Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Solar Shades Explained

Q: You mentioned solar shades in a recent blog post. Could you please explain more about them? How do they work? What options are there?

A: Solar shades are designed to reduce direct sun and glare but still preserve views outside the window. Much like movable car shades used to shade the backseat of vehicles, solar shades are flat pieces of material with openings to allow limited light through . While this light certainly helps illuminate the room, it also gives you access to the views (much like how car shades still give you access to your blind spot).

The type and size of these openings is known as an “Openness Factor” and relates to how much of the actual surface area is comprised of small open sections. Smaller openness factors are better at reducing direct sun and provide a more diffused light into the room. The views with these shades, however, are limited due to the opacity of the shade. Greater openness factors, on the other hand, allow more light to come in and give more access to views.

The best thing about solar shades is that they come in a wide range of colors to suit both your needs and your style. You can also combine them with traditional drapes for versatile lighting solutions. Keep in mind though, while solar shades are ideal for light control, they are not ideal for privacy.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Versatile Light Control

Q: I just bought a home with gorgeous views out the south and east sides. My problem is that, while I like the sunrise and light, I really don't like the glare early on in the day (and on the south side in the winter months). Are there any shades that could block the glare but not the view or the light?

A: There are two suggestions, actually. One would be solar shades and the other top down/bottom up cellular shades. Solar shades are like regular roller shades but, instead of blocking the window completely, they allow some light to filter though while still decreasing the glare. The best part about these shades is that they preserve the view even through the shade.

The second alternative would be to install cellular shades with the top down/bottom up feature. In addition to trapping air in pockets against the window and creating a small insulating barrier, top down/bottom up cellular shades give you versatile options for adjusting the shade on your window. You can use them like a normal shade that always drops from the top rail OR you can actually lower the top of the shade to block only the middle or bottom portion of the window.

Top down/bottom up cellular shades are perfect for individuals who want to block low direct sunlight without blocking the whole window.