Just finished this adventure, running into a lot of obstacles, false starts, and confusing info in the process, and wanted to write down the steps in case anybody else in the future wanted to try something similar.
When I was googling to find out how to do this, I found the information sparse, so hoping to help address that problem. 🙂
Like most of you on who end up on this page, I want to voice control things. Namely, my blinds so I never have to go manually adjust a blind ever again.
How Expensive? and Which Brand?
I also didn’t want to spend a bajillion dollars doing so. I got several quotes from full service companies offering Hunter Douglas, Somfy, Graber, you name it. Quotes were eye poppingly expensive – Cheapest quote I got was roughly $9,000; most expensive was $16,000 for 16 windows through the house. Even some internet retailers like ZebraBlinds were going to be roughly $800 to $1000 a window, so I was still looking at roughly $14,000
That was almost enough for me to give up on the project entirely because holy shit, that’s the price of a used car.
Butttt, Costco offers blinds via https://member.baliblinds.com/ . They are Bali blinds, which as far as I can tell are just the generic version of Graber – They’re made by the same company and if you look closely enough, you can tell that certain fabrics are the same, but just with different names.
If you wait for a 10% or 15% off sale, and factor in the 4% cashback you get by buying through Costco, it ends up well worth it. I paid roughly $5,700.
ZWave or Infrared?
So, now that I picked blinds, I had to pick how to get google assistant/google home to interact with them. There seem to be two options, one via Infrared (IR) and one via ZWave. With an IR one, you have to set up repeaters and your windows have to have line of sight, so I chose to go with ZWave. Just made a lot more sense to me.
Well, Google Home doesn’t natively support ZWave, right? So you have to run through some sort of Hub. I chose Samsung SmartThings.
Okay, but how?
So, here’s the meat of it. You’ve bought your blinds, you’ve set them up, and you’ve bought a Samsung SmartThings Hub. Plus, you obviously have Google Home. Here are the mechanical steps from here:
1) You’ll need to factory reset each of your shades by pressing and holding the one button on the shade for 7 seconds until it blinks orange.
2) Set up the SmartThings Hub, and then add each of the shades as a device by pressing and holding the one button on the shade for 3 seconds until it blinks green. You will know it worked because the shade’s button will stop blinking green and flash solid green for 1 second.
Two MAJOR recommendations at this point:
- Rename your blinds and only use two words, the second one being “Window”. You might end up with stupid names like “LeftBedroom Window” instead of “Left Bedroom Window”, but this actually SUPER important. As of right now, Google home will only identify windows as the second word in a name once everything is paired. So “LeftBedroom Window” is a window, but “Left Bedroom Window” is not. (I have not yet Tested if “Bedroom Window 1” counts as a window, so maybe that’s a better naming configuration)
- Make Rooms in Samsung SmartThings and put your blinds in each of the rooms. AND MAKE THEM THE SAME NAMES AS THE ROOM NAMES YOU HAVE IN GOOGLE HOME. This will make the translation a lot easier for you imo when you pair Samsung SmartThings to Google Home. For instance, if your bedroom is called “Bedroom” instead of “Master Bedroom” in google home, put your bedroom blinds in a room called “Bedroom” in Samsung SmartThings. Or else your blinds will end up in a different Google Home Room called “Master Bedroom” when they translate over.
3) Pair Samsung SmartThings with Google home. Google changes their app all the time, but as of right now, it is available as a “works with google home” option. So go to the Google Home App -> Settings -> Works with Google , and then sign in to your Samsung SmartThings.
What Voice Commands do I use?
So this is the result of a lot of Trial and error on my part.
- “Close All the Windows” will always work
- “Open All the Windows” will sometimes work lol
- “Close All the Windows in room___ (the kitchen)” will always work
- “Open All the windows in room___ (the kitchen)” will NEVER work lol.
Instead, I you’ll have to use “Set the All the windows in room___ (the kitchen) to OPEN“. You may find it easier to just use the “set to open/close” verbiage instead of remembering that you can tell Google Home to close things in certain rooms, but not open them.
- One really nice trick that you can do with your voice is you can now open your windows to be open by a certain percentage instead of just open or just closed. So you can say “Set the windows in room__ (the kitchen) to 20%” as a command for example. And then it will open the windows to 20% – what that means is that the windows will only be 20% open (mostly closed).
But voila! Now you can voice control your blinds! 🙂
Other Considerations: Yes, you can adjust your open/close presets
Wasn’t sure where to put this so I’m putting it as an addendum at the bottom. The website says to measure your windows to within 1/8 of an inch. This is actually critically important for you window width (don’t fuck this up, it sucks), but you can definitely just get “close enough” for your window height.
This is because you can always adjust your window height “open” and “close” positions by using the remote you have to buy. Costco/Bali makes you buy at least one remote – I’d recommend buying the “multi channel” remote of the three options. But I would NOT recommend buying spare remotes like I did. They’re fucking expensive and the whole point of this was to voice control your stuff, right?
Once again – you can adjust your window height “open” and “close” positions. When I got my blinds originally, they were all roughly .75 inches to 1.5 inches too long (random lengths on each), and I was like “Wtf? Why did you make me measure to an eighth of an inch if you were going to make them too long?” And when I called, multiple frontline customer service people just told me to buy my blinds again, but roughly 1 inch shorter, and just return the original order. O.o
Seemed like a complete waste, and I almost did it – until I hit up one of their CS reps in their motorization division for a different problem, who told me how to adjust the preset open/close positions. Here’s how:
- On the multichannel remote, go to Shade -> Limits -> (bypass the warning that says you can fuck up your shades if you fuck this up) -> Then choose your shade and you can choose Upper (Open) or Lower (Closed) to choose which limit you are adjusting. Then, just press the up and down buttons until you’ve adjusted it properly. 🙂
Holy crap – that was a lot of text. Hopefully this helps someone else who is curious about doing this, but unsure as to how. I hope this helps you avoid falling into any of the pitholes that I did along the way.
Any questions, I’ll do my best to answer below. 🙂