by Texas Homesteader ~
Solar screens significantly reduce the heat coming into your home through your glass windows. We made our own solar screens in an afternoon!
Read how solar screens save you money keeping that summer heat OUTSIDE where it belongs!
(Note: Some links in this post will take you to other related articles for further information. But links preceded with * are affiliate links. If you click and buy something I could receive a tiny commission.)
Living in the hot/humid environment of Northeast Texas, we built our home with passive solar design in mind. The steps we made during construction have made a pretty drastic impact on our typical energy usage. But not everyone is in the construction phase of their home.
No worries, there are easy and inexpensive ways to keep the heat of summer outside where it belongs. And doing so will let you cash in on lower utility bills for years.
Solar Screens Reduce Heat Coming Into Your Home
One such way is with solar screens. These screens are made of a special material that shades your windows from almost all of the sun’s heat yet still allows you to see outside.
(now here’s the part you’re really gonna love)
We made solar screens ourselves in an afternoon and saved a ton!
Solar screens really do make a drastic difference in the heat coming through your windows. RancherMan & I were very pleasantly surprised.
And by having solar screens on our windows, we reduced sun-fade on interior fabrics. Solar screens also offer a higher level of privacy than standard screens. Plus I love the way they look on our home.
But even with all these benefits, having these specialty screens installed can sometimes be kinda pricey. And ‘kinda pricey’ always has us looking for options.
Do Solar Screens Make Your House Dark?
I’ve had several readers ask if solar screens make our home darker inside. Yes there’s somewhat less light coming in, but in my opinion only by a small degree.
I liken the light reduction to the same effect of sunlight intensity being reduced when slip on a pair of sunglasses or are standing beneath a cool shade tree.
Our home is an open floorplan, so there’s lots of light coming from various sources at any given time anyway.
And I really like that the harsh glare I typically experience at our windows are significantly reduced when the solar screens are installed.
Easy To Make Your Own Solar Screens
We found how simple it was to obtain the materials needed and also how super simple it was to make those screens ourselves. RancherMan & I made them in our garage with very little time expended.
Here’s how you can make your own solar screens too:
First you’ll want to carefully measure the windows for which you want to make screens. Then you buy the screen materials.
Supplies Needed To Make Solar Screens
- Metal hardware to make the screen’s frame,
- Frame corners to connect the pieces into a window-sized rectangle,
- Spline to hold the screen to the frame,
- Depending on the size of the screen you might want cross braces as well to hold everything rigid. That’s helpful for larger screens.
- You’ll also need the actual solar screen material. It typically comes in several different colors.
I searched and found different widths and colors of * solar screen at Amazon. So even if you don’t have a big-box home improvement store handy you can have solar screening shipped directly to your home!
NOTE: If you don’t already have it, you can totally *Try Amazon Prime For FREE for 30 days. Then place your order & get your free shipping, etc. Keep prime for 30 days FOR FREE & try it out – streaming movies, music, free shipping – the whole 9 yards! If you don’t want to continue you can cancel within 30 days and pay nothing for the Amazon Prime membership trial run.
Tools Needed To Build Solar Screens
We only needed three simple hand tools to assemble our screens.
- A hacksaw to cut the metal frame to size.
- Spline tool to roll the spline onto the frame to hold the screen in place,
- A razor blade to carefully trim the excess screen material after it was attached.
Bada-boom, bada-bing – SCREENS!
Solar Screens Not Needed On All Windows
We were able to save even more money by determining which windows actually needed a specialty screen.
There was no need to outfit the whole house with specialty screens since not all windows had problems with the sun’s intensity.
So instead of making solar screens for every window on our home, we decided to make them just the problem ones that face the east.
Our south-facing windows aren’t a problem in the summer months, our northern windows are protected by a covered porch. Aand we (by design) have no western-facing windows.
Seasonal Screen Installation or Storage
Solar Screens During Hot Months:
Each year at the first hint of Texas summer heat, we bring the solar screens from the attic where they’ve been stored. It takes only minutes to slide the screens onto those few eastern-facing windows.
- The solar screens keep the sun’s intensity from heating our home during hot months.
- Solar screens block rays that can fade carpet & upholsteries.
- Solar screens provide additional privacy from those windows.
They work hard all summer long cutting down on the intense summertime heat that would typically pour through the glass of those windows during those hotter months!
No Solar Screens During Cold Months:
Then in the fall when the daily temperatures start to fall we remove the screens and place them back up in the attic. We remove the screens in the cooler months primarily for two reasons:
- We actually want to get that lower-level winter sunshine through those windows to help give the house a little solar warmth in the wintertime.
- Since the sun sinks lower in the winter months this offers a little more light during the more bleak winter months.
Building, installing and removing these solar screens for storage has all been super easy and served us well for years. And they’ve offered many benefits as well – reducing heat transfer in the summer, reducing interior fabric fade and adding a nice look to our home.
Our current solar screens have been in use for nearly 10 years and they have several more years life left in them.
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It would be awesome if you could post a photo of the inside of the room which is shielded by your screens so that I could get an idea how much the light is diffused.
I’m off to Amazon to check out the solar screens right now! Thanks so much for sharing at the Merry Monday party. You never know what jewel you will find at those linky parties!
Thank you for this! Memphis has just been brutal so far this year and we could definitely make use of some solar screens! We have west facing windows and holy crud it gets warm in those rooms! I just told hubs about the screens and he’s excited to get to work….well maybe not to get to work but he’s definitely excited to save some green and stay cool!
Heather they really do make a difference in the temps hitting those windows. And we only built them for the heating-up side of the house, there’s really no need to have them on every window. These screens have saved us bundles. Give ’em a try.
It’s terrific that solar screens continue to find favor in the Southwest. I live in the Chicago area. Instead of solar screens, I’ve used solar grates. Even though the summer season here is only 3-4 months, managing solar gain is an economical proposition. The savings are similar between screens and grates but there are differences. The screens are 80+% closed whereas the grates are 80% open. Grates are installed seasonally. I’m glad to see some solar screen owners are able to use their screens seasonally. That allows solar gain in the winter and that’s important in the northern States. Grates and screens have similar mounting options.
Other differences: grates create an interior condition that is bright with diffused light whereas screens slightly darken the room; grates cause the light to reflect and the infrared portion is largely absorbed outside the window whereas screens principally block most of the light; grates allow virtually unconstrained ventilation; the grates are made of polystyrene or similar plastic and as a result (along with their depth) are quite robust yet light weight; because of the 80% openness, grates are surprisingly unaffected by wind and weather; grates have had nil maintenance over 10+ years. Both screens and grates affect the view. Screens provide a dimmed but recognizable image. There is no real view at night. Grates block the view at wide angles but leave the head-on view largely unchanged. The night view remains.
My rough calculations show that solar screens are more effective in displacing electrical usage for a/c than a solar panel (photovoltaic-PV). PV will have to drop in price even more to be competitive. For example, PV is said to save 320 kwh/year for each $1,000 of installation cost. Once it gets to 640 kwh/year for each $1,000 spent, it will be comparable to solar screens on a DIY basis.
The effectiveness of various external “window attachments” is said to be a topic of study at LBNL (Berkley). They should be able to confirm scientifically and quantify the performance of these means for controlling solar gain versus other alternatives. To get those savings, all one needs is a willingness to try something new.
What a great product! We have reflective film on our windows, but these would be nice to have if you still want to have the windows open and get some air movement in the house. Thanks for sharing this tip on Merry Monday.
That film is very helpful too Erlene. We like the screens because we can actually remove them in the winter to get a little solar light & warmth to hit the windows. They snap on & off just as easy as a regular screen.
Fantastic information! I am looking it up now. I live in Florida and this could really help our cooling. Thank you for sharing on our Four Seasons Blog Hop.
This is a great idea! My mom lives in Arizona and this would be a great money saving option for her!
I am wondering… where have I been that I have never heard of this!!? We go around the house each day and in the morning we shut the miniblinds on the east side, and a little later the south window are covered, then by late afternoon, we can open the others and shut the west facing windows…. it works, but this sounds much better!! Especially as we can’t see out of the windows on the side facing the sun as the shades are drawn…. and we LOVE to see outside. Thank you for sharing this. 🙂
What a wonderful tip! We have seven windows in our new sun room that just get beat on in the summer. We don’t have the A/C unit hooked up out there yet, but I have been dreading it because of the heat that comes in those south west windows. I am going to share this with hubby and see what he thinks!
We recently move to Arizona and have considered solar screens! I’ll need to show this to my husband! Thanks so much for linking up to All My Bloggy Friends last week – I hope you’ll join us again tomorrow. I look forward to seeing what you’ve been working on this week! 🙂
This Is an awesome tip! We have a deep overhang as part of our passive solar pkg, but the south windows still bring in more heat than we’d like. I am so glad that you have shared it at DRAH. I hope lotsof people take advantage of this project and save! I checking it out now!
Jacqueline, it was dreadfully hot in one of our rooms at another house where we lived with the sun hitting that room’s exterior wall full-on. We didn’t want to test effectiveness on an expensive pre-made custom screen so we figured we didn’t have much to lose buying the materials inexpensively and giving it a go. We were both surprised at the effectiveness!
What a great idea. I never heard of it. Might be the next house project… Thanks for sharing.
Great tip! We have no a/c and quite a few south facing windows. I’ll have to look into it!
I agree with all the other comments. This IS a great idea and I will be showing it to my husband this weekend. We just moved to the mountains and are experiencing triple digit temps, something we are NOT used to. We have many day-long sun exposed windows and skylights and this would sure help. Thank you for sharing this idea on the Country Homemaker Hop.
Never heard of this. Is it actual screening material that lets air through? Or is it a film? We do not have A/C, so this would be a big plus for us. Thank you for linking to the HomeAcre Hop. I hope to see you back this week: /the-self-sufficient-homeacre-hop-5/
Carol – it’s screening material that you can see through, we made the screens on metal screen frames and instead of the metal screening we used this solar screen to attach to the frame. It can replace the metal screens on your windows and it makes a tremendous difference in the heat that gets through your windows!
Such a great idea! During the Summer months, I usually leave our shades closed until the sun moves along to try and help keep the house cooler.
Thanks for linking this up to The Creative HomeAcre blog hop!
Gilberto, I’ve found these screens make a dramatic difference in the outside temps entering our home, and I love that it’s not a semi-permanent amendment like awnings or window film. The screens are easy to put on and remove as the weather changes. 🙂 Thanks for your comment.
Really interesting, where I live is almost always sunny, and I think that this solution is much better than aluminum curtains.
Thanks for sharing,
This would probably be great in our area. I’d love to see a reduction on our summer bill!
I couldn’t agree more on solar screens! We have them on every single window and love them. We did ours ourselves too. (well…my hubby did them) We definitely noticed a reduction in our electric bills in the summer time. This Texas heat can be brutal. 🙂 I’m visiting from Tuesdays at Our Home. Enjoy your week!
One of neighbors have these! They are amazing!! Thanks for sharen at One Sharendipity Pl. this weekend!
Thanks for sharing this on Fidlin’ Fridays this is an amazing tip! we have lots of full sun windows and will be definitely be getting some!
What a great way to save money! I think many of us could use those solar screens. Thanks for your thrifty advice on making and using them. Diann and I always appreciate your posts at TTF!
Thanks for sharing your post with us at Eco-Kids Tuesday. We have some HOT windows… we will be looking into this! Hope to see you back next week! /search/label/Eco-Kids%20Tuesday
I have several window that I want to do this to. Thanks for sharing.
We have solar screens on a couple of our south-facing windows and it really does make a BIG difference! We had a small one made at ACE Hardware this past spring for the kitchen window to help with the glare as I stand there baking all day. We should look at making some more ourselves for the rest of the windows.
Candy, I wanted solar screens for awhile & couldn’t get over the price. Then we discovered that we could make them and they were so easy to make – who’da thought? We made them on our previous house and then when we moved to the ranch we made them for this house too. ~TxH~