Solar Screens or Solar Window Film?

solar screen or solar window film

In Florida’s hot, sunny weather, homeowners often consider adding solar screens or solar window film to help shield themselves from the near-constant daytime rays.

Solar screens and solar window film both serve to achieve similar goals. However, there are distinct differences in effectiveness, convenience, and cost over time.

They Both Block the Sun

Both products are designed to block solar (UV) rays from entering a building’s interior through the windows. This keeps your home or business cooler, reduces A/C expenses, and protects furnishings and fabric from sun fading. Harsh glare is also minimized reducing eye strain and making it possible to watch TV or work on computer screens comfortably during the day.  Let’s not minimize the damage to property and to human skin that results from sunbeams through windows in the form of UVA rays.

Good Visibility

Solar screens and solar window film do not block your view. You will still be able to look out the window of your coastal home or office and watch a beautiful sunset over the Gulf (or golf course!) However, you will notice a solar screen more because it is visible as a mesh or netted look), while window films are completely transparent, becoming a part of the window As a result, window films have markedly better visibility when gazing out of the window.

The Temptation to DIY

You can purchase both solar screens and solar window film from manufacturers or vendors. These usually come with instructions on how to install them.  Resist this temptation as it will likely cost you more in the long run. The reality is that both products look better, last longer, and provide optimal performance when installed by a licensed professional.

The Big Differences

When deciding between solar screens or solar window film don’t stop at the qualities that they have in common. Now, let’s compare the differences between solar screens and solar window films.

Mount vs Integrate

Solar screens are a separate entity mounted directly to the exterior of a building. As a result, they change the building’s exterior appearance due to their visibility. You are going to notice solar screens the same way you can see your regular window screens through the window. However, solar screens are slightly darker and have larger webbing, so they are even more evident than regular window screens.

In contrast, solar window film is applied directly to the glass and comes in clear, transparent sheets. Once applied, you won’t notice it’s there as it simply integrates with the window. You will be able to see through it comfortably minus the glare.

The Highest Energy Efficiency

If energy efficiency is your top priority, solar screens rate the highest in that category. This can make solar screens a very attractive option for Southwest Florida homeowners. You might consider installing solar screens on the west- or south-facing windows in your home if they get more than an abundance of sun. Solar window film offers slightly less energy efficiency if your higher concern is visibility and lasting value. This is especially true when you consider window film blocks 99.9% of UV light rays.

Short- and Long-Term Costs

Solar window film is typically more expensive than solar screens. However, solar screens are less durable, and they deteriorate more quickly over time. So, in terms of lifetime costs, solar window films will save you more money in the long-term.

Professionally installed window films, selected with a building’s climate and exposure in mind, will last for decades without requiring replacement.


Since solar screens are made from a durable mesh and are separate from the building and window’s structure, they collect dirt, debris, and bugs. Over time, this takes a toll on their appearance. If you don’t clean them regularly, they look dingy, and trapped debris looks tacky. Also, solar screens are known for diminishing airflow from open windows, so that’s another fact to consider if you open windows regularly.

Another consideration is the destruction that can come with the high winds of tropical storms and hurricanes.

Window film, on the other hand, becomes a part of the window, so cleaning and maintenance are as simple as that used to maintain your windows – with a few extra caveats (avoid using abrasive cleaners or cleaning products, etc.). Solar window film can also have safety and protective qualities that can increase your windows’ resistance to high winds, debris, and projectiles that are kicked up during our infamous Florida storms.

Our window film installation services and options include:

Residential and commercial window film installation

A variety of shades, colors, and strengths of tint for decorative, security and solar protection. Yes, you can select a film that serves all three purposes.

Total Shield Protection is your trusted source for solar rejection, impact-resistant, and privacy window film installations as well as professional window washing, pressure washing, and paver sealing.

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Home Guide to Residential and Commercial Window Film Services

This informational resource is a home guide that contains everything you need to know about window film installation services, all in one place. It is designed to enable residential and commercial property owners to make informed decisions when it comes to investing in window film.

We’ll teach you about the different types of window film, the benefits of window film installation, and also provide valuable insight on how to find superior service providers that will get the job done to your satisfaction both efficiently and affordably.

Download this Free Resource on Choosing Window Film and Tinting for Your Home

Our Service Area
Total Shield is currently providing services in Sarasota, Bradenton, Venice, Osprey, Port Charlotte, North Port, St. Pete, Nokomis, Englewood, Punta Gorda, Palmetto, Lakewood Ranch, Longboat Key, Parrish, Riverview, Brandon, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Seffner, Seminole Heights, Palm Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Zephyrhills, Myakka, and Arcadia.