Home > Blog Home > Comparing Solar Shades vs Roller Shades
August 1, 2023

Comparing Solar Shades vs Roller Shades

Trying to understand the differences between solar shades vs roller shades? These types of shades have many similarities, but there are also some key differences between them. Choosing the right one for your home will depend on your preferences and your needs.

To help you decide which is right for you, first learn the definitions of each. Then, dive into a list of similarities and a list of differences to fully understand how these shades compare.

Between Solar Shades vs Roller Shades, Roller Shades come in blackout material, as shown in this colorful bedroom

What Are Roller Shades?

Roller Shades are window treatments that feature one panel of light-filtering or blackout material that rolls around a tube at the top of the window. The tube allows you to control the height of your shade.

Between Solar Shades vs Roller Shades, Solar Shade can filter light while blocking UV rays, as shown in this office

What Are Solar Shades?

Solar Shades are a type of Roller Shade and feature the same functionality. However, their material features the added benefit of blocking damaging UV rays while still letting natural light filter through.

Roller Shades do come in several specialty styles like Venetian Roller Shades and Double Roller Shades, but for the purposes of comparing them to Solar Shades, we’re sticking to the basic styles of Light Filtering and Blackout Roller Shades.

Considering Other Window Treatments?

Learn the differences between all the main types of window coverings including Drapery, Shades and Blinds in our comprehensive guide. READ THE GUIDE

Now that you know what Solar and Roller Shades are, learn more about their similarities and differences to understand which option is the better choice for your home.

Similarities Between Roller & Solar Shades

Since Solar Shades are a type of Roller Shade, these two shades naturally share key similarities, including:

  • Ease of use – Both Solar and Roller Shades have the same control types (continuous loop, cordless, motorized), and are very easy to use.
  • Durability – Solar and Roller Shades are both made from synthetic fibers making them very long-lasting and easily able to handle everyday use.
  • Upfront costs – Costs between Solar Shades vs Roller Shades, for comparable materials, are very similar.
  • Installation – Since both operate the same way with the same parts, they both have the same measuring and installation process.
  • Cleaning and maintenance – The materials used to make Roller and Solar Shades are all synthetic, meaning nearly all Roller and Solar Shades can be cleaned and maintained the same way.

Get more details on each of these similarities to better understand what makes these shades alike.

Ease of Use

Between Solar Shades vs Roller Shades, both have the same control type options, all of which grant you easy, simple control over your light and privacy levels.

Control types include:

  • Continuous Loop – A continuous loop consists of a looped chain that hangs from the tube of your Roller or Solar Shade and it held taut by a tension device installed on the wall or window frame next to your shade. To adjust your shade, pull the front side of the looped chain down to lift the shade and lift the chain up to lower the shade. You can also lower the shade by pulling down on the side of the chain closer to the window.  
  • Cordless – A cordless control mechanism allows you to adjust your shade without any dangling cords. To lift and lower your shade, grab the bottom bar and pull the shade slightly down and toward you to release the lock. Then adjust the shade to the desired height by pulling down or lifting up. To lock the shade in place, simply push the bottom bar toward the window.
  • Motorization – For motorized Solar and Roller Shades, the motor lives in the tube mechanism and mechanically lifts and lowers your shade. You can control your shades with the press of a button on a remote, through an app on your phone or tablet, or with the sound of your voice when paired with a home automation system.


Between Solar Shades vs Roller Shades, both are durable, with this kitchen featuring Solar Shades of 5% Solistico, Oatmeal

When comparing Solar Shades vs Roller Shades in terms of durability, both get high marks. While the exact materials used in the making of Roller and Solar shades varies between the two, most materials are synthetic in nature, giving them a high durability and resistance to wear and tear. This quality makes both types of shades ideal for rooms like kitchens and kids’ rooms where there’s likely a lot of activity and potential messes.

Upfront Costs

Upfront cost refers to the costs of the material and shade itself. It does not include costs like installation if you end up using a professional installer. Between Solar vs Roller Shades, both have similar upfront costs for the comparable choices in material and control type. Plus, the factors that affect those upfront costs are the same for both, including choosing a material from a Designer Collection vs a standard collection and the control type chosen, with motorization being the highest in price.


Between Solar Shades vs Roller Shades, both have the same installation process, requiring a drill and stepladder as shown

In comparing Solar Shades vs Roller Shades in terms of installation, both operate with the same tube mechanism and control types, measuring and installing them is the same process and includes:

  • Step 1: Gather tools. You’ll typically need a stepladder, pencil, tape measure, level, drill and screwdriver, but check the specific install instructions for an exact list.  
  • Step 2: Decide whether you’ll inside or outside mount your shades, which means deciding whether to place them inside the window frame (inside-mount) or outside the window frame on the wall (outside-mount).  
  • Step 3: Measure appropriately based on your mount choice and mark where the mounting brackets and tube will go.  
  • Step 4: Install the brackets in the right place with the appropriate tools as indicated in the installation guide and then attach the tube.  

Cleaning & Maintenance

When it comes to maintenance between Solar Shades vs Roller Shades, the process is the same for most materials. Generally, you can keep your shades clean with a low suction, handheld vacuum or you can dust with a soft, clean cloth or feather duster. For stains or embedded dirt, try a Mr. Clean magic eraser to spot treat the affected area. If that doesn’t work, it’s recommended you contact a local window treatment cleaning specialist who can treat your shade on-site at home.

With an understanding of the similarities in comparing Solar vs Roller Shades, you’re ready to discover their differences. It’s these unique qualities that will especially help you decide which is the right fit for your home.

What Is the Difference Between Roller Shades & Solar Shades?

In comparing Solar Shades vs Roller Shades, you’ll find several notable differences, including:

  • Aesthetic options – Roller Shades and Solar Shades feature different pattern and color choices which may sway your decision.
  • Materials – While both are made from synthetic materials, the specific fibers used differ between Solar vs Roller Shades, giving each unique features.
  • Light and privacy control – Comparing Solar vs Roller Shades shows the considerable differences between the two when it comes to light and privacy control.
  • Insulation – Solar shades uniquely provide heat control for your interior without blocking the light. Roller Shades only filter or block light.

Learn more about these differences for the insight you need to make the best choice for your home.

Aesthetic Options

Overall, Roller Shades and Solar Shades look very similar, but their differences come down to the details. Between Solar vs Roller Shades, Roller Shades offer more options for patterns and color, while Solar Shades are typically more neutral in tone but vary in texture.

Solar Shade Aesthetics

A kitchen with light filtering Solar Shades in 3% Solistico, Ash, shows the difference between Solar Shades vs Roller Shades

With 125+ colors and materials available for Solar Shades, there are a lot of options to choose from. Yet, instead of lots of unique colors and patterns, Solar Shades offer different textures. From smooth materials to those with visual and tactile texture, you can get a wide variety of looks from sleek and modern to character-rich and boho-inspired. So, while colors are more limited to neutral tones like white, black and many hues of gray and tan, you can still get lots of variety in texture.

Roller Shade Aesthetics

A stairwell with light filtering Roller Shades of Mesa Verde, Sand, show the difference between Solar Shades vs Roller Shades

While Solar Shades boast lots of textures, Roller Shades bring you lots of colors and patterns. From bright bold hues and busy patterns to simple minimalist designs, Roller Shades give you a lot of aesthetic choices. Plus, you can choose unique designs from exclusive Designer Collections including Sheila Bridges, The Novogratz, Nate Berkus and more. And what’s more, Roller Shades also give you different style options beyond the standard material panel and roller tube. Venetian Shades and Double Roller Shades also offer a unique look of their own, with their own customization options to give you a wide variety of options to suit your preferences.


Between Solar Shades vs Roller Shades, both are made of synthetic materials, but just what those synthetic materials are varies between the two types of shades.  

A close up of a Solar Shade made of 3% Solistico in Ash shows the material difference between Solar Shades vs Roller Shades

Solar Shade Materials

Solar Shades are made from a mix of materials like fiberglass, vinyl and acrylic. These materials are unique in their ability to remain strong and durable even when woven in an open weave. It’s the openness of the weave that gives Solar Shades their UV blocking ability along with their transparency. While synthetic, most Solar Shades come with green certifications like GreenGuard® and OEKO-TEX® and some materials are even recyclable at the end of their useful life.

Roller Shade Materials

Roller Shades are primarily made with polyester or another type of plastic fiber. These shades have a tighter weave, with the tightest being blackout material that blocks up to 99% of the light coming through it. Just like Solar Shades, some Roller Shades come with green certifications, but this is mostly limited to solid light filtering and blackout colors.

A close up of Bond blackout Roller Shade in Charcoal shows the material difference between Solar Shades vs Roller Shades

the shade store recommendation

In comparing materials of Solar Shades vs Roller Shades, they use different kinds of synthetic material, so it comes down to which materials you’re more comfortable having in your home. And if green certifications are important to you, you’ll have more options when choosing from Solar Shades.  

Light & Privacy Control

One of the most noticeable differences between Solar vs Roller Shades is in the level of light and privacy they provide. Learn more about this marked difference.

Solar Shade Light & Privacy Control

A room with tall windows features Solar Shades which shows the difference in privacy between Solar Shades and Roller Shades

In comparing Solar Shades vs Roller Shades, it’s important to note that Solar Shades are made specifically to filter light, not block it. They have the unique ability to let natural light in, while blocking damaging UV rays that are responsible for fading your furniture, causing sharp glare and heat buildup. Solar Shades allow you to soften the light in your room and even provide some level of privacy during the day. However, the level of light control and privacy you have with Solar Shades will depend on your shade’s transparency percentage.

Understanding Transparency Percentages

Solar Shades come in different transparencies from 1%, which blocks 99% of UV rays and offers the least amount of transparency to about 10%, which blocks 90% of UV rays and offers a good deal of transparency.

A solar shade material made with 10 percent transparency shows an almost clear view through the shade material
10% Transparency

10% means the shade block 90% of UV rays and is the most transparent.

A solar shade material made with 5 percent transparency shows how much you can see through the material
5% Transparency

5% means the shade blocks 95% of UV rays and is a bit more semi-transparent.

A solar shade material made with 3 percent transparency shows how little you can see through the material
3% Transparency

3% means the shade blocks 97% of UV rays and is semi-transparent.

A solar shade material made with 1 percent transparency is laid over a window view to show how opaque the material is
1% Transparency

1% means the shade blocks 99% of UV rays and is also the least transparent.

Due to the light-filtering, semi-transparent nature of all Solar Shades, even those with the least transparency will not provide great privacy at night. To get the privacy you need, consider layering your shades with blackout Roman Shades or Drapery.

Roller Shade Light & Privacy Control

A darkened bedroom with blackout Roller Shades shows the difference in light control between Solar Shades vs Roller Shades

Between Solar Shades vs Roller Shades, Roller Shades offer more options for light and privacy control so you can achieve the right level of each. Standard Roller Shades come in two main styles: Light-Filtering Roller Shades and Blackout Roller Shades.

Light filtering Roller Shade made of Houndstooth in Cargo allows soft light to filter into a bright turquoise room

Light Filtering Roller Shades

Ranging from sheers to more opaque material, Light Filtering Roller Shades allow some light through for a soft, gentle glow, while still providing good privacy.

Blackout Roller Shade made of Painted Lips in Red Lips blocks light from entering a bright purple child's bedroom

Blackout Roller Shades

Blocking up to 99% off the light, Blackout Roller Shades give you a room darkening effect and excellent privacy, ideal for bedrooms.

The Shade Store Recommendation 

When it comes to light and privacy control, between Solar vs Roller Shades, Roller Shades provide more options, from Light Filtering to Blackout, to get the right level for your home.


Insulation refers to how well a window treatment regulates your interior temperatures by preventing hot and cold air from coming through the window. Between Solar Shades vs Roller Shades, both can help prevent heat buildup from sunlight, but they do so in different ways. As for preventing a cold draft, Roller and Solar Shades are not the best option.

Solar Shade Insulation

Between Solar Shades vs Roller Shades, Solar Shades are excellent for keeping your sunniest rooms cooler, while still allowing you to enjoy the natural light of the sun. UV rays are the source of the sun’s heat, so by blocking up to 99% of UV rays with Solar Shades, you’ll experience a significantly cooler interior, even with sunlight streaming through the shade.

Roller Shade Insulation

Roller Shades can also keep the sun from heating your home, but instead of letting most of the light through, you’ll end up blocking more light. Blocking light can be ideal for media rooms or bedrooms where a darkened effect is desired, but it may not be desirable for a sunny living room where you enjoy reading during the day.

The Shade Store Recommendation 

For heat reduction, without compromising your view to the outdoors, or the natural light streaming through your windows, choose Solar Shades. To keep your room cooler and block more light, choose Roller Shades. However, for insulation against the cold, between Solar vs Roller Shades you’re better off choosing neither and instead going with Cellular Shades or lined Drapery or Roman Shades.

CompaRE Your Options More Closely

With an overview of the similarities and differences between Solar Shades vs Roller Shades, you likely have a good idea for which will best suit your space. To finalize your decision, order free swatches of your favorite materials to compare at home. Be sure to hold your swatches up to the light to get a sense for their transparency or light-blocking ability.


Compare as many of your favorites from our collection of 1,200+ premium materials at home when you order free swatches online.

A close-up image of white swatches featuing different textures and materials shows the declicate details of these designs