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Blinds: Bali or Graber Z-wave control


robl

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I'm considering replacing some of our manual blinds with motorized versions and linking to our new ISY994i pro ZW/IR. For cost reasons, we'll only automate a few key blinds. Has anyone done this or have suggestions on how to make it work?

 

1) Has anyone used this to control Bali blinds? Looks like they use RTS/Somfy and need the Zwave to RTS module ($76) option. Also, has anyone tried the solar power module for these? This is pricey! Going through Costco, a double cell 24x40 blind is $74 standard, $140 for top/down cordless (what we have now), $224 for motorized with a battery "wand", $246 for a 12v plugin, or $360 for solar. A 5-channel remote adds $50, and the zwave to rts bridge adds $76. Jumping from $76 to $360 for the solar option + remotes reminds me on why we didn't do this the first time. http://member.baliblinds.com/motorized_treatments/index.jsp 

 

2) Graber blinds through costco is now a pain. Before I could measure & do it all myself, now they want high end consulting. In the past, this "extra touch" has meant 2x cost, so I prefer to do it myself. (for example, if the $360 graber solution for 1 window jumped to $700 due to consulting, I'd go bonkers). So ... googling, found blindsaver.com, same setup is $365 for dc transformer option, solar not available, looks to be +$100 over the Bali solution. (but advisable for that room as it would replace an existing Graber blind and we'd want a good color match with the other ~8 windows in that room) Searching around on google implies they need the same zwave to rts bridge. Note that amazon wants $295 for this module instead of $76 via Bali. Some say that it let them use Amazon echo, others complain of range.

 

3) Speaking of range, we've got an odd house with lots of split levels. How is the Zwave range on the ISY? If I need the Zwave to RTS bridge, perhaps that would help as it could boost the signal inbetween blinds and the ISY.

 

Any other thoughts or tips? Thanks for the help!

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Yes we do have over 16 Bali products equipped with somfy motors. They work fine and we are happy with the functionality. My wife likes 16 channel remote. Personally I feel like their honeycomb shades motors are louder than roller shades. I like their sun sensor etc.

 

We do have 4 of the roller shades equipped with solar panel and so far no complains. For batteries we used Panasonic rechargeable eneloop pro and we are changing and recharging batteries every 3 – 4 months.

 

We have two level house and our Z-wave to rts reaches every single window including outdoor shade.

 

Keep in mind that currently I don’t have a version 5 on ISY, and on version 4 each shade show up as “two” nodes. By pressing on the shade goes up when you press off shades go down currently there is no stop available.

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@marcin, thanks for the info! Sounds like Bali is the way to go, cheaper than Graber now. I'll post back if I get some Bali shades - will have to try and color match against existing graber cell shade blinds first .... :) It's not my eye that matters, it's my wife's. :)

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With the somfy tilt motors, how do you overcome the issue if the motor doesn't fit in the headrail because the outer tilt drum and cords are too close to the outside edge? With the size Windows I have, when they cut them to fit, there is only 2 inches on the outside and the tilt motor needs about 3 1/4.

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@marcin, thanks for the info! Sounds like Bali is the way to go, cheaper than Graber now. I'll post back if I get some Bali shades - will have to try and color match against existing graber cell shade blinds first .... :) It's not my eye that matters, it's my wife's. :)

Not that it makes any difference, but you might be interested to know that Graber makes Bali.   It's one of their numerous brands.

 

Also of interest, Kirsch and Levolor are identical, just different part numbers for the same shades and different distribution channels.  And, on top of that, Hunter Douglas owns Kirsch and Levolor.

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  • 6 months later...

Now the Bali blinds are apparently controlled using straight ZWave, and branded as "Autoview".   They are no longer RTS and the bridge is not needed.    The Vera forums say these are ZWave+ and UI7.

 

Has anyone gotten the "Autoview" blinds to work with an ISY?   Does the current chipset support them?

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I have the Bali Autoview blinds from Home Depot and they're working with my ISY994 now (w/ zwave module) and you can put them into scenes (but need to use "fast on" to have them open all the way.

 

Follow the pairing instructions here, using ISY instead of Smartthings (note Graber and Bali Autoview use the same zwave tech):

https://community.smartthings.com/t/z-wave-integrated-blinds-shades-custom-graber-virtual-cord-shades/49886

 
TIP: Ensure solid zwave signal from ISY to your autoview shade before you pair it, otherwise it can drop out during the pairing process and be very frustrating. It doesn't take much for zwave to drop out if there are not repeater devices along the path, which is why I got a Smartthings v2 hub. Get your repeaters or secondary hub configured before adding the shades, unless your ISY only has 1 wall separating it from the blinds (maybe I should get the ISY external antenna?). The Smartthings v2 hub front side is the zwave max power direction, so I have that pointed back to my ISY for the 'back haul' for my room on the other end of the house. This is working well, see https://blog.smartthings.com/iot101/a-guide-to-wireless-range-repeaters/  for zwave network design.

 

Each Autoview shade shows up as two devices:

1) motor control: "on": opens to 50% (home position?, but not reliably), "fast on":  100% (open), "off": closes (0% open)

2) binary switch - same as motor control, but with no "fast on" option, so you can't get them fully open with the binary switch by default, but if you put the binary switches into a scene you can issue a "fast on" for the scene and all blinds will open all the way.

 

I was having range issues through a few walls and around a corner, so got a smartthings hub to act as my primary zwave controller and extend the zwave signal. The Bali Autoview shades can operate on a battery pack and battery powered devices are typically not zwave repeaters, so if these Autoview shades are the only zwave devices in your zwave network, you'll want something in each room that can repeat the signal for rock solid performance. 

 

One nice thing that Smartthings does and ISY does not is let you change the device type (discovered as generic zwave switch) to a generic dimmer switch (via their online portal) which lets you set the shade level just like a dimmer switch (unlike ISY which only supports on/off/fast on/fast off).

 

With all shades added to Smartthings (as primary controller) I put ISY into zwave learn mode (receive) and Smartthings into learn mode, and the ISY discovered all devices on the zwave network. I have Smartthings at the opposite end of the house to the ISY and it really helps with reliable signal at that end. If I had more zwave devices that were plugged in repeaters, I probably could have done without the smartthings v2 hub in my setup, but it was a known quantity for zwave + Graber/Bali. In fact I forgot to plug in the Smartthings overnight and it drained it's internal AA backup batteries, and this morning my ISY was able to operate shades at the far end of the house, but it took 2 tries to get all the shades to work, and there was significant lag across the different blinds due to the degraded signal. With the Smartthings plugged back in and repeating zwave at that end of the house, the blinds behave perfectly - and almost perfectly in sync.

 

Also, see related:

http://forum.universal-devices.com/topic/18684-somfy-drapery-control-stop-midway/

 

I'm very happy with this setup and ISY automation is much, much nicer than Smartthings, and I created a few programs to mirror the scenes to do "fast on" and "off" for my Alexa integration. Now I can say, "Alexa, turn on/off west shade" with the ISY portal integration and was able to easily add the bedroom shades to my existing wakeup sequence.

 

@Michel: Can ISY allow changing the Bali Autoview shade device type to a generic dimmer on these blinds so we can control the % open/closed like Smartthings does: https://community.smartthings.com/t/z-wave-integrated-blinds-shades-custom-graber-virtual-cord-shades/49886? This would enable ISY scenes that can set the % open for the shades, which would be a very nice touch for my wakeup sequence, so I could open 25% every 10 minutes. 

 

Thanks.

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I have the Bali Autoview blinds from Home Depot and they're working with my ISY994 now (w/ zwave module) and you can put them into scenes (but need to use "fast on" to have them open all the way.

 

Follow the pairing instructions here, using ISY instead of Smartthings (note Graber and Bali Autoview use the same zwave tech):

https://community.smartthings.com/t/z-wave-integrated-blinds-shades-custom-graber-virtual-cord-shades/49886

 

 

Awesome, thank you for the great tips! I pulled my hair out on the written/pdf instructions. For example, they say 2 quick taps on the remote will go into green/yellow flashing mode, but that only worked for me after doing a complete reset. (holding down for 15 seconds) The video is great, as it walks through sync'ing both the blinds and remotes on the ISY zwave network, then adding the remote back in as a 2nd'ary controller. I'm finally in a usable state where the remote works AND I have some basic isy994 control as well. Great!

 

I have ISY 4.5.1, and wish, wish, wish it would treat the shade as a dimmer like smart things. Darn! I now have 2 poorly controllable devices on ISY, the class C motor, and the binary switch. Setting off=100% closed, on=50% open (as mentioned) but the ISY interface isn't exposing fast on as others mentioned is needed for complete open. Aha - I see what you mean now, by pushing that motor into a scene, the scene can be made fast on, and fully open the shade.

 

Anyone have any idea when ISY will improve their interface for these blinds?

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quick question: I have ISY setup a few rooms away from my new Bali z-wave blinds. I used the great video to link both the blinds and remote to isy and then to each other.

 

1) The blinds are almost too far away from ISY - are there z-wave repeaters, or should I get any z-wave plug in device to repeat? Trying not to buy a full price smartthings hub, although I do wish I could get the % open functionality. :)

2) When I use the remote with the blinds now, it's very flaky where before there were no problems. After linking, is my remote trying to talk to ISY and then back to the blind? That would explain it. Also possible is a low battery after trying to link everything a million times. :)

 

Thanks for any help!

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@robl glad they helped, I was in the same boat and found the videos which were great.

 

@michel would be nice if the blinds all opened at once, not sure if they can be programmed to respond to the same zwave signal from ISY, but currently they open at a slight delay from each other, which was noticeable by friends who have Hunter Douglas motorized blinds when I was showing them the setup.

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  • 1 month later...

Hi bTwix,

 

This device is multi channel and I do not think it will work with 4.5.x branch. This said, I do not recommend upgrading to 5.0.6 yet since it's still in alpha. I am sorry.

 

With kind regards,

Michel

 

Hi Michel,

 

So when can we upgrade to v5?

(This was back in October... so not sure now...??)

 

Will V5 properly support these new AutoView blind motors?

 

/fj

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Thanks Teken... that being said, what are the hopes it will be able to properly control the AutoViews?

 

I like the "dimmer" suggestion, like the Smartthings does, as noted previously on this thread.

 

Hello Fred,

 

If this device is truly a multi channel Z-Wave device its a good bet it will operate just fine once Beta firmware comes out. If you feel brave you could always dip your toes into the Alpha trials to at least see what happens. I obviously wouldn't suggest doing this in a production environment where stability is the driving factor.

 

Having said this if you make a good copy for 4.XX you can always roll back if it doesn't operate as you expect. 

 

NOTE: UDI is committed to integrate as many Z-Wave devices as possible over the course of their development. 

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The blinds are almost too far away from ISY - are there z-wave repeaters, or should I get any z-wave plug in device to repeat?

There are dedicated Z-wave repeaters (Range Extenders), but they aren't worth the price -- better to get a useful devices that also happens to repeat.   However, some devices are more effective as repeaters than others, and some cannot repeat "secure" commands (e.g. for door locks).

 

I recommend getting an Aeotec Multisensor 6 powering it from a USB adapter (so it can operate as a repeater), and putting it in the same room as the blinds being controlled.    Not because the Multisensor is the best repeater (it is pretty good) but because the temperature, light, and UV sensors make for nice integrations via ISY -- if the room is too warm, close the shades, too dark, open them halfway, etc.

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  • 3 months later...

Here are the paring instructions so you don't have to watch the video....

 

Pairing Blind to ISY
  • Press Blind Button Until Flashing Amber
  • Press Biind Button Until Flashing Green
  • ISY Add/Include a ZWave Device
Pairing Remote to ISY
  • ISY Add/Include a ZWave Device
  • Press Reset on remote until Flashing Green
Re-Pairing Remote to Blind as Secondary
  • Single tap Reset on remote until Flashing Green
  • Press Blind Button Until Flashing Green
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  • 1 month later...

We bought another set of motorized shades.  I now have one set that is older with the RTS interface - and that works fine.

 

These autoview blinds are a bit of a pain.  I followed the video and the information in this page and  managed to get everything paired.   The problem is that the autoview buttons, when repaired (as stated above), don't function properly.  The buttons only work when I have engaged the shades with the ISY system.  After 15-30 seconds -- the buttons no longer function (which is not acceptable to my wife).  It is as if the ISY system is putting the shades to sleep which can't be reawaken with the button controller.  It is very odd and highly frustrating.

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Thank you for the awesome tips! I did end up buying Bali blinds, opposite ends of the house, and at least last years models were z-wave and worked reasonably well in ISY. The "fast on" to get it to open all the way and having to make scenes to use them seems like it could be improved quite a bit, hope v5 gets out soon in production mode and improves the experience!

 

You mentioned that you use both smart things and ISY z-wave at the same time. I now have both, have moved my controllers to a better spot, and ... have range issues. Dang!

 

I haven't linked the 2 devices and think it may help. It seems like smart things does z-wave much better (at least for the 5-in-1 sensor I bought). Is it possible to get all the devices to show up in both ISY and smart things? Seems like one needs to be the master.

 

I bought a couple on/off switches to use as z-wave range extenders. Ends up one does secure z-wave, and the ISY error codes threw me for a loop until I realized I had to do a secure pairing to make it work. I also discovered that my secure z-wave on/off needed to be closest to the hub first, as it seems it will forward signals to the simple on/off, but not the other way around. but ... I put these 2 in along a somewhat linear path to my blinds, made sure isy can turn them on/off with z-wave, but I still have the same blind connectivity issues, as if the bali blinds are not using the on/off z-wave switches to extend the signal. dang! Any ideas?

 

Thanks for any help!

 

>> I was having range issues through a few walls and around a corner, so got a smartthings hub to act as my primary zwave controller and extend the zwave signal. The Bali Autoview shades can operate on a battery pack and battery powered devices are typically not zwave repeaters, so if these Autoview shades are the only zwave devices in your zwave network, you'll want something in each room that can repeat the signal for rock solid performance. 

 

One nice thing that Smartthings does and ISY does not is let you change the device type (discovered as generic zwave switch) to a generic dimmer switch (via their online portal) which lets you set the shade level just like a dimmer switch (unlike ISY which only supports on/off/fast on/fast off).

 

With all shades added to Smartthings (as primary controller) I put ISY into zwave learn mode (receive) and Smartthings into learn mode, and the ISY discovered all devices on the zwave network. I have Smartthings at the opposite end of the house to the ISY and it really helps with reliable signal at that end. If I had more zwave devices that were plugged in repeaters, I probably could have done without the smartthings v2 hub in my setup, but it was a known quantity for zwave + Graber/Bali. In fact I forgot to plug in the Smartthings overnight and it drained it's internal AA backup batteries, and this morning my ISY was able to operate shades at the far end of the house, but it took 2 tries to get all the shades to work, and there was significant lag across the different blinds due to the degraded signal. With the Smartthings plugged back in and repeating zwave at that end of the house, the blinds behave perfectly - and almost perfectly in sync.

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My blinds are 6-12 months old, visit the bali site to see if there are newer options.

 

When I visited it last, they only had batteries or plug in wires, the more expensive line also offered a solar cell.

 

I tried the battery option for a small window that I rarely use. So far I haven't had to change the batteries, and the pack is mounted behind the rail and hard to see.

 

I tried the plug-in transformer option for 4 really long windows that are open/closed at least once a day. The wires suck. They look to use mini-usb format for wires. 15v 1.6A is on the power brick. I don't know if this low enough voltage for code to go in-wall, but that's my long term plan. Drill a hole near the head rail, route the wires through the walls to a common power outlet. Then I'd need to figure out a way to have 1 plug in brick and not 4 of them crowding a big outlet extender. No idea if Bali offers a single power brick with multiple outputs for multiple blinds.

 

If you want it all hidden, you might be able to route them all to a junction box, in-wall, with a cover so it's reasonably hidden. Not sure about code nor ventilation.

 

Hope this helps!

 

Rob

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  • 4 weeks later...

 

Here are the paring instructions so you don't have to watch the video....

 

Pairing Blind to ISY
  • Press Blind Button Until Flashing Amber
  • Press Biind Button Until Flashing Green
  • ISY Add/Include a ZWave Device
Pairing Remote to ISY
  • ISY Add/Include a ZWave Device
  • Press Reset on remote until Flashing Green
Re-Pairing Remote to Blind as Secondary
  • Single tap Reset on remote until Flashing Green
  • Press Blind Button Until Flashing Green

 

Using the method as outlined above, you basically replace the remote controls of any Autoview Bali blinds or shade with ISY as the primary controller.  I think of it as replacing the out of the box 2 button remote with the better single channel remote.  Bali blinds allow you to then add the original 2 button remote back as a secondary remote which means 2 remotes can control the same blinds.

 

Is it possible to use ISY as a secondary controller of the shades instead of the primary?  

 

I have not see too many discussion around performance when ISY is used as a controller.  However if ISY is the primary controller you loose the ability to control multiple shades with a single controller.  You would need to define a scene and add the remote and the various blinds to that scene.  It means the remote in not directly controlling the blind.  Using the same type of configuration when setting up IR motion detectors  to trigger lights has had performance issues.  If the IR directly triggers the lights, response times is much better.  I suspect you will see the same delays with the blinds.  I spoke to Somfy and they said it is possible to do something where the blind remote is the primary controller and ISY994 the secondary controller but they say to do that you would need to make the Blind motor the primary Zwave controller for the whole network.

This does not sound correct.  

 

I am currently using 5.0.10  on my ISY994.

 

Thanks

 

Leon

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Most delays (in my experience) with the ISY is generally 1 maybe 2 seconds max. When turning on a light, this can be an issue since it feels like forever in a dark room. 

 

Personally, I run everything through my ISY (I use a lot of programming and sensors) based on my lifestyle. I spent to much money on the system to resort to using a remote or physical controls. In my media room, The blinds go down when I'm trying to watch a movie and they stay up during any other time. The same for my bedroom and Livingroom. They open automatically based off of specific conditions. The very few times I have tried to control my blinds (I don't use their remotes) from my keypads, the delay was very small. Would it have been nice to have it at the exact moment. Yes. But to be honest with you, the delay is so small and im generally headed to do other things that I don't even notice it. 

 

I would recommend giving it a with a scene. If its that impactful for you, then you could always try other work arounds. 

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