Motorization Terms

Lafayette Interior Fashions offers motorized window treatments, including motorized blinds, shades, custom shutters and draperies. Read below to learn more about window treatment and window covering motorization and motorization terms.

AC Motors

  • AC motors require 120V AC of electricity which is found in a typical outlet in a home or office. AC motors are either plugged into an outlet with a standard AC plug or require wiring by a licensed electrician.

AC Power

  • (Alternating Current) The common form of electricity from power plant to home/office.
  • 120 VAC wall outlet/receptacles.
  • Used for several motorized window covering applications.
  • Heavy Duty Applications.

Conductor (a wire!)

  • A substance that allows electricity to pass through it. Metals are good conductors such as copper and gold. Wire is the metal strand that carries electric current. Example: I need a four conductor AC wire for that motor.

Contact Closure

  • The shorting or closing of two contacts (points). The dry contact is what makes the contact closure happen. For example, a contact closure between common and up indicates to the microcontroller on a Somfy control to send the motor up, as a contact closure between common and down indicates to the microcontroller to send the motor down.

DC Motors

  • DC motors require a transformer to convert the 120V AC from a standard outlet to 12V or 24V DC to power the motor. The transformer/power supply plugs easily into the wall and does not require a licensed electrician. Also, DC voltage may be supplied by batteries.

DC Power

  • (Direct Current) An electrical current that travels in one direction and used within the electronic circuits.
  • Light to heavy duty applications
  • Low voltage applications (12VDC & 24VDC)
  • Battery operated
  • Transformer/Power suppy

Dry Contact

  • A dry contact is a mechanical connection between two points, typically made by the closing of the output on a relay, although transistors can act as dry contacts as well. “Dry” refers to the fact that no current or voltage is being switched between the relay output. Example: motor controllers have dry contact inputs which are used to tell the motor controller to send the motor up or down.

Group Control

  • Group control is when multiple motorized window coverings all respond to the same signal and respond accordingly; this allows a command to only be sent once. This is available with RTS control products such as the Telis collection of hand held remotes, the Chronis Timer and the Decora wireless Wall Switches.

Infrared (IR) Transmitter

  • A remote control that utilizes infrared light to communicate with an IR Receiver in order to operate the motorized window covering. For Infrared to work the receiver must be visible to communicate with the remote It can not be hidden by a top treatment and just like your TV remote, intense ambient light can "Wash" the intensity of the IR signal. It requires "line of sight" from the remote to the receiver eye. Maximum distance of about 25 feet. Lower cost.


  • Upper Limit – The desired position where the window covering will stop when it is opened.
  • Lower Limit -The desired position where the window covering will stop when it is closed.

Radio Frequency (RF) Transmitter

  • A remote control that utilizes Radio Frequencies to communicate with a RF Receiver in order to operate a motorized window covering. Does not require line of sight. You do not have to aim the remote directly at the target/motorized window to make it work, it uses “omni directional” radio frequencies. Radio Frequency is like the remote for your garage door opener. Maximum distance of 60-90ft. Higher cost.

Serial Interface

  • A data channel that transfers digital data in a serial fashion: one bit after the other over one wire or fiber. The Serial Port on a PC is an interface that is typically used to attach modems and data acquisition terminals.

Serial Port

  • RS232-A connection by which a computer (or home automation) can transmit data to another device using the ports on a PC. Also, RS485 for 4000 feet of wire run.


This is a term that often is confusing....hardwire could mean just the power source is hardwired, but the communication to the motor is via RF, IR or Z-wave. With automation people it is most desirable to have the power source and the communication "hardwired", so no transmitters are involved. If everything is directly connected with wire then there is no chance of interference.