Curtains and Blinds with Vera Lite and Fibaro Shutter Relay
About two months ago, I started looking into home automation solutions as the condo my wife and I bought way back in February of 2011 was going to finally complete soon - and since it would be ours (and not rented from someone else), I figured I could finally do some fun projects to make it “ours”!
In comes Home Automation.
I wrote a couple of posts before here, here, and here in the lead up. What I didn’t really touch on are curtains and blinds. I joined a Singapore-based Home Automation group on Facebook and some of the other members were discussing automated curtains.
The way my condo is set up, we have two balconies (living room and master bedroom) and two normal windows (the two small bedrooms). Since were putting curtains in for the two balcony doors, it would be a good idea to automate them somehow. For the two normal windows, my wife and I were thinking of roller blinds. I figured, why stop at automating the curtains when I could take this opportunity and automate the blinds too!
I’ll get into both solutions below, along with links to where I sourced the materials. I justified the overall expense with this simple fact: It was cheaper to source the motorized curtain rails and full roller blinds (motor and material) from China on our own than buy MANUAL curtains and roller blinds here in Singapore. Absolutely crazy, right?
From the Facebook group I mentioned earlier, members were discussing curtains. After a little digging and prodding, I learned the motors for the curtains used by one of the members were manufactured by a Ningbo, China company named “Dooya”. Their curtain solution can be read about here.
I found the specific motor I wanted to source was the Dooya DT52S - ‘S’ for “standard”. This means there are 4 wires leading to the motor instead of 3.
Green/Yellow - Ground; Blue - Neutral; Black - Direction 1; Brown - Direction 2
The ‘E’ model of the motor comes with a single “live” wire as it comes with a RF remote control. This ‘S’ model doesn’t have any of that fanciness, which is great because this gives the ultimate flexibility on how I want to automate the motor - i.e connecting it to a purpose-built shutter relay that connects to my home automation control center, the VeraLite. (As I wrote about earlier, the VeraLite is a control center for a Z-Wave-based home automation solution)
I went straight to Taobao to find a source. I did a random search for “DT52S”, the model of the motor. Tons of results came up. I randomly chose one from a dealer based in Hangzhou, specifically小殷智能窗帘馆. They not only sell the motors, but also the rails.
Here’s the link to the motor I bought. But, I specifically requested the ‘S’ model, and not the ‘E’ model - so be careful here!
We made a few phone calls to the guy who runs the shop, Mr. Li, to understand what kind of measurements we needed to do. Mr. Li was extremely helpful and friendly. Based on his coaching, I came up with the following measurement diagram and sent it over to him:
Living Room Curtains, 2 directions
Master Bedroom Curtains, single direction (curtain moves from the right)
Yes, the writing is mine. As you can see, it’s been a while since I wrote in 汉字.
We made a conscious decision to only buy the rail and motors from China as we wanted to see and touch the curtain material in person - so that we’re sourcing here in Singapore (and paying for it too!)
Overall, the cost to produce the rails and buy the motors (2 motors, 2 rails) came to about RMB 1,416 (~S$ 280). (This is before shipping). They charge about RMB 80 per meter of rail. The Motors were RMB 428 a piece. To put this into perspective, sourcing rails (boring manual rails) here in Singapore is around S$100 for 2 rails, at least that’s what our curtain guy was charging). Shipping to Singapore was about RMB 680 (~S$ 136).
The key to connecting the motor to the VeraLite is this little relay: The Fibaro Shutter Relay (FGR221). (I didn’t buy it from this link)
There are other competing products but Fibaro is a well known brand and I believe the Fibaro modules are among the smallest in the market. (You also pay a bit of a premium for this).
I sourced these locally in Singapore from a company named Domotics for S$95 a piece. Each one controls one motor. Wiring is simple. I ignore the S1 and S2 connectors as I won’t be adding any physical switches. So the connectors I am interested in are: N for Neutral, L for Live, O1 for Direction 1, and O2 for Direction 2.
I went to my local hardware store to pick up some electrical wiring, a concealer box to mount to the wall, and some other nic nacs. The last thing you want is exposed wiring, especially with a 1-year old running around. Here’s what the wiring looks like in the concealing box. The wiring coming from the bottom goes to the wall plug. From the top is from the motor. As you can see, I plugged the brown and blue from the wall into L and N connectors on the relay respectively. The smaller black and brown wires plugged into O1 and O2 are from the motor. That’s it. Really simple. There are plenty of nice wiring diagrams out there so I won’t attempt to make one myself.
Now, I realized my measuring was slightly off for my master bedroom. Seems I had to cut about 2 inches off the rail.
I had to take the rail apart. Inside is a steel reinforced rubber track with teeth that the motor turns.
An excuse to by a hack saw.
Measuring to cut the correct length of the inner track.
Putting the clasps back on.
And it’s back together!
Adding the Fibaro Shutter Relay to the VeraLite was pretty straight forward. There was one setting I had to make that wasn’t very clear on the forums (I asked someone form the home automation fb group for guidance).
You have to set variable 10 to 1. This tells the motor to not try to be smart and turn off the “shutter positioning"function (yes, “1” means off. counter intuitive, I agree). Before I did this, when I pressed the button to open or close, the rail would stop several times, and rarely make it to the end. I set this variable, now it functions as it should!
(Sorry, in the video, I don’t have the material yet)
Update: I now have the material. Here are curtains operated by the Aeon Labs MiniMote:
While working on getting the curtain rails and motors, I started thinking about the blinds for the other bedrooms. The quote we got locally for manual roller blinds for the 2 bedrooms (4 roller blinds in all) was more than S$ 2000! I thought that sounded outrageous. I found that the same taobao dealer I was working with on the Curtain motors and rails also sold tubular motors for blinds. Also from the same manufacturer Dooya.
After some consultation with the dealer, we decided to take the risk and have him supply the material as well as we felt it may be more difficult to source only the material locally without the roller. Due to the width of our windows, each window would require 2 roller blinds (thus 2 motors), making it a total of 4.
Below are the drawings with measurements I took and sent over.
(this time I didn’t bother with the Chinese characters)
All in, the price we paid for all 4 motors and material came to RMB 3,023 (or approx SGD 606 - a freaking steal). Shipping to Singapore was another RMB 850 (~S$170) - actually, this shipping fee was a topup of the original RMB 680 as my dealer combined all into a single shipment.
The shipment looked like this:
Unpacking the roller blinds: (you see the rails for the curtains at the top of the photo)
Installation complete, now my turn to wire things up. As you can see, I added 2 boxes, one for each Fibaro Roller Shutter relay (one box was too small for both plus wiring)
I tried to be professional by soldering the copper wires
Finalizing the wiring. As you can see, I decided to wire these up in series as I felt the load would be low enough to put both on a single circuit and wall plug. The wire going down at the bottom right of the photo is going to the wall.
And here we are! I connected the Aeon Labs MiniMote here too for ease of use.
All in I think it was worth the trouble of working in constrained spaces, wiring, etc. Good fun. All in, total cost was as follows:
- Curtain rails and motors (x2) - S$280 | Source: Taobao/China
- Blinds material and motors (x4) - S$606 | Source: Taobao/China
- Shipping of the above two items from China - S$306 (ouch!)
- Fibaro Roller Shutter Relays [FGR221] (x6) - S$570 | Source: Domotics SG
- Aeon Labs MiniMote Z-Wave Scene Remotes (x4) - S$320 | Source: Domotics SG
- Miscellaneous wiring, electrical boxes, etc = ~S$100 | Source: Local HW stores
- Material for Curtains (x2) - ~S$800 | Source: Local curtain supplier
Total Above: S$2980
Manual curtains and blinds here would have cost about the same, give or take. I think money well spent!
Oh, and I can be even more lazier with the Vera app for Android plugged into my TV.
(Note: You’ll need a Z-Wave control center, like the VeraLite!)