Ikea smart blinds review after 5 months of use

Ikea’s Fyrtur and Kadrilj smart blinds are much cheaper than the competition, which is attractive. However, my original Ikea smart blinds review over at activejr.com was critical of the setup and performance. I have now been using them for over 4 months and over this time, Ikea has been releasing firmware updates and recent support for HomeKit.

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In the initial review I installed two FRYTUR Blackout blinds on a single window in my house and four KADRILJ blinds on my kitchen bifold doors. I have since installed 5 more FRYTUR upstairs, taking the total installed in my home to 11.

So have things improved? Well, continue reading for my long-term verdict, particularly around the setup process, app and smart home support. But before we get into that, it’s worth understanding some details around my setup and software used.

Ikea released several firmware updates in the last 4 months and below is the firmware that was used to complete this review as of 4th January 2020.

  • Tradfri Gateway
    • Current version: 1.10.28
  • FYRTUR & KADRILJ Smart blinds
    • Current version: 2.2.009
  • Open/Close Remote
    • Current version: 2.2.008
  • Signal repeater
    • Current version: 2.2.005
  • Ikea Home Smart App
    • Current version: 1.11.1

Finally, for the Ikea Smart blinds review this is how I have everything setup in my home;

  • 7 IKEA FYRTUR blinds 80cm
  • 4 Ikea KADRILJ shades 80cm wide
  • 6 Open close remotes
  • 2 signal repeaters, one downstairs and one upstairs.
  • 1 Tradfri gateway
  • Ikea Home Smart app and Apple Home app via HomeKit

Ikea smart blinds review video

Ikea Smart blinds review quick facts

Before we get into the full Ikea smart blinds review, let me take you some quick facts on specs, sizing and pricing.

  • Pricing starts from £90/$129
  • FYRTUR which is a blackout blind available in the US, Canda, EU and UK
  • KADRILJ which is a shade version – not available in the US and Canada
  • Battery operated.
  • Zigbee protocol
  • EU sizing 100x195cm, 120x195cm, 140x195cm, 60×195cm & 80×195cm
  • US sizing 23×76 3⁄4″, 27×76 3⁄4″, 30×76 3⁄4″, 32×76 3⁄4″, 34×76 3⁄4″, 36×76 3⁄4″, 38×76 3⁄4″ & 48×76 3⁄4″
  • In the box
    • IKEA FYRTUR blackout blind or Ikea KADRILJ shade version
    • Mounting brackets
    • Battery
    • USB charging cable
    • Signal repeater
    • Remote control with a magnetic mounting plate.
    • Power point for charging and Signal repeater.Ikea smart blinds unboxed

 

Ikea smart blinds review: Design and build

  • FYRTUR blackout blind
  • KADRILJ shade version
  • 100% polyester, 100% polyethylene blind
  • Battery powered

Both the FYRTUR blinds & KADRILJ shades share the same design, other than the different material used for the window coverings. Both feature an aluminium casing that holds the blind spindle and motor. Around the front of the smart blinds you find the battery compartment, along with 2 buttons which you can use to pair and operate them.

Along the top of the casing is a mounting rail that you attach the mounting brackets when you install them.

The Fyrtur model offers greater privacy and light control because of its blackout capabilities, whereas the KADRILJ allow light through and are less private, but cheaper.  Other than that, the two smart blinds are otherwise identical in design.

While grey seems to a “in” colour at the moment, it would be nice to see Ikea release a wider choice of colours to match room styles.

Ikea smart blind review: Install and setup

  • Physical install is simple
  • Setting up with the IKEA Home smart app is still troublesome
  • Mounting screws not supplied in the package

As I had previously mentioned when installing the FYRTUR blinds for the hands-on review, installing the KADRILJ shades is just as easy. You first install the two mounting brackets, but you need to provide your own screws. While some will see this as an inconvenience, I think it makes sense as you will need to use different screw fittings. For instance; I used heavy duty cavity expanding screws to ensure a solid and secure fix to my plasterboard walls.

Once you fixed the mounting brackets in place, the next step is to mount the smart blind to the brackets. You do this by pressing a button on the brackets and pushing up. It’s that simple to get them installed.

Next up is installing the remote, You first attach the magnetic backplate to a wall with screws (not supplied.) Once you have everything in place, you then install the battery, plug-in the signal repeater and good to go if you dont want to connect them to the app.

However, if you want to use the app, then you will need a Tradfri gateway and follow a few more setup steps.

Connecting FYRTUR blinds & KADRILJ shades

First, you need to have the signal repeater plugged in and within 5 meters of the smart blind. As I already have 2 FYRTUR blinds paired with the app and gateway, I used the existing repeater. Ikea say you can have 10 blinds connected to one signal repeater, I have connected 6 downstairs and 5 upstairs to a second signal repeater.

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Each blind requires a connection to a remote and you can pair up to 4 blinds per remote. Connecting the smart blinds to the Tradfri gateway requires 3 steps. Pair the remote with the gateway, pair the remote with the signal repeater, then pair the remote with the blinds again.

However, if you are connecting multiple blinds with one remote, then you only have to do the final step for subsequent blinds after the first.Home smart app setup

When I first installed the FYRTUR blinds and as reported in my first impressions, the setup process for the app and the gateway was painful. However, the setup process has improved, but it’s not perfect. When I first installed the pair of FRYTUR blinds, it took me over 1 and half hours and multiple attempts. Installing the 5 blinds upstairs was quicker, down to about 45 minutes and this included the physical installation.

However, the setup process could be improved, and I waited for around 5 minutes for the blind to add itself to the app, despite the app saying it would be up to 60 seconds.

The final step in the setup of the blinds is setting the drop. This took several attempts to get the final position right. This is because of a slight delay when pressing the control buttons on the blind unit. However, nothing a little patience cannot resolve.

As with my initial review of the smart blind’s I again had several spare parts. This was because I was installing 5 blinds which all come with its own remote, charger, cable and repeater.

While this is unique to my setup and would not be the case with a signal install situation. To improve this, Ikea could sell the blinds in a module setup. Sell the blinds, remote and Signal repeated separate. This way it would reduce the amount of waste and help simplify things for customers.Ikea smart blind spare parts

Ikea smart blinds review: App and smart home

  • HomeKit now supported
  • Google Home and Alexa also supported
  • Control them via the blinds, remote, app or Siri

Looking at the Tradfri app, on the main page, you get a layout which displays the devices you have connected, separated into rooms. However, as I have other Tradfri devices setup already, I already have several rooms created. But despite several attempts, I could not add the remote and the blinds to an existing room. Which meant I had to create duplicate rooms to use the blinds in my setup. So if you running the Ikea Home smart app as your primary means of control, it could get a little messy.Ikea home smart app

To control the blinds you have either use the up and down arrows to open or close, but for more precise control, you use the Slider that will let you set your desired position. If you have multiple blinds connected as in the case for this review. You can press an arrow to expand the control window to reveal individual controls for each blind.

When the blinds are in operation, the app has a nice animation which shows the progress of the blind when it’s moving up or down. The slider also has a percentage indicator that tells you how far the blinds will drop based on the slider position.

The side menu on the left lets set timers for the Ikea smart blinds. On the right, there’s another menu for adding additional Ikea Tradfri devices, updates and various help menus.

Speaking of timers, these are only time-based, so you can choose any day and time, set the desired position, and that’s it. While this will suit most people to open and close them at certain points, it would have been good to have options to open with sunrise for instance.

As previously mentioned, the smart blinds come with a remote control that you can use to operate the blinds. During my use, I found the remote useful and would mainly operate the blinds with it. Because you detach the remote from the wall plate, the added benefit is you carry it around with you.Ikea Open/close remote

Speed performance

So how do they perform when opening and closing? The KADRILJ shades took 29 seconds to close and 31 seconds to open for the full 195cm drop. Then the FYRTUR blinds took 17 seconds to close and 19 seconds to open for the 123cm drop.

Battery performance

Turning to the battery, you charge them via the USB port on the signal repeater or in fact any USB charger. But because Ikea has design the battery with the charging port and power contacts in the same location. You cannot charge the battery when inside the blinds nor does it have any option for permanent power feed or solar charging.Ikea BRAUNIT battery on charge for KADRILJ shades

During my use, I ran down the battery on one blind and it gave a ‘low battery” warning.  However, this message was hidden in the settings menu. It would have been great if the app had pushed a notification or displayed it under the blind in the main part of the app.

Charging the battery took 2 hours from what I think was flat and when it reached charging capacity, the indicator light would turn off.

I have been using the smart blinds since the 25th August 2019 (just over 4 months) and I am finding I need to charge the batteries every 2 months. The usage is daily opening and closing at least once and normal operation throughout the day as desired.

HomeKit support has arrived

When the FYRTUR & KADRILJ smart blinds were first announced, Ikea said they would support Google Assistant, HomeKit and Alexa. However, HomeKit support has only just arrived and was not available when I originally reviewed them. But now HomeKit has arrived, so lets see how it performs.

Adding the smart blinds to HomeKit is like adding any other device. You scan the HomeKit code and follow the setup process and I had no issues at all when setting up.Ikea Tradfri HomeKit setup

Once added to HomeKit you can control the blinds through the Home app, Siri voice control, and through automations. You can also group the blinds like any other HomeKit accessory. This is useful if you have multiple blinds covering one window or in my case across my bifold doors.

When using the Home app to control the Ikea smart blinds, you can open and close them using the toggle. This method will fully open or close the blinds. However, if you want more precise control, you can also set how far the blinds open up or close, such as only 50% opening them if desired.Ikea smart blinds HomeKit control

Using Siri voice assistant to open them either from an iOS device or HomePod works well too. You can use commands like “Hey Siri, Open the kitchen blinds” or “Hey Siri, Open the studio blinds to 75%.” Both commands worked as expected.

It’s when I came to HomeKit automations that I got the most out HomeKit control. This is because I can include the Ikea smart blinds into my existing HomeKit automations. Which allowed me to have the blinds open and close at certain points in the day and also be included in my “shut down” automation at night.Tradfri smart blinds HomeKit automation

Ikea smart blinds review conclusion

Over the last 4 months, things have changed a fair bit with the Ikea smart blinds. In the previous review, you already got a fair idea of the conclusion, before the end. I also said that I believed Ikea will fix the issues as they have done with other Tradfri products. So how have things changed? Yes, but they are still not perfect and Ikea still has a way to go to address things.

The Good

Overall, I am still impressed with the build quality for the price point. I was expecting them to feel and look cheap and they have held up well in the last 4 months. The FYRTUR blackout blind does a good job at blocking out light when they closed and the KADRILJ shade lets enough light in whilst giving you privacy.Ikea Kadrilj shade

I reported previously that the frame does not rattle or move around when they are in operation and the motor is quiet enough. None of this has changed since I have installed them and had time to settle in.

The speed at which they open and close is superb and I like the fact if you have multiple blinds connected you can operate them independently. I also like the fact Ikea has included a remote to operate the blinds as this gives you an extra option along with control for visitors.Ikea smart blind review

The setup process has improved, and this was clear after I installed the 5 FYRTUR blackout blinds upstairs. However, there is still room for improvement with the user experience side of things.

The latest addition of HomeKit support is a great addition which gives you further control for users of Apple’s smart home platform. The joy of saying “hey, Siri” “close the blinds” is great.

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The bad

But, based on my experience with the IKEA smart blinds, they are still let down by the software. The setup process is still not perfect despite firmware updates. I have also found the app clunky and not user friendly.

So that’s a wrap on the long term Ikea Smart blinds review and I hope you now have a good understanding of the FYRTUR & KADRILJ performance and how everything works. Don’t forget to subscribe to be first to find out when other Smart home reviews drop. If you have a question or a comment, then leave it below. You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

Ikea smart blinds
Review Summary
When I originally reviewed the smart blinds, I could not recommend them. However, after over 4 months of use and several firmware updates. Things have improved enough and with the addition of HomeKit support, these are a product I can recommend.

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Jon Ratcliffe
I have a huge passion for technology having worked in the sector for over 18 years in a variety of roles. I write for active JR covering wearables and smart home My reviews and information will talk about how the product works in reality and not just what the marketing departments want you to think.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for the review. It would be great to see some videos of these products in action showing speed, degree of sync with multiple units moving, operation of the battery compartment, demo of the lag between control signal and motor, etc.

    • Thanks for reading! You can check out this video review over at my YouTube channel. but please take into account this was my initial review.

      Ikea smart blinds review – In depth look at the FYRTUR blinds & KADRILJ shades https://youtu.be/VJRufdVozPE

      I also made this hands on when I first got them

      Ikea smart blinds hands on review – First impressions with a pair of FYRTUR blinds https://youtu.be/KsBYDNMvE-g

  2. Lack of a solar charging option is a deal killer for me. The blinds I want to replace with motorized blinds are 25 feet up. Having to pull out a 30’ extension ladder to pull the batteries for charging is a pain in….

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