Solar shade fabrics are generally referred to in the context of “opacity” and in percentages of “openness.” Solar shades (and exterior solar shades) operate like roller shades, and are known for providing excellent UV ray blockage (and privacy), while still allowing a view to the outside. They are also known for helping your energy bills (block out heat and light in the summer when closed, or open them in the winter to let sunlight in to help keep your interior warm).
Openness indicates the tightness of the fabric weave, which is an indication of the percentage of light that can penetrate through (e.g. 1%, 3%, 5%, etc.). Low openness means a more tightly woven fabric, with less visibility through the shade and a higher opacity. Higher openness percentages indicate a looser fabric weave, and therefore, greater visibility.
The corresponding number to an openness percentage is the opacity of a fabric: a fabric with 1% openness has an opacity of 99% (97% opacity to 3% openness, 95% opacity to 5% openness, etc.) – the opacity is the percentage of light blockage the fabric is capable of. For more flexibility in managing your interior privacy and incoming light, you may consider dual (or zebra) shades, which display their versatility in combining the functionality of a solid roller shade with the adaptability of horizontal blinds. A layer of sheer stripes alternates with a layer of solid stripes – imagine a continuous fabric shade that you can open and close, as you would window blinds.
Visualizing the Openness Factor
- Lower openness percentages (e.g., 1% – 5%) block out more of the sun’s UV rays, offering more protection for your furniture/interior finishes, and they also offer more privacy – they do, however, limit outward visibility.
- Medium openness percentages (e.g., 10%) maintain a good amount of your view to the outside, while still offering suitable protection for your furniture/interior.
- A high openness percentage (e.g., 14%) provide the best visibility to the outside, as well as decent glare reduction.
Do Solar Shades Provide Privacy During the Day?
Solar shades are effective at reflecting sunlight during the day, so as to block a view into your interior from the outside, while allowing you to see from the inside out. Keep in mind that at night, with your interior lights on, the effect is opposite: the interior light is reflected off of the solar fabric, blocking your outward view, while allowing visibility from the exterior.
If you should install solar shades and are concerned about privacy, consider implementing a layering effect, by adding opaque curtains between your shade and interior, so you can close them at night to block visibility from the outside.
Select Blinds Staff and Customer Favorites
Are you considering solar shades, but are looking for some recommendations? We’ve got just the thing for you, so read on for some Select Blinds staff and customer favorites.
Need help measuring your windows for your solar shades? Find out how to measure your windows here.
Our Traditional Solar Shades, custom-crafted in long-lasting PVC with a sleek colored polymer coating, offer an enhanced design for reliable UV protection. Keep your great view to the outside. Available in a nice selection of neutral colors in 3%, 5%, and 10% openness.
*Our Essential Tier products include simple designs in familiar styles. Made of materials known for strength, and easy cleaning, Essential Tier products are a great starting point for first-time home owners or renters that are looking for budget-friendly solutions.
Protect your décor and your eyes from the harsh glare of the sun. Available in a variety of neutral colors in 1%, 3%, and 5% weaves.
*Our Signature Tier products feature thoughtful designs in trendy styles. Made with durable materials, Signature Tier products are the perfect place to start when looking for a beyond basic solution that is also affordable.
See more clearly inside and out with these interior solar shades. The openness of the fade resistant fabric reduces harsh incoming light so you can still enjoy looking out. Choose from a selection of colors, including neutrals, in 5% or 13% openness – collections are Essential, Lifestyle, and Architect.
Elevate your outdoor experience with the convenience and ease-of-use of motorized solars. Plus, they come with a gorgeous oil-rubbed valance and cable tie-downs! Neutral color selection in 5% or 8% openness.
*Our Premium Tier products feature lasting designs in timeless styles. Made of high-quality materials, Premium Tier products are the ideal choice for an excellent investment that’s made to last.
Make your sunroom ultra-elegant and upscale with these fabulous, modern solar shades. They come in a range of subtly-patterned neutrals that can accent any design. Available in 3% or 5% weaves.
*Our Luxury Tier products include superior design in distinct styles. Made with unique materials and quality craftsmanship. Luxury Tier products are for the homeowner looking to indulge in sophisticated customization. Most, if not all, upgrade features are included.
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