The Most Sought-after Shades in North America – Exterior Solar Shades
Have you ever pondered some of the architectural styles today? What really grabs your attention – clever designs, the material used, the monstrosity, the refinement, the practicality, the uniqueness? Or simpler elements like a chimney, a picture window, a low roof? What always draws my eyes is the ratio of wall space to window space. Just glancing at buildings with little window space makes me break out in a sweat – gives me the perception of meanness, the need to hide – claustrophobia!
Whatever the design, it’s evident to all that windows reflect the angst of a building – a well-designed structure means well-designed windows; windows that give you a feeling of inclusion with nature, or that extraordinary sense of seclusion from a busy street while meeting your requirements of light and comforting warmth or coolness. I once worked in an office that had absolutely no windows – imagine my feeling of disorientation when I left it every day! Short of becoming a basket case, I quit in search of more ‘open’ environs!
But architects remain divided on certain elemental factors while designing windows. Consider the modern concept, ‘The Passive Solar Design’, which makes maximum use of the sun’s energy for heating and cooling indoor spaces. This concept maximizes the advantages of a building’s location, materials used in its construction and the climactic factors in order to minimize energy consumption. In this design, the orientation of a building is crucial, so the south face of the
Building must have unobstructed access to the sun – which means that a building must have windows on its south side to collect the heat of the sun which is then stored in its materials (brick, stone, tile, concrete), known as the ‘thermal mass’. That said, well-designed passive solar homes also provide daylight all year long, and comfort during the summer through the use of nighttime ventilation. In such buildings, properly designed and sized roof overhangs shield vertical south facing windows in summer. This is the common sense approach, whatever the ‘Contrarian View’ maybe – there are some designers who rubbish the necessity for roof overhangs.
So imagine my surprise when my very erudite sister goes and builds a home with these huge cathedral windows and no roof overhangs – in dedication to the stark modernity espoused by her circle of friends. But come summer in Atlanta, even the most powerful of air conditioners installed on behest of her designers couldn’t cool down the interiors of her home! The sun was so harsh that she got sunburned inside her house! Frank Lloyd Wright would have shaken his head in consternation! So, through all the recriminations, it was decided that she would consult some window treatment experts to come up with a solution.
Enter ‘Exterior Solar Shades’! These solar shades reduce solar gain and glare, which means that it provides protection to the interior elements of your home, like your floor rugs, wooden floors, upholstery, and artwork. They also offer a measure of daytime privacy and allow softly diffused light in through your windows. However, it’s difficult to achieve all benefits in one go, so you must consider the factor that’s of paramount importance to you. As a result, you must consider:
1. The Openness Factor (OF) – that refers to the openness or looseness of the weave of the shades, better still, the density of the weave. A fabric with a low OF reflects more heat, and, therefore, reduced glare, and subsequently, more privacy. A material with a higher OF makes for a better view as more natural light filters trough to illuminate the interiors, but does not reflect as much heat and reduces daytime privacy.
2. The Fabric color – the darker the fabric, the less the glare and better the view. Dark fabrics absorb heat and reduce daytime privacy. Dark material with low OF will cause room darkening, so one might have to resort to artificial lighting if window spaces are small. Light colored fabrics help reflect much of the heat and provide daytime privacy.
3. The Mounting Style – you must decide if you want the shades mounted within the window recesses (which makes for a neater appearance) or outside on the molding or on the wall (which makes the windows look larger).
Now step back and decide on what you want most – reducing energy costs by maintaining a consistent temperature indoors? Privacy and light control? Glare reduction and exterior view? Start with the openness factor and eliminate fabrics and colors that don’t meet your requirements. The rule of thumb – for a good view and glare reduction, a 5% openness factor, and a dark color are optimal. If the view is not important, and you want a lot of light inside, go with a 5% OF in a light color. And use the option of testing out the FREE SAMPLES provided before finalizing your decision. And please remember that exterior solar shades do not offer night time privacy, so be sure to use privacy window coverings in bedrooms and bathrooms.
“When you develop your opinions on the basis of weak evidence, you will have difficulty interpreting subsequent information that contradicts these opinions, even if this new information is obviously more accurate” ― Nassim Nicholas Taleb,
The Black Swan:
The Impact of the Highly Improbable. With this quote in mind, I impel the obstinate maiden to speak to the Zebrablinds consultants who ultimately advised that she use Motorized Exterior Solar Shades with a 3% openness in a ‘charcoal chestnut’ color (as the view was a primary concern for her) that are fitted to the wall outside her humungous windows. These motorized outdoor shades are really superb as they have light sensors that can be timed to raise and lower noiselessly at designated times, besides which they have side tracks that crimp the shades on the sides that allow for practically no ambient light and heat seepage! Automated shades are also the most practical, as controlling them otherwise would be an irritating hassle, considering the sheer volume and size of the windows.
Winter has proved to be endlessly comfortable for the lass and her family as these shades help maximize solar gain, and come summer, they’ll be able to get by with minimal air conditioning, if at all, accruing all those tax benefits provided by the use of automated window shadings. Saved by the bell, so to speak! And I’m sure her friends will go the same route this summer!