Solar Shades

Here are the indoor variety of solar shades.  Photo courtesy
Here are the indoor variety of solar shades. Photo courtesy

If you're in the market for some new shades for your home, then you are doing yourself and your home a great favor. The way that energy costs are going, solar shades may end up being the only way to save you from higher and higher rates. Another term used to describe these types of shades is solar window shades. The terms are synonymous. Yet another term you might see when you are looking online is sun screen to describe these. They all mean the same thing. Basically, the sun screen terminology refers more primarily to the outdoor screen type that is affixed to your window frame itself. These are essentially a tighter woven screen, much like insect screening. These sun shades or screens block out approximately 90% of the sun's damaging UV rays and heat producing properties.

There are a few ways to learn and read about these types of shades. The first being as indoor shades and the other as being outdoor shades. As an indoor type of shade, these will give you both better energy efficiency as well as privacy. You may be in the market for both. This type of shade can be ordered in a variety of styles, one being a blackout shade. This means just what the name implies, it 'blacks out' or blocks out all sun. So, if it blocks out the sun it also blocks out unwanted eyes seeing into your home.

As an outdoor shade, the term solar shades carries a slightly different implication. In this instance, it refers to the fact that you can get these as retractable shades, with the sun being the switch. In other words, just like your nightlight that has that little light sensor, you can get that same type of switch for your shades. This way, when the sun goes down, your motorized shades will go up and vice versa. You can set the sensitivity as well, so you don't have to worry about having all that light at the crack of dawn.

A close up view of a solar shade shows the fine holes.  Photo courtesy
A close up view of a solar shade shows the fine holes. Photo courtesy
So, you can see how these blackout shades can actually be colorful.  Photo courtesy
So, you can see how these blackout shades can actually be colorful. Photo courtesy
You can also get solar shades in lighter colors.  Photo courtesy
You can also get solar shades in lighter colors. Photo courtesy

Interior Solar Shades

So, with this distinction in mind, let's discuss a bit about the benefits and functions that these types of shades or blinds will allow you. First of all, with any type of home installation, we need to be sure that our home's appearance is not made worse because we make it more functional or efficient.

Rest assured, the addition of any type of blinds or shades these days should only help to make your home's value increase. There is no aluminum foil in the windows look with the types of shades we are talking about here. While that type of covering would in fact keep the sun out, it certainly doesn't do wonders for your home's appearance - not to mention keeping you friendly with the neighbors.

Indoor solar shades are designed to maximize your home's natural light while allowing you to use less energy. Cost savings on your utility bills are simply a side effect of what you are trying to achieve really. What most people are after is comfort. You get sun shades because you want your home or specific living spaces to feel cooler, not just because you want to save a buck. This point is made even more clearly with the outdoor solar shade discussion below.

As you can see from the several pictures here, there are a variety of styles and colors to choose from.  You don't need to settle for black on shades anymore.  You can get sun shades in a color that will match your decor.  Also, your shades can be made to move with the flip of a switch or by the sensor of the sun itself.  These motorized shades make cooling, shading and privacy a snap.  With the solar sensor feature, they also make it automatic.   

You can see how this patio employs a motorized solar shade.  Photo courtesy
You can see how this patio employs a motorized solar shade. Photo courtesy

Outdoor Solar Shades

Like the discussion of interior shades, when you are shopping for your outdoor space, not only are you looking for function, but appearance as well.  Of course, outdoors your main concern is shade, not so much energy efficiency.  The point about comfort is made much more clear when talking about outdoor solar shades.  

On your patio, the shade itself can made to function like a wall.  In fact, retractable shades or awnings can be used to temporary rooms for when you are entertaining yourself or guests.  By having the same ability to use a switch or light sensors as the indoor shades, now it just means creating an outdoor patio space that is semi-enclosed.  This can, incidentally, lower energy costs by getting you outside and thus, needing less conditioned air.  Also, by creating a shaded space that blocks the sun from entering through your home's windows, you don't heat up your home's interior rooms.

Outdoor sun shades could be as simple as some type of patio canopy or covering to the types of more elaborate motorized or track systems that open and close a fabric material to create the shade from the sun.  The materials used for these outdoor shades is resistant to ultraviolet (UV) exposure, resists wear from the elements and carries warranties by the larger manufacturers.  It is also quite sturdy to resist punctures and tears, but it is by no means indestructible.  Take care to maintain and properly care for your solar shades and they will do the same for you and your home.  

A Brief Example of How Solar Shades Work

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Comments 4 comments

jazzuboo profile image

jazzuboo 7 years ago from Queensland, Australia

It gets so hot here in summer, I can't even bare to be anywhere near the afternoon sun. I might just have to look at some of these.

patioman profile image

patioman 7 years ago from USA, Arizona Author

I hear ya. The only thing I want to do here in the summer is sit underwater with a straw coming out of my mouth. The only place better is on my patio with those water misters going. Hmmm....

thehis 6 years ago

Interior sun shades, like the one in the video, block glare, but do a poor job of heat control. Exterior is a better heat solution

patioman profile image

patioman 6 years ago from USA, Arizona Author

Thehis - thanks for helping to clarify that. You're right, in fact, the indoor shades can actually heat up from the sun's rays causing them to give off some heat. Thanks again.

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