Are you thinking of installing motorised blinds and shades? As any estate agent will tell you; most people feel that having lots of natural light is a big priority for their home. The bright and airy feeling of a home that has lots of natural light is very appealing. However, there are times when it is desirable to control the natural light and, in this article, we look at:
- Why control natural light?
- How do we control natural light?
- What about the opposite?
- In conclusion…
“There are two kinds of light – the glow that illumines, and the glare that obscures.”James Grover Thurber
Why control natural light?
Here are the main reasons that it may be desirable to control the natural light in a room:
- Ambient brightness. This may be to reduce the intense glare of the afternoon sun to a comfortable level. It could be to exclude natural light completely, in, for example, a home cinema.
- Temperature. In very bright rooms, we may need to control the natural light to help control the warmth of the room.
- Protection from damaging UV rays. Sometimes it is necessary to partially reduce the brightness in a room to protect soft furnishings or artwork from the strongest and most damaging UV rays.
Inversely, we may sometimes wish to introduce natural light where there isn’t normally any. We look at this in more detail below.
How do we control natural light?
Occasionally it is essential to exclude natural light completely; sometimes we just wish to soften or reduce the light levels, depending on the circumstances. There are lots of ways to achieve this. As home technology professionals, we are predominantly concerned with electronic shading methods, including motorised blinds, curtains and shades.
- Motorised roller blinds. With a huge range of fabrics and options, roller shades are a classic option for motorised blinds.
- Curtains (drapes). Motorised curtain (drapery) tracks for all weights of fabric, providing for traditional pinch-pleat or elegant ripple fold motorised curtains.
- Tensioned shades. The perfect motorised shading option for angled windows and skylights, the fabric is kept taut with a minimum of sag. These motorised shades are designed to reduce the light gaps around the fabric and maximise the view.
- Roman blinds. Using a motorised roman blind electronics system, we can fabricate motorised Roman blinds using either our huge range of fabric options or your own favourite fabric.
- Wooden blinds. Stunning motorised wooden blinds, with the ability to tilt and lift to your desired levels from the press of a button, and a lovely range of wooden slat, valance and tape options to choose from.
- Horizontal sheer blinds. The best of all worlds – the control you would expect from a motorised blind, with the elegance of a sheer. Sheer layers, combined with fabric vanes, provide a lovely filter to the sunlight at the same time as maintaining privacy.
- Cable Guided Shades. In situations where the window or skylight is angled; by using cable-guided shades, we can keep the roller shades at the precise angle of the window. This system is also useful where it is necessary to prevent shades from moving due to high-velocity airflow.
Level of shading
To achieve the desired level of shading, we offer sheer, dim-out and black-out products; there is a solution for every situation. For example, we would use a black-out shade in a home cinema. We’d use a sheer where you would wish to maintain a view whilst protecting soft furnishings from UV rays. Often, we would use more than one solution in a room. For example, in a front-facing room, we might wish to use a sheer roller blind for privacy in the daytime, and a product with more opacity for the night-time, such as curtains.
Quiet operation from motorised blinds
The product solutions we use have ultra-quiet “near silent” operations. These are impressively rated at less than 44 dBA at a distance of 3ft. In other words, the shading is virtually inaudible. In rooms where there is more than one window, the motorised shades move in accord with each other, with hem bar alignment. This is visually very satisfying.
There are solutions for every window type, size and shape; from large atrium windows to skylights. Additionally, the range of fabrics and options to choose from is huge. Part of our job is to work with you to make sure that the final choice is perfect for your project.
Our motorised blinds and window treatments can be wired or wireless, meaning that they can be retrofitted, if you don’t wish to disrupt a finished room.
In addition to our motorised window shading treatments providing great control of the natural light, they are also excellent for affording privacy and security.
These solutions with motorised blinds are perfect for use in the home, office, restaurant, retail, hospitality, worship and education settings etc.
Integration of your motorised blinds and shades
Once you have determined which shading solutions are right for your project, you should think about the control of the motorised shades.
Stylish keypads are usually used to integrate the control of the lighting and shading within a space. Chiefly, they can be wall-mounted or desk-mounted. We can use smart device apps to gain additional control.
You should also think about creating scenes for your space which can align with different activities or people. For example, a partially shaded setting for reading; a fully shaded scene for watching TV; an afternoon diffused scene for hot summer afternoons; or in contrast a fully unshaded setting for cleaning the room.
With a fully integrated motorised shading solution, you can also schedule timed events to happen astronomically. For example, curtains close at dusk; opening 30 minutes after sunrise; motorised blinds close in a south-facing room at a certain time of day in the summer months; shades remain open in the evenings during the Christmas period so that you can enjoy festive garden lights etc.
During periods when the building is unoccupied, vacation modes can mimic the lighting and shading activities. This will make it appear as though you are there.
What about the opposite?
Although we have been thinking specifically about controlling the levels of natural light within a room, sometimes the inverse is a problem; there is not enough natural light to make the space feel comfortable.
Where is not possible to have a window, perhaps a virtual sunlight window would be an option. These are artificial lights which mimic the colour and glow of real sunlight and are amazing options for spaces such as basements. It is possible also to have artificial skylights, which appear very realistically as sky scenes for day and night.
To make your space comfortable and calm, it is a very good idea early on to think about how you will control the natural light.
Our motorised shading solutions (including motorised blinds and curtains) will give you elegant control at the touch of a button and will allow you to customise the system to your own exacting requirements. Most importantly, there are many styles and options open to you, to create your perfect stylish motorised shading scheme.
For further reading, please have a look at our work or our article Why Upgrade to Lutron HomeWorks QS Lighting Control System? For something a little different, here is our Grey Matter home cinema.