Here is a quick how to guide for wiring AC Motorized Blinds and Shades. There are 4 phases – The Planning Phase, The Installation Phase, The Wiring Phase, and Final Walk Thru Phase. **Always make sure you work with a licensed electrician and follow your cities building codes and best practices to keep everything safe and in compliance with residential or commercial laws.
Phase One – The Planning Phase
What do you need to know in order for your motorized window covering project to be smooth and seamless?
- What type of window covering are you doing? Motorized roller shade, dual shade, curtain, cellular shade, woven wood, etc. Different window coverings are available with specific motor types and not all are available with an AC motor. For this article we will focus on roller shades with an AC motor. You will also need to determine what type of remote, wall switch, hub, or automation system you will be using to control the shades.
- Where and how is your window covering being mounted? Shades can be mounted either inside mount or outside mount. Many factors come into play when determining which mount is ideal. The window sill depth, window cranks, desired light gaps, aesthetics, valance or fascia type, and bracket type/placement are just a few things you’ll want to consider. If you don’t plan properly you will inevitably create a situation that may be difficult and costly to overcome.
- Where is your power source and how will it be accessed? You will need to decide, with the help of an electrician, the best way to get wiring from your power source to the window covering. Oftentimes this involves cutting holes into the drywall and interior walls to run wire from the window to the power source. This can be easy or difficult depending on the home and wall type. The window covering professional will be specifying the motor side when the shade is ordered so this should be discussed as well.
- How is your shade being controlled? Most hardwired shades are wired for power and not control. Typically, remotes and wall switches are operated using radio frequency. If you are planning on wiring for power and control you will have more to consider. We will focus on radio frequency communication for this article.
- Pro Tip – It’s absolutely critical that you plan for a quick disconnect option at each shade. One mistake novices make is to have each window covering hardwired to a power source and then drywall over everything making any future programming near impossible without cutting into the wall. If a motorized shade fails at some point in the future or loses it’s programming, you’ll need to be able to isolate that shade. This means you’ll need to be able to disconnect this shade and other shades from power individually. If you are not planning an easy way to disconnect your shades from power you are making a BIG mistake in your planning. We recommend having either an outlet at the window or a junction box.
- Pre-Ordering Meeting – Before you order window coverings, you will want to make sure that you have a group meeting with the window covering company, electrician, and yourself to ensure that everyone is on the same page. I can tell you countless horror stories where a homeowner relied on their contractor to do all the wiring without consulting a window covering professional and the job was wired incorrectly. In one extreme case in Paradise Valley we ran into, the wiring was done and then concrete walls were poured. When we were brought into the project the house was complete but the desired motorized shades were not compatible with the wiring that the contractor had recommended. The homeowner was off the rails upset and couldn’t believe what we were telling them. I would have hated to be that contractor, UGHH!!
Phase Two – The Installation Phase
- In most cases, we prefer to install the motorized blinds or shades before the electrician does the wiring. At installation, we set the brackets, connect the shades to temporary power and input all the programming so the remotes, hubs, and shades sync. Then we disconnect the power and the window coverings are ready to be connected to a permanent power source. The automatic window coverings are able to save their commands even when disconnected from power. Depending on the complexity of the project an installer may need to stay on site to remove valances, fascia, drapery panels, etc so that the electrician can access the window opening.
Phase Three – The Wiring Phase
- The electrician should already have a clear understanding of the the project from the planning meeting and at this point they will be executing that plan. We recommend using a 14/3 wire with ground. 14 is the gauge of wire and 3 is how many conductors or wires are in the wire bundle plus the ground wire, so essentially there are 4 wires in the bundle including the ground wire. Make sure your electrician is following codes and ensuring the project is done safely using best practices. You will also need to make plans for drywall to be patched, walls to be touched up, etc.
Phase Four – The Final Walk Thru
At this point, the window coverings should be installed, connected to power, and operational. Make sure the window covering professional goes over basic operations, programming, and troubleshooting with you until you are comfortable operating your new shades. Most issues that happen after the initial installation are due to operator error so be careful to use your shades and ask questions if you have any concerns.
- Hire A Motorization Pro – Motorized window covering projects can be quite complex and require the guidance of a skilled professional. Make sure you do your due diligence and hire a pro! Most builders, contractors, and electricians aren’t familiar with motorized blinds and shades and don’t understand the requirements and specs. Failing to hire a window covering specialist is forgetting to implement the most critical element to any motorization project. At Southwest Blinds & Shutters we are proud to work with homeowners, commercial clients, and hospitality clients to execute their motorization projects. Whether it’s 5 windows or 500 we have the skills and manpower to ensure the success of your project and would love to work with you. Call us at 480-415-8542 or fill out the form to request an estimate. You may also submit requests to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We currently service:
Arizona – Phoenix, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Cave Creek, Carefree, Gilbert, Chandler, Mesa, Gold Canyon, Tempe, Peoria, Goodyear, and all of the cities in the east and west valley’s.
Nevada -Las Vegas, Henderson, Summerlin, Reno, Carson City, and Lake Tahoe
Utah – Salt Lake City, Sandy, South Jordan, and Park City
California – Sacramento, Fulsom, Roseville, Manteca, and Modesto
Side Note – Why AC Motors instead of a DC or low voltage motor? AC motorization or line voltage motors are ideal for large windows. An AC motor can lift shades that are hundreds of pounds. In Arizona, a popular home trend is the extremely wide sliding glass door. Some of these doors are up to 300″ wide and will require multiple shades to be coupled together creating a heavy load for the motor to raise. An AC motor is capable of pulling that kind of load without burning out the motor. For a complete guide to wiring DC shades click here