Roller Solar Shades 101

hd_header_DSS-detail-02These members of the shade community are notorious for their blah appearance and their stellar (no pun intended) performance. On the lower end of the price scale you can find  ready-made roller shades in the big box stores where they will often cut them to your specific measurements, or you can go for the high-end model and have them custom-made through one of the large shade manufacturers.

The main advantage of roller solar shades is their sun-blocking capability while providing some view. The package will list an openness rating, and the lower the rating, the more opaque the shade. For example, a shade with an openness rating of 5 is almost totally opaque when down, a shade with a rating of 25 is fairly transparent. Good protection is recognized at between 5 and 10.

The openness rating works with the UV protection factor of the shade. The less you can see through the shade, the more protection against UV rays you have from the shade. The UV rays are the ones that damage the furniture and floors and warm the room. The downside to this is that blocking the UV rays in the winter decreases the amount of sun coming through the windows warming the room, so it’s a trade-off.

Roller shades are typically spring loaded, raising and lowering with a tug on the bottom hem, or they are controlled by a continuous cord and clutch.  They can be mounted inside the window frame but the gap on each side necessary to accommodate the mounting hardware can be as much as 1/2-inch.  If you opt to mount the shades outside the window frame, a reverse mount may be the option for you. Rather than roll off the shade toward the front, the shade rolls off the roller toward the back, and rests against the window frame. Much better for insulation.  Some roller shades mount outside the window.  I was doing research the other day and found a study done at the Lund University in Sweden which demonstrated  that the same shade hung  on the exterior of the house was 20 percent more effective than when hung inside the home.

And, for you DIY-ers out there, changing the fabric on a roller shade is a snap. You can buy top-notch solar fabric at the local fabric store and apply it the inexpensive roller shade’s hardware. I’ll explain how in the expanded version of this column when it goes to my website, should be in a few weeks.

Isn’t this spring thing just wonderful?? We made it one more time.

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