Solar shades, often referred to as screen shades, are an increasingly popular choice (as discussed in our Trending Products post). But what are they, and when is a solar shade the perfect selection for your home or office?
What is a Solar Shade?
Solar screen shades are in the roller shade family. The componentry and operation of a screen shade is identical to that of a roller shade. This means that cord free solar shades and motorized solar shades are options, just as they would be for any other roller shade that Skandia manufactures.
Every fabric that is used in the manufacturing of a custom roller shade is different. The material used for the fabric varies, as does the design, and the level of opacity. When it comes to solar/screen shades, they are distinct due to the material composition as well as the range of opacity offered.
The majority of screen shade fabrics are a composition of fiberglass, vinyl, and polyester. The composition of the fabric is important, as the fabric composition is what allows screen shades to be so effective in reducing solar heat gain, reducing glare, and protecting against UV damage. Screen shades are engineered to absorb and dissipate 65 to 90 percent of the sun’s heat and glare.
Solar screen shades are distinct in that they are one of the few custom window treatments that allow for a full view out when the treatment is completely closed. For example, even when the slats of a horizontal blind are tilted to an open position, the view out is still slightly obstructed by the slats. To have an unobstructed view, you would have to lift the horizontal blinds, and in doing so, expose the window to the very light and heat that solar shades are designed to reduce.
Solar shades have a wide variety of opacities – often referred to as the “openness factor”. The openness factor determines both how much light is let in, and how easily you can view out the shade when it is fully closed. Skandia screen shades offer openness factors ranging from 1% to 14%. A low openness factor will provide a higher level of light control, but a lower level of view out. Conversely, a high openness factor will provide a lower level of light control, but a higher level of view out.
When a Solar Shade is Ideal
- When you have east or west facing windows, but still want a view
Blackout roller shades and blackout cellular shades are great selections for east or west facing windows, but they don’t allow for a view out without raising the shade. If you have a window that is exposed to direct sunlight, but you still want to enjoy the view, solar shades are the perfect solution.
- When you have furniture close to your windows
UV light and furniture don’t mix! However, windows and furniture seem to mix quite well, as most rooms are arranged with furniture in very close proximity to the windows. UV light can be very damaging to furniture, sometimes causing discoloration and cracking. Consequently, if you’ve got furniture near your windows, you’ll want to ensure that you have a window treatment that effectively limits UV exposure.
- When you want a roller shade for exterior use
Solar shades are ideal for patios, decks, and outdoor kitchens. Again, you’ll still have the benefit of a view out, while having the ability to reduce glare, reduce heat gain, and reduce UV damage. As an added benefit, screen shades may even help keep some of those pesky insects at bay. Solar screen shades are some of the only fabrics approved for exterior usage.
- When you have wide windows
The weight of a shade is a concern anytime that you have a very wide window. Screen shades are incredibly lightweight, thereby making them a viable option for wide windows. In addition, nearly all screen shades can be seamed – a process involving heat-welding two shades together to increase the height or width that can be covered.
- When you want a fire retardant and antimicrobial roller shade
If you’re looking for commercial roller shades, you’re likely looking for fire retardant shades at a minimum. Most Skandia solar shades are fire retardant. Many of them are also antimicrobial. Skandia’s antimicrobial solar screen shades are infused with Microban, inhibiting the growth of bacteria, mold, and mildew. Antimicrobial, fire retardant solar shades are perfect for medical offices, schools, and fitness facilities.
We could go on and on about when solar shades are the perfect solution, because they truly are one of the most versatile, most practical window coverings. With that said, they are not the best selection if you want the highest degree of privacy. Blackout roller shades, room darkening cellular shades, plantation shutters, and horizontal blinds are much better selections if your primary concern is privacy.