EI was offered the chance to try out some window treatments by this relative newcomer to the light control sector and discovered a pleasing mix of ease of use and attractive design from PowerShades.
PowerShades has been in the market since 2017 and were founded by Jason Turner and Ryan Chacon, two Electrical Engineers based in the Joplin, Missouri. The company currently has good coverage in the U.S and Canadian markets and has plans to expand to other territories including the UK and Europe when it feels the time is right.
The aim of the company is to draw in expertise from different sectors including furniture, charging technology, capacitive sensing and industrial machinery, to create a compelling proposition most specifically for the motorised window covering industry. In addition, if required the company can and does provide manually operated blinds if needed and appropriate.
The company’s products have been created to deliver solutions for the domestic market, hospitality sector and commercial spaces. The aim is to deliver systems that are very simple to install, integrate and perhaps most importantly operate.
Company founders, Jason and Ryan have bought to bear over 50 years of combined experience in furniture automation and product innovation to create the PowerShades story.
One of the company’s chief selling points is that it provides what it says are the market’s first and only ‘TruePoE’ automated roller shades. Simplifying installation, reducing costs and offering a fuss free product cycle, the shades are controlled and powered by a single PoE cable. The TruePoE shades need just 5W of power delivered through a standard CAT 5 or CAT 6 cable, reducing energy consumption as well as additional wiring costs.
In some instances, the nature of the installation means that the shades can be fitted without the need for a qualified, licensed electrician further expanding installation flexibility. The company says that unlike some other shades that claim to be PoE, those supplied by PowerShades can be plugged direct into a standard PoE switch and do not need injectors or translators which again can lead to more complicated installation and higher costs.
The company’s range includes solutions for inside and outside of properties and as well as the PoE option, operating methods include AC and DC powered, RF and solar powered.
Safety features include the absence of pull-strings or dangling pieces that could be a hazard to children or pets. Integrators and customers are also able to have the peace of mind of a five-year guarantee on all the hardware.
Like most window treatment solutions, PowerShades provides the ability to not just control ambient light and offer privacy, but also to increase security with the ability to mimic occupancy as well as make the home more efficient and appealing to live in by automating repetitive tasks throughout the day.
The various control options for the shades provide a good variety of choice to the end user. The integrator can use the cloud based MyDashboard to set up precise macros and scenes for any type of occasion or to create a precise schedule for different times of the day or the seasons.
Control is achieved through a range of simple remotes or switches that can be single use or manage up to fifteen shades. The company’s app delivers smart phone/tablet control and voice control is available via Alex and Google home. The products are also compatible with URC, Samsung Smart Things, Elan, Crestron, Control4, RTI and Amazon Alexa products.
All the online and automated control options are made possible by the Powershades Gateway, a compact control box which plugs into the building’s network, connects to the cloud and opens up the control options through the app and other automation platforms.
In the looks department, PowerShades offers different options with Open Roll Style, Cassette Style and Fascia Style products to suit different interior design schemes or when thinking about the appropriate look for either corporate or a more homely style.
The Open Roll offers the most minimal look created to fit a large range of themes. Versatile hardware options are offered in matte plastic or anodized aluminium. These shades can be concealed with a custom top treatment or left uncovered for a minimalist look.
The Cassette Style has been created to suit a more traditional design aesthetic with the fabric-wrapped cassette providing a finished look with a fabric matching front.
Finally, the Fascia Style presents a brushed aluminium fascia that hides the fabric roll delivering a clean contemporary aesthetic that is a strong choice for spaces that require a modern finish.
The shade material is offered in a range of colours and type including Solar, Lighting Filtering and Light Blocking types meaning with the cassette choices, there are over 1,000 different combinations of shade types and colours available.
After receiving the comprehensive samples catalogue, EI chose two shades from the Open Roll range with chrome hardware to best match the kitchen and upstairs bedroom where they were to be fitted. The shades were of the RF controlled type and following an overnight charge (which should deliver 6-8 months usage under normal conditions) the blinds were ready to be installed.
The style choice was an E Screen fabric with 10% openness in Charcoal in the kitchen and for the bedroom a SheerWeave 7600 blind in Coal. The bedroom option provides complete blackout. The kitchen option means that the shade can be used during the day, filtering out glare and providing some privacy if required, but when ambient light disappears in the evening it provides complete privacy during the dark hours.
EI is far from being a DIY wiz, so after a quick search, we were glad to find an online video that explains simply and quickly how to install the shades. The company has a healthy presence on YouTube so most of the questions on how to fit and operate the shades can be found there. The fixings for the shades are not just designed for an easy fit, but do feel very solid once in place, interference from small children or pets should not pose any issues. Most experienced installation professionals will find these blinds easy to work with and fast to fit.
Window treatments in general have advanced in recent years in terms of aesthetics, clunky often commercial looking styles have given way to sleeker more sophisticated designs. PowerShades offers strong options here, the shades chosen for this project genuinely make the spaces they are fitted in look more contemporary and stylish, which is not always an easy task in a period property such as this small 18th century cottage.
The supplied RF remotes come with a handy magnetic holder which can be mounted close to the shade or perhaps near a light switch, so the remotes are easy to locate. But if you do go for a roam, we have found the range to be strong and able to operate from anywhere where you would logically want to be when needing to operate the blinds.
Fitting the Gateway is also very easy, simply power up and connect to the home’s network via the router and supplied ethernet cable. Once discovered, all the possibilities of more sophisticated control are opened up.
We liked the way that the app is simple and not overly complex. The app mimics the look of the remotes creating a nice synergy across the control options. Reliability wise, the app and Gateway are solid with no drop out issues experienced. The control options in general for the brand are good with them being simple and intuitive enough for end users to get involved if they like and set up their own scenes and control options.
A smart device with the app on it, does not have to be on the same network to achieve control therefore expanding remote operation. Choosing to control single or multiple shades through the app is easy and the app provides useful feedback such as the position of all the shades that can be controlled. Another nice feature includes the ability to quickly fix or adjust the return and drop height for each shade offering further flexibility as needs change.
In conclusion, these stylish new friends already feel very much part of the family. Motor noise is well within acceptable limits and the good looks and ease of operation has made all the members of the household take to the shades right away.