At first sight
While limited in number, the fabric and color choices are attractive Optional RF remote control (included at the time of this review) can handle up to 15 shades Optional hub makes these shades compatible with all major smart home platforms
Poor setup instructions and rocky smart home integration will be a problem for some slow, very loud motors Optional smart home hub is $300 (but can control up to 30 blinds)
Motorized Rolli blinds are relatively inexpensive, but you’ll have limited color choices (five) and even more limited fabric choices (light filtering or room darkening). Buyers should also consider the expensive hub required to make these shades smart, and know that you’ll need Job’s patience to set everything up (unless you opt for the $75 professional setup).
Price at time of review
Prices for custom-made shades start at $549 (Amazon sells two sizes for $179 to $229). Reviewed with optional remote (free with an order placed directly with Rolli) and hub ($300). Total cost: $849
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Rolli Shades LLC $549.00
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Rolli has all the potential to become an affordable, high-end window covering supplier to the do-it-yourself market. Its roller blinds are available with light filtering (Rolli Privacy) or blackout (Rolli Sleep) options in your choice of five fabric colors. Measure your window, opt for a matching valance to cover the hardware (or not), and your custom-made curtains will be delivered to your door, ready to install. That’s when the fun (or not) begins.
Rolli says its price starts at $549, but no matter how small or big I made the glasses on Rolli’s website (up to 120 inches tall and 100 inches wide), the price always came out the same: $549. If you need small eyeshadows, however, Amazon sells a limited collection of Rolli shades for $179 to $229. An optional valance to create a coordinating border around the top of the shade costs $50 at Rolli.com. A handheld remote is available for $49, but Rolli was offering one for free with a direct order from Rolli at the time of this review (the The Rolli remote is $64 on Amazon). A single remote control can manage up to 15 shades.
I tested the blinds and the Rolli Hub with HomeKit and Alexa and everything worked fine.
Even with the very limited choices of fabric colors, these prices are very affordable when it comes to smart shades, especially if you have large windows. But as you’ll see shortly, Rolli recaptures some of that savings when you add the hub needed to make this motorized blind a truly smart blind.
The Rolli Hub is required for smart home integration
The Rolli Hub: a private label version of the Automate the Pulse 2 hub—connect the Rolli blinds to your home network. You will connect it to your router via 2.4GHz Wi-Fi or wired Ethernet. It’ll add $300 to your order, and you’ll need it if you want a smartphone app for schedules and timers, the ability to operate curtains with voice commands (Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri), and do other smart things. home integrations (IFTTT, SmartThings, et al). One hub can control up to 30 shades, but you can deploy up to five hubs per location if you need to control more than 30 shades. Automate also makes the remote control for Rolli.
This review is part of TechHive’s in-depth coverage of the the best smart shades.
I measured my window and within the promised two weeks my Rolli Sleep blind arrived. Although packed with an enormous amount of cardboard, tape and padding, my parasol still arrived slightly bent on one edge of the fabric, slightly damaged in the shipping process.
My problems with Rolli started almost immediately. Sure, I could have opted for the $75 advanced install option (through the third-party service provider Handy), but I have a lot of experience with this task. Rolli also offers a free consultation of the designer before purchase).
The Rolli installation instructions are nothing more than a large piece of cardboard with a giant QR code printed on it. Scanning this QR code takes you to Rolli’s “No sweat setup” installation guide, which may be the least accurate title yet. Both incomplete and inaccurate, I don’t think I’ve ever come across an installation guide that has actively worked against me up to this point.
Part of step 2, for example, is “Mark where the brackets will go.” Sounds good, but Rolli doesn’t tell you where those marks should be in relation to the window frame. Step 4, “Hang your shade,” is completely wrong, as it states that you have to hang the motorized end into the bracket and then push the “pinend” side into the other bracket to lock it in place. This is the other way around. The spring-loaded pin must be inserted into its bracket first, so that the motor can hook into its socket.
Rolli motorized shade installation problems
Doing things the way Rolli suggested is physically impossible, and my attempts to follow his instructions ended up damaging the clips on the motorized side of my visor, even though they were still able to at least grip the bracket well enough not to drop a time I figured things out.
All in all, it took me two hours to install this lampshade, which is phenomenal considering only four screws are needed to get the job done. I’ve only outlined a few of the issues I encountered, as I had another major problem when one of the spring loaded brackets detached, separating into various pieces which I had to delicately put back together. There aren’t even instructions on how to clip the valance to the brackets, which leaves buyers to figure it out through trial and error. Had I purchased this shade, I would have returned it in frustration before even completing the installation.
With the shade finally in place, I was able to move on to testing. The good news is that the standard remote control, a heavy metal device powered by a coin cell battery, is effective and easy to use, and the shadow is highly responsive to its commands. The remote uses a radio frequency so it requires no line of sight and can be wall mounted with the included magnetic hardware allowing it to be removed when needed. It’s hands down my favorite part of the Rolli experience, even though the Rolli programming instructions are missing a key step.
A calibration system lets you tell the lampshade how much you want it to go up and down. Once these limits are set, the simple touch of a button will open or close the shades without having to press “stop”. Unfortunately, I quickly noticed that the blinds raise and lower slowly and quite loudly, to the point that I had to pause the nearby mount while it was moving due to the grinding motor. Rolli’s engine is powered by a rechargeable battery; A long USB cable is included which allows you to power the shade without having to remove it from the wall. The company claims that one charge can last up to 2 years, but that will clearly depend on how often you operate.
The Rolli Hub looks as raw as the motorized blinds themselves. My problems started right after unboxing – the hub comes with a multinational power adapter that plugs into a USB power cable – but I never managed to put the two parts of the adapter together and ended up using a different AC adapter.
It turned out to be a minor gripe than getting the Rolli Hub to work with my wireless network. The setup instructions urge you to turn off 5GHz networks if you have a dual- or tri-band router, but that’s not possible with my mesh network. I suspect my inability to shut down my 5GHz network was the problem during my setup, which took several attempts and included removing the hub from the Automate Pulse 2 app and reconnecting to get things working. But the next day, I found that the app disconnected and nothing I did was going to bring it back.
It took a few calls to contact Rolli technical support, but finally a helpful technician walked me through a 30-minute series of steps to reconnect the blind. (The secret was to disable Wi-Fi completely at a critical step during setup.) It has remained online and operational so far, and I have to give Rolli’s tech support major props for their patience, knowledge, and communication skills. I tested the blinds and the Rolli Hub with HomeKit and Alexa and everything worked fine. I’ve found that voice commands are a much more convenient means of controlling the shade than using the Rolli app or the handheld remote.
Should you buy Rolli motorized blinds?
Once I finally set up the Rolli motorized awning correctly, using the voice commands, the physical remote control and the smartphone app proved to be intuitive and easy. Programming the app to automate tasks, including setting up sunrise and sunset routines that automatically open and close the shades based on the position of the sun, has been a game changer in my bedazzled home office.
Unfortunately, getting to the point where shadow was helpful and problem-free was a journey I don’t want to repeat. Rolli will need to make his installation process merit any level of recommendation.