Interior Solar Shades vs. Exterior Solar Shades: Is One Better Than the Other?

by SelectBlinds

Whenever spring and summer approach, we start to get antsy and look forward to enjoying the sunshine and to spending time outside in the warm weather. Maybe even more so in 2021, after all the unexpected craziness of 2020!

Since we’re talking about exposure to the sun, which is preferable for blocking UV rays: interior solar shades, or exterior solar shades? Both kinds of energy-efficient shades deflect the sun’s rays without blocking your view, and they both offer their own features.

Interior Solar Shades vs. Outdoor Solar Shades

So, what exactly is the difference between indoor solar shades and exterior solar shades?

Interior Solar Shades keep the heat and glare out, while leaving you a view to the outside.
Interior Solar Shades keep the heat and glare out, while leaving you a view to the outside.

Interior solar shades feature an open-weave reflective fabric meant to let light filter through. You can see clearly outside, but those outside can’t see in; at night, this effect is reversed. By deflecting the sun’s glare effectively, solars also reduce incoming heat, making their energy efficiency another plus.  

Exterior solar shades provide excellent coverage for south-facing windows or for an exterior space like an enclosed patio or deck—similar to an awning. Like interior solars, outdoor solar shades allow a view to the outside, while providing privacy from the exterior view. Outdoor solars are also effective at keeping your enclosed spaces and your home’s interior cooler. Another plus for exterior solar shades: they don’t have an impact on your interior décor, and you’ll likely get the most use out of outdoor solars if you happen to live in a climate that’s warm all year long. 

Exterior solar shades deflect sunlight without blocking your view, and keep your shaded areas cooler.
Exterior solar shades deflect sunlight without blocking your view, and keep your shaded areas cooler.

Keep your exterior solar shades’ “openness” factor into account when making your selection. Openness factors are typically available in 1 percent, 3 percent, 5 percent, 10 percent, and 14 percent. 

An outdoor solar shade with a 1 percent openness factor has much higher UV blockage with lower transparency, compared to one with a 10 percent or 14 percent openness factor. As you INCREASE in the openness factor, your UV blockage goes down, and you raise your outward visibility, in turn. 

Also keep in mind that lighter colored shades are generally better for blocking UV rays more effectively, while darker colors provide a better view to the outside.

Both interior and exterior solar shades can be installed as roller shades or as panels, but if you go with outdoor shades, make sure they’re manufactured to withstand the wear and tear of the outdoor weather elements (direct sunlight, rain, wind, etc.). Do your homework.

Some of our recommendations include:

Here is an online guide to help you select the best type of solar shades for the region you live in and for your home’s unique needs. Whatever climate you live in, and whatever your home’s needs are, interior solar shades and exterior solar shades can help you manage your privacy along with the incoming UV rays for enjoying Spring and Summer indoors and outside.