Serena Smart Shades review: “Hey Google, Open my shades”

Once you go smart shades, you’ll never want to go back

Serena Smart Shades review

Bottom line

Serena smart shades are pretty pricey but absolutely worth it. These are super customizable, high-quality automated shades that seamlessly integrate with your smart home.

Overall
4.6

Pros

  • Customizable with lots of options
  • Easy to install
  • Compatible with most popular smart home ecosystems and voice assistants
  • Smooth and quiet opening/closing

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Not compatible with Google routines

Just about everything in our home is slowly getting connected to become part of a smart home ecosystem, and now your shades can be smart too with Serena Smart Shades. These “smart shades” are motorized, completely customizable and they integrate with just about every popular smart home ecosystem and voice assistant on the market.

On Serena’s web site, you can customize the size of your shade, and choose from a variety of colors and fabrics. You can also choose between battery-powered and wired, an inside mount, outside mount on frame, outside mount above frame, and you can choose between sheer, translucent, and blackout fabrics, and there are many color choices to choose from too.

We designed a single shade unit with blackout shades. We were fitting the shade for a rather large non-standard window. The custom shade unit ended up pricing out at around $800. It then took several weeks for our Serena Smart shades to arrive, but it was worth the wait.

We were able to install our custom smart shades with minimum effort, but you can also opt to have a professional install them. Once the shades are physically installed over your window, the shades can be controlled using the Lutron wireless shade remote control (sold separately), using the free Lutron app, or both. That said, you’ll need the Lutron Smart Bridge kit in order to convert the shades to a smart shade system, and that costs an additional $79.95.

From within the Lutron app, you can create personalized scenes to control multiple shades and Caseta lights together. For example, you can create a “good morning” scene that opens the shades and turns on the lights in the morning. You can also schedule the shades to open and close automatically at set times. There is also a Geofencing feature that automatically controls your shades based on your location. So for example, you can make it so that the shades go down every time you leave the house.

Serena Shades are compatible with Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, Apple Watch, Sonos, Alexa, Samsung SmartThings, Logitech Harmony, Xfinity Home, IFTTT, and more.

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We had a little bit of a hiccup the first time we tried to connect our smart shades with Google Assistant. We had to link Lutron as a service from within the Google Home app, but it didn’t work the first time so we had to unlink and relink it, but then the shades were finally ready for “primetime”. Now we can say “Hey Google, open the shades” and the Serena Shades rise up like magic. With that said, we found we were unable to add the Serena Shades to a Google Routine. Hopefully, this feature will eventually be added.

We’ve tried some competing products which transform your old shades into smart shades, but these add-on products don’t offer nearly as seamless an experience. For starters, the competing product we tried requires a bulky additional accessory that attaches to your window unit. Also, the competing product opens and closes your shades at a slower pace, and its mechanism is much noisier than Serena’s Smart shades, and also not nearly as smooth.

Bottom line

There are more affordable alternatives to Serena’s Smart Shades, but Serena Smart Shades offer a wealth of design customization options along with support for just about every smart home ecosystem. Ultimately, they are worth their higher price tag for the convenience they provide. The shades themselves are also excellent quality, which further helps justify their price. But being able to say “Hey Google, open the shades?” Well, that’s priceless. Serena Smart Shades has quickly become one of those smart home products that we now wonder how we ever lived without it.

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