Solar Screens vs Window Tinting, Which is Better?
People use both solar screens and window film to prevent harmful UV rays from entering the home. Thus, they reduce heat and energy costs. The intention is to be more energy-efficient and to save interior belongings from sun damage. While both options do help, sun-screens are a much more effective window treatment.
When deciding which is better, solar screens or window tinting, there are three main comparisons: installation, efficiency, and value. Solar screens are typically better in all three areas.
What Are Solar Screens?
You can buy exterior and interior solar window shades. Exterior screens provide much better energy efficiency.
Most solar screens are woven screen mesh. The solar screen fabric also helps with glare reduction and prevents people from seeing inside your home during the day. They come in various colors.
Exterior solar window screens are panels that deflect brightness and block the sun's heat and UV rays. They block 90% of the sun's heat before it hits the window glass and can cool a room by 15 degrees. The window screen absorbs 70% of the heat, reflects 10%, and another 10% dissipates because of the screen's airflow.
Exterior window shades get installed on the outside of the home without touching the window. This installation process results in two significant benefits:
- As it does not touch the window, it does not void window warranties.
- It blocks solar heat from entering the home or ever touching your windows, making them more energy-efficient.
As a bonus, solar screens work with windows opened or closed. Due to that fact, you can let in the cool breeze while trusting the solar screen material to block the sun's rays.
The Openness Factor
You can choose 0% to 20% openness. Openness refers to the amount of light let in through the solar shade, and the tightness of the weave accomplishes the openness percent variations.
There are three levels of openness.
- Low openness (3-5%) has the tightest weave, blocks the most light, and provides greater privacy, and has the lowest visibility for seeing out.
- Medium openness (7-10%) has a better view through experience while still blocking UV rays that damage furniture and finishings.
- High openness (14%) has the best view through and offers excellent glare reduction.
What Are Tinted Window Screens?
Window tinting is a laminate film you can apply to your home windows -- similar to the film or tint on a car or sunglasses. It helps block UV rays from entering the home, keeping the temperature lower, blocking the sun's glare, and preventing sun fade on furniture.
Solar window film gets placed directly on the interior of the glass window. While having window films is better than having nothing to block the sun, there are several downsides.
- As the film is right on the window, there is no buffer like with a solar shade. Without that buffer, the windows still get hot, and some of that heat spills through into the room.
- When you open your window, the tint moves with it. You can either have the sun blocked or open your window, but not both at the same time.
- Window manufacturers often void warranties when the homeowner adds tint. It has the propensity to damage windows -- especially with certain types of tint and double pane windows (insulated glass). Be sure to check your warranty for specifics and ask a professional for help.
Solar Screens Cost
Most homeowners typically spend between $120 and $480 per window for professionals to install solar screens. Large windows -- such as floor to ceiling windows -- and custom windows can increase these rates, as can many windows.
While this might seem like a high upfront cost to install them, they can save you much more money than they cost. Solar sun-screens can reduce electricity bills by up to 25-35% every month. Most people find that their screens pay for themselves within one, two, or five years. That makes them cost-effective for window and door home improvement.
Tinted Window Costs
The number and size of your windows determine the overall price, but most people can expect to pay about $5 to $8 per square foot. The average homeowner usually pays between $311 and $712 for professionally installed window tint. There are other costs to consider, though.
In addition to the initial cost, it is essential to factor in the ongoing costs. For instance, as window tint does not provide the best energy efficiency, you likely will not save much on your energy bill. While this does not necessarily cost money, it is not saving money either. That drives the overall value down.
In addition to energy efficiency, if your warranty gets voided, you are responsible for repairs or replacements in the future. In this case, tint is costing you money.
Hope that helps!
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