Summer is just around the corner with people already prepping their home décor and air-conditioning system to better handle the scorching heat and bright and long sunny days. Window treatment products such as solar shades are an important component of such preparations. These window coverings help keep the temperature down inside the house, reduce the glare from the sunlight and also block the UV radiation.
Solar shades and other such window treatment products also provide great light-control and you also get to keep the view of the outside if that is what you prefer. These are available in different kinds of materials that handle light-filtration and heat insulation differently depending on their openness factor and level of opacity. Depending on the specific requirements which you have for your house, you can pick the ones which best fulfill those necessities.
What is Openness Factor in Solar Shades?
Solar shades are specifically designed to minimize heat gain caused due to the Sun besides filtering out the bright sunlight. These shades have many variants depending on their openness factor, ranging from 1% to 15% openness. It is a measure of how much UV radiation and sunlight the fabric of a particular set of shades blocks out. Solar shades with 1% openness block out 99% of UV radiation while the ones with 15% openness diffuse 85% of the UV radiation.
Solar shades with 1% openness block out most of the sunlight and hence better insulate the interiors of the house from both the heat and UV radiation from the sunlight falling on the windows. Shades with higher openness allow more light and heat inside the house. Depending on the area your house is located in and the amount of sunlight your house receives, you can pick the shades with a particular openness that best handles the requirements specific to your house.
Solar shades are made from a variety of materials such as natural fibre, polyester, fibreglass and other synthetic materials. The openness factor can differ in them depending on how closely woven individuals threads of the fabric are in the weave. This in turn also decides the amount of light the fabric allows in. Higher the openness, better the view of the outside but the downside is that it also means lesser insulation against the UV radiation. You can find the right balance depending on situations specific to your house.
What is Opacity?
Opacity is another term that is often loosely used as a synonym for openness. However, this is a mistake and the two don’t mean the same thing. While you can assign a numerical value to the openness factor, opacity is decided more on a comparative basis. Sheer, semi-sheer, light-filtering, room-darkening and blackout are the broad categories that solar shades and other window treatment products are put in according to their opacity. Technically all window coverings are opaque to some extent; some more, some less.
Sheer or semi-sheer fabrics are generally thinner and allow most of the light inside, light-filtering ones are more moderate, room-darkening variants are good enough if the windows of your house don’t receive too much sunlight and blackout fabrics completely block the light from entering. Blackout shades are also better at heat insulation than other variants. Depending on whether your priority is heat insulation or you want to enjoy the view without the glare, you can take your pick.
Which Openness Level is Right for You?
This is a question that has no single answer. It depends just as much on your situational awareness about the area your house is located in, the position of the windows, the rooms where you want to install the shades and other preferences like keeping the view. If the area your house is located in is tropical or experiences particularly hot summers, you would be better off with the shades that provide better heat insulation. The lesser the openness level, better is the insulation.
Similarly, if you are installing shades in places such as the bedroom or the bathroom, you would want better privacy performance. In such cases, higher openness level will not be a good idea. During the day, privacy won’t be a concern but during the night, shades with higher openness aren’t that great at safeguarding your privacy as at that time, it brighter inside the house than it is outside.
This does not mean that you have to select solar shades and other window treatment options with lower openness factor every single time. If you don’t live in a very hot area or the windows in your house aren’t positioned in a way that they receive sunlight for a long duration, shades with higher openness are great options to consider.
Considering the advantage that these shades don’t block the view of the outside completely while also providing good enough heat insulation and light-control, solar shades with higher openness levels are pretty appealing. You just have to know as to what will work best for you. Hopefully, with the above discussion, you will have a fair idea about what to go for.