Alexa® Controls Motorized Blinds & Shades With Voice Commands
(by Adrian Biffen, GM, Nov 2016)
Control Radio MotorsIt has long been our policy to support as many home automation and IoT systems as possible, and we often get requests for a method of using Alexa® voice commands to control our shade/blind motors, and our skylight/window openers.
The Alexa voice control system is the cloud based voice control system that is provided with the three automation hubs that Amazon sells: the Echo®, the Tap®, and the Dot®. The Echo and the Dot are always-on, whereas the Tap requires a button press to activate Alexa.
The new hub from BroadLink® (HA-RFIRW-5V) has quickly become our hub of choice in terms of cost and flexibility. One of the most important features is its ability to "learn" RF radio commands, which means it can directly control our radio motors.
This includes our G series blind & shade motors, the older R series motors, our skylight/window openers, our smart film, our drapery motors, and many other devices, such as fans, LED lighting, etc. It can even learn x10 radio commands, in case you have a few of those old modules in your home.
Control TV and Audio Systems
The BroadLink® hub is also an excellent IR code learner too, for controlling all your TV, Netflix streaming, Bluray, DVD and other media systems. You can very easily set up a sequential process for some application in your home, with the ability to chain events to a single button press, .
For example, you may need a process for initiating a home theater system - lower blackout blinds, dim lights, turn projector on, deploy projector screen, activate audio system, select Netflix, etc.
You can share your remote control system simply by cloning it to any other phone on the local network. If you have an old phone or tablet, you can quickly convert it to a sophisticated remote control. The app will work on fairly old phones too, without a SIM card, as long as the WiFi section still works.
Alexa® Can Control The BroadLink® Hub
There are several ways to integrate Alexa® with your BroadLink® hub; here are some relevant links:
Home Assistant (Raspberry Pi, Linux, Mac, Windows)
The BroadLink phone apps are quite powerful and easy to use, but if you want to take it even further and add support for many other systems like Alexa®, Wink, SmartThings, Vera®, Wemo®, etc, take a look at the Home Assistant home automation system running on a Raspberry Pi. Written in Python 3, it is an excellent system that runs on any platform (Linux, Mac, Windows) and supports literally hundreds of devices, including our blind motors and skylight/window openers via the BroadLink® plug-in.
The Home Assistant system makes it easy to integrate Alexa because it creates a bridge between Alexa and the BroadLink hub. This is accomplished by using a clever emulation of the Hue system, which has native support in Alexa.
Tasker for Android
Tasker is a very powerful automation program for Android tablets and phones.
Z-Wave Controllers: Vera, Wink, SmartThings, Homeseer, etc
Z-Wave is a popular digital protocol used by many controllers. We have interface modules for integrating any z-wave hub with our motors; this article explains how:
Here is bridge software for SmartThings:
If you are interested, you can purchase the BroadLink products in our DIY online automation store.