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Last year’s SwitchBot Curtain was a decent first attempt at automating the opening and closing of curtains, but the company clearly saw that its version-one release had some growing to do. The good news is that the Curtain Rod 2 makes significant improvements on the design and function of the original SwitchBot Curtain. The better news is that the price hasn’t changed, remaining at $99 for a single device. (Remember that if you have double curtains, you’ll need to buy one for each side.)
The overall look of the Curtain Rod 2 is about the same as the original: It’s a chunky, oblong device with two smaller pieces that snap onto to either side of its motor. While the original Curtain attached to a rod with a removeable piece that clipped to the top of the curtain rod, sandwiching it between the motor below and the hunk of plastic above, the new Curtain Rod 2 is self-contained, with a pair of more convenient (and moderately more attractive) spring-loaded clips that clutch the rod like a pair of wheeled claws.
That spring is tight, which made it a little tricky to affix the Curtain Rod 2 to a thick curtain rod (the device still supports rods 15- to 40mm in diameter), but not overly difficult. As with the first-gen device, you’ll need to buy a different product if instead of standard cylindrical rod, you have either I Rail or U Rail tracks. You’ll need to install small plastic clips atop your curtain’s tabs to give the motor something to push against as it moves; if you have grommet-style curtains, an included string of beads with clips attached helps to accomplish the same thing, but this adds a bit of complexity.
SwitchBot Curtain Rod 2 is Bluetooth only, unless…
The SwitchBot Curtain 2 remains a Bluetooth-only device, which makes for a quick setup. If you also have a SwitchBot Hub Mini ($39), you can bridge the bot to your Wi-Fi network, allowing you to use the controller while you’re away from home. You can also pair it with Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri shortcuts, and IFTTT, among others. You can skip the hub if you need only local control with your smartphone.
The beefy unit (it weighs more than a pound) still includes a battery that charges via USB-C cable (included). The manufacturer offers no specifications on expected battery lifespan, but you can buy a $19 solar panel to keep the battery topped off.
Setup is quick and involves a short calibration to tell the app where the curtains’ proper open and closed positions are at. Manual control is simple and intuitive—open, close, or pause—while more fine-grained control lets you partially open or close drapes, set operation on a delay timer, or configure a recurring schedule for operation.
A light-sensing feature lets you automate curtain operations based on ambient light, and it works surprisingly well considering it’s still going through beta testing. Finally, for most modes you can tell SwitchBot to operate in Performance Mode or a quieter Silent Mode. The latter ratchets down the motor power, however, which can cause it to get stuck mid-operation if it’s moving heavy drapes.
In Performance Mode, the motor feels more powerful than the original, though whether that is an upgrade to the actual hardware or the impact of the redesign is impossible for me to say. (SwitchBot doesn’t provide horsepower specs, though both models claim to support a maximum curtain weight of 17 pounds.) In any case, I found the motion to be smoother and more assured than on the earlier model.
The modestly improved SwitchBot Curtain Rod 2
This second-gen gadget doesn’t solve all the problems of the original design. If you have mini blinds directly under your curtains, for example, the unit can drag against them as it moves, creating problems. And, of course, many types of curtains won’t conceal the still industrial-looking SwitchBot well, if at all. That said, opening curtains is no one’s favorite job when morning comes; the original SwitchBot Curtain went a long way toward streamlining that process. This update only improves it—albeit modestly.