No one needs smart curtains, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t somewhat useful and, more importantly, undeniably cool. Who wouldn’t want to say “Hey Google, open my curtains,” and have them instantly open?
I’ve always been interested in connected home products that have no business being on the internet, like lights, speakers, smoke alarms, doorbells and more (I even have a ridiculous internet-connected dishwasher). But smart home devices that have so far eluded me are smart curtains/blinds because they’re typically absurdly expensive.
This is why SwitchBot’s $135.59 Curtain Rod 2 caught my attention (most people will likely want two to open each curtain, bringing the total to $271.18 for one set, which is still pretty expensive). The device is part of a relatively new focus in the smart home space on adding ‘smart’ features to everyday objects in a cost-effective way.
On a base level, the Curtain Rod 2 is pretty simple. It slides back and forth across a curtain rod powered by two small motors, pushing your curtains open and closed. The setup process is relatively straightforward but still takes time, depending on what curtains you have. In my case with a circular curtain rod, I attached the Rod 2 between two included clamps, allowing it to push the curtains back and forth (according to other reviews I’ve read, the first-gen version of SwitchBot’s smart curtains only included one clamp).
The actual setup process in the SwitchBot app is a little more finicky and requires you to select the middle of the rod and the closed position for both Curtain Rod 2 devices. I’ve found that sometimes you need to go through this process again a few weeks after the initial setup, especially if you occasionally close the curtains manually, which starts the motors after a bit of pressure. I’ve also run into an issue where a small amount of light still comes through the centre of the curtains when they’re closed. This was solved by reconfiguring the curtains and pushing them as far as possible to the left.
I set up Switchbot’s Rod 2 smart curtains today lol. pic.twitter.com/mA7hPXEgRl
— Patrick O'Rourke (@Patrick_ORourke) August 22, 2022
Within the SwitchBot app, you can set a time of day for your curtains to open and close, update the firmware and rework a few other settings. Unfortunately, Google Assistant, Alexa and Siri voice commands require SwitchBots’ $48 Mini Hub, which is disappointing. Further, if you’re like me and you’d sometimes rather just press a button than use a voice command, you’ll need the $28.95 SwitchBot Remote. While these two devices don’t make a SwitchBot Curtain Rod 2 quite as expensive as most smart curtain hardware, these are still added costs I didn’t expect.
Price and setup aside, there are other issues with the Curtain Rod 2 worth noting. For example, the device makes a loud mechanical noise as its motors push along the rod. I’ve grown used to it over the past few months, but some might take issue with the motor’s audible grind as it travels along the rod.
Battery life also isn’t as great. In my experience, if I open and close the smart curtains once a day, they last roughly two months. Charging the Curtain Rod 2 without taking them down is challenging (unless you have a nearby plug and a lengthy cable). I’ve resorted to attaching a battery pack and resting it on the window sill to charge.
SwitchBot sells a $29.99 Solar Panel Charger, but given the placement of my curtain rod (it’s well above my window), this isn’t a viable option for me. This is also why the Curtain Rod 2’s light-sensing feature that allows the device to automatically open when it views light doesn’t work for me (the curtain rod is just too high for the sensor).
While SwitchBot’s Curtain Rod 2 isn’t perfect, it still works well and is cheaper than most established smart curtain options (especially if you’re only buying one). Still, I wish the device was quieter, featured longer battery life and came with integral accessories like the Mini Hub and Remote.
SwitchBot’s Curtain Rod 2 is available on Amazon for $135.59.
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