Aqara this week launched the Curtain Driver E1, providing a solution to retrofit traditional curtains with automated motors and HomeKit functionality.

aqara curtain driver e1 main
The Curtain Driver E1 hooks onto curtain rods and uses a motor to push curtains open or pull them closed, also offering Zigbee 3.0 and a 6,000mAh battery that can deliver 12-month battery life. Like Apple's Home app, the Curtain Driver E1 will be updated to support Matter in the future, according to Aqara.

There are two variants of the device, including a rod version for curtain poles and a track version for U-rails and I-rails, and you will need to ensure that you select the correct variant at the point of purchase. The driver can support heavy curtains up to 12kg, but it is worth checking exactly what sort of curtains and rod or track you have against Aqara's exact compatibility requirements. For example, curtain rods must be between 0.98-inches (25mm) and 1.26-inches (32mm) in diameter and cannot be telescopic. It is also important to note two separate curtain drivers are required for pairs of curtains.

Setup

Installing the Curtain Driver E1 is relatively easy. You simply mount the rod hanger over the curtain rod between the last two curtain grommets, extend the driver's hooks by double-pressing the button, hook the motor onto the hanger, and retract the hooks by double-pressing the button again. This ensures that the motor applies the correct amount of pressure to the rod depending on its size.

aqara curtain driver e1 hanger
The driver also comes with set of eight curtain clips and a rubber strip. The instruction manual suggests using the clips and strip along the top of a curtain, presumably to help the motor pull it along uniformly, but I found this fiddly and unsightly, with the clips scraping along my ceiling, so I left them off and this didn't seem to affect the motor's ability to pull the curtain at all.

aqara curtain driver e1 box contents
To connect the driver to the network, open the Aqara app, select the E1 from the list of accessories, and follow the on-screen instructions to set the open and closed positions. If you have two Curtain Driver E1 units, you can bind them together in the app so they operate in sync.

To add the curtains to the Home app, simply select the option in the Aqara app and scan the ‌HomeKit‌ code printed on the curtain driver's base. The Home app then correctly displays the curtains with relevant controls, so it is virtually no longer necessary to use the Aqara app.

Camera Hub G3

The Curtain Driver E1 requires the use of an Aqara home hub. In this case, I used the Camera Hub G3, which doubles as a feature-rich HomeKit-enabled camera, avoiding the need for a dedicated hub to be connected to the router.

aqara camera hub g3
At its core, it is a Zigbee 3.0 hub with support for up to 128 sub-devices and both 2GHz and 5GHz networks, but it also offers a 2K camera, 20 FPS playback, support for two-way conversations, an infrared blaster, 360° rotation with pan and tilt, AI gesture and facial recognition, a built-in privacy mode, local storage, a 1/4-inch tripod mount, a USB-C port, and more.

The camera seems to handle bright, natural sunlight well and nighttime performance is good thanks to its high-resolution. Two-way conversations are possible thanks to a built-in microphone and speaker. It features a privacy mode that rotates the camera inside the body, shows two closed eyes on the front, and provides access to a micro-SD card slot for local storage. If you're not a fan of the camera's look, you can easily push off the silicone hood to remove the "ears."

The camera can locally detect individual faces and can be set to follow people and pets, or be triggered by abnormal sounds, with plenty of conferable settings in the Aqara app. When manually looking around a room or automatically following a person, motor operation is smooth and effectively silent.

Pan and tilt features are not supported natively in the Home app, but if you configure it in the Aqara app, it is displayed perfectly in Apple's Home app. The camera seemed a little reluctant to tilt upwards when necessary and I noticed that it seems to get quite warm, but otherwise it works extremely well, especially in iOS 16's redesigned Home app camera views. The hub functionality of the G3 will support Matter later this year, as Matter will not support cameras in its initial release.

Daily Use

I found that the Curtain Driver E1 opened my curtains quickly and fairly reliably. The driver is heavy owing to its large internal battery and it has a bulky design, but it is very good in terms of build quality, and this is all hidden behind the curtain. It is also easy enough to unhook the driver from the rod hanger and charge it via USB-C.

aqara curtain driver e1 usb c port
For granular controls, you need to use Aqara's app. There, you can mitigate motor noise by slowing it down. There are also options to have curtains open very slowly over the course of a period of time to simulate a natural sunrise. Nevertheless, the Home app can be used for basic functions like opening and closing, checking battery level, or if there are any obstructions to the motor's movement.

The Curtain Driver E1 can be controlled physically by pressing the buttons or by simply tugging the curtain gently in the direction that you want it to travel. The motor detects this and completes the procedure.

However, I would caution users who seek to use the Curtain Driver E1 with longer curtains. In this instance, the top end of the curtains close seamlessly, but the bottom half can be dragged along the floor and not close fully, so the drivers probably work best with curtains that do not reach the floor. I would also warn people that have curtain rods with a support in the middle that there could be some gap left between curtains, and it is not possible to ensure that pairs of curtains overlap to block out light.

Automations

Below its status LED and button, the Curtain Driver E1 features a built-in ambient light sensor. Unfortunately, the sensor is not exposed to ‌HomeKit‌ and does not provide an exact reading of lux it detects, but it allows curtains to be opened or closed around the thresholds of "weak ambient light" or "strong ambient light" in automations in the Aqara app.

For more accurate and specific light automations, you can always use another sensor and set up an automation in the Home app. There are possibilities to control curtains with pre-set schedules such as sunset and sunrise, local weather, and geofencing, or connect with other accessories and scenes.

Beyond acting as a hub for the Curtain Driver E1, the Camera Hub G3 allows the Curtain Driver E1 to be controlled with hand gestures. While this is contingent on using Aqara's app and being located inside the camera's field of view, there are plenty of other automations possibilities work in Apple's Home app natively.

aqara curtain driver e1 button and light sensor
The Curtain Driver E1 is also easily paired with other accessories for specific automations. For example, Aqara's Motion Sensor P1 can trigger curtains to open upon entering a room for the first time in the morning or when an exact light level is reached outside. The motion sensor has three sensitivity modes, a built-in light sensor, a wide 170° field of view, configurable detection timeout, and support for Matter later this year.

aqara motion sensor p1 2

The Bottom Line

With a large battery capacity, USB-C charging, excellent build quality, manual control options, and built-in light sensor, the Curtain Driver E1 justifies its price, but things can start to get expensive if you need two drivers for a pair of curtains, as well as an Aqara hub. It may be one of the best available solutions for retrofitting existing curtains with motorization and ‌HomeKit‌ integration, but it inevitably falls short of more costly, dedicated motorized curtain rails.

I was still impressed with Aqara's Curtain Driver E1 and it seems to be a great option for customers who want to automate existing curtains in ‌HomeKit‌, especially if they already have just a single curtain or other devices in the Aqara ecosystem, and are willing to put up with a little bit of friction with regards to compatibility, setup, and charging.

aqara curtain driver e1 boxes
For those looking for a hub for the Curtain Driver E1 or a reliable smart home camera, I would also highly recommend the Camera Hub G3. It is by far the most feature-rich and versatile ‌HomeKit‌ camera I have ever used, delivering high image quality and useful object tracking.

How to Buy

The Curtain Driver E1 is Amazon in both North America and Europe (UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain), as well as via selective Aqara retailers around the world (availability may vary).

Note: Aqara provided MacRumors with a Curtain Driver E1, Camera Hub G3, and Motion Sensor P1 for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was received.

Tag: Aqara

Top Rated Comments

imola.zhp Avatar
11 weeks ago

I’d imagine other than the luxury of having one, it could also be really helpful to those with physical limitations.
Don't come in here and give logical reasoning, these people are upset for no reason, how dare you try to take that away from them.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ignatius345 Avatar
11 weeks ago

I mean! How lazy do you have to be not to pull back your curtains?
I can think of a few reasons:

- you like being woken up by natural light* and want to set the thing to open your curtains in the morning
- you have mobility issues and have trouble doing it physically
- you want for some reason to have curtains open and close when you're not home
- you just love spending money and pressing buttons

* a daylight alarm clock does this more easily, however -- I have a Philips which I really like. It goes from zero to very bright over the course of like 20 minutes. Very hard to sleep through, and a good gradual awakening. Also doesn't need some stupid $100 "hub" or wifi connectivity.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
name99 Avatar
11 weeks ago

I mean! How lazy do you have to be not to pull back your curtains?
My parents installed something like this in their house.
I don't know the exact details but something in their house (plants?) apparently requires the curtains to be opened at least every two or three days. This fact was limiting their ability to visit their grand children because they felt bad asking the neighbors to come over every day and open/close the curtains for anything longer than a week or so.
Now, with automation, they are comfortable leaving the house for a month or more.

So there you have at least on example of a use case that has nothing to do with "laziness".
Remember *every time* you see a new product, that you are not the main character of any movie except your own...
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ssspinball Avatar
11 weeks ago

I mean! How lazy do you have to be not to pull back your curtains?
Do you have power windows in your car? An automatic garage door opener? A dishwasher?

Oh noes so lazy!
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
decypher44 Avatar
11 weeks ago

I mean! How lazy do you have to be not to pull back your curtains?

Why? Just why?
I’d imagine other than the luxury of having one, it could also be really helpful to those with physical limitations.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Ankaa Avatar
11 weeks ago

I mean! How lazy do you have to be not to pull back your curtains?
I mean! How ignorant does someone need to be to not realize disabled people exist.

Or people who aren't home during the day and would like to provide some shade for pets or plants during the full-on-sun part of a day while also still giving them some natural light at other times of the day?
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

meross smart oil diffuser

Review: Meross's Smart Oil Diffuser Adds a Scent to Your Home With HomeKit Support

Monday July 18, 2022 6:45 am PDT by
Meross's smart essential oil diffuser seeks to allow you to add a pleasant aroma to the air using any essential oil of your choice and increase a room's humidity to counteract dry air, with HomeKit support for control and automations. Meross offers a wide range of HomeKit-compatible smart home devices, including garage door openers, lighting, power strips, air purifiers, and more. Compared...
meross smart air purifier

Review: Meross's Smart Air Purifier Offers HomeKit Support at an Affordable Price

Friday July 15, 2022 8:24 am PDT by
Meross's smart air purifier provides a way to filter out dust and pollutants from the air to improve air quality at an affordable price, with full support for Apple HomeKit and the Home app. Meross makes a wide range of HomeKit-compatible smart home devices for regions around the world, including garage door openers, smart lighting, smart power strips, and more. Compared to its direct...
the verge iphone 14 review 1

iPhone 14 Reviews: More of an 'iPhone 13S' but Still a Solid Mainstream Phone

Wednesday September 14, 2022 6:42 am PDT by
Apple has given select media outlets and YouTubers access to the new iPhone 14 ahead of when it begins arriving in customers' hands on Friday, September 16. Photo via The Verge The new iPhone 14 is an incremental upgrade compared to the iPhone 13, featuring the same overall design, the same A15 Bionic chip with an additional GPU core, and slight improvements to the rear and front cameras. D...
airpods pro 2

AirPods Pro 2 Reviews: Sound Quality, Noise Cancellation, and Battery Life Tested

Thursday September 22, 2022 6:08 am PDT by
Apple's second-generation AirPods Pro will begin arriving to customers and launch in stores on Friday, September 23. In advance, the first reviews of the wireless headphones have now been shared by select media publications and YouTube channels. Priced at $249, the second-generation AirPods Pro feature improved audio quality, longer battery life, and up to 2x as much noise cancellation...
apple watch ultra adventures

Apple Watch Ultra Reviews: Bigger and Better, But Not a Garmin Killer Yet

Wednesday September 21, 2022 6:09 am PDT by
Apple Watch Ultra will start arriving to customers and launch in stores on Friday, September 23. Ahead of time, the first reviews of the high-end watch have now been shared by select media publications and YouTube channels. Inspired by the "most extreme activities" like hiking and scuba diving, the Apple Watch Ultra features a rugged design with a 49mm titanium case, a larger display with a...
meross smart lighting review

Review: Meross Offers Affordable, Hub-Free HomeKit Smart Lighting Solutions

Monday February 28, 2022 7:47 am PST by
Meross makes a wide range of HomeKit-compatible smart home devices for multiple regions around the world, including garage door openers, air purifiers, smart plugs, and more. With Meross's smart LED bulb, LED light strip, ambient light, and desk lamp, I was able to create a HomeKit lighting setup to put the company's smart home accessories to the test. Compared to its direct competitors,...
The Verge iPhone 14 Pro

iPhone 14 Pro Reviews: Dynamic Island Shows Promise, 48-Megapixel ProRAW Photos Impress

Wednesday September 14, 2022 6:43 am PDT by
iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max models will begin arriving to customers and launch in stores this Friday, September 16, and ahead of time, the first reviews of the devices have now been shared by select media publications and YouTube channels. Image Credit: The Verge Key new features of the iPhone 14 Pro models include an always-on display with a new Dynamic Island, upgraded cameras with...
f1662570472

Apple Watch Series 8 and SE 2 Reviews: Very Incremental Upgrades

Thursday September 15, 2022 6:13 am PDT by
Apple Watch Series 8 and the second-generation Apple Watch SE are set to launch this Friday, September 16, and ahead of time, the first reviews of the devices have now been shared by select media publications and YouTube channels. Both of the new models are very incremental upgrades compared to the Apple Watch Series 7 and the original Apple Watch SE. New features for both models include...

Popular Stories

apple watch ultra deuglify 1

Apple Watch Ultra User Mods Titanium Casing to 'Deuglify' Design

Tuesday September 27, 2022 8:05 am PDT by
An Apple Watch Ultra user has modified their new device's casing to add a brushed finish and remove the orange color of the Action Button in an effort to make it more visually appealing. The Apple Watch Ultra offers the first complete redesign of the Apple Watch since the product line's announcement in 2014, and while the design has been met with praise from many users, some have criticized...
Dark Sky App Featured

Dark Sky Removed From iOS App Store Ahead of Upcoming Shutdown

Wednesday September 28, 2022 4:27 pm PDT by
The Dark Sky weather app that's owned by Apple is no longer available for download in the U.S. App Store, suggesting that it has been removed ahead of schedule. Apple acquired Dark Sky back in March 2020 and has since incorporated elements of the app into the Weather app available on the iPhone (and soon, the iPad). Dark Sky remained available for purchase as a standalone weather app...
iphone 14 pro max vs 13 max 2

Camera Comparison: iPhone 14 Pro Max vs. iPhone 13 Pro Max

Thursday September 29, 2022 7:44 am PDT by
The iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max introduce some major improvements in camera technology, adding a 48-megapixel lens and low-light improvements across all lenses with the new Photonic Engine. We've spent the last week working on an in-depth comparison that pits the new iPhone 14 Pro Max against the prior-generation iPhone 13 Pro Max to see just how much better the iPhone 14 Pro Max can be. Subscrib ...
apple watch ultra hammer test

YouTuber Tests Apple Watch Ultra Durability With a Hammer: Table Breaks Before the Watch

Sunday September 25, 2022 2:27 pm PDT by
A YouTuber has put Apple's claims for the durability of the Apple Watch Ultra to the test by putting it up against a drop test, a jar of nails, and repeated hits with a hammer to test the sapphire crystal protecting the display. TechRax, a channel popular for testing the durability of products, first tested the Apple Watch Ultra by dropping it from around four feet high. The Apple Watch...
tony blevins car

Apple Procurement VP Departs Company After Vulgar TikTok Comment

Thursday September 29, 2022 12:38 pm PDT by
Tony Blevins, Apple's vice president of procurement, is set to depart the company after he made a crude comment about his profession in a recent TikTok video, reports Bloomberg. Blevins was in a video by TikTok creator Daniel Mac, who was doing a series on the jobs of people he spotted with expensive cars. After seeing Blevins in an expensive Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, Mac asked Blevins what ...
iPhone 14 Pros in Hand Black Background Feature

Verizon iPhone 14 Pro Customers Reporting Cellular Connection Issues

Monday September 26, 2022 6:23 am PDT by
iPhone 14 Pro customers on the Verizon network in the U.S. are reporting issues with slow and unreliable 5G cellular connections and calls randomly dropping. Several threads on Reddit (1,2,3) and the MacRumors forums chronicle issues faced by Verizon customers and Apple's latest iPhone. According to user reports, signal strength on the iPhone 14 Pro is unreliable and weak, while other...
iPhone 15 to Switch From Lightning to USB C in 2023 feature sans arrow

Kuo: iPhone 14 Pro Max Popularity Could Lead to More Differentiation Between iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max

Wednesday September 28, 2022 10:22 am PDT by
Apple has seen high demand for the 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Pro Max, which could lead the company to further differentiate the next-generation iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Apple could add exclusive features to the iPhone 15 Pro Max in an effort to encourage more people to purchase the larger and more expensive device. Kuo last week said that Apple asked...
iPhone 14 Pro Sports Scores Dynamic Island

iPhone 14 Pro Features Live Sports Scores in Dynamic Island on iOS 16.1

Monday September 26, 2022 7:52 am PDT by
Earlier this month, Apple announced that iOS 16.1 will enable a new Live Activities feature that allows iPhone users to stay on top of things that are happening in real time, such as a sports game or a food delivery order, right from the Lock Screen. On the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, Live Activities also integrate with the Dynamic Island. Premier League match in Dynamic Island via Paul Bradford ...
iOS 16

Everything New in the Latest iOS 16.1 and iPadOS 16.1 Betas: Stage Manager Expansion, Wallpaper Tweaks and More

Tuesday September 27, 2022 11:36 am PDT by
Apple today released new betas of iOS 16.1 and iPadOS 16.1 to developers, tweaking some of the functionality that's been introduced in prior betas and in the case of iPadOS 16.1, adding a major new feature to Stage Manager. We've rounded up everything new in both betas below. Wallpaper Updates Apple has updated the Wallpaper section of the Settings app to allow users to swap between...
General iOS 16 Feature Yellow

Some iOS 16 Users Continue to Face Unaddressed Bugs and Battery Drain Two Weeks After Launch

Monday September 26, 2022 7:34 am PDT by
Today marks exactly two weeks since Apple released iOS 16 to the public. Besides the personalized Lock Screen, major changes in Messages, and new features in Maps, the update has also seen its fair share of bugs, performance problems, battery drain, and more. After major iOS updates, it's normal for some users to report having issues with the new update, but such reports usually subside in...