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A wide shot capturing the varying window shapes at Lucent Piccadilly Lights

Cost considerations for an intelligent automated blind system

By: Oli Birch Category: Automated Systems

When discussing automated blind systems with architects, we’re often asked for a cost comparison between intelligent automation and traditional motorised systems.

But, before we dive into the blog, we’ll quickly outline the difference between the two.

With intelligent automated blinds, we’re talking about blind systems that do not rely on a human input in order to deploy. Traditional motorised blinds require human operation, and we explore the differences in greater detail here.

The general expectation when comparing the two is automated blind systems will be the more expensive option. And whilst the initial capital investment can be greater, intelligent automation does offer savings in the following ways:

  • A reduced up-front cost on cabling and containment.
  • Longer-term energy savings by optimising the heating, cooling and lighting strategies.

We explain how below.

If we take a theoretical 10-storey commercial building in London as an example and compare the typical necessary requirements for a motorised system to intelligent automation.

A ground view looking directly up the facade of 150 Holborn

One floor of 100 motorised blinds on a traditional system would require approximately:

  • Four switch zones – Allowing one per façade.
  • 25 basic controllers – Each controller managing four blinds at once.
  • 25 power supplies – One for each basic controller.
  • 2350 metres of cable – As data and power are cabled separately.
  • 690 metres of containment

Meanwhile, an automated blind system would likely require around:

  • Four switch zones
  • Seven SMI controllers – Each controller managing up to 16 motors at once.
  • One power supply – Three-phase power supplied directly to a central ‘intelligence hub.’
  • 640 metres of cable – Power and data provided in a single loop of wiring, daisy-chaining together all motor locations.
  • 220 metres of containment

A detailed graphic explaining the difference in cabling and containment required for automated blind systems

Immediately, even without discussing the cost of the materials listed, it’s evident how there is a significant reduction in the number of controllers and power supplies, and the metres of cable and containment required for automated blind systems.

On average, a power supply would cost approximately £200 per fused spur. This would take the cost of power supplies for one floor of traditional motorised blinds to around £5000 vs £200 for automated.

And this is just the comparison for one floor. Multiply this by 10 floors and the cost saving can be significant.

As mentioned, the reduction in containment and cabling required for intelligent automated blind systems also emphasises a potential cost saving.

However, this example is a very high-level estimation comparing the basic hardware and wiring requirements between intelligent automated blind systems and traditional motorised.

The true cost different will vary depending on the specific requirements of any given project. For example, with intelligent automated blind systems, a host of options for sensors, user interfaces and integrations into Building Management Systems are available.

Therefore, this will vary the cost accordingly.

Finally, it’s important to consider the long-term benefits of using intelligent automated shading.

By ensuring the blinds are in the right position at all times of day, we’re providing sufficient control over solar heat gain and natural light levels and, therefore, reducing our reliance on HVAC systems and artificial lighting. This also has an associated saving on energy and carbon emissions.

If you’d like to discuss an automated system for your projects, please contact our team here as we have an exciting new system launching in the near future.

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