instructions: testing switchable smart film for windows and glass

Please note: If you require pricing for this material, please see our smart film pricing system.

Our electronic privacy film material can be instantly switched from transparent to opaque with our wireless remotes and phone app. You can also vary the transparency by using a dimmer control. This article explains how to set up wireless remote control of your smart film, after it has been installed (see smart film installation instructions).

switched film remote control of glass transparency: window in opaque mode   switched film remote control of glass transparency: window in transparent mode

Precautions On Handling of Electronics for Smart Film

First, a word about safety. The 65v AC power is not normally enough to give you a shock, but you should still take precautions and wear shoes while doing this, and make sure the power is off while connecting wires. You could, in theory, suffer a critical shock if you had a weak heart and were standing in the basement with bare feet on a wet concrete floor, or if you were grounded in some similar way.

If you do not feel comfortable doing this, any electrician or electronics technician can help you do this safely.

Connecting The Switchable Film to the 12v Inverter

Please Note: make sure all power is disconnected while you set up the connections; check carefully for any shorted wires and use tape to cover any exposed wiring.

In this example we are using the 65v AC inverter/power supply combination, but we could have used our transformer that plugs directly into an AC outlet, replacing both the inverter and power supply combination. The transformer type does not have a dimmer connection, but you could use a regular household dimmer to control the AC source that it is connected to.

We could have very easily connected the inverter to a 12v battery with a trickle charger and/or solar panel to charge the battery. With this type of configuration, you do not have to worry about grid power failing. This also means the smart film can be used in mobile environments such as RV's, motorhomes, travel trailers, boats, etc.

At this point we have connected the copper electrodes on the smart film to the DC/AC inverter, which is connected to the 12v DC power supply that plugs into an AC outlet. Please refer back to the smart film testing instructions, if you have not seen that page. The following section is a quick recap, but please see the smart film testing page for more details.

smart film 12v DC inverterThis picture shows the connections from the inverter to the smart film (AC output). The red and black wires from the smart film will connect to the AC output terminals (polarity does not matter).

The variable resistor potentiometer (dimmer control) is connected to the dimmer terminals. The polarity does not matter.

The 12v DC input to the inverter is normally connected to the output of the 12v DC power supply (polarity does matter), but any type of switch can also be used in that line to give you the "switchable" capability.

We are going to insert a radio controlled relay module in that line to provide the "switchable" remote control capability for our wireless wall mount remotes. Our wall remotes (and hand held units) can also be cloned for multiple control points.

Our home automation hub can also "learn" the remote control radio signal, so we'll be able to use our phone app to control the window transparency. Alternatively, we also have interfacing for Z-wave hubs, and any other system such as Insteon and Zigbee.

Connecting the Inverter to the Power Supply

12v DC cigarette lighter plug for inverter The inverters are a popular choice due the very easy ability to have them connected to a 12v RV or car battery (with solar and/or AC trickle charger) for backup purposes, if you live in an area where grid failure is a distinct possibility.

The inverters are supplied with a 12v DC 'cigarette lighter' type of plug, so that you can use it in a mobile environment such as a car, boat, RV, travel trailer, etc.

Since we are using it in a home environment where it is grid powered, we will need to remove the cigarette lighter plug to insert the radio controlled relay module between the inverter and 12v DC power supply.

Note: Please be sure to get the polarity correct after you cut off the cigarette lighter plug. Leave a few inches connected to the plug so that you can run a continuity check to the tip (which is positive +).

The 12v DC wire that you cut has 2 wires bonded together. One of them has a smooth surface (positive +), and the other has ridges moulded into it (negative). You should be able to feel the difference by running your finger around the plastic insulation on the wires, and these must be connected according to the picture of the adapter on the smart film testing page.

The Remote Control Relay Module: Overview

remote control relay for smart filmOur radio controlled relay module is a very useful module for controlling low voltage devices such as LED lights, fans, shade and blindd motors, etc. (It is not suitable for controlling AC house voltage).

The remote control relay module will be inserted into the positive wire to act as a remote control switch for the smart film. The relay module itself requires 12v (or 24v) DC power to operate; this can be sourced from the 12v power supply you are controlling, or it can be from a separate power supply.

With 2 separate channels, it responds to our wireless remote controls and our phone app (via the home automation hub), and it is perfectly suited for use with the switchable smart film.

Remote Control Relay Module: Modes of Operation

remote control relay for smart film This is a schematic representation of the remote control relay module, showing how it acts as a 2 channel switch; the setup and configuration controls are also shown on the right.

Each channel is rated for 2 amps of current, which is plenty for the small amount of power that the smart film uses in its transparent state (typically about 0.4 amps per square yard). You can also connect both channels to act in parallel for a total switched load of 4 amps.

There are also two modes of operation, and each channel can be configured independently, controlled by the two slide switches (mode switches).

One mode of operation is a "trigger" mode (mode switch in the OFF position as shown in picture) causing the relay to switch ON for about a half a second, then switch OFF.

The other mode of operation is a "continuous" mode (mode switch in the ON position) causing the switch to stay ON until it is switched OFF by toggling the UP button on the remote control that has been assigned to it. This is the mode we will be using, so please make sure those slide switches are in the ON position.

Inserting the Remote Control Relay Module

The remote control relay has two internal relays (electronic switches) that can be operated independently, as shown by the schematic representation toward the left of the picture.

Each relay "switch" has 2 wire terminals associated with it. These are self-clamping, spring loaded terminals that can be released by holding down the release button (rectangular hole above round wire receptacle) with a small screwdriver or paper clip.

The positive + wire from the power supply will be connected to one side, then the positive wire from the inverter will be connected to the other side of the relay "switch", so that the power to the inverter can interrupted, allowing it to be turned ON and OFF by the remote control.

Please Note: Make sure the wire is twisted (or tinned with solder) before you insert it into the round wire receptacle hole. Loose strands can cause the circuit to be shorted.

Assigning the Remote Control Relay Module to a Remote Channel

The SETTING buttons you see in the picture are used to assign the relay module receiver to a remote control channel transmitter. If you are using a multi-channel remote, make sure it is set to the channel you want to use; here are the steps:

  • Make sure the relay module is powered OFF
  • Power ON the relay module, then press the appropriate setting button (the LED will flash)
  • Press the up button on the remote control (the LED will flash)
  • You're done - the channel assignment procedure is complete

At this point, you should be able to turn the relay module ON and OFF by toggling the UP button on your remote. If you put the relay module to your ear, you should be able to hear the prounced "click" of the relay turning on and off as you toggle the UP button of the remote control.

Once the wiring is complete you will then be able to plug in the power supply and operate the smart film with your remote control. If you have any difficulty with this procedure, please feel free to contact us us at any time.

Extending Control to Phone App: The RT Home Automation Hub

The HA-RFIRW-5V Home Automation Hub is our preferred in-house automation hub, and it deserves a separate article series, due it its powerful capabilities. We have other hubs such as SmartThings and Vera, but the RT unit from Broadlink is our preferred choice.

Some important features are: ease of use, its ability to learn RF radio protocols, the ability to clone the phone app to other phones, and the fact that it does not require an internet connection or cloud to operate (although cloud features are available).

With this unit, we can "learn" the channel transmission for any of our shade and blind motors, whether they are our new G series or the older R series. The same goes for our motorized window and skylight openers, our curtain and skylight kits, greenhouse devices, and our smart film products.

It has standard IR learning capabilities, and It can even learn the old x10 radio protocol, which was really nice for us as we still had a lot of lighting control done with x10. It uses your WiFi router to communicate with your phone.

the smartest hub

Once your smart film is working by remote control, you can complete the installation by setting up a home automation hub with a phone app (article coming soon).

Articles in this series:

Smart Film - unpacking your shipment

Smart Film - testing your smart film

Smart Film - installing your smart film

Smart Film - setting up remote control & phone app (you are here)

Please note: If you require pricing for this material, please see our smart film pricing system.