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The 6 best smart blinds: Intelligent window shades

What are the best smart blinds? SmartWings are ZDNet's top choice because it's the most efficient combination of intelligence, affordability, compatibility, and customization.
maria-diaz
Written by Maria Diaz, Staff Writer on
Reviewed by Elyse Betters Picaro

Smart blinds are the peak of convenience in a home. It's pretty sweet scheduling your roller shades to open in the mornings as you wake up, easing you into your day and hopefully making it easier to peel yourself off the bed.

But smart blinds range in degrees of intelligence, with only a few brands offering quality, variety, and compatibility with home automation systems all at once. So what are the best smart blinds and shades available right now?

Must read:

SmartWings motorized shades
SmartWings

Features:

  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi and/or Zigbee
  • Custom sizing: Yes
  • Compatibility: Alexa, Google, SmartThings, or HomeKit

These are the best option when you consider value for money, quality, and compatibility options in one set of smart blinds or shades.

If you prioritize high IQ in your smart window treatments over customization power, SmartWings is your best option. They offer several models of motorized blinds and shades, let you customize size and mount type, and give you the option to choose from three smart home motors: a Zigbee motor directly compatible with SmartThings, Alexa, and Google Home; an Alexa motor for five specific Echo devices; and a HomeKit motor for Apple users. The ability to choose a smart motor means there is no hub required to use smart options.

Though batteries in the motor last for up to six months of use, they also sell a separate solar panel you can add to your shades so you never have to worry about charging them. For standard 24x36 inches blackout roller shades with the Zigbee motor, you can expect to pay around $225, which isn't too bad at all.

Pros: 

  • Affordable price
  • Great compatibility

Cons: 

  • Not as many color/material options as others
Serena Shades
Serena Shades

Features:

  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi
  • Custom size: Yes
  • Compatibility: Alexa, SmartThings, Google, HomeKit

Lutron's line of smart shades, Serena Shades, is a home run among smart window treatments. When customizing, you can choose size, whether they're battery-powered or wired, fabric, color, mount, and controls and accessories. These shades have become pretty popular among smart home enthusiasts, thanks to both the high quality of the materials and the wide compatibility with assistants like Google Home, HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, SmartThings, and more. 

Though the Lutron smart bridge is required to enjoy all capabilities of these shades, you can also pair them with Caseta dimmers and light controls, another Lutron brand. The hub can also connect up to 75 Lutron devices, something to consider if you're a Caseta or a Lutron fan in your smart home. 

The only thing they are lacking in is affordability since they are one of the most expensive options. Their blackout roller shades at 24x36 inches with smart capability and remote can cost just over $740 to over $900, depending on customizations, so they're definitely on the higher end of price. 

Pros:

  • Highest compatibility of all
  • It pairs well with Caseta

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Requires hub
Yoolax
Yoolax

Features:

  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi
  • Custom size: Yes
  • Compatibility: HomeKit, Google Home & Alexa, depending on motor

These blinds by Yoolax are made to order and available on Amazon with customization options for size and color. The shades have an expensive look and a good variety of fabrics and finishes to choose from, and they have blackout options or light-filtering ones that filter UV rays while still letting the light in.

Yoolax is very specific on what their products are compatible with and which blinds need a hub to connect to an automation system, so it's important to look out for that when choosing one of their products. These are available with two motors, one compatible with HomeKit, and the other compatible with Alexa and Google Home, or the option to purchase a separate hub.

Plug-in and battery-operated options are available for sale from Yoolax. And if your window is too high to plug into an outlet, Yoolax also sells solar panels separately that install with the motorized blinds.

These start at $189 and can go up to $600 depending on size and customizations.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Option for solar panel

Cons: 

  • Plastic construction
Levolor
Levolor

Features:

  • Connectivity: Bluetooth
  • Custom size: Yes, and everything else
  • Compatibility: Levolor app

Over 300 colors and materials to choose from ensures you'll definitely find something that matches your style at Levolor. Once you've settled on a color, texture, and material, choose the size and mount, control type, power source, remote, and whether you want the standard, top down/bottom up, or day/night.

But high degree of customization doesn't quite reach the standard home automation systems, unfortunately. Though these are smart blinds in that they can be controlled through an app on your phone where you can add schedules that will run whether you're at home or away, they connect only through Bluetooth to the app and are not readily compatible with Google Home, Amazon Alexa, HomeKit, or any other apps aside from Levolor. This is a good option if customization is important to you, but you don't mind an extra app to use them.

Depending on customizations, one of Levolor's motorized room darkening 24x36 inches roller shades can cost from $500-$700, so it's definitely not the most affordable option and something to consider when weighing the pros and cons of customization, price, and smart home compatibility.

Pros: 

  • Highly customizable
  • Can use with the Levolor app

Cons:

  • Not readily compatible with home automation systems
Select Blinds
Select Blinds

Features:

  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi
  • Custom size: Yes
  • Compatibility: Alexa, Google Home, some with IFTTT with hub

These roller blinds rank pretty high as far as customization power goes. If you're looking for the ability to customize each part of your blinds or for fabric variations, Select Blinds has both. This company offers anything from roman shades to faux or real wood blinds, cellular or honeycomb, solar, and more. You even have the option to shop by color, where you can find the perfect blinds to complement your home decor and then move to customizing patterns, textures, lift styles, roll position, headrails, and motorization.

If you want to add smart capability to these blinds, just select to add the hub for an extra cost when customizing and adding your window measurements. This particular hub works as a smart controller and can be integrated with Google Voice Assistant, as a Siri Shortcut, with Amazon Alexa, and is compatible with IFTTT.

These blinds are a blackout set from their Designer Elements line, which also features different patterns, weaves and colors. For a 24x36 inches set complete with the wifi hub, expect to pay anywhere from $400-$900. 

Pros:

  • Great variety
  • Rich customization options

Cons:

  • A hub is necessary
  • Expensive
Ikea Tredansen
Ikea

Features:

  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi
  • Custom size: Choose from 8 widths only
  • Compatibility: Alexa, Google Home, HomeKit with hub

These blackout cellular blinds are a great feature for the smart home enthusiast looking for simplicity and affordability that doesn't mind buying a separate hub. The blinds are very energy efficient, keeping the sun rays out and the not letting as much heat inside as other options. The Tredansen blinds are cordless and come with a remote control and signal repeater for the wireless functions. 

The gateway Ikea sells for their blinds is Tradfri, which is unfortunately temporarily out of stock (thanks to supply chain issues), but it makes them compatible with the Ikea Home smart app, as well as Alexa, Google Home, and Apple HomeKit. 

One of these blackout shades with a remote and signal repeater, plus the separately sold gateway (when available), retails for $170, which is on par with Ikea prices, so don't expect the high-end build quality others offer, but the price makes up for the lack of customization ability.

Pros:

  • Great light blocking
  • Smooth operation
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Only eight widths are available, and no other customization
  • Must buy a separate hub

What are the best smart blinds?

The best ones are SmartWings smart home blinds because they offer the best balance of smart capabilities and affordability.

You can see how the different brands compare on this table. Because the price for blinds varies greatly, we used the range of a standard 24x36 inches for all brands.

Smart blindsPrice rangeNeeds a hubAlexaGoogleHomeKitSmartThingsOther
SmartWings$200-$600NoIFTTT
Serena Shades$740-$900Yes-
Yoolax$189-$600For some voice assistantWith hub or specific motorWith hub or specific motorWith hub or specific motor
Levolor$500-$700No----Levolor app
Select Blinds$400-$900Yes-IFTT
Ikea Tredansen$170.00Yes-

Which are the right smart blinds and shades for you?

The best way to figure out which smart blinds to invest in is to really consider which factors are most important to you. If price is a big factor, especially if you're buying for several or all of your windows, consider the more affordable ones like SmartWings, Yoolax, or Ikea Tredansen. 

If you're very particular about your home decor or you're looking for patterns and a variety in styles, then Levolor and Select Blinds are good choices.

Choose these smart blinds...If you...
SmartWingsNeed a budget-conscious option with great automation potential
Serena ShadesDon't mind spending more for higher end materials from one of the best home automation companies
YoolaxAre looking for most affordability without having to buy a separate hub
LevolorWant a wide range of selection in color, fabrics, and more with no hub and use the Levolor app
Select BlindsDon't mind buying a separate hub for more compatibility while still being able to choose from hundreds of customizations
Ikea TredansenPrefer for the most affordable, stripped-down version of motorized shades and don't mind buying a hub

How did we choose these smart blinds and shades?

There is a significant investment involved in window treatments, so we definitely didn't take any shortcuts in choosing the best smart blinds. We chose these blinds keeping quality, variety, setup and installation, cost, and compatibility with different home automation systems.

We also know not everyone wants to spend more money on buying a separate hub to connect their blinds too, so we wanted to offer different options for all. 

Compatibility

Whether blinds are compatible with your current home automation system can definitely determine which ones you'll buy. Making sure your blinds are compatible will determine how much you'll be able to use them to their full potential. What's the use of spending more for smart blinds if we can't ask our favorite home assistant to open or close them or set automations so they can close in the evenings and open in the mornings? 

Quality

Not all blinds are built equally. Some are built to last decades while others are built to last the year. We wanted to make sure to choose options where the prices reflect the level of quality instead of choosing out of the many overpriced options on the market.

Can you retrofit blinds to make them smart?

Yes, you can. The question is whether you should. 

Not everyone is in the market to swap out all the blinds at home, as the cost quickly adds up to more than you may be looking to spend. This brings many to consider trying to motorize and automate their current blinds. 

This can be a good idea if you've got newer, high-quality window treatments that you don't necessarily want to swap out, effectively tossing that investment away.

Personally, I wouldn't retrofit my blinds. At an average of $100-$300 per window for retrofitting, I'd rather go with new shades and have the benefit of brand new window treatments and the peace of mind of a good motor or system.

While there are a few options to automate blinds that have good reviews among customers, they're few and far between. For blinds, a good option seems to be RYSE smart shade starter pack, while the SwitchBot is a good one for those looking to motorize curtains.

Are all motorized blinds or shades smart?

Unfortunately, just because blinds are advertised as motorized does not mean they are smart. Most motorized blinds and shades on the market only include a remote control to use them. 

Smart blinds means they give users the ability to control them from a smartphone or other device, which often includes setting schedules, making automations, and potentially adding them to a home automation system like Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, IFTTT, Home Assistant, SmartThings, etc. 

Can you make motorized blinds smart?

If you already have motorized blinds with a remote control, you have the option to add an IR/IF blaster like the Broadlink RM4 Pro. This little hub works as a universal remote to replace current infrared and radio frequency remote controls, connecting to wifi and enabling you to use your smartphone to control dumb devices around your home. 

The Broadlink RM4 Pro is compatible with Google Home, Alexa, IFTTT and Siri Shortcuts, so any remote-controlled devices you add to it on the Broadlink app can be subsequently added to one of these home automation systems to use voice control. 

Are there alternative smart blinds and shades to consider?

While these are what we consider to be the best smart blinds on the market right now, there are also some alternatives you can consider:

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