One of the biggest headaches of installing smart window shades is figuring out how to power the motors. Relying on AC power requires an ugly wall wart and hiding the resulting wires, but relying on battery power is just not environmentally friendly. Now there’s an alternative.
Missouri-based PowerShades says its latest smart shades come with a motor that supports Power over ethernet (PoE), a technology that allows for the transmission of both power and data over a single low-voltage ethernet cable.
PoE support is common in such networked devices such as security cameras, network switches, VoIP phones, and wireless access points, but this is the first time we’ve heard of a PoE-enabled smart shade, and it’s a clever alternative to snaking bulky Romex electrical wiring through your walls.
The PoE smart shades are compatible with standard CAT5e and CAT6 ethernet cables. You can connect the shades to an ethernet switch with PoE-enabled LAN ports, or you could use a separate PoE injector to add power to your ethernet cabling if you’re using a non-PoE switch.
The PoE-equipped motors that comes with the new shades features a low-voltage design (less than 50V, PowerShades says), which means they can be installed without the help of an electrician.
Like PowerShades other smart shades, the new PoE shades are compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Samsung SmartThings, Creston, ELAN, Control4, RTI, and other smart home systems.
The shades, which are available in roller, pleated, horizontal, and honeycomb styles (among others), can be grouped together, allowing you to control all the shades in a room at once.
You can also create schedules and scenes that automatically open and close the shades depending on the time of day. Other features include soft start and stop and a favorite position setting.
Ben has been writing about technology and consumer electronics for more than 20 years. A PCWorld contributor since 2014, Ben joined TechHive in 2019, where he covers smart speakers, soundbars, and other smart and home-theater devices. You can follow Ben on Twitter.