HomeHome AutomationAutomating Venetian blinds

Automating Venetian blinds

Automating blinds with robots

What at first sight looks like a very peculiar electronic toothbrush, is in fact the latest robot from SwitchBot. This peculiar machine is able to open and close Venetian blinds and carries the name of SwitchBot Blind Tilt. It’s with me, so let’s see if SwitchBot made another device that is worth your money.

Automating windows

I’m officially out of windows to automate. I’m out of fixtures too. I had to order compatible Venetian blinds to take SwitchBot Blind Tilt for a spin. I promptly visited a vendor online and browsed the store for compatible blinds.

Compatible? There is one requirement, which is slightly annoying as I wanted to fit wooden slates instead of classical (and made of metal) Venetian blinds. To automate your blinds (and have the ability to tilt the slates) your fittings must come with a rod to control the tilt of the blinds. Something that is only present in the UK on Venetian blinds. Everything else favours a pull cord to orient your slats. Unfortunately for me, SwitchBot Blind Tilt isn’t compatible with the ones that require a cord to be pulled.

SwitchBot Bling Tilt

SwitchBot Blind Tilt is yet another robot from the SwitchBot lineup which enables window automation without chores of complex (and often permanent) installation. A solution which caters to anyone who’s unable to make modifications to their household, but also works for everyone else.

A tiny robot wraps its customisable grippers (in 3 sizes) around the control rod to twist and turn it on request. Just like other SwitchBot products, it uses Bluetooth to connect to your phone or SwitchBot remote (or SwitchBot Hub for cloud controls). Don’t worry, if Bluetooth has put you off in the past – it’s one of the best implementations of the protocol I have seen to date. It will get extra points once SwitchBot adds Matter support for their upcoming SwichBot Hub 2 – something that looks delightful.

SwitchBot Blind Tilt is battery-powered, but you can extend its life thanks to the included mini solar panel. It links up with the driver via USB-C and provides an extra charge (assuming you don’t live in the UK where the Sun is a foreign concept to us). A single charge can last up to 10 months which is decent as far as these devices go.

Installation

Almost invisible

When I opened the box, I noticed a lot of small fixtures, bits and pieces which left me with the impression that the installation might be complicated. I couldn’t be further from the truth.

Use a guide film to match the correct gripper to the circumference of your control stick and you are already halfway through the process. There are 2 adhesive anchors that stick to the Venetian blind rail. Both come with vertical adjustment, and the only difference is the shape of the 3M tape. Use the one with the most physical contact with the surface of the rail holding up your blinds.

If you eyeball (by holding up the motor in the correct place) where the adapter should grab your stick – you can quickly wrap it around and then use the vertical adjustment to correct the fit. Nice, easy, simple and time efficient. Everything clicked together well and my next step was the pairing process and calibration.

Pairing and calibration

Easy-to-follow instructions will let you pair SwitchBot Blind Tilt via Bluetooth. As usual, it went almost without a hitch. I misread one instruction and accidentally calibrated my blinds incorrectly (instructions ask for blinds closed down, opened and closed up – I moved blinds to the closed down position twice) but that was promptly rectified by me.

The app

SwitchBot app has a very pleasant to-look-at controller menu for the Blind tilt. 3 buttons allow point-to-point operation and the slider enables precise angular control. It takes approx 10 seconds to move the blades from the closed to the open position, but the exact timing will depend on what Venetian blinds you have fitted.

Silent?

I have to give it to SwitchBot – SwitchBot Blind Tilt is one of the quietest devices in their ecosystem and in my home. Just like SwitchBot Curtain, it has 2 modes – silent and performance. You can hear them working in the same room, but the sound isn’t annoying and you can’t hear it from other places. It’s not something I can say about my other window automation.

Other

This is where I also discovered a light meter built into SwitchBot Blind Tilt. A neat idea, however, the execution is lacking for a number of reasons. First, the sensor faces inside the room. If the blinds are closed, it will have a limited way of knowing how bright the outside is. Second: the sensitivity is right now very low. I submitted my feedback and SwitchBot is working on it. I would love to see that light sensor on the included solar panel instead. It would make a lot of sense, even if it means that the sensor no longer can detect the state of artificial lights in the room.

(update: 20/03/2023) Turns out there is a sensor in the Solar Panel and I’m just blind. You can select the source of data in the app (internal vs solar power) – but the selection menu wasn’t obvious to me.

At the moment, light information can’t be used for Automation panel routines, but the menu has a dedicated menu where you can adjust the blind tilt to maintain a desired light level in the room automatically. It’s a very nice and thought-out feature, providing the sensitivity will be resolved.

Speaking of the solar panel. Even in the UK, I get enough sun to charge up my SwitchBot Blind Tilt. I started with 80% a couple of days ago, and I have 2 automation policies enabled. Over that time, the charge went up to 82% – not a significant amount, but I won’t need to charge it.

Shop for Switchbot

Get Switchbot devices in the following stores:

Final thoughts

I’d love to see a similar solution that has the ability to raise Venetian blinds as well as tilt the slats. I guess for that, we will have to wait and see. For now, you can enjoy Venetian automation that comes with SwitchBot Blind Tilt. That aspect of automating your windows doesn’t have much competition – so I hope it catches on nicely without certain shortcomings – you can get these for $69.99 with the current promotion. Let me know what you think about it in this Reddit thread.

🆓📈💵 – See the transparency note for details.

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