What are Solar Screens? Here’s What You Need to Know

Written By Kenneth Wilson  |  1 Comments

Solar screens, from its name alone, already sounds superior than any other kind of screen that exists. Aside from the typical functionalities of screens like insect protection, solar screens can also deflect the sun’s glare and minimize heat. At least that’s what they’re most popular for.

If you’ve ever considered solar screens but aren’t sure if you should push through with it, here we’ll give you the factors to consider about them, including breaking down how exactly they work with their advantages and disadvantages.

What are Solar Screens? How Do They Work?

Solar screens are a mesh type cover for any window or opening in the home. It’s usually made of either polyester or fiberglass material threads weaved tightly together and coated with PVC or vinyl.

Fiberglass has a higher melting point, while polyester expand in high heat, so the former tends to be stronger as a solar screen.

Either way, both are thick and strong enough to withstand the external factors that may cause regular less-durable screens to early deterioration like insect scratches, UV light, and weather damage.

While solar screens don’t block out the sunlight altogether, it prevents the harmful rays from passing through its tight weave, hence the name. It’s safer especially for east- or west-facing windows and openings where the sun directly points at for certain hours in a day.

Advantages of Solar Screens

Blocking the harmful rays of the sun is just one good aspect of having solar screens installed. There are so many other advantages to it that are not advertised as much or as often. These are the best features and qualities of solar screens in full:

UV Protection

If you compare solar screens to other kinds of screens, they show a darker tint. One of the major pros of solar screens is their “sun control” function. They can deflect about 65 to 90% of the glare and heat from the sun. This means the UV rays are blocked from coming through the screen.

This is especially good for pool enclosures where you spend most of your time with a lot of skin exposed. Though it’s always a good measure to wear sunscreen wherever, solar screens in your enclosures doubles the protection and prevent short term effects in the form of sunburns and long term effects like severe skin conditions from extended sun exposure.

Heat Insulation

In addition to UV protection, solar screens are preferred for the insulation they provide for the interiors of the home. They significantly reduce solar heat gain by keeping the hot temperatures outside.

As the material blocks the sun’s heat and UV rays, it also absorbs much of the heat and disperses what little heat enters through the perforations in the weave. It also regulates it through the air flow that is let in. This is why solar screens are most suitable to put in exterior-facing (also sun-facing) windows and openings to maximize this function.

For this function, a bonus advantage of solar screens is reduced energy costs from less air conditioning. The cooler indoor temperature eliminates the need for it during bearable (read: not during summer) months.

Protection from Bugs

Any kind of screen aims to prevent bugs from entering the home. Sometimes the little pests can be insistent and scratch their way in or fit themselves through the holes. It depends on the tightness of the weave.

Some can keep out big ones out but not the small, possibly virus-carrying ones. Solar screens have small enough perforations even no-see-ums can’t pass through. They’re also thick that no amount of insect scratch can easily disintegrate it.

Fresher Air

Some screen brands have solar screen products that are certified in providing good air quality in the home. The material meets high standards in having low VOC emissions indoors where VOC or volatile organic compounds tend to be higher than outdoors.

This impacts positively on the quality of air inside the home as the screens also filter in air without a variety of chemicals.

Works with Different Installation Options

Solar screens work best in places where it’s generally warm year-round like Florida. You can install the screens on windows and not be affected so much even during the winter months.

However, you also have the option of installing them as a fixed screen or a retractable one that you can pull up or down whenever you deem necessary according to the weather. You can keep it up when it’s cold outside and you want the indoors to be warmer than outdoors.


Solar screens can come cheaper than your ordinary screen. Price may vary depending on the contractors you hire to install them for you and the brand they use, but the choice of screen is generally cheaper than other available alternatives.

Disadvantages of Solar Screens

On the other hand, there are also quite a few disadvantages to this material that may affect some people’s decision to get it or not. These are things to factor in if they’re important for you.

Darker Interior

If you’re someone who likes bright sunlight and is thrown off by the subtlest change in lighting, you will probably notice the shade of solar screens. Since the material is darker than other screens, it might be different than what you’re used to with regular ones.

It’s also good to note that you’ll probably only notice the darker tint of solar screens when you come close to it.

Tinted (Obstructed) View

The view outside is always different with screens versus with glass. Some screens can give you a view as if there’s no barrier between the indoors and outdoors. A solar screen may alter that view a little bit, but nothing major if it doesn’t bother you so much.

No Privacy

It’s a big myth that solar screens offer privacy in the sense that people from outside won’t be able to see inside. They might just take a harder time looking in during the daytime, but the bottomline is, solar screens are still screens. They don’t offer complete privacy. During nighttime when you have the lights on inside, people outside will still be able to see clearly through.

For privacy, solar screens are only most effective in under-the-roof installations where the walls can add to the privacy. During the daytime, the screens can offer some level of opaque covering with their dark tint, but it stays see-through in the nighttime unless you turn off all the lights.

Where to Use Solar Screens in Your Home

Solar screens may be used in various ways, but it will depend on what you want them for. It’s helpful and functional regardless of where you put it. Here are where you can install them and what they’re best for.

  • Under the roof fenestration — This can be for sliding garage doors, undertruss openings, and the like. This kind of installation is how solar screens can offer the most privacy.
  • Screened-in patio — A screened-in patio is, for the most part, where insects can reach you most easily especially if you stay there for long periods. A solar screen can be one of the best options to keep them out and also filter the air within the small space.
  • Pool Enclosure — Solar screens on pool enclosures make swimming activities safer especially for kids. It adds a layer of protection against harmful UV rays that cause severe sunburns and long term sun damage on the skin.

There’s more to solar screens than the myth of “privacy” that it offers compared to other screens, which is what I find most people usually expect from it. Use this information to help you decide whether to get it or not. Make sure to always seek out professionals when you want to install it.

About the Author

I can build it, and I can help you get the patio enclosure you want! I got my start in the Florida patio industry back in the 70s as a young general laborer looking for something to make a few bucks. At the time I never thought it would end up as my career. Over the years I grew beyond the laborer position, becoming a foreman, superintendent, and then into executive management for some of the largest patio contractors, and material vendors. Now into retirement and slightly bored, I offer consulting services to new and existing contractors, and publish this website to help the people who love their patio's and screen enclosures the most - YOU!

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