Indoor Solar Shades vs. Outdoor Solar Shades: Which is Better?

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You may be wondering if indoor or outdoor solar shades are better for cooling your home and blocking out the sun’s harmful UV rays and heat in the summer. They both deflect the sunlight without blocking your entire view, and each has its own good features. Read on to find out the differences between the two.

Indoor Solar Shades

indoor solar shades keep glare and heat out of your home while you can still have a view of the outside. They have an open weave fabric that is reflective, so it allows light filtering in your spaces. You can see clearly outside, but from outside in the daytime, no one can see in your home. Now at night, this is reversed, and if you are inside with a light on in your home, people outside can see inside very well.

Indoor solar shades are often just called solar shades, and they work well in colder climates, where outdoor solar shades would be harassed by windy and snowy weather. During the summer, the sun coming into your home is reduced to limit the energy you need to cool your home, and in the winter, you can open them to let some heat inside from the sun and save on your heating bills. Indoor solar shades are also an excellent choice for reducing the glare of the sun.

Outdoor Solar Shades

Ann Arbor outdoor solar shades work exceptionally well for windows that face south and for your exterior spaces such as enclosed decks and patios, in which they function sort of like an awning. Outdoor models of solar shades also allow a view outside, and they give you privacy so no one can see into your spaces. They keep your enclosed outdoor area and your home’s interior cooler because the sun never reaches your windows. Your exterior shades can be any color you wish because they aren’t indoors to need to match your decor. Exterior solar shades work best for warm climates to be able to use them all year round.

Exterior solar shades keep you cooler in the shaded areas that they create. You do need to understand the weave of them or the openness factor. They are usually available in 1 percent, 3 percent, 5 percent, 10 percent, and 14 percent. A 1 percent exterior solar shade will block 99% of the heat and sunlight while letting 1% of the sun and heat pass into your spaces. But the lower the openness factor, the less transparent the screen is, so it’s harder to see outside as clearly. Increasing your openness factor will give you less UV blockage, but you will be able to see outside better.

Exterior solar shades block the sun from entering your home, drastically lowering your cooling bills. They will reduce the heating of your home from the sun by about 80%, whereas indoor solar shades are only effective from 30 to 70 % at reducing the heat in your home.

Lighter color exterior solar shades reflect the sun, and they are better for blocking the sun, while darker colors will give you a better view outside.

Similarities of Indoor and Outdoor Solar Shades

Both types of solar shades can be installed to work as roller shades or in sliding panels. Sliding panels work best on windows that are very wide on both interior and exterior solar shades. If you choose outdoor solar shades, make certain that the fabric is rated for outdoor use to get a long-lasting product.

You can also choose from different types of control on your solar shades of any kind. The cordless lift is child safe, and you merely lift the hem bar to raise the shade or lower it to close the shade. The continuous loop lift is a traditional control type in which a looped cord raises and lowers your shades. The Smart pull lift will let you lower shades with a single pull using the easy gliding lift system. You can also add motorization to your interior or exterior solar shades for raising and lowering your shades with the touch of a button.


Both indoor solar shades and outdoor solar shades are great products, however, outside solar shades do perform better as a whole for blocking hot sun, light, and glare from entering your home and increasing your cooling bills. Contact us at Creative Windows to find out all of the features of solar shades and for all of your Ann Arbor window treatments.

Stacy Jacob

Stacy Jacob

Experienced Sales Manager with 12+ years in window design. Dedicated to exceptional customer experience and team leadership. I also enjoy reading, learning, and fostering kittens and helping them find their forever homes.

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