If you’re an Aussie homeowner, when summer approaches, from Melbourne to Adelaide, to Sydney and Perth, there’s a strong chance you’ve been swayed by the multitude of home improvement shows on our TV screens and are already planning a makeover blitz for your home, most importantly focusing on keeping your interiors cool and stylish through the addition of motorised blinds while also enhancing your outdoor spaces through awnings.
Focusing on the interior of the home, motorisation is a big buzzword in blinds right now. Australian householders are increasingly investing in motorised products that will enable them to control their interior temperature and environment with style. Whether shopping for blinds in Melbourne or blinds in Adelaide, householders across the nation are buying motorised or automated blinds, due to their growing price accessibility and numerous practical benefits, which are applicable to a range of products, from venetian blinds to roller blinds, honeycomb blinds and panel blinds, as well as exterior blinds and awnings.
Moving outside, you may well have done some garden maintenance and planting and even considered upgrading the old ‘barbie’; and of course, if you’re thinking about spending a lot of time outdoors (and who doesn’t, in the Australian summer?) some kind of blind, awning or shading solution has probably entered the mix.
If you’re still awaiting enlightenment and considering your options, here are 6+4 tips to help your selection process:-
INTERIORS: The benefits of blind motorisation
Growing uptake of motorised blinds has meant falling prices, resulting in a ‘virtuous circle’ that has seen high quality motorisation options steadily dropping in price in recent years.
With the touch of a button you can move your blind to whatever position you like.
The addition of sensors and timers means your products can be operated remotely, even when you’re not at home, enabling you to keep the heat at bay should solar glare intensify, no matter where you are.
In contrast to manual operation, which can damage blinds through excessive pulling and improper operation, the controlled operation of blinds ensures good function and better durability.
Safety is another important issue, particularly where young kids are involved, as loose cords and chains on venetian blinds, roller blinds, honeycomb blinds or panel blinds present a strangulation risk to children. Automated or motorised blinds generally don’t require cords, providing a much safer environment.
Add to this the discreet, quiet and smooth operation of today’s motors and the benefits speak for themselves. Most current motors are fully concealed inside the tube of the blind and operate virtually noiselessly.
Understanding your blind motorisation options
Motorised blinds are usually available in two options: either a wired motor that requires a licenced electrician to install it, or a wirefree one that can be easily installed by the homeowner. Wired motors are generally more powerful and suitable for larger blinds or for situations where two or more blinds need to be linked together. The wirefree motor is battery operated and is more suitable for smaller blinds up to two by two metres in size. It also has a built in radio receiver and is remote control operated.
Somfy and Rollease-Acmeda are two of the leading suppliers of motorised blind options and are leading the way with a range of both wired and wirefree motors. With motor options available on all of Blinds On the Net ‘Australian custom made’ roller blinds, a typical example of a wired motor is the Automate range supplied by Rollease-Acmeda. The range includes mechanical limit, electronic limit and wirefree motors with specialised features such as collision control for blind fabric preservation, ultra-quiet performance for minimal noise disruption, synchronisation for precision positioning and self-tightening for perfectly closed cassettes.
Meanwhile new Somfy wire free motor and remote control are the ideal solution for anyone reluctant to hire a sparky while also possessing a penchant for elegance and style. The motor uses powerful lithium batteries that will last for years and are easily replaced. These are contained in a slim wand which is easily hidden behind the blind. A built-in radio receiver operates the blind via the remote, which also works with a small but powerful battery.
Wired and wire-free products offered by Blinds On The Net include:
- Wired Rollease-Acmeda Automate RTS, including remote. RTS means a built in receiver/switch operated by a radio remote.
- Wired Rollease-Acmeda Automate non-RTS home automation motor. No Remote. Non-RTS means no receiver/switch in the motor so it relies on a home automation system or other switches for operation.
- Wired Somfy Altus RTS including remote. Motor with integrated radio control. This is a classic multi-purpose unit to motorise a host of products including roller shutters, awnings or vertical blinds. A key benefit is that it can be pre-programmed with “my” favourite position.
- Wired Somfy Mercure non-RTS home automation motor. No remote.
- Wirefree Rollease-Acmeda Automate rechargeable including remote and charger.
- Wirefree Somfy with battery wand including remote.
EXTERIORS: Stay cool this summer with exterior blinds and awnings
As the weather heats up and the flies and mosquitos inevitably appear, we know that Spring is here and Summer is on its way. This is the perfect time to consider investing in awnings, flyscreens and exterior blinds that can give your home a colourful and stylish facelift while also paring back your cooling bill this summer. Below are four key pointers for investing in awnings and outdoor blinds for the warmer weather:-
Sun protection is a non-negotiable in the Australian climate. Awnings made from durable, high quality canvas, can reduce heat exposure of your home up to 80% before the heat it even reaches your window! Ideally awning fabrics should be rated +50 UPF, which is the highest possible solar protection factor for textiles. It’s worth noting that fabric in dark colours affords 100% protection while lighter colours stop up to 97% of UV radiation. The UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) specifies how much longer you can be exposed to sunlight when protected from it by the given UPF without suffering sunburn.
Good awning fabrics are also able to control and modify light transmittance, or the amount of visible light that passes through the sun shading unit. Screen fabrics can block up to 95% of visible light, while in terms of solar direct transmittance or the amount of the sun’s radiation or heat that passes through the shading unit, good screen fabrics can block up to 90% of direct radiation.
Give your home a facelift and a new room! Awnings are a great way to enliven your outside space and create an extra ‘outdoor room’ in which to relax and entertain while enjoying protection from the elements. And given the growing population of inner city dwellers, it’s good to know that awnings and outdoor blinds can really enhance the ambience of a city pad. Apartments with smaller courtyards in modern developments often face dual challenges – how to make the most of space while also reducing their energy bills. The addition of awnings and blinds in Melbourne apartments or units for example, can create great energy saving shading solutions for such homes.
If you have a small back yard it may be time to replace this with some eye-catching brickwork, paving or decking to create a low-maintenance but well integrated space. Instead of traditional flowerbeds you might want to statement pots and bench seating that can also be used for storage. If you’re lucky enough to possess a large garden, these rules still apply to a designated area close to the house such as a terrace or patio. Other ways of sprucing up your outdoor room might include a water feature or a vertical garden or herbarium.
Some tips to consider when planning your outdoor room:
- Think about how you want to use this area. For example will you be using it during the day or also at night? Does it need to be child friendly? How often will you entertain in this space? How many people do you want to be able to fit into your area?
- Will your outdoor space also encompass dining and or cooking as well as comfortable seating?
- Remember to invest in quality. Outdoor furniture should be good quality and built to last. For outdoor blinds and awnings, refer to a trusted brand that uses proven technology for durability and safety.
- Clarify your vision – Define your requirements and objectives from the outset and keep referring to them as the project evolves. You might want to use a scrap book, or Instagram or Pinterest to collate your visual ideas.
Be aware of the choices. Awnings come in a wide variety of applications, so it’s important to choose the right one for your needs. Outdoor vertical blinds can be used on windows to reduce glare while also being coordinated with other shading solutions or awnings to help create your ‘outdoor room’. Many awnings are easy to use and can be rolled away completely or stopped in any position with their self-locking arm, and of course motorisation options are available for many types of awning. Meanwhile spring loaded awnings are strong sellers in the market as they are a low cost, easy way to add impact to the look of your home while enhancing its cooling.
A retractable folding arm awning is well worth considering and is also available in motorised versions for ease of retraction. Retractable awnings are great for seasonal flexibility as they can be extended in summer for added shade and retracted in winter for optimum sunshine, and they also feature handy sun, rain and wind sensors to automate the retraction.
Straight drop awnings provide external protection to windows from sun, light and heat and they are a great way to enclose openings in a courtyard. Apart from sun and wind protection, they also keep out dirt, rain and insects. There are two basic types of straight drop awnings: un-tensioned awnings that use the weight of their base rail to keep the fabric cover from blowing or billowing in the wind, suitable for smaller awnings in protected or less windy areas; or tensioned awnings that use gas struts or elasticised belts to pull the fabric down, keeping it taut in high wind conditions, very reliable and suitable for larger straight drop awnings in windy areas.
Many awnings are sold to match with exterior roofing and guttering colours from suppliers such as Colorbond. Custom made awnings are available in both canvas and screen fabrics. Awnings are also available with or without head boxes and side wire guides.
Location, location, location! Requirements for awnings will vary greatly depending on where you’re located. If you’re looking for exterior blinds in Adelaide and you live in the hills area, your choice will be very different from that of someone living in Sydney by the water. For the Sydneysider, an awning treated with corrosion protection would be worth considering, due to the effects of sea salt which can be very harsh on products. Meanwhile some awnings perform better in windy conditions than others due to their mechanism and design. If you’re shopping for exterior awnings or blinds in Melbourne you may want to select an awning that offers protection from the rain and wind as well as the sun. Many homeowners in the Victorian capital are renovating heritage homes, and the addition of a classic striped awning can make all the difference in enhancing a home’s kerb appeal and re-sale value.
We’re reporting growing uptake of blinds in Adelaide and blinds in Melbourne, as well as the other key Australian markets, and the reasons for this are clear. Spring and summer are times for renewal and by renewal, we mean renovation! Revamping your window coverings through the addition of motorised blinds is now price accessible to most home owners and will lend enviable style and convenience to your interiors. If you can co-ordinate this effort with the addition of state-of-the-art exterior shading solutions such as external blinds and awnings to create new and enticing spaces outside your home, you will have the scorching Australian summer months well and truly covered!