Which is better solar screens or window film or window tint? Are solar screens better at providing shade than window film or window tint?
If you are wanting to know which is better, solar screens or window film or window tint, let me tell you as a window shading expert, that there is a huge difference between solar screens and window film and window tint.
I have recently read some confusing, and to be frank, misleading arguments online about this subject, where people that are not in the shade business, have written blogs that act like they are superior in knowledge about the subject of whom are introducing invalid arguments.
A Solar Screen will provide and immense amount of shade for the window from the outside verses what you would get from that of shading from the inside using window film or window tint.
Take a look at this picture which will help you understand how much sun is being blocked by a 90% solar screen. All but one of these windows is being shaded by a 90% solar window screen. Look at the floor to see what 0% shade verses 90% shade looks like.
When you provide shade for your windows from the outside, like a solar shade screen between the glass and the sun, you tell me, -what does common sense tell you is a better solution? Is it better to put a piece of film on the inside pane of your glass, or a shading device outside of the glass to provide shade for that window?
To keep a room cool, you need to accomplish two goals, keep the sun from entering the room, which is what tint and solar screens accomplish, and to keep the window from becoming a giant source of heat, which only solar screens accomplish.
I get calls all the time from home owners that have put window tint and window film on their windows only to then look for a shading device like solar screens. I have had many customers over the years tell me, “well I didn’t know any better and I wanted to try window film, I didn’t realize there was such a difference”.
The simple fact is window tint is a film that’s on the inside pane of your glass, so the sun’s rays shoot through your outside pane of glass and get stopped there on that inside pane of glass because that’s where the window tint is. Now you have a hot heated up window with heat that will radiate into your home. Not ideal when you are trying to cool off your rooms. A solar screen, which is a shading device sits outside the glass, between the glass and the sun, to provide shade for that window, so the window does not have a chance to get hot from the sun’s rays.
Watch this video for a clear explanation that explains my perception of the difference between solar screens and window tinting and film.
Will window film tint void the window manufacturer’s warranty?
I’ve had people ask me if it is correct that window tint will void the window manufacturer’s warranty, and I can’t answer that, but if it did, I do know why.
With window tint on the glass, the glass can get considerably hot. Because the rays of the sun would normally just pass through the clear glass, the glass will certainly get hot, but with that film on the inside pane of glass, it catches a lot more of the sun’s rays. It’s like more of the sun’s rays get stopped by the film, but then that film and that glass get very hot as a trade-off.
I have seen over the years my fair share of broken inside panes of glass from windows that have window tint on them. I believe that this is why the window manufacturer does not want the window tint on the inside pane of the glass, because the glass can get so hot that it may crack.
You might ask, why is it that my glass on the windows of my car do not crack, and they have window tint on them. The answer is quite simple, your car has very thick tempered glass, an entirely different type of glass than the thin 1/8“-1/16″ inside pane piece of glass that makes up your double paned window glass.
Proper ways to shade your windows.
The proper ways to shade your windows are to build an awning to keep the sun’s rays from baking the glass, put a shade tree up to shade the windows, or put up a shading device (solar screen) to provide shade for the windows.
For my Commercial Building, what would be better solar screens or window film or window tinting?
What if I am in a commercial building where I can not install solar screens and I have to use window tinting? Well, then it is what is, you will have to use window tinting. Window tinting will keep the sun’s rays from getting into your room, it’s just that window tinting will not keep the glass / window from getting hot. So, while window tinting is not superior to solar screens when it comes to providing shade for the room, window tinting is better than nothing at all.
I have heard that you can install window film and window tint on the outside of a window to provide shade for the glass, is this correct?
No way, don’t even think about it. I have lived here in Austin TX for 47 years (as of 2018) and I can tell you for certainty that if you have a product that has the ability to break down in this Texas heat, that product will break down if it’s exposed to the sun.
A film exposed to the elements, and the harsh Texas Sun, if installed on the outside, would start to deteriorate in no time. Especially for those West facing windows.
I see tint breaking down on the inside pane of the glass, I couldn’t imagine it on the outside of the glass exposed to rain and extreme temperatures and all the exterior elements. This is exactly why we don’t use plastic for any of our solar window screen installations.
We don’t use plastic clips to hold the solar screens on, nor do we use corner inserts made of plastic. Plastic will break down from the harsh sun, and so would an externally installed window film or window tint.
This topic “What’s the difference between Window Tinting (Film) and Solar Screens” is discussed further on my Q&A Page if you’d like to take a look. And, so much more is answered regarding your solar window screen questions on my Q&A page.