Solar Shades vs Roller Shades: Which is Right for You?

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Sometimes window treatments can be a bit confusing. Most people believe that solar shades and roller shades are used interchangeably, and they are the same thing. Solar shades are actually a type of roller shade, but not all Ann Arbor solar shades are roller shades, as each of these items have its own uses and benefits. Read on to find out the differences between these two very popular window covering solutions.

What’s The Difference Between Solar Shades and Roller Shades?

The most noted difference between these two types of Ann Arbor window treatments is the material that is used in them. Solar shades are fabricated from a mesh material that is much like a window screen. It blocks the sun’s hot UV rays, but it doesn’t block your view outside. Roller shades can be made of many different fabrics and vinyl to serve their purpose of controlling the light levels in a room. Roller shades, when used with thicker fabric, become blackout shades, while solar shades only control the light, and they don’t block it all out.

Solar Shades

Solar shades are a type of roller shade because they operate in the same manner as a roller shade. When the shade is closed, it appears like a sheet of material, and when you raise the shade, the excess material rolls up onto a cassette at the top of the window. Solar shades are sold in terms of “openness”, which determines how much light is actually let inside your home through the windows. You can decide how much light you want in a room and still be able to see outside with some transparency.

Solar shades may have cords, or looped chain lifts to raise and lower them. You can also choose a child safety feature that is cordless. To operate cordless solar shades, you grasp the center of the bottom rail and gently push it upward to open it or downward to close it. Solar shades’ primary function is to block the UV rays of the sun, to help regulate the temperature in your home, protect your textiles, such as furniture, flooring, and artwork from fading, and save energy.

The most important factor to understand about solar shades is their openness. This refers to how tight the weave is of the screen-like material, and how much of the sun’s rays it will let through and into your home. If a solar shade says it’s 7 percent openness, this means that it blocks 93% of the sun’s rays, and it allows 7% of them inside. Openness generally ranges from 1 to 14 percent.

Solar Shades Colors

You also have a choice in the colors of your solar shades. They are made in neutral colors, and the mesh may be darker or lighter in color. The lighter colors reflect more heat to keep your rooms cooler, and it also brightens your rooms. But, lighter colors also obscure your view outside of the window more to have a cloudy appearance. The darker-colored solar shades will absorb glare and give you a clearer view outside, but they aren’t as effective as blocking the sun, so you will likely need a lower amount of openness with a tighter weave if you choose a darker color to get the inside temperatures regulated as a lighter color shade does.

Solar Shades and Privacy

Solar shades do not give you privacy at night. When the sun is out, your solar shades will look opaque from outside of your home, but they work oppositely when it’s dark outside, and the lights are on inside your home. This allows anyone outside after dark to have a perfect view inside at night. Solar shades are best used for windows that don’t face the street or other nearby homes.

Solar Shades vs. Roller Shades Which is Right For You

Roller Shades

Roller shades are made of a single sheet of fabric that rolls up into a cassette at the top of the window when you open them. Roller shades are often made of thicker fabrics in order to be room darkening window treatments, making them ideal for bedrooms and home theaters. You can choose from many opacities though, from sheer to light filtering to room darkening and even blackout.

Roller shades are classic, simple, and very affordable window covering solutions. They are easy to operate, have clean lines, and you can customize them in any way you want. Roller shades also work well in layered window treatments as your first layer with stylish drapery on top of them

Roller Shades Customization

You have limitless amounts of types of fabric to choose from to have a custom roller shade made. They come in different weights, textures, colors, and patterns. You can also choose your operation as a continuous loop lift cord, a spring mechanism for cordless options, and can be added to your motorized window treatments and connect to your Smart home too.


To answer your question of “solar shades vs. roller shades: Which is right for you?” it all depends on the lighting control that you desire. Ann Arbor solar shades are the most popular choice in this area for their energy efficiency and the ability to see outside clearly while they block the sunlight from your home. Contact us at Creative Windows to find out more about custom solar shades near you and other 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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