I recently purchased a Soma Smart Shades 2 blind/shade automation unit and thought I’d share my experience so far.
We sleep with the window and roller blind (partly) open, the fresh air is great but the 4 am sunrise in the summer is a bugger. I wanted something that would close the blinds just before first light.
After looking around at various options the Soma blinds looked like a good choice for a number of reasons:
- They have a Home Assistant integration!
- There’s a local HTTP API available.
- Although not cheap, they are one of the cheapest options available.
- The unit fit’s an existing blind which means I can easily re-use it if we swapped out the blind or moved house.
- It has a “Quiet Morning Mode” which “keeps the noise level inaudible”. More on this later.
The initial installation was trivial and the app’s instructions were easy to follow. I did have a couple of issues with the app crashing but, with Home Assistant, I don’t intend on using the app that much.
During the initial setup, you are asked to configure the blind’s “endpoints”, this tells the unit at what position the blind is fully open and at what position it’s fully closed. Unfortunately, I had some real issues with this. No matter how many times I configured these endpoints the blind never seemed to be aligned to them. I’d close the blind and it would either not fully close or it would over-close and spin. I’d open the blind and it would either not fully open or it would go way past the window. I played around with this for ages but had no luck.
The next day, when tidying up the box I found that they provide a beaded chain with the unit. Whereas mine had large spaces between the beads this one did not (O----O----O vs O-O-O-O). I couldn’t see that the spacing was causing an issue but I swapped it out anyway and…it completely solved the problem .
In order to integrate the device with Home Assistant, you also need a Soma Connect unit which acts as a bridge between the device (using Bluetooth) and the local network/internet. This unit is just a Raspberry Pi in a custom case and so, as an alternative, Soma provides an SD card image that you can flash onto your own Raspberry Pi (if you happen to have one spare). Credit to Soma for providing this as an option.
I do have a spare Pi or two but I wasn’t keen on running one just for Soma Connect so I flashed an SD card,
reset the password for the Pi user (Edit: This is no longer required as Soma now publish the username and password) and went looking to see what I could find. Luckily I could see that the application needed was installed as a Debian package and so I could easily repackage it using
sudo dpkg-repack soma-connect. I could then install that package on another Pi along with other applications (such as Home Assistant).
Note: Before starting the service there were a handful of lines I had to comment out in the service file:
[Unit] Description=SOMA Connect After=network.target StartLimitBurst=3 StartLimitIntervalSec=60s [Service] #Environment=HCI_CHANNEL_USER=0 #ExecStartPre=-/bin/bash -e /lib/systemd/system/devrepoinit.sh ExecStart=/home/pi/soma-connect/soma-connect #ExecStopPost=/bin/sh -c "echo mmc0 > /sys/class/leds/led0/trigger" #ExecStopPost=/bin/sh -c "echo 255 > /sys/class/leds/led0/brightness" #ExecStopPost=/bin/sh -c "echo default-on > /sys/class/leds/led1/trigger" #ExecStopPost=/bin/sh -c "echo 255 > /sys/class/leds/led1/brightness" Restart=always RestartSec=1s StandardOutput=syslog StandardError=syslog SyslogIdentifier=soma-connect [Install] WantedBy=multi-user.target
Hopefully Soma can provide an official way of achieving this at some point.
In normal mode, it’s a little noisy but I have nothing similar to compare it with so I can imagine it’s pretty standard.
As mentioned above there is a “Quiet Morning Mode” and with the default settings, this is practically inaudible. Unfortunately, my blinds are big and heavy and therefore I have to up the RPM setting (which is handily an option). This does increase the noise but it’s not as loud as the normal mode.
Unfortunately, the HTTP API (and therefore the Home Assistant integration) doesn’t allow you to move the blind using the “Quiet Morning Mode” and so I need to rely on the devices own automation configuration for this. This works great and has trigger options for time, sunrise/sunset (with offset) or light level. It would be nicer to have this automation in Home Assistant though so hopefully Soma can add an RPM option on the HTTP API.
All in all, I’m quite pleased with the purchase.