Solar shades: What every designer should know.

Killer View

You've got a killer view.

But every day for a few hours, there's just too much sunlight beaming through your windows. It's blinding.

You can't see your computer screen. You can't watch TV. It hurts your eyes to read a book. It damages your furniture and fades your fabrics.

It's just in your face.

Solar shades – or solar screens – block the sun, but not the view. Use them when you want to soften the harsh light without losing your amazing view.

Best Uses

A solar shade is a type of roller shade with a see-through fabric. Consider them where privacy is not an issue – like the kitchen, living room, or in a commercial space.

Solar shades are often the best choice for office spaces. They keep the office cool and bright while limiting the glare on your computer screen.

Sunny Office

If you decide to use solar shades in a more private area, like your bedroom, you can pair them with curtains for privacy.

Fabric Openness

The openness is a measure of how see-through the fabric is.

A 1% open solar shade will block 99% of the light and damaging UV rays. A 10% open only blocks 90%.

The more open a fabric is (10% is more open than 1%), the easier you can see through it. Open fabrics also let more light into the room. A more closed fabric is better for reducing glare and heat.

Solar Shades 1-10% Open

Rule of thumb: Stay under 5% open to reduce glare. Go over 5% open for the best view. 5% open is a happy medium.

So for an office space, where your goal is to reduce glare on computer screens, you might choose 1% open in sunny Phoenix, but could get away with just 5% open in foggy San Francisco.

Dark Colors vs. Light Colors

The color of your solar shades is more than asthetics. It's functional.

Your view is better through a dark-colored fabric. Dark colors absorb light which reduces glare and improves visibility. Dark colors also warm the room with ambient heat.

Dark-Colored Solar Shades

Light colors brighten the room by reflecting light inside. They also reflect a good amount of light outside, helping to cool the house.

Light-Colored Solar Shades

The view through dark-colored fabric is like looking through a tinted window. The view through light-colored fabric is like looking through a sheer drapes.


To summarize, consider solar shades when you want some light control while preserving your view and when privacy is not a concern. They are ideal for commercial spaces and living areas in your home.

Choose a fabric based on your goals. If your number one goal is to:

  • Reduce glare: Use dark-colored fabric at 5% open or less. The darker the color and the less open it is, the less glare you will get.
  • Maximize your view: Use a dark-colored fabric with 5% open or more. The darker the color and the more open it is, the better your view.
  • Brighten the room: Use a light-colored fabric with 5% open and up. The lighter the color and the more open it is, the brighter the room.
  • Cool the room: Use a light-colored fabric with up to 5% open. The lighter the color and the less open it is, the greater the cooling effect.
  • Warm the room: Use a dark-colored fabric with any openness to keep heat in the room. The darker the color, the more heat you'll retain in the room.
  • Protect your furniture: Use 5% open or less with any color fabric for a high amount of UV protection. The less open it is, the more UV protection you'll get.

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