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While daylighting is a positive thing, in theory, too much UV and solar heat gain take their toll on a home or business’s interior. From increased energy spending to cool the space, as well as sun fading or harsh glares, occupants experiencing intense sun exposure benefit from the installation of solar screens or window films.

Pros and Cons of Solar Screens vs Window Film

Solar screens vs window film share multiple similarities, but they are two entirely different products.

  • They have the same goal. Both products are designed to block solar (UV) rays from entering a building’s interior via the windows. This keeps your home or business cooler, reduces cooling expenses, and protects furnishings and fabric from sun fading. They also minimize harsh glare and eyestrain for the building’s occupants.
  • Good visibility. Solar screens and window film maintain visibility, allowing occupants to enjoy their view. However, solar screens are more visible – appearing as a mesh or netted look), while window films are completely transparent, becoming a part of the window As a result, window films have markedly better visibility when gazing out of the window.
  • They should not be DIY projects. Both products can be purchased from manufacturers or vendors and have instructions for DIY installation. The reality is that both products look better, last longer, and provide optimal performance when installed by a licensed professional.

That’s what the two products have in common. Now, let’s compare the differences between solar screens vs. window films.

Solar screens vs window film: screens mount, film integrates

Solar screens are a separate entity mounted directly to the exterior of a building. As a result, they change the building’s exterior appearance due to their visibility. You are going to notice solar screens the same way you can see your regular window screens through the window. But, solar screens are slightly darker and have larger webbing, so they are even more evident than regular window screens.

Your tinted window film, on the other hand, is applied directly to the glass and comes in clear, transparent sheets. Once applied, you won’t notice its there – other than enjoying its benefits. Visibility into the building depends on your personal privacy needs.

Solar screens offer the highest degree of efficiency

If energy efficiency is your top priority, solar screens rate the highest in that category. However, in most cases, the Bay Area’s moderate climate makes this a non-issue. While you may prefer to install solar screens on the west- or south-facing windows in your Arizona winter home, window film offers more-than-adequate energy efficiency for Bay Area homes and businesses, or for those who live in moderate climates.

This is especially true when you consider window film blocks 99.9% of UV light rays.

Window film is slightly more expensive at first, but less expensive over a lifetime

In terms of first-time costs, window film is typically more expensive than solar screens. However, solar screens are less durable and they deteriorate more quickly over time. So, in terms of lifetime costs, window films will save you more money in the long-term.

Professionally installed window films, selected with a building’s climate and exposure in mind, will last for decades without requiring replacement. If cost is a concern for you, visit, 10 Common Ways in Which Window Film Pays for Itself.

Solar screens are more difficult to maintain

Since solar screens are made from a durable mesh and are separate from the building and window’s structure, they collect dirt, debris, and bugs. Over time, this takes a toll on their appearance. If you don’t clean them regularly, they look dingy, and trapped debris looks tacky. Also, solar screens create are known for diminishing airflow from open windows, so that’s another fact to consider if you open windows regularly.

Window film becomes a part of the window, so cleaning and maintenance are as simple as that used to maintain your windows – with a few extra caveats (not using abrasive cleaners or cleaning products, etc.).

Want To Know More?

Are you interested in learning more about the differences between solar screens and window films to determine which is best for your home, business, school, or a particular set of windows? Schedule an appointment with us here at Daystar Window Tinting.