Aqara Roller Shade Driver E1 Review – Smart Home Automated Blinds on the Cheap

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Aqara Roller Shade Driver E1 Review Rating

Summary

The Aqara Roller Shade Driver E1 simple to install, affordable and effective way to automate your existing roller blinds

Overall
85%
85%
  • Overall - 85%
    85%

Pros

  • Much cheaper than buying a complete smart blind
  • Cheaper than competing blind drivers
  • Easy to install and set up
  • Reliable performance
  • Easy to charge with a good battery life

Cons

  • The roller driver is less discrete than a smart blind with an integrated motor

Shortly after reviewing the £1k+ Luxaflex PowerView automatic blinds, Aqara offered me a more affordable alternative, the new Aqara Roller Shade Driver E1.

This is an adaptor that will convert existing roller blinds that have a beaded chain into automatic blinds.

As the Luxaflex blinds let in too much light during the daytime, I decided to fit a £14 blackout blind on the outside of my frame and automate it with the Aqara E1 driver. Therefore the total cost of these blinds would have been well under £100 and that's before discounts.

Aqara Roller Shade Driver E1 Discount

Aqara Roller Shade Driver E1, Requires Zigbee 3.0 AQARA M2...
  • ✽[NOTES] Requires the Aqara Hub M2 or Camera Hub...
  • [Easy Installation] Just screw the Aqara Roller...
  • [Long Battery Life] No need to worry about...
  • [Pre-set Schedule & Position] Set a schedule,...

To celebrate the launch, Aqara now offers a 15% discount for the Roller Shade Driver E1 on its Amazon UK store with the promo code: RSDE1PR1, and the offering will be valid through September 24, 2021.

Specification

  • Bead thickness of 3 – 6mm with four different adaptors
  • Zigbee 3.0
  • Battery-powered with 2-month per life charge
  • USB-C charging
  • Works with Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and more.

Set-Up

The overall design of this blind driver looks identical to some commercially available products that operate either via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi using the Tuya App.

The driver unit is quite large, so it is not as aesthetic as a set of blinds with the motor built-in, such as the Somfy powered tube, or the Ikea blinds. However, this allows you to retrofit existing blinds for a lower overall cost.

Phone for scale

The roller shade driver fits beaded cord roller shades with a bead thickness of 3 – 6 millimeters, and works with both plastic and metal beads. Four adapters for different types of beaded chains are provided so that the driver can work with a majority of beaded chain roller shades.

The E1 driver is battery powered and can be charged via USB-C. The main unit slots onto a mounting plate, so when you need to charge it, you can easily remove it temporarily.

The physical set-up is quite easy, you just need to align up the bottom of the roller beads with the beaded chain with the roller head. I screwed the mount into a wooden frame, so I needed a drill, but the overall process was quite easy. As I am a bit useless at DIY you will notice that I haven't quite mounted it low enough for the chain to be taut properly on both sides and the driver gets in the way of the blinds as they lower/rise.

With the physical installation done, the rest of the set-up is familiar to the other Aqara accessories. Once you add it to the hub, you teach the driver how much to roll the blind open and close by stopping it at the top and bottom. Once it learned the full open and close positions, I found it reliably hit the correct positions all the time.  

In Use / Smart Home Automation

This was used in my bedroom, so the set-up was quite basic:

  • I used the Aqara app to set the blinds to close every night at 7pm then open again at 7am.
  • I set the blinds to open at 2pm (as I frequently have a daytime nap due to getting up at 4am).
  • Mapped an Aqara Wireless Mini Switch to do open/stop/close with a single press.

You can, of course, be far more inventive with your smart home automation. For example, if you live in a warmer environment, you could try partially closing the blinds based on temperature using a temperature sensor to keep the room cooler. Like all the Aqara products, you can then integrate these blinds with

Battery

I installed the E1 driver without fully charging the unit, and I have been using it for a little over a month. The E1 currently has 31% battery left, and the blinds are typically open/closed fully twice per day.

Price and Alternative Options

The Aqara Roller Shade Driver E1 is priced at £59.99

Aqara now offers a 15% discount for the Roller Shade Driver E1 on its Amazon UK store with the promo code: RSDE1PR1

The closest alternative product is the Tuya Zigbee Roller Shade Driver, priced at £76, but it appears to be only compatible with the Tuya Zigbee hub

The Somfy Blinds are likely the best alternative option if you plan on replacing your blinds, but you are looking at around £180+ for a basic blind

The Ikea Smart Blinds are attractively priced, but they come in one colour and have fixed sizes.

Overall

As lazy as it may seem to go to the cost and effort of automating blinds, it is something I love. Due to my weird sleep schedule, I find it is all too easy to leave blinds closed when I wake up in the morning, then just not open them at all. Next thing you know, they haven't been open for months. With this simple upgrade, I have eliminated this problem.

The Aqara Roller Shade Driver E1 is a superb and affordable solution to automating your home blinds. Installation was quick and simple, the set-up process was done in a couple of minutes, and the blinds have worked perfectly for the past month.  

The only downside is that roller blinds themselves are not the perfect solution for me, especially in my rooms with large bay windows.

Last update on 2021-09-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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