5 Distinct Difference Between Roller And Solar Shades

If you’ve ever redecorated, then you likely know that there’s a wide variety of  blinds  and shades on the market.  It’s hard to believe that window coverings could be so complicated!

So let’s take a look at the two most popular types of shades: roller shades and solar shades. We’ll get into detail about the distinct differences between roller and solar shades, including the materials used, their purpose, transparency, light control, and customizability.

Roller shades can be made from a wide array of fabrics and textiles. This makes it easy to find one that suits your aesthetics and preferences for privacy and light control. Solar shades are generally made from open-weave materials that are effective at reducing glare and minimizing the harmful effects of UV rays.

We’ll also get into the pros and cons of roller shades versus solar shades. Read on to learn more about which one suits your needs best.

What are the different types of shades called?

Roller and solar shades  may appear similar at first glance, but each provides unique benefits depending on your preferences. Before we get into their similarities and differences, let’s define both types first. 

What are Roller Shades?

Roller shades are all-purpose window treatments. Compared to blinds or slats, roller shades are simple window coverings. They’re typically made from a solid sheet of material that’s brought down by a rolling mechanism.

Roller shades are functional and practical, but they are also a stylish choice for window conversings. Roller shades come in an array of shapes, colors, textures, and sizes for a wide range of interior design choices.

How do roller shades work?

The shades are wrapped around a rail that is attached to the top of a window.

Roller shades follow a bottom-up mechanism. This means that users adjust the length by pulling up the bottom of the shades while the headrail (top part) stays in place.

This means you can slide or unroll the sheet as much or as little as you’d like.

What are the different types of roller shades?

You should also know that there are many different types of roller shades, depending on their functionalities:

  • Continuous Cord Loop Roller Shades: Because of their  corded mechanism, they’re  ideal for large and tall windows. Continuous cord loop roller shades can easily be pulled up even if the top is out of reach. 
  • Cordless roller shades: Because of their minimalist and clean design, they are most commonly used in modern offices and large living rooms. Cordless shades are adjusted by gently pushing or pulling up the bottom panel.
  • Automated roller shades: These roller shades are controlled by a motorized pulley that’s powered by a rechargeable or hard-wired motor. They can be controlled by a switch, remote, a smartphone, or a tablet. Some automated roller blades can be programmed to open and shut on a set schedule for your ultimate convenience.

What are Solar Shades?

What are Solar Shades? 

Like roller shades, solar shades do not have slats, veins, or separate blinds. A single sheet of material follows  a roller and tube mechanism that controls the shades.

Solar shades are generally made from an open-weave, screen-like material that is semi-transparent. Instead of blocking sunlight completely, solar shades let some light in –– hence the name “solar.”

Solar shades serve a unique function, which is to block UV rays from entering through the window. By preventing UV rays from entering your home, it is easier to reduce glare in the room, regulate temperatures by reducing heat, and prevent premature damage to your floors, furniture, and other household surfaces.

How do solar shades work?

Solar shades are classified according to their openness factor, in a range from 1% to 14%. The lower the percentage , the less transparent the solar shade is. The higher the percentage, the greater the increase in  your field of vision.

For solar shades that have a significant amount of UV protection, an openness factor of 1% to 3% is enough. For moderate UV protection and light control, start at 5%. If you’d like to let light in, go with a solar shade that’s  10% or higher.

You may be wondering about the type of materials used to control the openness  factor. The open-weave nature of solar shades refers to how tight the fabric is woven, instead of the type of material used.

Light solar shades are better at blocking UV rays while darker solar shades make it easier to see the outside view.

What are the different types of solar shades?

There are two main types of solar shades: interior and exterior solar shades.

  • Interior solar shades: These types of solar shades have an open-weave reflective fabric that lets users see outside, while remaining opaque to the outside. Interior solar shades work to deflect the sun’s rays and glare, effectively regulating temperatures.
  • Exterior solar shades: These solar shades are ideal for south-facing windows and outdoor areas like decks and patios. Compared to interior shades, exterior solar shades are more robust so they  withstand outside elements. Similar to interior solar shades, exterior solar shades are semi-transparent on one side, while offering privacy on the other. 

Best Black Out Blinds For Night Shift Workers

What are the similarities between  roller and solar shades?

It’s understandable why a lot of people get confused about roller shades and solar shades. They’re incredibly alike, especially to the novice eye!

Here are some of the similarities between  roller and solar shades:

  • Both shades are backed by a roller mechanism.
  • Both shades have no pleats, veins, or slats. They are generally made of a single sheet of material.
  • Both shades are minimalist and keep a low-profile appearance.
  • Both shades are measured and installed in the same way.
  • Both shades can have customized lift functionalities: cordless, chain lifts, cassette valances, and reverse roll.

5 Distinct Difference Between Roller And Solar Shades

What is the difference between a roller and solar shade?

Now that we’ve discussed the similarities of roller shades and solar shades, it will be easier to pinpoint their exact differences.

1. Materials used

The main difference between roller and solar shades is the materials used. 

Solar shades are generally made from open-woven materials, including polyester, vinyl, PVC or HDPE material. The mesh-like materials of solar shades allow a significant amount of light to pass through, while blocking UV rays, glare, and solar heat.

On top of that, most solar shade materials are easy to clean, and are waterproof and stain-proof. Roller shades, on the other hand, can only be dusted or vacuumed.

Roller shades are generally made with one or two solid textiles or fabrics that effectively block out light. They come in a wider variety of materials compared to solar shades, including translucent and light-filtering fabric. They also offer  more opaque options, such as blackout fabrics. 

Because of their  versatility, roller shades can be customized to fit any room, depending on the light control, privacy, and interior design needs.

2. Purpose

The next biggest difference between  roller shades versus solar shades is their purpose. 

Roller shades are generally used for blocking out light and personalizing interiors. Roller shades also encourage privacy. Solar shades, on the other hand, are used to reduce glare, UV rays, and minimize the harshness of sunlight. Unlike roller shades which are only for indoor-use, there are solar shades made specifically to withstand outside elements.

Roller shades are multi-purpose light-filtering and light-blocking window treatments. They’re also effectively used at offering temperature regulation in rooms exposed to extreme sunlight. 

Because of their  versatility and functionality, roller shades are also commonly used for personalizing interiors. It’s easy to find or customize roller shades to fit the aesthetics of any room.

Solar shades reduce 94% to 96% of visible light, effectively reducing glare and minimizing the harshness of sunlight.  Reducing glare is important especially for commercial spaces and offices that use computers and monitors. Solar shades are also a great addition to your family’s living space.

Apart from that, minimizing the amount of sunlight that your home is also critical for preserving the aesthetics of your upholstery, decor, and appliances. Extreme sunlight, especially in south-facing windows and during the summer, can significantly cause surfaces to fade or deteriorate.

Solar shades are also used to filter out UV rays which can have detrimental effects on your skin. If you’d especially  like to protect your skin from premature aging and the development of skin cancer, solar shades will be a worthwhile investment.

3. Privacy and Transparency

As expected, most solar shades are more transparent compared to roller shades. This is especially true if the solar shades have an openness factor of 10% or higher.

Because the fabrics of solar shades are open-weave, they allow users to enjoy a view of the outdoors while still reducing glare and protecting interiors from harsh sunlight. 

Roller shades can come in transparent and sun screening fabrics, but generally use tightly knit textiles that completely block views of the outdoors.

If you’re looking for a window treatment that provides a degree of privacy, roller shades are a better option over solar shades. 

Since solar shades are sheer, strangers passing by your house will be able to see through your window at night when the lights are on inside your home. If solar shades are convenient for you during the day, consider installing drapes or curtains over them for use after dark.

4. Customizability

Solar shades are generally used for their functionality, rather than their aesthetics. Because of the weave  used for solar shades, they aren’t available in a huge variety of colors and fabrics. Solar shades have straightforward designs and are mostly available in solid colors or neutral tones. 

Solar shades in light hues are effective at reducing heat absorption, making them very energy efficient. Darker solar shades offer great glare control and excellent outside views.

Compared to solar shades, roller shades are easier to customize. They can be personalized to fit any window size and it’s easy to choose from a wide variety of designs, from neutral tones to bold and bright patterns.

5. Light Control

Roller shades are more versatile when it comes to opacities and light control. 

There are key differences in the fabrics that you can choose for roller shades, each kind affecting how much light will pass through. For roller shades, the most popular light control options are: light-filtering, room-darkening, and blackout shades.

Light-filtering roller shades reduce harsh sunlight and transform it into a soft glow. This helps to brighten a room without the need for artificial lighting. 

There are different levels of light-filtering shades, but all block light from entering a room by not more than 95%. Sheer and honeycomb roller shades soften and diffuse, while more opaque shades will block sunlight. The fabrics used for roller shades offer privacy. 

Room darkening shades provide a middle-ground to light-filtering and blackout shades. They reduce the light that enters a room by 95% to 99%, significantly keeping brightness at bay during the night and day.

Blackout roller shades, on the other hand, block 100% of light from entering a room. These types of shades use an opaque fabric that completely eliminates light  at any time of the day.

Unlike roller shades, solar shades use a unique openness percentage from 1% to 14% to determine the degree of UV rays allowed to pass through the fabric. The openness factor refers to the type of weave, instead of the type of fabric used. Percentages closer to 1% have a tighter weave, while higher percentages have a more open weave.

Best Blackout Roller Shades For Longer Sleep

Roller Shades vs. Solar Shades: Which is Better?

Now that we’ve discussed the key differences between roller shades and solar shades, let’s run through the pros and cons of each one to help you decide which is a better choice for you.

Pros and Cons of Roller Shades

Advantages of Using  Roller Shades

  • Roller shades provide excellent insulation and temperature regulation.
  • Roller shades are available in a wide variety of light control options: light-filtering, room-darkening, and blackout.
  • Roller shades are highly customizable to fit your interiors
  • Roller shades are user-friendly and convenient. You can choose between continuous cord loop, cordless, or motorized mechanisms to suit your preference.
  • Roller shades are widely available and affordable.

Disadvantages of Using  Roller Shades

  • Most roller shades are not waterproof and difficult to clean. Unlike solar shades which can be washed, roller shades can only be dusted or vacuumed.
  • Roller shades are not meant to be used outdoors.

Pros and Cons of Solar Shades

Advantages of Using  Solar Shades

  • Solar shades allows scenic views of the outdoors without compromising privacy
  • Solar shades are specifically  designed to reduce glare, making them a popular choice for living rooms, home theatres, offices, and study areas.
  • Solar shades are effective at filtering UV rays, which has detrimental effects on your skin.
  • Solar shades keep your interiors (upholstery, flooring, appliances, decor) from fading.
  • Outdoor solar shades can withstand harsh outdoor elements.

Disadvantages of Using  Solar Shades

  • Solar shades do not provide privacy at night. When the lights are on inside your home at night, solar shades will be transparent from the outside.
  • Because of the materials and weave style used, solar shades come in limited colors and patterns.

Best Blackout Roller Shades For Restful Sleep


While seemingly similar, roller shades and solar shades provide unique benefits thanks to the careful choice of their materials and make. 

Roller shades are indoor window treatments that come in various light control options. They are generally used to block sunlight and provide privacy. Because of their customizability and convenience, roller shades are a great option for home decor.

Solar shades, on the other hand, are made from an open-weave material that’s effective at minimizing glare, reducing harsh sunlight, and filtering UV rays without compromising scenic views.  Solar shades are defined by their openness percentage and some models are made for outside use.