Common Solar Screen Questions Answered
Solar screens are very effective at reducing heat gain in a home or commercial building. But there are a lot of questions out there about how they work.
In this article, I will answer some of the most common questions about solar screens. Let’s jump right in.
- How long do solar screens last?
- Do solar screens keep the heat out?
- Window tint vs solar screens – which is better?
- What is the best solar screen material?
- Can you see through solar screens?
- Do solar screens really work?
- How much does a solar screen cost?
- Do solar screens make your house dark?
- What color solar screen is best?
- Are both sides of the screen the same? Which way should the solar screen be installed, spline side facing the window or spline side out?
Common Solar Screen Questions
How long do solar screens last?
When solar screens are properly installed, you can expect them to last 10 years or more. Here at Solar Screen Outlet, we use two brands of solar screens: Phifer Suntex and Twitchell Textilene. Both of these products are manufactured here in the USA and we consider them to be the highest quality solar screen fabric currently available.
Phifer warranties their solar screen fabric for 10 years, while Twitchell offers a limited lifetime warranty on their Textilene solar screen fabrics. Both of these solar screen fabrics will last at least 10 years and can be expected to last even longer.
Cheaper solar screen fabrics (like those made overseas) are much more likely to fade and fail after just a few years. Even if Phifer Suntex and Twitchell Textilene fades after 10-15 years, the screens are still effective at keeping out the heat and harmful UV rays from the sun. The color of the screen does not influence its effectiveness.
Do solar screens keep heat out?
Yes! This is precisely why solar screens were invented. The best solar screen fabrics are made from PVC-coated polyester. The holes or “openness” of solar screens are much smaller compared to standard insect screen.
Solar screens come in a variety of percentages of openness, often expressed in terms of how much heat and UV rays they block. The most common two varieties of solar screens are 80% (which block approximately 80% of the sun’s heat and UV rays) and 90% (which block approximately 90% of the sun’s heat and UV rays).
But solar screens can be anywhere from 40% to 95% effective at blocking heat and UV rays from the sun. If you are shopping for solar screens online, in most cases, you’ll want either 80% solar screens or 90% solar screens to make sure they are effective at keeping the heat out while still being able to see through them to the outside.
If you need any social proof, please check out these reviews from our customers who rave about how well solar screens work to keep the heat out.
Window tint vs solar screens – which is better?
We get this question a lot, but if you think about how each one works, you’ll quickly understand why solar screens are far better at reducing heat gain than window tint.
Window tint is installed on the inside of the glass, which helps protect it from the harsh weather outside. The tint allows less light to pass through the glass, thereby reducing the amount of heat that comes through the windows.
But window tint DOES NOT inhibit the heat from hitting the glass in the first place. If you understand the concept of heat radiation, you know that once the heat hits the glass, a large portion of that heat will permeate through.
So the best way to prevent heat from coming through a window is to prevent the heat from hitting the glass in the first place. This is precisely why solar screens are more effective than window tint.
Solar screens, when properly installed (with a small air gap between the glass and the screen material), prevent the heat from hitting the glass and permeating through. They reflect heat and UV rays out and away from the window, preventing the glass from heating up.
This is why we recommend installing solar screens on the exterior of the window…so you can maximize their effectiveness.
With window tint, there is no option to install it on the exterior of a window with an air gap between the tint and glass. Therefore, solar screens are much more effective at blocking heat and UV rays from the sun.
What is the best solar screen material?
Here at Solar Screen Outlet, we use two brands of solar screens: Phifer Suntex and Twitchell Textilene. Both of these products are manufactured here in the USA and we consider them to be the highest quality solar screen fabric currently available.
They are essentially identical in both composition and color. You almost can’t tell them apart.
We recommend avoiding all other brands of solar screen. Phifer and Twitchell are simply the best!
Solar screens do come in different varieties of openness, which is a measure of how much heat and UV rays they block. For most applications, we recommend 80% or 90%.
90% Solar screen fabric has a tighter weave than 80% solar screen fabric. This tighter weave blocks more of the harmful UV rays that heat up your home and damage your drapes and other furnishings. 90% solar screen fabric has slightly less visibility, but you can still see through them fine.
If blocking as much heat as possible is your main concern, go with 90% solar screens. If you want to block a lot of heat, but don’t want to darken the room too much or if you have a nice view out the window, then 80% solar screen is your best bet.
Can you see through solar screens?
Yes indeed. Solar screens are just that – screens! While the size of the holes in solar screens are smaller than standard insect screen, you can still see through them fine.
Visibility through the screen is slightly less than through a window with no screen, but solar screens do not block the view entirely.
If you are concerned about being able to see through solar screens (from the inside out), but still want them to be effective, choose 80% solar screens. If adding privacy to your windows is a big concern, we recommend buying 90% solar screens.
When viewing solar screens from the exterior side of the window, you won’t be able to see through them as long as it is brighter on the outside of the house than it is on the inside of the house (ie during daylight hours). At night, the effect is reversed…assuming there are lights on in the house and no bright lights right outside the window, people will be able to see through the screen from the outside, but seeing out from the inside will be inhibited.
Also, check out the photo below that show what it looks like from the inside.
Do solar screens really work?
Watch this video from solar screen manufacturer Phifer to see how well solar screens actually work.
Yes solar screens are very effective at reducing heat gain through a window. You can learn more about how they work by seeing the question above: “Window tint vs solar screens – which is better?”.
Often people ask something like “How much will it lower my utility bills?” and this is a question that requires a more complex answer. There are several factors that come into play regarding the cost of your electricity bill. Factors such as outside air temperature, size of the home/room, amount of insulation, efficiency of your AC system, number of windows in the room, window energy efficiency, direction the room faces, ceiling height, attic height, wall thickness and more all influence how hot a room will get in the summertime.
I think you get the idea.
There’s no way we can accurately calculate how much you’ll save on your utility bills by putting solar screens on the windows. Here’s what I can tell you from experience. If you have a room on the south or west side of your home that is hotter than the rest of the house, then adding a solar screen to the window(s) in that room will even out the temperature.
There will be a noticeable difference (during the hot part of the day) in the temperature of that room after adding solar screens to the windows in that room.
Additionally, please check out these reviews from our customers who rave about how well solar screens work to keep the heat out.
How much does a solar screen cost?
For a highly detailed answer, please read this article here on our website. Now for a quick and simple answer.
Solar screens are typically priced by the square foot (or square inch), in other words, the larger the screen the more it will cost. Here at Solar Screen Outlet, most solar screens cost between $29 and $85.
We offer Solar Screen KITS which need to be assembled by you, or you can get Custom Solar Screens, which arrive fully assembled and ready to install. Both are custom cut to the exact dimensions you specify, but the solar screen kits are about 10% cheaper than the fully assembled solar screens.
All our pricing is online. Just visit the Shop Our Products section (https://solarscreenoutlet.com/shop-all-products), click on the product category (such as Solar Screen KITS, Custom Solar Screens, etc), then click on the product you are interested in (80% or 90% etc). Read through the description, then SCROLL DOWN until you see a form where you can enter in your sizes, color options and mounting hardware. The price below the form will auto update based on the selections you make.
Shipping on all products except fully assembled solar screens is free if you spend $129 or more. In order to qualify for free shipping if you purchase fully assembled solar screens, you’ll need to purchase $750 or more.
Do solar screens make your house dark?
For a room with solar screens compared to the same room with no solar screens, it will be a bit darker. I wouldn’t say, however, that solar screens make a house or room dark. But there certainly is a noticeable difference in how much light enters the room.
If blocking as much heat as possible is your main concern, go with 90% solar screens. If you want to block a lot of heat, but don’t want to darken the room too much , then 80% solar screen is your best bet.
What color solar screen is best?
The color of the solar screen does not influence how effective it is. For example, both a black and tan 80% solar screen will block approximately 80% of the heat and UV rays that would otherwise come through the window.
One important note about the color of a solar screen though…darker colors are easier to see through than lighter colors. For example, it is easier to see through a black screen than a tan screen. This is true for both directions (looking in from the outside or looking out from the inside).
The color question is a purely aesthetic/subjective question. I recommend you check out our customer photo gallery here to see which color combinations look best with different types and colors of houses.
Are both sides of the screen the same? Which way should the solar screen be installed, spline side facing the window or spline side out?
The solar screen should be installed such that there is a small air gap between the screen fabric and the window glass. Traditionally, this means screens are installed spline side out. But if you prefer, you can install spline side facing inward as long as there is an air gap between the screen fabric and window glass.
Still Have Questions?
Do you have a question or two that I did not answer on this page? Enter it in the comments below and we’ll add it here. Feel free to reach out by live chat, call us at 469-333-0215 or email us here.
Do solar screens work in rooms that get no direct sun hitting the window
Yes they do. Of course, you’ll see a great benefit from the screen if the sunlight is directly hitting the window, but they still prevent heat gain even if not hit by direct sunlight.
How well does the the 3m dual lock work? I like this idea better than drilling holes in our house, but we have significant wind at times where we live?
It works great if you use enough. We recommend having dual lock every 12-18″ around the perimeter of the screen and it will hold up well in nearly any weather condition.
can the screens then be removed to clean windows?
Yes, they only need an occasional cleaning with mild soap and water. They are also mildew and fade resistant.
Can you make a solar screen for a storm door?
Yes we can.
I want to know if putting solar screens with my solar tinted windows will give me even better heat rejection???? I’ve tinted them and now ordering 80% screens
Yes, solar screens work much better at keeping heat from coming through the window than tinting. In fact, we had a customer tell us the tinting was actually heating up his window more than a window without tinting. So we don’t recommend window tinting at all, just solar screens.
Can you put solar screens in windows with screen on bottom half only?
Technically yes you can, but you’d only be covering half (or less) of the window, so you won’t get the full effect of the solar screen.
Why are dark colored solar screens just as effective as light colored screens especially since we’re always told to wear light colored clothing when out in the sun because dark colors absorb the heat? I even read somewhere that darker colored solar screens retain heat longer than light colored screens, essentially making the windows hot over a longer period of time.
Solar screens block UV light from coming through the window based on the material they are made out of and how they are constructed. The screen itself may get a little warmer or less warmer depending on the color. But they are very effective at blocking 80% to 90% of the heat that would otherwise come through without the screens in place. Choose a screen color based on aesthetics.
I had 90% sunscreens installed but when the sun hits the window, the internal window is still warm to the touch. Is that normal? Thank you.
It depends on how hot it is outside and several other factors. But all things equal, a window with a solar screen will be MUCH less warm than a window without one.
How close should the solar screen be next to the window?
There should be a small air gap between the screen material and glass. It’s fine if there’s a larger air gap. As long as the screen material isn’t in direct contact with the glass.