What are sunscreens?
Sunscreens (also known as solar screens or privacy screens) are specially-made window screens that cover an entire window in order to block the sun’s rays and heat before hitting the window’s glass. In essence, the sunscreen fabric is a densely woven polyester yarn coated with a PVC Vinyl Coating that is made to withstand years of weathering from the sun’s intense heat. This special fabric absorbs and dissipates the sun’s intense rays, and can keep your home or office 8 to 15 degrees cooler, making the living area more comfortable while simultaneously saving you energy and money.
Simply put, solar screens are made to reduce 80% to 90% of the sun’s heat before it enters your home through your windows. This significant reduction in solar heat gain through your windows reduces the amount of heat that your air conditioning unit has to remove from your house. Curtains, shades, tint and other products have their place, but nothing short of a good shade tree or piece of plywood will reduce this heat load like the quality Solar Screens!
How do solar screens work?
There are three factors that help make solar screens keep your home cool as efficiently as they do. They are:
1. Shading – With a sunscreen installed on the outside of the glass and covering the entire window, a layer of protective shade is created over the glass allowing less heat and glare to heat up the window and enter your home. The higher the sun is in the sky, the more acute the angles of its rays to the sunscreen mesh. This increasingly acute angle allows less and less light onto the window, thus rendering the screen even more effective.
2. Reflecting Sunlight – Some of the direct sunlight is reflected away from the window while at the same time, a tolerable amount of soft, filtered sunlight is allowed in.
3. Absorption – The solar screen absorbs heat and disperses it into the air surrounding the screen, reducing the amount of heat to hit the windows. With sunscreens installed, a constant movement of fresh air due to natural convection moves over the glass. As the screen material dissipates it’s heat, the air between the glass and the screen heats, and then rises. The heated air that rises escapes through the screen holes toward the top of the screen while cooler air is drawn in down low through the holes near the bottom of the screen.
What are the benefits of having sunscreens installed?
Sacramento’s blistering 100-degree heat can be brutal on your home’s interior and your utility bill! If you find yourself sweltering in a home that never cools down or are struggling to keep up with exorbitant utility bills, or if you’re tired of fighting the irritating glare on your TV or computer screen, sunscreens are the right product for you.
Sunscreens offer many benefits such as:
- Saving energy by reducing your air conditioning use up to 30%.
- Significantly reducing utility costs! Sunscreens often pay for themselves within two to four years!
- Keeping you more comfortable by cooling the home up to FIFTEEN DEGREES!
- Reducing fading and sun rot on your furniture, drapes and carpet commonly caused by the sun’s harsh UV rays.
- Enjoying a brighter, more open atmosphere in your home! Remember, with sunscreens, you don’t have to live in a cave by closing your curtains/blinds/shades all day! Sunscreens filter the light making it softer and more pleasant!
- Increasing your daytime privacy while maintaining a clear view looking out your window. You can see out, but they can’t see in!
- Blocking the sun’s glare without blocking the view.
- Allowing the breeze in, but not the heat.
- Made to fit any window opening including arches and circles.
- Saving on winter heating bills! Sunscreens act as a buffer to the cold winter weather thus reducing the wind chill factor on your glass.
- Work with windows opened or closed.
- Utility Rebates are often available for installing sunscreens.
- Less expensive than most drapes, awnings, or blinds.
- Reduced window washing (sunscreens hide dirt on windows very well).
- More beautiful and attractive building exterior.
- Adding value to the structure.
- No ugly bubbling, peeling or scratching found with window tinting.
Are sunscreens available in different colors?
YES YES YES! Sunscreens come in a wide array of colors, one of which will look great on your home. The best way to find a color that suits your purposes is to make an appointment for an in-home consultation where you can see samples of the different colors and learn how each one performs differently. Allow us to educate you for a few minutes and you’ll find a color and fabric to meet your needs. To see which colors might look best on your home, check out our sun screen gallery above!
Do certain colors stop more heat or glare than others? What are the advantages of each of the different colors?
Choosing a color is a critical choice you must make when ordering your sunscreens. There are four rules of thumb you need to be aware of.
- The darker the color, the better the sunscreens will stop the heat.
Black | Brown
- The darker the color, the better your outward visibility. Black | Brown
- The lighter the color, the better your daytime privacy. Stucco | Beige | Gray
- The lighter the color, the more the amount of light that will enter the room. Stucco | Beige | Gray
When choosing a color, remember, beauty is in the eye of the checkbook holder! As the homeowner, only you can decide what is most important to you. Heat Reduction? Glare Reduction? Visibility? Aesthetics? Privacy? Reduce Fading? All of these are important considerations, and one of our knowledgeable in-home consultants will be your best asset in finding the correct color for your needs.
What are the sunscreens you install made of?
We use Phifer SunTex and Twitchell Textaline brand fabrics with shading coefficients of 80% and 90%. Both SunTex and Textaline fabrics are made of strong, extremely durable, vinyl-coated polyester fabric. Originally developed for use on outdoor furniture, SunTex and Textaline is mildew-, fade- and pet-resistant. Sunscreens only need occasional cleaning with mild soap and water.
Unlike traditional insect screens or the older style sunscreens (which are made out of fiberglass), SunTex and Textaline will not suffer from sun rot and need to be replaced in a few years. The expected life of both materials is fifteen to twenty years.
Do some sunscreens block more heat than others?
Yes! Many styles of shade screen fabrics have come and gone over the years, and AtoZ carries a wider variety of shade screen fabrics and colors than anyone in our area. Through the years, many styles of outdoor sunscreen fabrics have been developed. Shading coefficients have varied from the lightweight 65% Solar Insect screening to maximum duty 90% SuperSolar Sunscreen. Between these low and high ends, there are many other styles and grades which are currently available. An in-home consultation will allow you to personally see and handle the entire gamut of fabrics available and decide which best suits your particular needs. By having us in your home, we will help answer any questions, and identify any advantages or disadvantages that are associated with each of your choices.
Will sunscreens make my home dark like a cave?
Absolutely not! YOU’LL PROBABLY FIND THAT YOUR HOME HAS MORE LIGHT COMING IN AFTER INSTALLING THE SUNSCREENS THAN BEFORE!
How is this possible? While it’s true that when you install sunscreens on your home, it will reduce between 15 – 25% of the sun’s light entering your home, there is another factor most people don’t consider; …the REAL question to ask yourself is how much light are you currently getting through the drapes or mini-blinds that are always pulled shut? Chances are, you will probably enjoy MORE light and visibility with Solar Screens installed than you do now! What? Be able to see out of the window, get light into the home, AND keep the home cooler? You better believe it!
While sunscreens do reduce up to 90% of the sun’s HEAT, they’ll only reduce about 15- 25% of the sun’s LIGHT. More than anything, the sun’s harsh GLARE is significantly reduced, and the room will have a pleasant, filtered amount of light entering the room. Many of our customers comment that the first day or two took a little getting used to, but after that, they hardly noticed the screens were on the windows.
How will the screens be installed on my windows?
Most standard windows will require screws with metal die-cast turn clips to hold the sunscreens in place. These self-tapping screws will be mounted into either the wood trim surrounding the window, the stucco surrounding the window or the frame of the window itself. Unusual situations where installing screws is not feasible can be overcome by using a “Tape’n’Track mounting system.
Each situation is different and will require a particular mounting procedure, and with AtoZ’s wealth of experience, we’re sure to know the proper way to install your new screens. An in-home consultation will answer any questions you may have regarding installation.
How difficult are sunscreens to take on and off?
Will I still be able to see out of my windows?
Absolutely! In fact, most of our customers are VERY surprised at how clearly they can see out through their windows after their sunscreens have been installed!
There’s not a Solar Screen made that you can’t see through, but some styles and patterns do give better visibility than others. The amount of visibility your sunscreens will have depends on the degree of heat reduction you are seeking. As there are tradeoffs with everything, the higher heat reduction rating, the denser the fabric, and therefore, the less visibility you will retain. In addition, the darker the color of the sunscreen fabric, the better the visibility (and heat reduction).
While it’s true that having sunscreens will slightly alter your view looking outside, the real question you should ask yourself is how much visibility are you currently getting through the drapes or mini-blinds that are always pulled shut? Chances are, you will probably enjoy more light and visibility with Solar Screens installed than you do now!
Do I need solar screens on my entire house?
Not necessarily. From an energy-saving standpoint, you should have solar screens installed on the west and south facing sides at a minimum. This is where you get the hot, all-day afternoon sun. Secondly, the east-facing windows are often covered with solar screens because they receive the morning sun, which can also be quite brutal at times.
As far as heat is concerned, installing sunscreens on the north side of the home is usually not necessary unless they are to be used for privacy.
From an aesthetic standpoint, if you have to put screens on any part of your home that will be visible from the street, you should cover all windows on that side. This is by no means a must…but it does make it look better! If you want to maintain privacy in addition to saving energy/money, then you can do as many others have done and sunscreen the entire home. Sunscreens prevent peeping toms and nosy neighbors from seeing activity inside your home during the daytime. You can see out, but they can’t see in.
How do sunscreens compare to blinds, curtains, drapes and other window coverings when it comes to heat reduction and price?
Solar Screens are more effective at keeping your home cool than any other form of interior window covering available. To understand why, you first must understand that when the sun shines through the windows, the home is getting hot for two main reasons.
First, the direct sunlight pouring into the room brings with it immense energy and heat. Second, the WINDOW ITSELF also gets extremely hot while it bakes in the direct sun and radiates heat from its surface into the room, just like the glass in your oven door radiates heat into your kitchen while you bake.
To keep the house cool, most people shut their blinds or curtains…but that’s not very effective! Shutting the interior window coverings only keeps the direct sunlight from pouring into the room, BUT THE WINDOW’S HOT GLASS IS STILL RADIATING HEAT PAST THE WINDOW COVERING! Trying to keep the heat out of the house with curtains or blinds is almost like trying to keep the kitchen cool by hanging a dishtowel in front of the oven door! Common sense tells you that the the dishtowel trick won’t keep the kitchen cool, so why do so many homeowners think blinds or curtains would be effective?
Unlike blinds or curtains, Solar Screens are installed outside in front of the glass! This allows the screen not only to reduce the amount of direct sunlight blasting into the room (the first source of heat), but they also help keep the window itself much cooler (the second source of heat). On average, they can reduce the temperature between 8-15 degrees, making your home more comfortable, saving money on utility bills, and protecting furnishings and window coverings from fading.
In addition, solar screens cost less than most other window coverings, and as a result, usually pay for themselves much faster! The money you save in air conditioning savings alone within 2-4 years! These savings don’t take into account the fact that your home’s window coverings and furnishings aren’t being ruined by the sun’s harsh UV rays!
Sure, growing a tree might be a little cheaper…. if you don’t take into account those high air conditioning cost you’ll be paying for twenty years till the tree is big enough to shade your home!
For further confirmation of these concepts, simply call SMUD, Roseville Electric, or PG&E…you’ll likely find they offer utility rebates for Solar Screens, but not Tint, Plantation Shutters, or any other type of interior window covering. Remember, when it comes to saving energy, sunscreens will keep your home cooler than any other interior window covering available!
How do sunscreens compare to window tinting?
Solar Screens are more effective at keeping your home cool than any other form of interior window covering available INCLUDING TINT. To understand why, you first must understand that when the sun shines through the windows, the home is getting hot for two main reasons.
First, the direct sunlight pouring into the room brings with it immense energy and heat.
Second, the WINDOW ITSELF also gets extremely hot and radiates heat from the hot glass surface into the room. In an attempt to keep the house cool, some people will tint their windows. Tint has its uses, but when it comes to keeping your home cooler and more comfortable, Solar Screens are far superior! Here’s why;
Beware! Tinting a window can be tricky to your senses (and hazardous to your window). Standing next to a window that has just been tinted, your skin does not feel as hot because the sun’s infrared rays (the rays that make your skin feel hot) are being filtered…but remember, tinting the window only filters the sun’s infrared rays (heat energy) from getting past the tint, but where does the heat and energy end up?
Remember, tint is adhered directly to the inside surface of your windows. That heat and energy is now trapped directly on the surface of your window! THE WINDOW’S GLASS IS NOW HOTTER THAN EVER BEFORE, AND THAT SUPER HEATED GLASS IS NOW RADIATING MORE HEAT INTO THE HOME THAN EVER BEFORE! In addition, this additional heat can burst the seal on your dual pane windows. It is for this reason that applying tint to your dual pane windows will generally void the windows’ warranty.
But tint is deceiving because it’s unlikely you’ll ever notice that the glass window is now radiating more heat into the room than before! This is due to the fact that the hot glass warms the air that comes in direct contact with the glass inside the home, and then rises to the ceiling forming a “hot air blanket”. As more hot air accumulates inside the home, this “hot air blanket” accumulates and its level gets lower and lower in the room. The net result is that many homeowners find that even after applying tint to their windows, the home feels uncomfortably hot, even though their skin does not feel as hot while standing next to the windows! They are left to scratch their head and wonder why!
Unlike tint, Solar Screens are installed outside in front of the glass! This allows the screen to not only reduce the amount of direct sunlight blasting into the room (the first source of heat), but they also help keep the window itself much cooler (the second source of heat). On average, they can reduce the temperature between 8-15 degrees, making your home more comfortable, saving money on utility bills, and protecting furnishings and window coverings from fading.
For further confirmation of the cooling effect solar screens can have on your home, remember that our local utilities such as SMUD, Roseville Electric, or PG&E often offer energy efficiency rebates for installing them on your home … but this has not been the case for Tint, Plantation Shutters, or any other type of interior window covering. Remember, when it comes to saving energy, Sunscreens will keep your home cooler than any other window covering available!
How long does it take before my sunscreens will have paid for themselves by way of energy savings?
For the return on the dollar, Sunscreens are one of the best investments out there! Studies have shown, that on average, sunscreens pay for themselves within two to four years. Considering they last fifteen to twenty years, it is surely a worthy investment!
Think about it: What other investment can you totally regain all your money with no risk within two to four years? That is a 25-50% annual return on your investment! Buying sunscreens from AtoZ is just “common cents”!
And remember, we haven’t even considered the savings realized by not having to replace faded carpets, drapes, and other home furnishings destroyed by the sun’s harmful UV rays!
Can solar screens harm my windows?
Are utility rebates available? Are solar screens recommended by utility companies?
Yes!!! SMUD, PG&E, and Roseville Electric believe so strongly in sunscreens that they often offer their residential customers a sizable rebate for installing sunscreens. You couldn’t find a stronger endorsement than by utility companies who are willing to put their money where their mouth is! Besides solar screens, utility rebates are not offered for any other type of window coverings, including tint, plantation shutters, or awnings.
Rebate offers vary from year to year and usually are available until funds run out! A to Z is familiar with all current rebate programs, and will be happy to help you procure and fill out all needed forms. A sales representative would be happy to answer any questions you many have regarding current utility rebates.
Current Rebate Programs:
SMUD: Not currently available.
PG&E: Not currently available.
Roseville Electric: http://www.roseville.ca.us/electric/home/rebates/sunscreens.asp
Should solar screens be removed during the winter?
Tests show a 15 percent improvement on thermal performance with solar screens installed during the winter. This improvement comes as a result of the sunscreens acting almost as a “third pane” on the glass reducing wind chill factor and cold air drafts. Consequently, many homeowners elect to leave solar screens in place year-round. However, the screens can be easily removed during winter months, especially on south windows, if full solar heat gain (allowing the sun to shine in to warm up the house) is desired.
Can solar screens help reduce fading, yellowing and sun rot?
Yes. Solar Screens will greatly reduce ultraviolet rays that cause fading on drapes, carpets, wallpaper and furnishings. Also, store owners will notice a dramatic decrease in the fading of products on the shelves.
How much ultraviolet light do Sun Control Screens block?
UV blockage depends on the fabric’s weave and openness. In general, the UV blockage percentage will be the reciprocal of the openness factor. For example, 90% solar screen fabric can block up to 90% of the sun’s UV rays.
How long do shade screens typically last before replacement is required?
Unlike the older style of sunscreens (which are made out of fiberglass), SunTex and Textaline will not suffer from sun rot and need to be replaced in a few years. The expected life of both materials is fifteen to twenty years.
What kind of warranty do you offer with your screens?
AtoZ Window Screening proudly stands behind their work! We offer a 5-year warranty on the Solar Screens themselves, and a 1-year warranty on the installation. Should the screen become damaged from the sun’s UV rays, fade, or otherwise prove to be defective within a 5-year period, we will gladly repair/replace the screen at no cost to you! If within a 1-year period, the installation proves to be inadequate, AtoZ will gladly repair, replace, or reinstall your screens for free.
What kind of maintenance is required?
Solar Screens using Suntex or Textaline fabrics are not easily damaged and should provide fifteen years or more of carefree enjoyment. Only an occasional cleaning using mild soap and water, and annual tightening up of the turn clips is required. Click here to read the full cleaning and maintenance instructions for sunscreens.
How long does it usually take to get my sunscreens or screen doors installed?
That depends completely upon what you purchase and, more importantly, WHEN you purchase it. QUALITY is generally more important to our customers than SPEED. As such, we come highly recommended, and our workload quickly increases as the summer approaches. Generally, most products take 4-6 weeks to be installed, but during the heat of the summer or if supply chain issues arise, wait times can be 12-16 weeks. As such, smart customers who purchase their sunscreens early in the season (December – March) generally get much quicker delivery.
Can Sunscreens keep the sun’s hot rays from reflecting off my low E glass Windows and burning my artificial turf, lawn furniture, or other outdoor items?
Yes! We often make sunscreens for customers whose windows are reflecting light and melting / burning nearby objects such as artificial turf, lawn furniture, fences, trash cans, or any other items unfortunate enough to be in the path of these magnifying glass – laser beam-like reflections. Sunscreens are the guaranteed solution to prevent further damage.
This has become such a common problem that most local artificial turf contractors have AtoZ on speed dial! In fact, there have been several documented cases where reflections from low E glass windows have caused fences, flower bed bark, tall dry weeds, and other objects to catch fire… sometimes with catastrophic results.
I don’t like the way Sunscreens make the front of my house look. What can AtoZ offer for my front windows?
AtoZ can custom-make decorative grid sun screens that match the grids on your existing windows, maintaining all your home’s curb appeal while adding all the value of privacy and sun screen reflectivity. With Grid Screens installed, you get all the benefits that sunscreens can bring you, without the dreaded Jack-O-Lantern-blank-look of traditional sunscreens.
Think about asking us to install some decorative grid sunscreens to enhance the look of your window grids while adding more protection. It’s a great solution to a common sunscreen challenge.