Best Solar Shades & Blinds for Windows

Unwanted glare from windows can be annoying, but so can a room constantly darkened by a continually closed pair of curtains. Luckily, there’s no need to sacrifice plentiful light and a beautiful view in order to escape the sun. Solar window shades allow you to have both, without the glare. Made from a specialty fabric, solar blinds reduce glare and infrared heat gain while still providing enough light for a lovely view. While the number of such products on the market can be daunting, there are a number of ways to narrow down the options and select the best solar shades for you.

Free-Stop Cordless Roller Shades, No Tug UV Ray Blocking Window Blinds by Chicology

Radiance 2208826E Cordless Roman Shade

Interior Solar Shades with Aluminum by Keystone Fabric

Best Solar Shades Reviews

When selecting your window shades, it’s a good idea to begin with an overview of what products are on the market. When choosing from the available options, it’s a good idea to consider what sort of quality you’re looking for, how much you’re willing to spend, and what sort of additional features you would like your blinds to include. The process is similar to choosing a solar window screen. Also keep in mind what solar accessories, (like solar-powered wall lights) you want to incorporate.

Free-Stop Cordless Roller Shades, No Tug UV Ray Blocking Window Blinds by Chicology

Editor's Pick

The clean simplicity of these blinds leads us to endorse this product. Although it lacks the special features of many other options, this product certainly stands up to the competition when it comes to getting the job done in style. Versatility and economy add to the product’s already impressive appeal. In addition to offering the UV blocking benefits of solar shades, this product has an easy-to-use, cordless adjustment mechanism, allowing you to lift and lower them with a single finger. The product is available in a variety of sizes and colors, and can be mounted indoors or outdoors depending on need. Made from vinyl coated polyester (82% vinyl, 17%) polyester that gives the shade 5% openness—standard for most products on the market. Additionally, the fabric makes these blinds durable and easy to clean. If you’re looking for a moderately priced, versatile set of solar blinds, this is the product for you.

Interior Solar Shades with Aluminum by Keystone Fabric

Best Value

A slightly pricier option, these blinds have the added benefit of customizability. The manufacturer can create custom sizes within one eight of an inch. Consequently, if you’re looking to fit any non-standard window size, this product should be high on your list. Thus, although this product costs slightly more than our top choice, it is worth noting that Keystone Fabrics manages to offer the same services as competitors at a much lower price. The shades come with a mounting template and a child-safe cord loop system for raising and lowering. Plus, the quality of the shades themselves is nothing to sniff at. The reflective aluminum valence on the fabric’s outward facing side mimics high-end solar blinds at a much lower price. The heavy-weight UV fabric blocks 92% of UV light. Consequently, these blinds are prefect for anyone looking to maximize their home’s energy efficiency at a reasonable price.

Radiance 2208826E Cordless Roman Shade

Most Popular

Woven from bamboo, this product is popular mainly because of how nice it looks. Technically, speaking, this shade provides only some of the benefits of solar blinds, as the material filters light and provides semi-shade and semi-privacy in a manner similar to more traditional alternatives made of synthetic materials. The blinds do provide the energy-efficient insulation and temperature reduction of other products, though again infrared heat may not be reduced at the same levels as synthetic materials. Additionally, these blinds tend to be less durable and come in fewer colors. If you’re looking for a reasonably-priced, natural alternative for your home, however, then this almost certainly an option to consider.

Motor Controlled Indoor Roller Shade by Keystone Fabrics

If you’re looking for luxury in your window blinds, look no further. In addition to offering all of the benefits of other solar window shades, these roller blinds from Keystone Fabrics have remote-operated motor for raising and lowering the product. The range of available colors isn’t great, but the product is made from PVC coated polyester, blocks 92% of UV light, has a 5% openness factor, and there are a fair number of sizes available made to fit a variety of windows. As an added bonus, the product is designed for easy self-installation, and comes with a template to help customers align the pilot holes necessary to mount the blinds. Overall, this mid-range product offers the best of both worlds. It combines the easy-to install design and moderate pricing of other products with pleasant extras, such as a remote-controlled, automated mechanism for lifting and lowering, more common with higher-end, more expensive alternatives. For those with a moderate budget and an aspiration for style, this is definitely a product to give heavy consideration to.

Solar Window Shades by Passenger Pigeon

These shades have a variety of features that make them especially appealing. In addition to being customizable and available in a variety of neutral shades, these blinds are flame retardant, waterproof, dust and milder proof, and easy to clean. Additionally, their cordless design makes them a good option for those concerned about their young children. One downside is that installing these blinds is not as simple with this product, when compared with the others on our list. Although expert installation is available, it does entail an extra fee. But if you’ve got a large budget and you’re looking for something fancy, this product is worth a second thought or two. As an added bonus, the product is available in a wide variety of styles and colors, and each product is made to order. This ensures a high-quality product perfectly tailored for your needs. If you’ve got a large budget and are finding yourself searching for service, versatility, and quality, then this is certainly the best option for your.

Why Solar Shades Are Worth The Trouble

Why Solar Shades Are Worth The Trouble

The difference between solar shades and their more traditional counterparts might seem a bit arbitrary, but good solar shades are more than worth the extra money and trouble. Solar shades provide many benefits over standard window blinds. They block light and reduce glare without completely darkening a room or obscuring a room. What’s more, because they block the transfer of infrared-heat without eliminating natural light, they increase your home’s energy efficiency (as this study published by the NIH reveals), cutting down on electricity usage by reducing the use of indoor lights and air conditioning. Finally, solar shades drastically reduce photodegradation, or the fading and cracking of home materials and finished as a result of exposure to light. Consequently, solar window blinds are good for both the planet (see this study published by the US Department of Agriculture) and your bank account—a win-win situation.

How Solar Blinds Work

Different solar screens rely on different materials and design techniques, but most operate by altering the distribution of solar energy as the sun shines on the windows of your home. Virtually all solar shades consist of a mesh constructed from some sort of specialized fabric—typically vinyl, polyester, or some other synthetic material. The weave of the mesh determines the ‘openness’ or ‘density’ of the fabric, and thus the amount of light energy it transmits or absorbs. Additionally, most higher-end shades are coated in a reflective fabric on their outward facing side. Different materials have different properties, and many shades blend different fabrics in order to achieve different qualities. Based on the material properties and the openness of the mesh, the blinds reflect a certain amount of solar radiance, absorb a certain amount of infrared heat, and transmit a certain amount of visible light. That, in turn, has consequences for properties like glare reduction, energy-efficiency, and visibility.

What to Look for When Purchasing Solar Shades

What to Look for When Purchasing Solar Shades

Deciding which solar blinds to choose can seem a daunting task. With so many options on the market, (the array of solar products ranges from solar firestarters to solar monitoring systems) and so many unfamiliar terms, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the plethora of styles and choices available at the click of a finger. Luckily, there are a few key factors that will help you dramatically when making your decision. Thinking about what space you’re buying for, what your budget is, and what qualities are most important to you can go a long way. That way you won’t accidentally end up with a solar umbrella!

1. Materials

Solar shades come in a variety of materials. One of the most popular is PVC coated yarn or polyester. These fabrics have the advantage of durability and are often very resistant to water and stains. However, these materials tend to transmit little visible light. Another option is pure vinyl, which has similar properties to the PVC-polyester combinations, save that it transmits more visible light and absorbs more heat. In addition to these materials, shades can also be coated with a reflective material on their outward-facing side. This reduces glare and heat absorption, making it a good extra to look for if you’re looking to lower your energy bill. If you’re looking for a natural alternative to the standard materials, there are also blinds woven from bamboo and wicker on the market. These materials, however, tend to be less durable than their synthetic alternatives.

2. Color

When it comes to choosing your solar shades, what color you choose matters. To optimize glare reduction and view retention, choose a dark colored shade. Fabrics that block about 95% of visible light offer the most glare reduction. On the other hand, if you’re looking to maximize the reduction of infrared heat transmission, choose a lighter colored fabric that blocks 80-90% of visible light, as it will absorb and transmit less heat energy into the interior of your home. Such fabrics also work well for areas where windows are small, or more ambient light is desirable. As a rule, fabrics that block more visible light (and thus reduce more glare) also absorb more heat, and vice versa.

3. Pricing

Solar blinds can become quite expensive depending on what materials you choose and how many extra features you’re looking for. Things like motorized movement, remote controls, and professional installation can dramatically increase your bill. Additionally, the size of the windows you’re covering is a big consideration. The larger the windows, the more expensive the blinds. Finally, the relative quality of the blinds can raise or lower the price dramatically. Custom-made blinds crafted with attention and durable fabrics will cost more than mass produced, hastily stitched alternatives.

4. Style

Though your considerations should be mainly practical, for obvious reasons, you shouldn’t throw your aesthetic requirements out the window. There’s no point in settling for something ugly or unsatisfactory when the market offers so many diverse options. Be sure to consider your aesthetic requirements in addition to your practical ones. Think about what colors would best match your vision for the room, what level of light and visibility best highlights the space, and what fashions and style best suit the established aesthetic. Solar shades, like other window coverings, come in a variety of shapes, sizes and styles. Do you want roman blinds? Cordless window coverings? Perhaps you would like a special image or pattern that makes your new shades doubly functional as a work of art. Be creative, and let yourself imagine the possibilities. After all, a purchase is an opportunity. There’s no reason not to have fun with it. You may even want to combine some solar shades with another solar product, like solar candles.

In conclusion, solar shades are a great option for anyone looking to up their home’s energy efficiency, reduce glare, and preserve their view of the outside world. Though choosing between the wide variety of materials, options, and products available on today’s market can seem daunting. But educating yourself about these options is worth the effort; it will pay off when you find a stylish, functional product that meets your requirements and your budget. What matters most is your satisfaction with what you ultimately buy. Thinking about what materials, color, pricing, and style you’re looking for can help you make the most of today’s highly-populated marketplace.

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