Five Things About Solar Shades

I know some of you have been thinking about the summer sun and how to protect your furniture, floors and yourself against it this year. I know because every year, in June, I get the slightly panicked phone calls: “The weather has turned and it’s going to get hot, after all!” Surprise!! This happens every year and it will keep happening. So, let’s get a jump on things and get this one off the to-do list.

Here are a few things you should know when you are looking for window solar sun shades for summer sun protection.

Number one, the big one, is that if you can see out, someone can see in. I get asked —  a lot —  for a sun filtering shade which will stop the sun but provide privacy. Not such a thing. 

blinds outside in
From 0% on the left to 10% openness on the right. Only the 0% gives privacy when inside the room is brighter than outside the room.

Number two; With sun shades, the more you can see out, the less the sun protection the shade gives. A fully opaque shade has 0% openness. A shade which is 5% percent open holes ( 5% openness) will control a lot of sun heat transfer —  less than a 3% shade and more than a 9% shade. And the opacity of each goes right along with the openness.


The difference in view-through of light vs dark-colored shades.
The difference in view-through of light vs dark-colored shades in openness, from left to right, of 1,3 5 and 10%. Photo from

Number three: Oddly enough, dark-colored shades allow more view-through (inside to outside) than light-colored shades. I’m sure there is some physical explanation for this, but I have no idea what it is; it’s one of those truisms that we just need to accept. And don’t get all twisted about the black absorbing heat instead of reflecting it. These shades have nothing to do with reflecting the heat; the dark shade may feel a bit warmer than the light shade but the room will be the same temperature. 

Number four: Solar and sun shades prevent a lot of the heat from the sun from entering, while allowing view through to the outside. They can be responsible for reducing the heat gain in a room by 85% or so. But the down side is they don’t look that great — from the outside they look like a flat sheet on the window — and they can be really expensive if you want cordless, or remote-controlled and your windows are large. But they work.

solar film graphic
Solar film, which is applied directly on the window glass, can affect a 10 degree difference between 1 foot outside the window and 1 foot inside the window. Think of that 88 degrees outside, 76 degrees inside. Without air conditioning.


Number five: Remember that almost 25% of your heating and cooling bill goes directly out your windows; if you can reduce this by even half, that’s 12% of your heating/cooling bill. And a 12% reduction is easy to do with the right blinds and shades. 


Solar shades are available through custom dealers, like me — I represent a line made in Vancouver —  and through the big box stores or online. 


This is the hand sample of the snap-on screen.
This is the hand sample of the snap-on screen.

If you think your window shade may be down or covering the windows most of the time, you might want to consider a snap-on solar shade. The same fabric used in a roller shade is attached to the window frame via a swivel socket.

Or you could have a simple frame built from glass-supply-house parts and which attaches to the window via a channel attached to the frame.  The beauty of the snap-on shades is when not in use they roll up and fit into a cardboard tube, and they are considerably less expensive than custom roller shades. I make them.




Call me to see a sample one. — And there is even an adhesive snap set perfect for boats and motor homes. 




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