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What are Solar Shades?

Window Treatments 101

Solar Shades: UV Protection and More

Graber Lightweaves Solar Shades are a state-of-the-art window covering. They are hung on rollers, offer a clean look and are easy to raise, lower, and adjust. Solar shades excel in filtering light, protecting against UV rays, and reducing the sun’s heat. These qualities work together to create energy savings for homeowners. Plus, solar shades can be easily motorized and are available in a wide range of colors. Simply put, solar shades work hard and look great.

What are Solar Shades Made From?

Solar shades have been recently updated with fresh, new, on-trend fabrics. Choose from solar-shade fabrics in a wide range of colors, textures, and openness (the measure in percentage of how much light can pass through the weave of a particular fabric). The new Eco-Performance Solar Shade fabrics offer additional earth- and family-friendly options, including fabrics made from recycled plastics. Regardless of which solar shade fabric you choose, you will end up with a highly durable window treatment that will last many years.

How Solar Shades Work

Solar shades work by filtering the light that comes in through your windows. Solar shades excel in rooms where you want light from outside but also want to protect from the sun’s heat. The solar shade fabrics’ ability to block heat but still bring in some light comes from openness.

The openness of a solar shade fabric is determined by its weave. The lower the openness percentage of a fabric, the more it protects against the sun: a fabric with 10% openness protects against 90% of UV rays and a fabric with 1% openness protects against 99% of all UV rays.

Openness percentage also effects your views of the outside and glare on screens. A solar shade with 10% openness gives you an excellent view of the outside world and will prevent some glare on screens, but a 5% openness further reduces glare while providing slightly less view of the outdoors. When you move to the 3% openness level, you greatly reduce screen glare and provide excellent protection for interior décor at risk from damaging UV rays. At 1% openness, you have minimal views of the outside world, but gain the most light-filtering power and virtually no screen glare as well as protection against 99% of all UV rays.

A Graber Design Expert can help you decide which openness percentage is right for your situation.

Advantages of Solar Shades

What makes a solar shade so good at doing its job? The first is the material. Solar shades are made of materials that hold up against the damaging effects of the sun. They maintain their strength and hold their color over time. The next most important factor is the weave: solar shades’ synthetic fibers form a matrix that makes it easy to control exactly how much light can pass through a particular fabric. Finally, solar shades are easy to use. The simple roller design allows for easy opening, closing and adjusting.


While solar shades do not offer complete privacy, they offer adequate privacy for many situations. Many people choose to use solar shades in their living rooms, dining rooms, kitchens, and other rooms that they might not need absolute privacy. For these homeowners, they find that the level of privacy they get from a 1%, 3%, 5% or even 10% openness fabric is just right for their situation. For those who want the benefits of a solar shade but need a higher level of privacy, pairing solar shades with a roller shade is an excellent solution. We’ll talk about that more below.

UV Protection

UV rays can be harmful to home décor. These rays, which can be found in unfiltered sunlight, can cause damage to furniture, carpet, paint, wallpaper, and artwork. The tight weave of solar shades allows them to protect against these harmful rays while still providing some light and views of the outside. Choose a fabric with an openness percentage that give you just the right combination of UV protection and light.

Heat Reduction

Unfiltered sunlight can quickly heat a room, creating uncomfortable temperatures and forcing your air conditioning to work harder. A solar shade can protect against the heat of the sun while letting light into the room and still allowing a view of the outside. Its ability to protect against the heat makes the solar shade an ideal solution for south-facing windows or any window where direct sun quickly heats up a room. And the composition of the fibers and durable weave of the fabric stand up against the intense heat of direct sunlight.

Solar and Roller Shades: A Range of Solutions

Graber Lightweaves Roller Shades share many of the advantages of solar shades. Roller shades are easy to use and are mounted on the same type of roller system. Motorizing a roller shade is simple. And roller shades can be paired with solar shades to provide solutions to a huge range of window-treatment challenges.

The biggest difference between solar and roller shades is the fabric. Roller shades offer a wide range of decorative fabrics in a variety of colors and patterns. Solar shades also measure their light blocking abilities differently: solar shades measure their light-filtering power in degrees of openness. Roller shades measure their light-filtering power by opacity. Roller shade fabric opacities range from sheer and light filtering to room darkening and blackout. Like a solar shade, a roller shade can reduce heat from the sun, protect against UV rays, and provide privacy.

Where the roller shade excels is in providing privacy—their more tightly woven materials offer more privacy than the open weaves of the solar shade fabrics. The solar shade has the advantage of providing views of the outdoors while fighting heat and UV rays.

Sometimes the best way to understand a shade is to see its fabric firsthand. Order free swatches.

Which Is Right for You?

For the shared spaces of your home—living room, kitchen, rec room, entertainment room—the solar shade might be the right option. There is something modern and bold about a solar shade that makes it a striking choice for many types of home décor styles. Solar shades are particularly well suited to large windows or windows where there is a view that the homeowner does not want to completely obscure.

Roller shades can be appropriate for almost any room, but are particularly suitable for bedrooms, bathrooms, and other rooms where privacy is desired. Roller shades’ huge selection of colors, designs, and opacities make them an excellent choice in rooms where matching existing décor is a primary concern.

Try Pairing Solar and Roller Shades

With their complementary strengths, solar and roller shades make the perfect pair. Mounted together on a window, they afford the best of both worlds. Keep the solar shades down during the day for views of the outdoors, a limited amount of light, and protection against UV rays and heat. Then, after the sun goes down, use the roller shades to provide maximum privacy. Both types of shades are also easy to motorize, making them the safest and most convenient window solutions available.

Your Graber Design Expert can help you decide if solar or roller shades are right for you. Schedule a consultation today.