Add-a-Motor Curtain Controller – Review

Submission by Stephen Orme– If you want to automate your curtains, you have a choice of two products: the Silent Gliss motorised curtain rails, or the add-a-motor drape control. The Silent Gliss costs about £300 per window; whereas the add-a-motor costs only £80. So for the cost of fitting one window with the Silent Gliss, you could fit a whole floor with add-a-motors.

The add-a-motor, as its name suggests, is a motor that you use with a suitable corded curtain rail or vertical blind. What does suitable mean? Well, the cord needs to be a loop. A curtain rail or blind with two cords is often a loop that has been cut at the bottom; if when you pull one cord down the other goes up, then your cord is a broken loop. The motor comes with a clip that can be used to join the two ends to make a loop again. The add-a-motor unit works with cords that are beaded too. I have used the add-a-motor units with a variety of makes of corded curtain rails and blinds; the only time I had problems was with a blind that had a particularly thick cord that the motor could not grip. To fix this I bought and fitted a new cord (sold as a vertical blind repair kit for about £5) which was thinner.

One disadvantage of the unit is that there are not discrete open and close commands. Two tabs on the front of the unit rotate with the motor and flip a switch deactivating the motor when the curtains have reached their limit of travel. You set the distance these tabs are apart to determine how far your curtains or blind opens. Once the motor switches off, you must cycle the power off and on again and the motor will turn in the opposite direction. This is a criticism of all but the top-of-the range curtain control products though. You just have to keep track of whether you are on an open or close cycle.

The unit requires a 12 volt dc supply of 800mA unregulated; you will probably need to buy one as the unit is likely to come with one fitted with a foreign plug. As Mark has said, the motor sounds like a can-opener, but it only whirs for a few seconds.

The units cost £80. Are they worth that: yes and no. The components: a box, a motor, a couple of gears, and a couple of relays are not worth £80, but the function they provide is.

You may be tempted to import them from the USA to save money; DO NOT! One person told me that he ordered from Worthington but they did not reply to his emails and his order got lost. I went ahead and ordered from them anyway; I too found that they do not reply to emails (you have to phone) and my order got lost! I had a second order shipped by FedEx but they declare everything to HM Custosm, so anything you save on cost you spend on import duty. The best place to buy is from intellihome.be They have always been fast in replying to my emails and being within the EU (Belgium) there is no import duty on their purchases to the UK.

One last word of caution. Watch the motor “bed-in” for a couple of days before leaving it unattended; the stop tabs may need adjusting. If the motor continues turning once the curtains are fully open, the strain will snap the axle on the motor. Be careful that the cord pulls smoothly, for the same reasons too. Replacement axles can be bought for -8 direct from add-a-motor in the US, and are easily fitted, but they charge for shipping!

2 Comments on "Add-a-Motor Curtain Controller – Review"

  1. Trevor Andrews | May 13, 2009 at 10:37 pm |

    Can you explain a little more about the NEED to power cycle. Do you mean that .
    1)if you start from open.
    2) press button to start motor and close curtains.
    3) it will auto stop, and cut power
    4) then you have to switch on/off
    5)then pres different button to open.
    6) curtains the auto stop..
    Back to number 1)

    i.e.
    a)does it have 2 buttons ,, open & close.
    or b) does the motor reverse motion to open or is done within the gears.

    Also qhats the bit about the tabs.

  2. Differently not worth the price no £111 and no power supply as well!!!
    Marmitek don’t have a range like this

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