Solar Screens Vs. Window Tint – Which Is Better?

Selecting the ideal method to enhance home windows often leads to a debate between solar screens and window tint. Having experienced both, I’ve gained a unique perspective on the strengths and shortcomings of each option.

The decision hinges on a range of factors including aesthetics, energy efficiency, and cost-effectiveness. This discussion aims to shed light on which choice might suit your needs best, drawing from my own journey through the pros and cons of solar screens and window tint.

Let’s explore these two solutions, their impact on everyday living, and ultimately, determine which emerges as the superior choice.

Key Takeaways

  • Window tints excel in year-round UV protection, low maintenance, and enhanced privacy, making them a top choice despite their winter energy challenges.
  • Solar screens offer adjustable light control and are beneficial in winter but require more maintenance and careful consideration of aesthetics.
  • The final choice depends on balancing each option’s features with your home’s specific needs and your personal lifestyle preferences.

Window Tint

Window Tint

It’s a popular choice for its simplicity and the way it can subtly alter a home’s interior. My journey with window tints began with a promise of several benefits, but it also brought along some unexpected challenges.

Protection Against UV Damage

The most immediate benefit I noticed was the protection against photobleaching. Furnishings, artworks, and interior fabrics remained vibrant and undamaged, thanks to the UV-blocking properties of the window tint.

Energy Efficiency in Summer

Summer months showed a notable decrease in energy costs. The tint kept my home cooler, reducing the need for constant air conditioning, a relief particularly evident in my electricity bills.

Structural Reinforcement

An unexpected advantage was the extra strength the tint added to my windows. This additional layer provided a subtle reinforcement, enhancing the durability of the windows against potential breakages.

Year-Round UV Blocking: A Winter Challenge

heat entering

However, the constant UV blocking, beneficial in summer, posed a challenge during winter. The same feature that kept my home cool in summer made it colder in winter, leading to increased heating costs.

Therefore, it can be a perfect investment along with other upgrades you might want to add, like a new air-conditioning system, and a more efficient patio cover that will make your outdoor time more pleasant as well.

Increased Indoor Lighting Usage

The reduced natural light due to the tints necessitated the use of more artificial lighting during the day, impacting my energy consumption.

Potential Warranty Issues

An important consideration I learned was the impact on warranties. Installing window tints on specific types of windows, like Low-E or double-pane, could void their warranties, an aspect often overlooked.

Solar Screens

Solar Screens

Unlike window tints, solar screens are fabric-based and can be installed either inside or outside the home. They come in various materials like polyvinyl, polyester, and fiberglass, typically bearing a grey to black appearance.

Customizable Light and Heat Control

One of the standout features of solar screens is their ability to be raised and lowered. This offered me remarkable control over the amount of light and heat entering my home. I could adjust them according to the time of day or season, which was particularly useful for managing indoor temperatures and natural light.

Winter Energy Efficiency

In winter, solar screens contributed to a noticeable reduction in heating bills. By allowing more sunlight in during the colder months and insulating the windows, they helped in keeping my home warmer without over-relying on the heating system.

Varied Opacity Options

The variety of opacities available with solar screens was another plus. Depending on the specific needs of each room, I could choose different levels of light blocking, which was beneficial for areas like the bedroom or living room where light control was crucial.

Limitations of Interior Solar Screens

Limitations of Interior Solar Screens

However, interior solar screens weren’t without their drawbacks. While they effectively blocked UV rays, they didn’t prevent heat from entering the home. The heat trapped between the screen and the window sometimes made the rooms uncomfortably warm, especially during peak summer days.

Weather Impact on Exterior Screens

Exterior solar screens faced a different challenge – weather exposure. Over time, elements like rain, wind, and sunlight gradually wore them down, leading to inevitable maintenance and repairs within about a decade.

Which One is Better?

big windows

After thoroughly experimenting with both window tinting and solar screens, I’ve developed a comprehensive understanding of their respective strengths and limitations. My conclusion leans towards window tints as the superior choice for my specific needs, and here’s why.

Feature Window Tint Solar Screen
UV Protection Year-round Adjustable
Maintenance Low Higher (especially for exterior screens)
Energy Efficiency High in summer, lower in winter Varies based on usage
Aesthetic Options Various colors and shades Limited (typically grey to black)
Privacy and Security Enhanced Dependent on opacity and placement

Consistency in Appearance and Maintenance

Window tints offer a sleek, consistent look that requires minimal maintenance. Unlike solar screens, which can suffer wear and tear from external elements, window tints remain unaffected by weather conditions, maintaining their appearance without the need for periodic repairs.

Year-Round UV Protection

Although this feature of window tints increases energy usage in winter, it’s a trade-off I’m willing to accept for the year-round UV protection it provides. This constant protection helps in preserving the interior of my home, from furniture to flooring, against sun damage.

Enhanced Privacy and Security

The added layer of window tint enhances privacy and security, a subtle yet significant benefit. It’s harder for outsiders to peer into the home, providing a sense of comfort and safety.

Energy Efficiency in Summer

summer sun protection

The energy savings during summer are substantial with window tints. Despite the increased energy use in winter, the overall balance tilts in favor of window tints when considering the extreme heat in summer months.

Aesthetic Flexibility

The variety of colors and shades available in window tints allows for greater flexibility in interior design. This aspect lets homeowners customize their space according to their aesthetic preferences, a feature less prominent in solar screens.


How dark is solar tint?

Solar tint is a type of window film that reduces the amount of visible light that passes through the glass. The darkness of solar tint is measured by its visible light transmittance (VLT), which is the percentage of light that the film allows to pass through. The lower the VLT, the darker the tint.

Does 3M solar film work?

3M solar film is a product that blocks up to 99% of UV rays and up to 60% of heat from the sun. It also reduces glare and protects the interior of the car from fading and cracking. 3M solar film works by reflecting and absorbing solar energy, and it comes in different shades and types to suit different needs and preferences.

What color solar screen is best?

Solar screen is a fabric that covers the windows and blocks some of the sun’s heat and light. The color of solar screen affects its performance and appearance. Darker colors offer better solar protection and outward visibility, but they may make the room darker and reduce the curb appeal. Lighter colors are more neutral and let more light in, but they offer less solar protection and reflect more light.

What is the best type of window tint?

Window tint is a film that is applied to the glass to change its appearance and properties. There are different types of window tint, such as dyed, metalized, hybrid, carbon, crystalline, and ceramic. The best type of window tint depends on your budget, preference, and purpose. Generally, ceramic tint is the most effective and expensive option, as it blocks 99% of UV radiation, reduces heat and glare, and does not interfere with electronic signals.

Do solar screens block UV?

Yes, solar screens block UV rays, which are harmful to the skin and the eyes. Solar screens come in different percentages of openness, which indicate how much heat and UV rays they block. The most common solar screens are 80% and 90%, which block 80% and 90% of UV rays, respectively. Solar screens also protect the furniture and flooring from fading and cracking due to UV exposure.

Last Words

Choosing between them wasn’t just about picking a window covering; it was about understanding and aligning with the specific requirements of my home and lifestyle.

The decision ultimately favored window tints for their consistent aesthetic appeal, low maintenance, year-round UV protection, and enhanced privacy.

While they do present some challenges in winter, their overall benefits, particularly in terms of energy efficiency during hot months and the added layer of security, made them a more suitable choice for my needs.