Aqara Roller Shade Driver E1 – Isolated Convenience

Aqara Roller Shade Driver E1 – Isolated Convenience

Smart home product manufacturer Aqara recently launched the Aqara Roller Shade Driver E1. With this device you can automate roller blinds in your home. You attach the cord to the device and can then control it via an app, voice control and routines.

Aqara Roller Shade Driver E1

Price 40,-
Works with Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Aqara Home app
Protocols Zigbee 3.0, Wi-Fi (2.4GHz)
Connections usb-c
Other four motor heads, included USB-C cable
Website Aqara website 6 Score 60 Rating: 60

  • Pros
  • retrofit
  • Plug and play
  • Valuable addition to Aqara network
  • Negatives
  • Smart home platform support
  • design
  • Not unique

The Aqara Roller Shade Drive E1 is a retrofit product. In this case, it means that you can attach this device to all kinds of roller blind cords. So you don’t have to buy completely new curtains, like certain solutions from Ikea. You use the accessory in combination with the product you already have in front of your window.

Big unit

The Aqara Roller Shade Drive E1 hangs like a large unit from the frame of the window where the roller blind hangs. This makes it difficult to get rid of it and, with a bit of bad luck, you constantly look at it. That depends on the length of the cord, the width of the blind and the space you have to hang the device; but it’s still not a pretty sight. There are three buttons on the Roller Shade Driver: two on the front, for operating the curtain, and one on the bottom. That is the reset button, which has several functions. You actually only use those functions once, so you don’t have to worry about that.

At the top is a removable cover containing a motor around which the cord is twisted. You hang the Aqara Roller Shade Drive E1 in the cord, as it were, and then attach it to the wall. It is recommended to do this with screws, because there is quite a bit of pressure on the cord. We started using it with the supplied adhesive strip and – during the test period – did not encounter any particularities. Aqara supplies a total of four heads for the engine. Before installing anything, check beforehand which head will work best for your cord.

The motor turns in a certain direction when you press the buttons. Your roller blind may be hanging ‘wrong’ for the Aqara Roller Shade Drive E1. You will notice that when you press the up button and the curtain rolls down. In the free app – or via the aforementioned reset button – you can reverse the rotation of the motor. You don’t need any complicated knowledge for this: press the rest button three times and the job is done. It speaks for the accessibility of the product. After hanging and installation, you can leave the product alone. Please note that the cord does not have a coupling piece, for example. Because that coupling piece is not always properly taken along by the engine, causing the cord to come loose.

It is also good to know that the smart device has a built-in battery. Before you hang it up, you need to charge it for 2.5 hours. Aqara promises that the battery will last a long time, but that of course depends on use. The battery has a standby time of approximately two months. That is quite short, especially for a product that you mount on the wall. Because that also means that you have to hope that you have a socket nearby, with which you can charge the device effortlessly and you do not have to mess with extension cords or power strips.

Respond to other devices

You can add the Aqara Roller Shade Drive E1 to the Aqara Home application, which is free to download for Android and iOS. This allows you to control various things, such as automations, routines and the position of the roller blind. So you can raise and lower the roller blind from the couch when you notice that the sun is gone or active. The product supports the Zigbee 3.0 protocol and can therefore be connected to the new Aqara Hub M1S hub.

If you want to use the Aqara Roller Shade Drive E1 in combination with the app, the Hub is a mandatory purchase. That’s unfortunate, but understandable; precisely because the product can react to other products in your Aqara network. For example, the device can determine when the blinds should be lowered when another sensor in the house measures that the sun is shining brightly on the windows. Within the app you can set an automation that when the sun shines on the window, the Aqara hub gives the signal to roll down the blinds.

The smarthome hub is large and round and you plug directly into a wall socket. With us, this ensures that the socket underneath is blocked, making it no longer usable. If you have several of these hubs in your house (they are also from Nuki and Tedee here), that can be a problem. After all, you hand in double sockets, unless you put power strips on the floor everywhere, which is simply not always a solution. That is a small, perhaps personal disadvantage, but it is something to take into account.

Clear application

The possibilities of the Aqara Roller Shade Drive E1 are clearly presented. After opening the app and selecting the product, you can manually adjust the position with the push of a button. You can also quickly select a scenario you set yourself and see how the battery is doing. Within the settings you indicate what type of curtain you are dealing with and a step-by-step plan for hanging is offered. You probably don’t need that, because the process and options are clearly described in the paper manual. You can also set routines here and you can, for example, change the name.

The Aqara Roller Shade Drive E1 supports Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant. Here at home, only Google Home is used, so we haven’t been able to test the other two integrations. During the pairing process with the Google Assistant, we soon encounter an error message that “no devices were found in the account”. But that’s not right. Just like with the other products of the company – which we have previously tested – the Google Assistant integration does not (yet) work. And that’s a shame, because it makes the Aqara Roller Shade Drive E1 feel like an isolated product within your smart home.

Aqara Roller Shade Drive E1 – Conclusion

We look back on our period with the Aqara Roller Shade Drive E1 with mixed feelings. Basically it is a great idea to retrofit your existing roller blinds with smart functions, so that they can be operated via an app or can respond to sunlight. But to really get the most out of the device, you need to invest extra in the Aqara Hub M1S and other sensors for your smart home. For example, you need the hub for simple app operation and that creates a threshold.

Add to that the fact that, for example, the Google Assistant support does not work (yet) and you are left with few things to get really excited about. Admittedly, if you do have all those things at home – apart from that Assistant support – then the product works perfectly. It responds to your scenes and automations and handles commands sent via the app at lightning speed. But apart from that, it is an isolated product within your smart home, especially if you have not invested in other Aqara products. The opposite applies to HomeKit users: the manufacturer’s products usually work well with Apple’s platform. If you are such a person, you can add half a star to the score.

Installing and using the device – via the hub and the app – is no problem at all. So if you already have the hub or if you don’t mind purchasing one (because you also like the other Aqara products), you will find few problems that stand in the way of use. For people in the ecosystem, everything works as you would expect.

The only thing that still chafes a bit is that the product is not very different in design and functionality from the existing options that you find on Amazon. We don’t know if they work just as well. But Aqara seems to use a mold here, without adding features that are unique. In fact, some of those products support the Tuya smart home platform, which means that the integration with the Assistant is better arranged than with Aqara. With a detour and other smarthome hubs there is still a lot to arrange, but we can imagine that you are not waiting for that when you buy a product for convenience.


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