Is the advantage to having motorized exterior shades worth the cost of installation, integration and maintenance?

Is the advantage to having motorized exterior shades worth the cost of installation, integration and maintenance? Or further, is there definitely an advantage over “static” shades? Daren Whistler of Somfy, a worldwide supplier of automated exterior shade control solutions offers his thoughts to these questions. Download the Somfy Bioclimatic Facades Borchure

Daren Whistler’s responses:
That’s a big question and the answer is dependent on many factors, mainly, but not limited to:

  • The Architecture and design of the building
  • The performance of shading product(s)
  • The performance of the facade especially the glass
  • The use of the building ie school, hospital, office etc
  • The control strategy – whether it be user comfort, energy consumption, get heat/save heat etc etc or a balance of the criteria listed

A fixed shading product, as described, is very restricted. It’s performance is always the same and does not adapt to the ever changing external and sometimes internal environment. Climate and weather changes and with a motorised product it can be used to suit a desired strategy, this could be to harness heat, to manage or even balance light levels reducing the requirement for artificial light or simply manage the appearance of the building. The benefits of the sun can be used all day and all year round, and can be adapted to suit the building use at night-time, weekends and holidays – you just need an automated system to effectively achieve it.

The relatively small cost, as compared to the facade, of automating motorised products is normally out-weighed by the improved user comfort, especially in multi-use environments or shared offices where one persons comfort level (heat/glare) differs to the next – standardisation removes the decision and the argument. However this must be assessed using the above criteria above and motorisation will not always suit all buildings and budgets.