Natural Sources of Light Can Be a Mixed-bag of Benefits and Challenges
Having sunlight enter your home has some undeniable benefits. The notion that sunlight is only a natural source of brightening up a home is a major oversimplification. There are some distinct advantages of natural light that everyone ought to know. For instance, sunlight can be a natural stimulant of your mood. It is known to be a useful way of treating something like Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Exposure of a room’s four inner walls to sunlight can also prevent the growth of mold and mildew.
Sunlight is a good source of Vitamin D, and also in a general sense, literally helps in brightening up a room and giving it some life. Many people would say that basking in the sun’s rays in the morning through the window is the highlight of their day. However, if you give it some thought, you will realise that these picturesque and aesthetic benefits of sunlight only manifest during pleasant mornings and mild evenings. Apart from these times of the day, the sunlight entering your home can be quite imposing (hot afternoons for example).
Over exposure to sunlight can cause physical and mental irritation (itchy and sticky skin along with a general feeling of discomfort). They can cause a lot of glare on your PC and TV screens. This is not a minor inconvenience. With the advent of Covid-19 pandemic, the ‘work from home’ culture has become popular. A lot of glares can distract you from work or can disrupt a relaxing afternoon while you decide to watch a movie on Netflix. Constant access to sunlight can also heat up your home. While you can use your air conditioners to tackle this, it isn’t the most energy efficient solution at your disposal.
Finding the solution in Solar Shades
While it can be concluded that exposure to natural sunlight has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, the best-case scenario for anyone is to find a way to prevent glare and overexposure while still maintaining a healthy access to sunlight whenever needed. The path to this solution lies in solar shades.
Solar shades have a lot in common with traditional window treatments. They offer great light control and privacy and help you keep your rooms cool as well. They offer protecting from UV rays as well. Amidst all these features, the fact that you can access sunlight while negating its harms can be attributed to the ‘openness’ of the solar shades.
What is openness? How does it influence the way solar shades are used?
Openness refers to how tight the weave of the fabric of the solar shades are. If reference is made to solar shades that have a low level of openness that means that it is made out of tightly woven fabric. Naturally, that would mean that a high level of openness means the fabric is relatively loosely woven.
Now, the implications of the openness of a solar shade are really simple. Firstly, the more tightly woven the shades are, the more protection it offers you from the sun. While this may be the case, the tightly woven shades also restrict your view from outside your window. While you get superior light control and privacy with tightly woven shades, you will loose out on some ventilation and a view.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that there is a down side and an up side to getting shades with low or high openness. It might seem like a decision where you might have to roll the dice, but that’s far from the truth.
The level of openness you would want with your solar shades depends on certain factors. Before addressing these factors to help make your decision, it is important to show the different levels of openness that solar shades can have.
Different Levels of Openness in Solar Shades
There are primarily three levels of openness in solar shades. It is important to understand these levels so that it becomes easier for you to decide which setting amongst these, work best for you.
- Low-value openness (1-5%) – Solar shades with this level of openness are some of the most tightly woven solar shades in the market. This means that they are capable of blocking the sunlight to its maximum extent and restrict most of your visibility of the world outside your window. The level of privacy provided is also really high.
- Medium Openness (7-10%) – With medium openness factors in your solar shades you will be able to preserve your view to the extent that you can discern silhouettes and have a semi-blocked view. You can still maintain some amount of privacy because of the tightness of the fabric. Along with that, you and your furniture will be protected from the UV rays while filtered sunlight is still allowed to enter your home.
- High-value openness (11 – 14%) – These solar shades are good at reducing glare while also allowing more sunlight to enter that the lower and medium levels. At these levels, your visibility much clearer and in some cases can be as clear as a tinted window.
Which level of openness will be right for you?
Finding the right level of openness can be slightly challenging. This is because you would want to ideally balance your privacy, light control and ventilation without having to sacrifice too much of it, while at the same time, you would also want to make sure your house does not face glare issues or temperature control problems.
The ideal approach to the situation is to start prioritising these aspects individually and weighing them against each other. For instance, if you are in plain sight of your neighbours or if you live in a busy and noisy street, you want a more private setting. If you also have massive issues with the glare and heat, a solar shade with low levels of openness can be ideal for you. With low-value openness in your shades it also makes it easier to rest during the day (similar to the way blackout blinds function).
On the other hand, if there is quite a bit of distance between houses and you live in a quiet area, you can go for shades with low levels of openness to maximise visibility. If you want a proper balance between privacy, visibility and light control, the obvious choice is the medium level of openness. This has hopefully, given you some clarity on which solar shades you can buy.