Need a better way to charge remote control window shades
June 23, 2022 11:56 AM   Subscribe

I have 4 remote controlled powered window shades that are 12 feet off the ground. They need to be put on a charger every 6 months. Help me eliminate the annoying parts of this process!

I have one extension ladder and one charger that I connect w/extension cord, one at a time, and then wait 8 hours; repeat 3 more times. It takes 2 full days to accomplish this. I don't really like climbing the extension ladder, nor having this interrupt my home for 2 full days every six months. I'm not against throwing some money at this. What can I do to eliminate the annoying parts of this process? Here is a crude drawing of the setup. The middle windows have basic shades. There are no other window treatments/curtains, etc. SO would prefer no ugly wires showing. I would prefer not opening up this exterior wall for new wiring, etc.
posted by Pig Tail Orchestra to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: If you're not willing to run wires in the wall, and you don't want visible wires, I think the best you can do is get three more chargers and do them all at the same time, which will turn a two day odyssey into something you set up at bedtime and take down in the morning.
posted by caek at 12:06 PM on June 23, 2022 [6 favorites]

Would you consider one hardwired outlet, and then hide the wiring behind a window valance or something across the entire top? If you have an outlet near the bottom in an appropriate location, it'd be like $200 to add an outlet at the top. I'm not sure how much a custom valance or box would be, but probably the whole thing maybe $1000.
posted by The_Vegetables at 12:07 PM on June 23, 2022

What brand shades? Are the batteries removable? Replaceable? Pretend the batteries have died, get 4 replacement packs, change them all (for 32 hrs or more), then spend 1 hr on the ladder swapping out battery packs.
posted by at at 12:16 PM on June 23, 2022 [6 favorites]

to conceal unsightly wires, consider painting them the same color as your wall (or your windowframes) and then tucking them into the corner where the windowframe extends out from the wall. It's surprising how powerful a concealant shadow is.

Wild idea: if these windows get enough sun, what about tucking a small solar panel + charger in one of them? You don't say what voltage the shade motor batteries require, but if it's a low-wattage 5V one like you'd use with a phone, there are tons of "charge your phone with a solar panel" solutions out there that might meet your needs.
posted by Sauce Trough at 12:16 PM on June 23, 2022

Response by poster: I got the motorized shades from this site: The manual says "AM25 Low Power Tubular Motor" and the charger says "8.4V 1000mA". I don't remember seeing that the batteries are removable; I'm pretty sure they are not. Boy that is a brilliant idea, I wish they were.
posted by Pig Tail Orchestra at 1:07 PM on June 23, 2022

I would call their contact number and ask them for a possible solution. They know the most about their products (presumably) and maybe have designed a solution for someone else. Worth a try.

888-257-1840 6am - 7pm PST

(Also a live chat on their contact page from the link you posted in your follow-up
posted by JohnnyGunn at 1:19 PM on June 23, 2022 [1 favorite]

A stock phone charger will definitely not work for 8.4V @ 1A.

But that's only 8.4W, which is not very much power. If you had a ~40W 5V phone-charging solar panel, you could wire it to a boost converter to get your 8.4V, and the 40W input ought to give you enough amps to charge all four blinds simultaneously. You could set it and forget it.

(note: I am not an EE or an electrician, just a dork with youtube and a soldering iron. This may be a bad idea. Also, I am not sure of the advisability of continuously charging a battery.)
posted by Sauce Trough at 1:46 PM on June 23, 2022

AM25 motor, you say? Check this out, it appears to be an AM25 with the solar panel wired right into it.
posted by Sauce Trough at 1:52 PM on June 23, 2022

gah, it looks like the thing I linked to doesn't actually include solar panels despite being billed as "Solar Powered", but I saw links to directly compatible panels in the Q&A and reviews.

It's hard to know for sure, as that's a typical stupid garbage amazon product page that merges variations of a product and make it hard to understand what you're actually getting.

Anyway, good luck.
posted by Sauce Trough at 2:01 PM on June 23, 2022

Given the AOK motor is pretty self-contained, it's pretty obvious, at least to me, the vendor just "packaged" it into a nicer package. There was probably a "charging module", where the P/S plugs into, that's connected to the battery, and from there the battery feeds the motor. The module can be a pretty simple circuit board.

a) You can add 4 extensions down to nearly ground level, so you don't have to climb it at all. You may be able to hide the cables behind 4 wall-colored cable-hiders, but ones that go up to 12 ft or more... can be a bit hard to find.

b) Even if the battery's not removable, there may be a way, depending on your willingness to open the thing and locate the battery connection. Then it depends on how the batteries are connected. If they are soldered in, you have a bit of problem. Basically, you'd want batteries pretty easily detached, via 9V batt connector, via a bunch of AA battery holders, and so on. However, nowadays, chances are it'll be a cell-phone-like li-ion battery with only 2 leads, with one side sticker'ed to the inside, and leads soldered in. Converting that to a plug that supports unplug/replug is not recommended to someone who hadn't mess with electronics.
posted by kschang at 10:20 PM on June 23, 2022

I don't really have an answer for you, but wish to extend sympathy. Mine are similarly high up and take AA batteries. At present I've just given up and they're all permanently closed. I fully expect to find that the batteries have all leaked by the time I can face climbing a ladder / getting someone in to climb a ladder, but if not, my plan is to use extension cables to sit the battery units on the windowsills, hopefully discreetly, instead of keeping them tucked where they're supposed to be at the top of the window.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 1:46 AM on June 24, 2022

Response by poster: Thanks for all the answers! I think I'll go with buying 3 more chargers and just get it done with that way.
posted by Pig Tail Orchestra at 1:58 PM on June 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

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