motorized skylight shades
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Levelor shade used for skylight blackoutSee our main article about how to make a motorized skylight shade We also have motorized electric skylight openers.

In the main article we showed how to make a remote control 72" x 86" horizontal motorized skylight shade using our RollerTrol™ 12v DC tubular motors and inexpensive off-the-shelf items that can be purchased at your local hardware store. We bought our shade for 39 bucks at our local Home Depot.

This design can also be used to make a bottom up window shade; it would simply be raised into the vertical position.

Note the '6' that is highlighted at the bottom of the Levelor label (above, right) - this indicates the weight of the material (Mil thickness), about halfway on the scale of 4 to 12. You can use a different weight, or change the material to suit your needs. You can use double sided tape with a few wraps on it to fasten new material to the roller (such as 3M™ VHB™ RP Tape).

Sequence showing motorized skylight shade at various stages of closing, with multi channel remote (control up to 14 blinds):

skylight shade closing - various stages

Question: Does the weight of the material in your skylight shade cause it to sag? How is it under tension if it isn't rolling up and down? There is nothing on the other side to stretch it, right?

Answer: There is a high tension spring inside the Levelor dispensing roller tube. This is the very common type of shade that is spring loaded, with a locking mechanism that allows you to set it at any height. When you pull it down slightly to release the pawls, it retracts fully to the top of the window.

What we did is remove the locking mechanism so that it is still spring loaded, but doesn't lock any more. So, when the motor pulls it out, the material is kept under tension and you can increase that tension by pre-loading it with a few turns before you attach it to the motor.

We thought we would have problems with sag, and there was some. It's probably ok for small shades. In the video when you see it pulling the blind out horizontally, that frame holds the vinyl material only 1/2" or so off the floor, yet it does not touch. But we did find that the spring weakens over time, causing more sag as it gets older.

This is why we developed the ShadeSlider™ system for cellular shades. It does not rely on spring tension, applying an equal push/pull force on both sides of the shade; you can see the ShadeSlider™ skylight shade motor kit here.

Question: Can your motors be used to make a motorized skylight open and close to let the air in and out? Could the tubular motors be used to open and close ordinary windows?

Answer: The short answer is 'yes'. Our motors can be used in any number of ways, limited only by your imagination. You would probably use chain drive of some kind to do this, but it might be as simple as a pulley used with a roller, or some threaded rod used as a jackscrew, allowing gravity to play its part.

If you come up with an innovative design, let us know and we'll publish it on our website.

control skylight shade with multi channel remoteThe mechanism of this motorized skylight system is remarkably simple: you have a spring loaded shade (locking mechanism removed) at one end of the skylight, a motorized remote control roller at the other end, and some type of pull cord connecting the motorized roller on each side to the roller shade. That is really all you need.

Here are the instructions for our standard radio motors:

How To Program our Motorized Skylight Shade Kit

We sincerely hope you enjoy using these advanced motors; if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at any time!