Hunter Douglas' power blinds add a rechargeable battery option

Hunter Douglas is adding a rechargeable battery option to its PowerView motorized blinds, promising to be greener and easier to maintain than the current system. Supporting retrofitting into "most" existing PowerView shades from the company, the Rechargeable Battery Wand is a slim stick of li-ion battery that clips in behind the blinds' headrail.

Until now, PowerView has offered two power options: either AA batteries or a plug-in power supply. The former last roughly a year of typical use, but require having spares on-hand when they need replacing; if your blinds are at the top of a tall window, meanwhile, that could get fiddly trying to swap them over while perched at the top of a ladder. The plug-in power supply, meanwhile, requires its wires then be disguised.

While it lasts roughly the same length of time as the AA batteries do, Hunter Douglas says, the Rechargeable Battery Wand has advantages elsewhere. For a start it clips into place magnetically, so there's no messing with battery compartments while on the ladder. An update to the Hunter Douglas app shows charge status for each PowerView blind, and owners get an email notification too when blind is running low.

A charging station supports two batteries at once, so that it's easier to have a spare ready and waiting to go when a replacement is needed. A full charge takes around three hours, with an LED on the front showing status. Or, you can plug the battery in while it's still in place – and keep using the blinds or shades themselves – with Hunter Douglas offering a 16 foot charging cable if that's easer.

According to Scott Stephenson, director of product management for motorization at Hunter Douglas, one of the main focuses was safety. The Rechargeable Battery Wand sits behind the blinds' top rail, and so can be exposed to direct sunlight or feel the brunt of winter days. Hunter Douglas worked with a li-ion battery provider to get cells with an operating range from -20 degrees Centigrade to 80 degrees (-4 to 176 Fahrenheit), with an automatic safety shut-off at the top end. The company set up a hot-box to test the system in the wild, though Stephenson says that it couldn't find conditions in the US that would be sufficiently hot to trigger the failsafe.

There's growing choice in the company's range for motorized shades, with PowerView being joined earlier this month by PowerView+ and PowerView AC. They're designed for installation in new builds and when remodeling, however, whereas PowerView is designed to fit more straightforwardly into an existing window. All three systems integrate with Alexa, the Google Assistant, HomeKit, and IFTTT, along with professional automation platforms including Control4, Crestron, and Savant.

Hunter Douglas will continue offering the AA battery option, though Stephenson says he expects the Rechargeable Battery Wand to comprise around 50-percent of sales after a year or so. It'll carry a $65 premium over AA battery operation when installed, while spare batteries will be $70 and spare charging stations will be $95.