the simplicity of wire‐free operation, making it easier than ever to bring beautiful daylight control to any home at any time.”

The Palladiom Wire‐Free Shading System runs on Active Energy Optimization, Lutron’s patent‐pending battery management architecture designed to optimize the delicate balance of efficiency and power density in traditional alkaline batteries to extend battery lifetime. This shading system uses no more than six D‐cell batteries — 60 percent fewer batteries than other Lutron battery shades — while still maintaining an industry‐leading battery life of three to five years.

Screen Innovations Outdoor Shades

Screen Innovations Zen 2

Screen Innovations (SI) brings motorized shading to the outdoors with the introduction of Zen 2. Zen 2 boasts a customizable, architecturally friendly design that transforms decks, gazebos, patios, and other outdoor areas into comfortable living spaces. Zen 2 gives architects and designers an option that seamlessly blends into today’s home designs, thanks to a custom paintable, primed option for a perfect color match. Up to 25 feet wide and 16 feet tall, Zen 2 includes everything needed for a complete installation, including mounting hardware, motorized shade cassette, and a wide selection of popular outdoor shading fabrics.

According to SI, Zen 2 installs in half the time of other outdoor shading systems with its unique snap-in tube and hidden bracket attachment. The cassette can be pre-installed and the tube snapped into place, affording a simple hands-free installation process. The zipper track system provides integrators twice the freedom of other track systems, simplifying the specification and installation process.

Zen 2 integrates with all the latest smart home control systems via a wireless Zigbee 3.0, RTS, or wired 485-based connection. This enables the movement of the shades to be choreographed with lighting, AV equipment, and more. Home systems integrators can use SI software to synchronize the movement of multiple shades and to open and close to several preset positions.