After its initial surprise release in Mainland China, the Aqara Roller Shade Driver E1 has now been released in the UK (Sept 22nd) via Amazon.co.uk, followed by a release in France in the next few weeks via Aqara’s brand new store on Amazon France (amazon.fr). Other EU and Asian countries will follow on in the coming months via independent and established distributors.
If you’re not familiar with this device, it’s essentially what is known as a retrofit product, meaning you add it to existing hardware (your roller blinds in this case) to add smart functionality to them. The Aqara Roller Shade Driver E1 works in much the same way as other products do on the market, by pulling on the beaded chain or string connected to your roller blinds, thereby moving the blinds either up or down, to open or closed position – or anywhere in between for that matter.
The other main product currently on the market that does this job is by Soma, although their product – the Soma Smart Shades 2 – isn’t officially compatible with HomeKit, instead, relying on the company’s bridge to get the motor exposed to HomeKit (unofficially). The E1 uses Zigbee 3.0, and so uses an Aqara Hub (M1S etc) in order to expose it to HomeKit, although in this instance everything is officially certified to work with HomeKit. The E1 uses a lithium battery and can be recharged via the USB-C port, using the included USB-C cable.
The E1 will come with four different cogs to accommodate different sizes of beaded cords that you would find used with many roller blinds, with the E1 also suitable for Venetian blinds, although it wouldn’t be able to tilt your blinds, at least not as well as raising or lowering them. The E1 also comes with on-device controls for quick access, should you prefer not to get your phone out, or can’t shout an instruction to Siri, so it does have a lot of control that’s missing on the Soma.
The International version of the E1 can work with Amazon Alexa, Aqara Home and Apple HomeKit, as well as IFTTT, whilst the Chinese model will only work with HomeKit. The Chinese model is also listed in the Mi Home app when set to the Mainland China server, although at the time of writing, it’s not listed when set to other overseas servers.
The price on Amazon.co.uk is UK£59.99, although to celebrate the launch of Aqara’s latest product, the company are offering a 15% discount, with the coupon code RSDE1PR1, which is valid through September 24th, bringing the price down to UK£50.99.