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SwitchBot has found its niche in retrofitting existing home appliances and products, such as door locks, to make them smart. And now the company is making a blind tilt mechanism with an included solar panel that automates window blinds for you.
This smart SwitchBot Blind Tilt launched not too long ago after a successful Kickstarter campaign, where it was pitched as the world's easiest smart solar-powered blinds.
It's a small device that attaches to the vertical twisting wand on horizontal blinds, and twists it to tilt open the blinds or close them, all controlled by you from your mobile device or via a voice command to Alexa or Google Home.
Your phone communicates with the SwitchBot Blind Tilt via Bluetooth, but it can also connect to Wi-Fi if you add a SwitchBot Hub.
The Blind Tilt comes with its own solar panel, which makes it an easy, plug-and-play option. You never have to worry about climbing up on a chair to charge it or finding a long-enough charging cable; I found it a simple, hassle-free solution to my blind woes.
Why would you need a smart blind tilt?
Upgrading your current blinds to make them smart can seem unnecessary for most windows, but if you've got hard-to-reach windows, or have always wanted to wake up to the morning light and don't have a butler to open your blinds like you're royalty, then smart blind tilts were created with you in mind.
Out of all the things we had to fix immediately in my 24-year-old home, do you know what was not on my priority list? Replacing window treatments. I'd love to have crisp, new smart window coverings in every room, but when you're talking about at the very least $200 to $300 for each window, the cost adds up very quickly.
Since spending thousands of dollars on new blinds isn't my priority right now, it was easy to let it go. How hard is it to twist a wand to open your blinds every morning, anyway? Well, let me introduce you to my bathroom blinds.
We have corner windows in the main bathroom that let in a lot of light during the day, but also let everyone outside see into our shower at night. The problem? These blinds are right above a big soaker tub, so whenever we want to open them, we have to step into the tub to reach them. We would do this in the mornings, only to forget to close them until one of us was already in the separate shower each night, frantically calling for someone else to close them so the neighbors don't get a free show.
We had settled for keeping them closed at all times to avoid this hassle and just turning on the lights when in the bathroom during the day. This is why as soon as the SwitchBot Blind Tilt arrived, I knew exactly where it was going: The main bathroom blinds.
So off I went to install it the same night, figuring it would be the answer to my prayers -- I'd watch the blinds open to yield the morning light while a chorus of angels sang in the background. I was so excited.
You see, I've researched blind tilts in the past, quite extensively actually. I've tested automatic blinds in different homes and when I researched replacing ours with smart ones and was hit with the overwhelming cost of it all, I decided to look into retrofitting options.
What I found is there are very few options for automating existing blinds. And it's not for lack of trying; at different points in my research, I found countless small companies trying to sell their retrofitting options for blinds. From wand attachments to replacing the entire tilt mechanism at the top, there are two things that stood out to me from the different retrofitting options: The reviews are abysmal as to how reliable they are, and that the ones that actually work cost upward of $170.
So I was glad to see SwitchBot, with all its retrofitting experience, try its hand in the blind tilt market, especially at 20% off right now.
I received two units, one for each window above my tub. When I unboxed the first one, I quickly got out the instructions and began the setup that was sure to change my life. The box includes the blind tilt mechanism, charging cable, solar panel, and setup guide.
Blind wand diameter: 15mm - 40mm
Wand circumference: 47mm - 125mm
Blinds size: Blinds must be less than 9.8 feet wide
Charging: If solar panel doesn't receive enough sunlight to charge the battery, the unit can be charged with the included cable.
The SwitchBot Blind Tilt is essentially a small robot that spins your blind wand for you, powered by a battery that is charged by the included solar panel. Because of this mechanism, the unit needs to grip your wand quite tightly in order to work, so you have to attach an adapter and coupling to your blind's wand, but SwitchBot includes several adapters in the box to ensure that you get the right fit.
After that, you just have to connect the unit to the solar panel and stick the panel to your window with the 3M backing, where it'll receive enough sunlight to keep the battery charged and the smart blind tilt running.
It took me about 10 minutes and zero tools to install the first one, and the other one took less than five minutes, since I was now familiar with what to do and expect, so it's a very simple process.
Once the Blind Tilt is installed, just open the SwitchBot app on your phone, go to add new device, and your phone will pair with the Blind Tilt via Bluetooth. If you have a SwitchBot Hub or Hub Mini, you can use it to control the Blind Tilt via Wi-Fi, from wherever you are, and add automations. It can also be added to Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Siri Shortcuts for voice control.
We have the Hub Mini as well as a SwitchBot remote. And, while I was initially disappointed to learn that I couldn't group both of my blind tilts to control them both at the same time with the remote, SwitchBot has just added the feature in the app. This means that I can control both blinds at the same time through the app or voice control, but also with one of these tiny remotes on the wall.
Eyesore or eye-opening?
Yeah, you can see it, it doesn't blend seamlessly into your blinds or replace a blind wand, but it isn't terribly noticeable or something that bothers me, personally. One: My blinds are white, as is the blind wand. Two: I don't think anyone would notice the motor because who would be looking for it? However, if anyone did notice it, it'd be an awesome opportunity to whip out my phone and do a demo of the blind tilt mechanism.
Could this be the smart blind tilt that changes it all? SwitchBot sure wants it to be. The company is also known for its SwitchBot Curtain, which automatically opens and closes existing curtains, so doing the same for blinds seems like a natural step.
ZDNET's buying advice
I admit that I was pleasantly surprised by the SwitchBot Blind Tilt. It's been responsive and consistent any time we've used it, and it runs quite smoothly on a schedule: Our blinds are always open in the morning and close promptly at 6:00 pm, rain or shine -- and it's continued to be reliable and consistent now, almost four months after installing.
It's not a loud device, though you can hear a very faint whirring if you're within a few feet of it. I will admit, however, that I was once bathing my toddler in the big tub right below and didn't even hear the blinds close until I looked up and realized they had. Life gets so busy that we don't even hear it most days.
In the end, I never heard the chorus of angels as my blinds unfolded for me in the morning light. Instead, this became an invisible part of my everyday life -- something I don't even notice. And with a retrofitting endeavor like this one, I think that's probably the biggest win: It's so conveniently reliable that you never have to worry about it. It just works.