Solar Shades for the Home

Imagine that the hot afternoon sun is baking the western side of your home in the late afternoon and you have a very large window area. While rooms on the eastern side of the house may be comfortable, the rooms on the western side can get so hot that the air conditioner may simply not be able to keep up. You could purchase a large window unit air conditioner for that side of the house, but that would cost money to operate. In addition, it would not fit in with the environmental culture and awareness that is spreading throughout the United States which asks you to reduce your carbon footprint. A much better solution would be to purchase a solar shade screen.


Solar shade screens are descendants of awnings. There is evidence of awnings being used since antiquity to cool off the interior of homes and businesses by extending a structure originally made of woven cotton that provides shade. Modern awnings are made from a variety of high-tech materials that repel water, dirt, UV rays, and sometimes even fire. An awning extends away from the exterior of the building. In contrast, solar shade screens usually hang straight down over a window and are almost always made of cloth.

Solar shade screens are made of acrylic canvas or a mesh fabric. This allows you to still look through them while they block the Sun’s rays. Solar shade screens resemble standard insect screens, however they feature a distinct weave to block out sunlight. In addition to providing a view solar shade screens allow for cool breezes to pass through. Because exterior shades block the heat before it enters the house they are much more effective at keeping the interior cool the interior shades. Installing a solar shade screen on the outside can drastically decrease the amount of heat from the sun that enters the home.

Solar shade screens often feature a roller at the top. Solar shade screens may be hand-cranked or motorized. On a hand-cranked system a weighted bottom rail pulls the fabric between guide rails or wires. The fabric is pulled down by gravity.

Some consumer groups suggest that the motorized cranks are better since they encourage the user to take advantage of the system with minimal effort. Some solar shade screens even feature a radio frequency remote control to operate the screens. This is convenient because no line of sight is necessary. In other words, if you were cooking in the kitchen and realized the house was getting hot but didn’t want to leave the room, you could activate the screens remotely up to 20 feet away through walls. A single channel remote control controls all the shades within the same range. A multichannel remote control provides more convenience because this remote can be programmed to control individual shades or operate all the shades together.

Before purchasing solar shade screens you may wish to speak with an interior designer to make sure they will match the decor of your house. In addition, you should research your options on the Internet since this is a relatively new and emerging technology.

Solar shade screens are typically installed by professionals. The specialized frames usually require a large number of tools. However, recently a frameless shade screen has become available that allows a handy do-it-yourself-er to install their own solar shade screens.

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