Curtain Driver from Aqara brings your curtains into the smart home age.
The device works with Alexa, Google Home, and HomeKit to make your curtains open and close automatically.
Aqara has put its retrofit curtain solution on the market in the US and Europe. The Aqara Curtain Driver E1 was previously only sold in China. It starts at $89.99 and can be attached to a curtain track or rod to automatically open and close your curtains. It works with Apple’s HomeKit, Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home, and IFTTT, as well as Aqara’s own ecosystem. When the new smart home standard comes out in the fall, Aqara says it will also work with Matter.
One of the coolest and most useful things a smart home can do is automate shades, blinds, and curtains. Smart window coverings can be set to open every morning at a certain time or at sunrise and sunset. They can also be controlled by voice command and work automatically based on your location or the weather. When connected to a smart home system, they can also respond to motion, temperature, and other sensors.
Aqara’s retrofit Curtain Driver can do all of these things, and it also has a built-in light sensor so you can set the curtains to open and close based on the amount of light in the room. With the Aqara app’s adjustable speed setting, you can also set the curtains to open slowly for up to an hour to make it look like the sun is rising. This makes the motor less noisy, which makes it better for a bedroom. Most of the time, noise is the biggest problem with motorized window coverings, since the motors that open and close them can be loud. existing curtain rod or rail. The Zigbee-powered device comes in two different styles: one that hooks over the curtain rod and costs $99.99, and another that hooks into U-rails and I-rails and costs $89.99.
If you have curtains on the same rod that open in opposite directions, you will need two devices, which can get expensive quickly. (The coupon codes USCURTAIN or CURTAINUKEU will get you 20% off both models on Amazon today, July 11th.) The 6000mAh battery should last up to a year and can be charged with a USB Type-C charging cable. There is no need for wiring.
The Aqara Curtain Driver does need a Zigbee 3.0 Aqara Hub (prices start at $30), which is compatible with it. Its main rival in this space, the SwitchBot Curtain, costs the same but can be used locally without a hub (it works over Bluetooth). To control your curtains when you’re not at home or to connect it to a smart home system, you will need a $40 SwitchBot Hub. (It works with Alexa, Google Home, IFTTT, and Siri Shortcuts, but not natively with HomeKit.) Aqara says that its curtain driver can be controlled with hand gestures when paired with its Camera Hub G3.
The Aqara version is said to be able to move up to 26 pounds (12 kg) of fabric, while the SwitchBot can only move up to 17 pounds (8 kg). Both SwitchBot and Aqara have smart buttons that can be used as a physical remote control for your curtains when paired with the smart curtain devices. In the next few weeks, we plan to test both curtain drivers and give you a full report.