80% vs 90% solar screens, which is better? What shade density should I use, the 80% or the 90%?

How dark are the 90% solar screens going to make it inside of my house? Are the 80% vs 90% solar screens considerably lighter?

I hear all the time from people worrying about the 90% fabric making it too dark. They want to use the 80% vs 90% solar screens. Because they are worried the 90% fabric is going to make it extremely dark within the home.

This picture is an outstanding example that shows you 90% shade compared to 100% shade.

Show how dark a solar screen is going to make it.
This is me holding up a 90% solar screen, to get a feel for what kind of shade you will get. To get a feel for how dark it is going to get from using them.

Sun peering through West facing window with and without 90% solar screens.

Now, here comparatively is a great picture that shows the sun pointing directly in through these West facing windows.  All of the windows are shaded with 90% solar screens except one. One window doesn’t have a solar screen on it at all.

To demonstrate, there on the floor, you will see examples of 0% shade, 100% shade and 90% shade.

As an illustration, these are some outstanding shading examples.

As a point often overlooked, look at how dark the 100% is in contrast to the 90%.

0% 90% 100% solar screen example
This is a great way to see what no shade, 90% shade, and 100% shade look like compared to each other. These windows are getting full blast West sun at the moment.

Windows shaded with 90% solar screens.

Here’s a picture of a Westerly facing window, with the West afternoon sun peeping through a 90% solar screen.

Look at that great filtered light. How much wonderful filtered sunlight still gets through.

West facing window shaded with 90% solar screen.
Look how much-filtered light still gets through this West facing window that is shaded with a 90% solar screen? This window currently has a 90% solar screen on it. That light coming through is coming through a 90% dense solar screen.
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And this is of the same window taken from a different angle. This also shows some additional Windows there in the kitchen area. Those windows are also shaded with 90% solar screens. These are west-facing windows with the sun currently positioned in the west. The sun is pointing at these windows as you can tell by the shadowing.

West facing windows with 90% solar screens on them.
Look how much sunlight is getting through these 90% shaded windows?

Can plants survive behind a solar screen?

I get asked every now and then if plants can live behind solar screens. I Don’t see why not, look at all of that filtered non-harsh sun-light. That’s sun filtered and shaded with 90% sun light filtering. Still looks like plenty of sunlight to me for plants to live off of.

Can your plants live on the back patio for 100% shade? Then the answer would be yes. Yes, the plants can live just fine behind 90% shade.

90% versus 0% shade, interior view.

The following picture shows where the center window has a 90% solar screen installed on it. And a window to the left and right side of it that do not have solar screens on them at all.

Look at the floor there and you will see Zero versus 90% shade.

As you can tell by the shadowing effect, the sun is pointing directly into those windows as this picture was taken. The sun was most likely at the 2 p.m. Location.

90% solar screen in middle, no solar screens on two outer windows.
The 90% solar screens will not make it too dark in your home. Everything is subjective, but take a look at this and other pictures here on this page to get a feel for yourself.

Am I going to be able to see through a 90% solar screen?  Are the 90% solar screens going to greatly distort my outward view?

The second thing I hear from people that are concerned about the 90% fabric is how well will they be able to see through it. This is something that quite commonly comes up.

Here’s a picture of an office building the day we were all in all putting solar screens on every window. Each window of this entire office building. Quite a few windows. This picture is of the front entrance. There to the left of the front door as you can tell there’s not a solar screen there. On the front door, above the front door, and all the windows to the right of the front door are covered with my 90% solar screens.

See how well you can see through the 90% fabric.

Office w/ 90% solar screens.
The entrance to this commercial building is shaded. This room is covered with my 90% commercial solar screens for windows.

Here’s a great picture showing a 90% solar screen there installed on the middle window.  And the two windows on either side of it without a solar screen.

So those two windows on either side of that 90% solar screen are representing 0% shade.  And the center window represents 90% shade.

90% shade screen on center window.
This picture shows a 90% solar screen on the center window, and nothing on the outer two windows.

80% vs 90% solar screen side by side comparisons.

Here’s a side-by-side picture showing what it looks like looking through the 90% versus the 80% solar screen fabric.

Side by side comparison of 80% vs 90% solar screens.
Side by side comparison of 80% vs 90% solar screens. The distortion you see is simply from the camera, you don’t see this in real life. The camera the homeowner used to take this with picked up the distortion you see, that’s not something you see in real life. This picture is of looking through my Mocha color solar screen fabric.
80% vs 90% comparison for sun shade fabric.
See how well you can see through the 80% fabric. Another great side by side comparison of 80% vs 90% solar screens. The 90% fabric is slightly more distorted, but you can still see through the 90% fabric very well. You can see through the darker fabric better. The lighter colored fabric reflects light more, which is why you are sensitive to that. With the darker fabric, outward visibility appears to be better because of less reflective light.

The 90% solar screen fabric is a tad bit more distorted than the 80%.

Looking through the 80% fabric.

You can see through the 80% fabric about equal to that of looking through your current bug window screens. It is extremely clear. The outward visibility of our 80% solar screen fabric is extremely clear.

Here’s an example of looking through our 80% solar screen fabric.  The window to the left does not have a solar screen on it. The center and right window have an 80% solar screen.

Shows a window without 80% solar screens and two with.
The top left window does not have a solar screen on it. That top left window is bare. The center and right window both have 80% solar screens on them. See how well you can see through the 80% fabric?

However, with that said I do not want to discourage you from a 90% solar screen. Our 90% Textilene solar screen fabric in summary lends phenomenal vision.  In conclusion, you can see through our 90% fabric extremely well.  If your window gets 4 hours or more sun I unquestionably recommend the 90% fabric.

Shading the West side with the 90% fabric will save you significantly with your utility bills.

What is the shade difference between an 80% and 90% solar screen?

We chiefly recommend using the 90% solar screen fabric for Windows that get four hours or more sun. We explicitly recommend using the 90% solar screen fabric for West windows. Those hot windows that get a pounding by the West afternoon sun. Specifically for those long Summer days where the sun feels like it is never going away.

And then use the 80% solar screen fabric for all other windows.

Comparitive shade examples. 80% vs 90% solar screens.

The following picture is an outstanding representation to show what 100% shade, 90% shade and 80% shade look like.

People occasionally get worried about the 90% shade lending too much shade. Using this picture, in contrast, compare the 100% shade versus the 90% shade. To put it differently, “It is a staggering difference from total shade to 90% shade.” In fact, light is hard to totally cut out.  There is an expressly huge difference between the 100% shade and 90% shade.

You do not get 100% shade from solar screens!

Shade comparison, of 0%, 100%, 90% and 80%
This is an awesome perspective to see what 0%, 80%, 90% and 100% shade levels look like.

This picture shows a different perspective on a different texture. In particular, this picture illustrates 100% shade, 90% shade and 80% shade and 0% shade. Notably, as an illustration, this shade representation is of grass. For a different texture.

Showing 80% and 90% shade against a textured surface.
Showing 80% and 90% shade on a textured surface.
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Temperature difference from 90% shade to 0% shade comparison.

This is a perfect way to see the difference between 90% shade and 0% shade. Using a temperature gun, you can see the shading variance.

0% shade versus 90% shade
The window to the left has 0% shade. While the 2 windows to the right have 90% shade.

See the following picture for the temperature results. Comparing a 0% shade level (no shade (left)) to a window shaded with a 90% solar screen (right). An eleven-degree difference.

Temperature gun showing the temp drop using 90% solar screens.
A Pflugerville TX solar screens customer submitted these photos to us in 2021. She used an infrared thermometer temperature gun to get temperature readings. She got a 96 degree reading for the left window that has NO shade, no solar screen at all. And an 84 degree reading for the window to the right that is shaded with 90% solar screens.

What does it look like when you put 90% next to 80%? Can I put 90% and 80% on the same side of the house?

There is a difference. It’s hard to tell the difference

The angle of the camera can make a difference. Depending on the angle of the camera, you can see the difference well or not. There can either be little difference or a stark difference between the two.

The following picture illustrates a stark difference between the two.

80% for opening windows, 90% for non-opening.
As shown above, the non-opening 2nd floor windows have the darker 90% fabric on them. This Cedar Park homeowner chose to use the 80% fabric for the 1st floor windows. I don’t agree with his Cedar Park solar screen decision. These are West facing windows, therefore they all would benefit from 90% shade. This homeowner kind of missed the point about how solar screens work. The primary goal is not to shade the inside, but rather to shade the glass itself.

I, myself Josh Hobbs, often have a hard time telling the difference between the 80% and 90% screens once installed.

It is not always all that obvious when you look at the two. This picture here also illustrates a clear example of the 80% vs 90% solar screen fabric.  In this picture, for the most part, there is a stark difference between the two Fabrics. It’s the angle of the camera. From this angle, you can clearly tell the difference.

Opaqueness difference between 80% and 90% solar control fabrics.
The camera angle here for this picture helps to accentuate the opaqueness difference between the 80% and 90% solar control fabrics.

However, in this picture, it is very obvious. It is often up to the way the Sun hits the fabric and the way that my camera takes a picture. Or perhaps the angle of when I take the picture.

Mix and match solar shade fabric density.

I have zero problems combining the 80% and 90% solar screen Fabricsas long as they are not right next to each other. You can put the 80% fabric on Windows 10 ft away and the 90% fabric on other windows, and it will look just fine.

90% on some, 80% on others
Showing a Round Rock TX house wearing 90% on some, 80% on others. All front windows are shaded for the front side of this Round Rock solar screen project. Installations where you mix and match the 80% and 90% fabrics. Solar screen will give you plenty of privacy during the day. But do not give you privacy at night.
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No problems using 80% and 90% fabrics on the same side.

For this picture, the homeowner did not want to use the 80% fabric for the windows around his front door. For fear that he did not want to make it too dark. He felt like those windows were being shaded. Because he felt like they were being shaded he did not feel like he needed the 90% fabric.

90% and 80% on front of Austin Texas home.
This Austin TX homeowner put 90% and 80% solar screens on the front of their home. The 80% vs 90% solar screen look is JUST fine. I do not have a problem with installations looking like this. See how much your solar screen project will cost and visit my Austin TX installed solar window screen pricing page.
90% fabric solar window screens and patio roller shade fabric.
For the Leander Solar Window Screens 2018 project, we provided 90% shade for the windows and patio. Both the windows and patio received shade from the same 90% chocolate solar screen fabric. I made their outdoor patio roller blinds with my 90% chocolate fabric. See more examples on my solar screens – pictures page. To take a look at my DIY pricing, check out my window screen and roller shade store.

Back of home with 80%, 90%, 97% black shade fabrics.

Here on the back of this home will you see 90% solar screen fabric for the upstairs windows. And then 80% solar screen fabric for the downstairs windows. As you can tell, it is not all that noticeable. When the homeowner considered the 90% vs 80% solar window screens for the back, this is what they picked. I rather would have used the 90% fabric for all of these back windows. Except maybe those under the back patio.

97% patio sun shades.  80%, 90% and 97% shades.
This picture illustrates all of my available shading levels. My 97% manual outdoor patio sun shades. 80% solar window screens for the 1st floor. 90% solar screens for the 2nd floor. Window film or window tint can not match solar window screens. Solar screens are in fact considerably better shading devices.

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Some of my other Austin Texas installation services.

Commercial interior sun shades 97% black.
Three windows are covered with one large commercial interior sun shade made from 97% black fabric.
San Antonio Texas multifamily solar window screen installation.
San Antonio Texas multifamily apartment solar window screen installation. Example of my vast experience. I put up a lot of these things.