When we say “Smart Home,” your mind probably starts working a mile-a-minute. You probably imagine a Jetsons-like, technologically advanced home that responds to your every command.

While that concept is certainly understandable, smart homes in 2018 look less like auto-retracting walls and floors that automatically absorb messes and more like homes with convenient, easy-to-use home integration and home automation systems.

home automation system

The practical uses of smart home automation and integration systems are much different than our sci-fi imaginations. And while you might think that smart home technology is simply a way to boost the wow-factor in your home, it can actually make your home life more efficient, more relaxed, and eliminate some elements of stress in your home.

In this article, we’re going to explain what home integration means, how you can make your home compatible, and why some versions of smart homes can be incredibly pragmatic. We’ve laid out costs, logical smart home devices, and reasons we believe that smart homes can be practical in 2018.

If you’re looking for practical home automation that won’t break the bank, does more than just provide your home with the “cool factor” and can make your life easier, read on!

What is a Smart Home Anyway?

automated smart home integration

It’s hard to set aside romantic, technologically-advanced ideas about what a futuristic smart home would be like, but what we’re referring to is really more of pragmatic home automation and integration system.

A home automation system is simply:

Think about being able to control your washing machine, sound system, window treatments and thermostat all from your phone. That’s a smart home.

Everything is connected and communicates to the other connected items.

Coldwell Banker and the tech journal CNET teamed up to produce the following definition of a smart home:

A home that is equipped with network-connected products (i.e., “smart products,” connected via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or similar protocols) for controlling, automating and optimizing functions such as temperature, lighting, security, safety or entertainment, either remotely by a phone, tablet, computer or a separate system within the home itself.

The home must have a smart security feature or a smart temperature feature in addition to a reliable internet connection. It then must include at least two features from a list of smart options, including appliances, entertainment, lighting, outdoor sensors, and safety detectors.

Smart homes give you control, communication, comfort, and convenience, allowing you the options to control almost all aspects of how your home functions.

This includes things like:

Essentially, smart homes allow you to use digital devices to perform tasks that are traditionally done manually.

Window Shutters, Cloud Cams, Smart Bulbs, and More

automated home shading

How you design your home automation system is entirely up to you. If you’re looking for impractical, cool-factor things, you can certainly build them into your home automation systems.

However, there are a few very practical home integration systems available on the market that are designed to simplify your life, save you money, and help your life move along at a smoother pace.

Amazon Cloud Cam

What kinds of devices? Consider products like the Amazon Cloud Cam. The Cloud Cam is one the most functional, practical, home automation tools. This security cam can provide a live feed of your home, protecting your family and belongings even when you’re not there, sending you motion notifications and free, 24-hour clip storage.

Somfy Window Shutters and Roller Shutters

Somfy allows you to motorize and automate blinds, shutters, awnings, solar screens, and much more. Once you’ve implemented Somfy’s system, you can control all these things with the touch of a button or even your voice.

Smart Bulbs

LED smart bulbs that you can place in your light fixtures and control with a remote allow you to easily control the light levels in your room.

The Smart Hub

A smart hub can be paired with a smart home app to automate, schedule, and control various elements of your home. Consider a smart hub like the Amazon Echo Speaker or the Wink 2. These speaker hubs allow you to vocally control most of your other home automation devices.

Want to control the thermostat? Give your speaker a holler. Want to dim the lights or shut the blinds? Let your speaker know.

If you’re not interested in a voice-controlled hub, consider a universal remote like the Logitech Harmony Elite. This remote connects to the Harmony Home Hub to control other bluetooth, wi-fi, and other infrared devices in your home.

Other examples include things like the Amazon Dash buttons, which allow you to reorder products with the push of a button. These buttons connect to your wifi network and immediately place an order with Amazon when you press the button.

Is a Smart Home Actually Practical?

practical smart home automation

Our answer to this complicated question? Absolutely. A smart home can be incredibly practical. Because the design and functionality is completely up to you, it can be as practical as you want it to be.

For example, there are numerous practical functions you can implement with home automation systems, such as:

Save On Energy

You can also save significant amounts of energy by implementing home automation technology. Smart technology allows your home to act intuitively and automatically. Think about how your house heats up in the summer with the additional solar rays entering your home through your windows.

Adding motorized window treatments like retractable awnings, solar shades, and blinds that you can control through a smart hub allows you to set a specific schedule for the blinds to close, eliminating additional heat entering your home throughout the day.

Increase The Value Of Your Home

Adding home automation is also practical because it dramatically increases the value of your home. According to a study done by Coldwell Banker, about 64 percent of current buyers are interested in automation, and that number is expected to continually increase.

Improved Security

More than that, implementing home automation can provide a much better, more advanced security system that works in your favor regardless of where you are. Smart surveillance cameras that you can control from anywhere via your smartphone allow you to view live footage of your home at any time.

You can use smart locks on your doors and windows, full control to your home’s security system from anywhere, and set up a combination of alerts that can keep you, your family, and your belongings safer than ever.

It’s also convenient and practical to have simplified control of your home at the touch of a button. Close all your shades at one time, set up scheduled feeding times for your animals, shut and lock your doors with the touch of a button. In an integrated home, you can experience customization and comfort on a practical level.

The Verdict: Smart Home Tech Can Be Perfectly Practical

smart home technology

Home automation, home integration, and smart home tweaks for your house can be pretty cool, but more than that, they can be incredibly practical. Home integration features can help you to save costs on lighting and air conditioning, keep your home perfectly controlled, and even protect your home from intruders when you’re not there.

Sure, you can implement all the wow-factors if you’re looking to make your home as cool-as-can-be, but remember, there are always practical solutions in the form of security, light bulbs, voice automation, scheduling and timing mechanisms, and much, much more.

Somfy shading automation is now compatible with Amazon Alexa!

Amazon’s Alexa has taken center stage in smart home technology. The voice-driven virtual assistant integrates with smart home security systems, thermostats, home entertainment systems, sprinklers, lighting systems, and now – home shading systems.
somfy alexa mylink home automationAlexa and Somfy have teamed up to allow users to voice control shades powered by Somfy motors. Home shading automation provides the ultimate experience in home convenience and comfort.

Visit our showroom in San Jose, CA for a demo on how we use Amazon Alexa to control our shading solutions!

Alexa and Somfy Shading Automation – Together at Last for the Ultimate Voice Controlled Shading System

Previously, Alexa was not compatible with Somfy shading products. However, with the new Alexa integration, Somfy motorized shading automation is now accessible through voice activation via Amazon Echo, Dot, Tap or other devices with Alexa.

Any Somfy-powered RTS products, such as awnings, rolling shutters, solar screens, and pergola covers can be controlled with Alexa using voice commands once it is set up in the Somfy myLink app.

somfy alexa shading automationAutomated Retractable Awnings with Somfy RTS Motors & Weather Sensor Installed by European Rolling Shutters

To get started, a Somfy myLink app with connected shading products powered by Somfy is required. An Alexa device connected to an Amazon account and Android or iOS device is also needed.

How to Connect Alexa to Somfy

  1. Make sure all systems are up-to-date
  2. Open the myLink app and click on “Amazon Alexa” in the menu
  3. Select “Link a New Account”
  4. Open the Amazon Alexa app and search for Somfy myLink
  5. Click “Enable” and enter Amazon account info
  6. Return to the myLink app and login with Amazon to complete the account linking process

After this simple setup and connecting process, homeowners can say “Alexa, ask myLink to raise bedroom.” Just like that, the bedroom shades will raise automatically. There are dozens of possible commands you can say to Alexa to control your shading solutions.

European Rolling Shutters is a Somfy Platinum Expert authorized dealer that offers Somfy powered shading solutions needed for the ultimate Alexa smart home experience!

Get a FREE in-home consultation and estimate

(408) 629-3740

Not only can you control one shading product, Somfy RTS motors also allow control of multiple motorized shading products – thanks to Somfy RTS multi-channel capabilities.

Single channel RTS operates one individual shade while multi-channel permits full control of multiple individual and/or groups of shading products.

For example, the multi-channel feature allows homeowners to extend awnings on one side of their home while rolling up solar screens on the other side without the need to go to each side of the home. Now, with Alexa, homeowners are able to do the same thing simply by speaking.

The Smart Shades Experience Just Reached a New Level

The benefits of Alexa-enabled automated shading were futuristic fantasies not that long ago. And now, the long awaited Somfy shading automation with Alexa is a reality. Homeowners can be relaxing in the living room and with a simple voice command, they can extend or retract their motorized patio awnings.

somfy alexa smart shadesRetractable Motorized Pergola Covers with Somfy RTS Motors & Weather Sensor Installed by European Rolling Shutters

Aside from the ultimate convenience, it’s just fun to control every aspect of your home shading so easily. “Speak it and it shall be” is the ultimate experience smart home owners are now having with this technology.

In addition to voice activate smart shades, you can also have Somfy weather sensors automatically retract or expand awnings, pergola covers, and solar screens – even when you’re not home! These weather sensors utilize Somfy RTS technology to automatically protect your shades during extreme weather.

The future has arrived – it’s convenient and a lot fun. Contact ERS to get your home upgraded with Somfy shading automation via Amazon Alexa!

Get a FREE in-home consultation and estimate

(408) 629-3740

A pergola is both a functional and decorative outdoor feature for any home. Typically attached directly to the home or constructed nearby, a pergola can add definition to your exterior space and shade a deck or patio to create a comfortable outdoor space for relaxing.

Traditional vs. Modern Pergolas

The traditional pergola is often a simple structure that is open on all sides and does not have a roof, but features exposed rafters. Many homeowners grow plants near their pergola and winding vines are a popular option as they grow to cover the rafters across the pergola, providing some shade.

traditional-pergola-exposed-raftersTraditional Pergola with Exposed Rafters

With just exposed rafters, traditional pergolas do not offer much shade from the sun. While aesthetically attractive, homeowners cannot use their pergola as often or as long as they truly desire due to the limited shading.

ERS can help transform your simple, exposed pergola into a modern pergola that offers the following advantages:

The result modern pergola offers is a contemporary, low-maintenance outdoor space for you and your family to relax without worrying about sun damage!

modern-pergola-fabric-coverModern Pergola – Notice How the Addition of a Pergola Cover Transformed the Space into a Cool, Shaded Space!

Modern Pergola – Evolved Appearance for Enhanced Experience

Pergolas have become more sophisticated and functional without losing their charm! Contemporary pergolas embrace new materials and technologies to put a modern spin on a classic concept. The addition of sun protection features such as fabric covers and/or solar screens enhance both the appearance of pergolas and functionality. Both of these features make the pergola more comfortable on those hot, sunny days by blocking out a great amount of UV rays.

modern-pergola-design-solar-screensModern Pergola Design with Solar Screens Attached

Modern Pergola – Better Durability & Convenience with Contemporary Technologies

The latest automation technologies such as weather sensors, remote control, wall switch, and more are available for ERS’s motorized pergola covers and solar screens. These high tech features allow you to enjoy the benefits of your pergola while keeping maintenance low. Nothing beats having your pergola covers and/or solar screens automatically controlled even when you’re away from home!

contemporary-pergola-automated-weather-sensorContemporary Pergola with Automated Weather Sensor

Get the Perfect Pergola Covers with European Rolling Shutters

We offer a wide selection of fabric covers and solar screen attachments for your modern pergola designs. The automated shading technologies we offer can truly enhance your outdoor living experience, not to mention the value of your property. What makes ERS unique is that everything we do is custom. We custom design, fabricate and install all our shading products from start to finish!

Get a FREE in-home consultation and estimate!
(408) 629-3740

Contact the ERS with your modern pergola ideas for a free quote and to see our extensive line of shading solutions such as retractable awnings and exterior rolling shutters.

With so many sunny days in the Bay Area, there are ample opportunities to host barbecues and get-togethers with your extravagant outdoor kitchen. An outdoor kitchen is a rewarding, but usually expensive addition to a home, so it makes sense to take the proper steps to get the most out of your investment.

Any outdoor backyard kitchen would be incomplete without the addition of shading. There are plenty of barbecue shading ideas, however, retractable awnings and pergola covers offer some advantages other shading solutions lack.

outdoor kitchen awningOutdoor Kitchen Awning in the Backyard Offers Sun Protection, Safety, Style & More
Installed by European Rolling Shutters

Installing an outdoor kitchen awning will not only provide comfort and protection to your family and friends when the sun is shining relentlessly, but it will also offer an array of benefits such as safety, flexibility, convenience, and more. Whether you’re having a backyard birthday party or just relaxing on a nice day in your backyard, awnings and pergola covers are the perfect shading solutions you’re your outdoor kitchen.

Keeping Your Cool

If you’re looking for backyard kitchen shading or you really just want a nice space to enjoy being outside without sweating, a motorized retractable awning is an enticing option to help you stay comfortable.

Cooking outside on a hot day can be unbearable with the sun beating down on you, so adding outdoor kitchen awnings to your space can make grilling much more enjoyable. Besides helping to drop the temperature a few degrees, retractable awnings and pergola covers also protect your skin from harmful UV rays. You and your family can relax and enjoy each other’s company in the backyard without worrying about getting a sunburn.

backyard kitchen shadingBackyard Kitchen Shading with a Touch of Elegance and Style the Awning Fabric Offers
Installed by European Rolling Shutters

Flexible Functionality for Relaxation and Safety

An outdoor kitchen shading should be designed with function and flexibility in mind to make the best out of your investment. In addition to fighting the sun, a motorized awning makes it easy to protect your outdoor furniture and stay safe.

Retractable awnings are advantageous over other shading solutions because of its ability to be adjusted in any position. Fully open them or partially retract them, it’s perfectly flexible for your activities.

This flexibility is especially important for any outdoor kitchen shading. Being able to partially retract your awnings to expose the outdoor grill offers many benefits. Besides protecting you from the sun while cooking, the partially retracted awning will also be protected from getting damaged by the smoke and grease since the grill won’t be directly beneath the awning.

Additionally, the openness allows plenty of air flow for your grill. Thus, reducing the risk of the shading catching on fire. Proper air flow also helps prevent carbon monoxide from getting trapped under the awning. This is a safety precaution anyone with an outdoor kitchen directly adjacent to a window of their home must take as the trapped carbon monoxide can possibly creep inside your home via an open window.

barbecue under awningBarbecue Under Awning in the Backyard – Relax in the Cool Shade the Retractable Awning Provides
Installed by European Rolling Shutters

Built to Last

It’s natural to be concerned with the durability of a product that is always outside, but ERS motorized retractable awnings are designed to be long-lasting. The hardware is durable and can last for decades. The awning fabrics can last over 10 years, but can certainly last even longer with minimal care. As long as the awnings are properly maintained with simple awning care, rest assure you will be able to enjoy your shades for many years to come.

Convenience at Your Fingertips

ERS awnings can be enhanced with Somfy automation and weather sensors to make your shadings last even longer. Automation allows you to fully control your backyard awnings while you’re inside the home with the following options:

Hand-held remote
Wireless wall switch
myLink app on a smartphone or tablet
Somfy timer

Weather sensors can automatically retract your awnings or pergola covers once extreme weather is detected – even when you’re away from home. These enhancements help protect your shades from weather damage and will increase your awning’s longevity.

Do it with Style

Completing your outdoor kitchen with ERS retractable awnings adds a stylish and eye-catching feature to your residence. With over 150 awning fabrics to choose from, you’ll definitely find a style and color that is perfect for the theme of your home and backyard.

outdoor kitchen shading with awning and solar screenOutdoor Kitchen Shading with a Solar Screen Attached to an Awning for Extra Sun Protection
Installed by European Rolling Shutters

If you want to go a step further, you can even attach retractable solar screens to the awnings for a nifty looking extra layer of sun protection. With a variety of options to choose from, it’s easy to construct the outdoor kitchen of your dreams.

ERS Awnings and More

Outdoor kitchen awnings and pergola covers are among the many products that ERS has to offer. ERS also specializes in other retractable shadings such as exterior rolling shutters and solar screens to help you and your home stay cool. Whatever you need, ERS is certain to have a shading solution for you.

Contact us for a free in-home consultation and estimate!
(408) 629-3740

It’s no secret that the San Francisco Bay Area boasts some of the nation’s most agreeable weather thanks to a mild year-round climate that generally doesn’t have severe events such as blizzards, hurricanes, and tornadoes. However, Bay Area residents, especially those in the sunny South Bay, must always be mindful of one nemesis: the sun.

It might seem a bit cold-hearted to look upon our provider of beautiful sunshine and pleasant temperatures with disdain, but the fact is UV rays from the sun can do considerable damage to not only the body, but also the home.

The simple solution is to grab some sunscreen for a day under the sun, but continually slathering lotion on can be bothersome. And it still doesn’t protect your hardwood flooring or furniture from sun damage.

Instead, there’s a less greasy and more fashionable way to ward off sunrays from the skin and home: motorized retractable awnings.

This Green and White Striped Motorized Retractable Awning in San Jose Creates a Comfortable, Shaded Backyard
Installed by European Rolling Shutters

Perfect Climate for Motorized Awnings in San Jose, CA

Installing an awning for dealing with the summertime heat in San Jose, and the Bay Area in general, is a great idea, but the city’s climate makes getting an awning an ideal choice regardless of the season.

San Jose has an average of 300 days of sunshine per year and the average temperature for the year hovers around 60.5 degrees. This means ample opportunities for enjoying a nice sunny day throughout the year.

However, an abundance of sunshine means two things: plenty of UV rays and heat.

No matter the time of year, it’s hard to enjoy the outdoors with the sun beating down. With a retractable awning in San Jose, shade and safety can be had with the simple push of a button.

A retractable awning not only blocks harmful UV rays from the skin, it also stops sunlight from reaching the home’s interior, helping to save energy on cooling and heating costs, as well as protecting furniture and other valuables from being damaged due to constant exposure to sunlight.

Just check out all this shade made from one of our San Jose Awnings:

San Jose AwningsMotorized San Jose Awnings Provide Shade Which Help Protect Furniture from Sun Damage
Installed by European Rolling Shutters

Although retractable awnings offer perfect protection against the sun, they’re not meant to withstand extreme weather such as heavy rain, wind or snow. Such extreme weather conditions can cause great damage to opened awnings. Because the weather in San Jose and the Bay Area is mild, you don’t have to worry too much about your awnings getting weather damaged, so these San Jose awnings provide an excellent shading solution year-round.

Simple Awning Maintenance

Another advantage of the Bay Area’s favorable climate and lack of extreme weather: awning care is easy.

Only proper care and handling with basic awning cleaning is needed for ERS retractable awnings to be long-lasting. The durable hardware and frames used require only minimal care to keep your motorized awnings operating smoothly for decades.

We source our awning fabrics from Sunbrella, a product that is recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Custom, Crazy & Unique Awning Designs

ERS offers hundreds of striking patterns, colors, and styles of awning fabrics. However, for customers who are looking for something extra special, ERS can help add a touch of creativity via specific color themes or business logos for commercial awnings.

retractable awnings san joseRetractable Commercial Awnings with Customized Business Name at Left Bank Restaurant at Santana Row in San Jose, CA
Installed by European Rolling Shutters

Many folks in the Bay Area are sports fanatics, and we can even match colors for all the major teams in the region. Wow your tailgate buddies when hosting barbeques with a custom Sharks, A’s, 49ers, Raiders or Giants themed awning!

ERS motorized retractable awnings use motors and controls produced by Somfy, a company that has produced more than 150 million motors since it was created. Somfy awning automation can be set up to be controlled by mobile devices such as a smartphone and tablet, providing another layer of customization and control.

Get in Touch with ERS Today for Awnings San Jose!

There are plenty of companies in the Bay Area that offer awnings, but European Rolling Shutters in San Jose is unique because they are one of the few exterior shading companies in the entire country that manufactures, sells, and installs ALL their own products.                                                                                      

Founded in 1983, ERS Shading’s factory and showroom is located in San Jose. They service the entire Bay Area from Southern Marin Country to Monterey County and offer free in-home estimates.

All the materials they use are imported directly from Europe, and all the assembly and manufacturing of their products is done in-house at their factory.

Besides awnings, ERS also offers retractable pergola covers, rolling shutters and solar screens. Whatever the problem is, ERS is sure to have the answer. Get in touch with us today!