Solar Shades Vs. Cellular Shades: Which Window Covering Is Better?

Gary Evans
by Gary Evans

There may be certain issues that are plaguing your household at the moment. It could be an issue regarding excess sunlight or something related to poor insulation. You may need to install some kind of window covering to address whichever problem it is you’re dealing with.

Among the window coverings you can use are solar and cellular shades. Is there a clearly better option between those two that you should install right now?

To find out if you should install solar shades or cellular shades, you must consider your household’s needs. Cellular shades specialize in providing insulation and they are also easily adjustable post-installation. Solar shades allow you to precisely control the amount of sunlight that enters your home.

Making the right choice between cellular and solar shades requires extensive knowledge of them. You can acquire that knowledge by reading through the rest of this article.

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What Are Cellular Shades?

Of the window coverings that are commonly used in households, cellular shades are probably the most elaborate. Two different fabrics are typically used to make cellular shades.

One type of fabric is supposed to continually face outside. Its job is to reflect sunlight and prevent too much heat from entering your home. The other fabric has a different but still significant role to play. It’s supposed to add visual interest to your home interior along with insulation.

The gap between the two fabrics also serves an important role. That gap is there to improve insulation and make your home more comfortable.

What Are Solar Shades?

As you might have already guessed from how they’re called, solar shades specialize in keeping sunlight out of your home. Solar shades are ideally used as protective additions.

Solar shades do have some limitations though. We’ll go over those limitations as we progress through this article.

How Cellular Shades and Solar Shades Compare to Each Other

You need to understand the key differences between cellular shades and solar shades if you want to make the right purchase. Let us help you out by offering important points of comparison.

Light Control

Light control is always an important topic to touch on whenever shades are discussed. Both of the options we’re talking about can provide a good amount of light control.

Cellular shades are highly customizable and that’s important if you value light control. The type of fabric you choose can determine how much light enters the room.

The fact that cellular shades are so easy to adjust also helps them in the light control department. You can tweak the positioning of the cellular shades until you get just the right amount of light. Direct the sunlight to specific parts of your home by adjusting the positioning of the cellular shades.

Solar shades also provide plenty of light control, but they go about it differently. Instead of letting you choose the fabric, you get to choose the openness rating for your solar shades.

The openness rating for solar shades tells you how much UV light they allow to enter. The rule of thumb with openness rating is that sets with higher ratings allow more sunlight in. That means a set with an openness rating of 12 brings in more sunlight than something with a rating of 10.

Keep how that openness rating works in mind and you should be able to find a suitable set for your home. Choose a set with an openness rating below 10 if you want to keep the amount of sunlight to a minimum.


Many homeowners install window coverings because they want privacy. They don’t want people walking by and getting a glimpse of their home and understandably so.

You’re getting different levels of privacy from cellular and solar shades. For this category, there is a clear superior option.

Solar shades do not offer much in the way of privacy. That’s not what they are for.

They are supposed to block sunlight without obscuring your view that much. It’s no surprise that they struggle when it comes to providing privacy.

Cellular shades are different because they can provide a lot of the privacy you’re seeking. You can choose blackout cellular shades if you want as much privacy as possible. The availability of that option means you should go cellular over solar if privacy is your main concern.


You can argue that the main selling point of cellular shades is the quality of insulation they provide. According to the Department of Energy, tightly insulated cellular shades can reduce heat loss via windows by 40 percent or more. They also note that tightly insulated cellular shades can reduce the solar heat entering your home by 80 percent.

Those are massive reductions. They tell you why cellular shades are so highly lauded for their insulating capabilities.

Cellular shades can provide that kind of insulation because of how they’re designed. Their honeycomb structure really helps them insulate homes better. The presence of the gap further boosts the insulating capabilities of cellular shades.

So, are you getting any kind of insulation from solar shades? Solar shades do indeed provide a decent amount of insulation. They just don’t stack up well to cellular shades in that regard.


Longevity is an important consideration when buying shades. Constantly changing your window coverings is not ideal. Once you install new shades, you want them to last for a long time.

Thankfully, both cellular and solar shades are very durable. Both types of shades have an expected lifespan of over 15 years. That assumes proper maintenance on the part of the homeowner of course.

Cellular and roller shades don’t really have a lot of components that are prone to breaking down. That’s a big reason why they can last for so long.

Maintenance Requirements

Homeowners cannot afford to ignore the maintenance requirements of their preferred shades. As we just discussed above, proper maintenance is crucial to keeping your shades in good shape long-term. You definitely need to pay close attention to it.

The way to clean cellular shades will depend in large part on the fabric you chose. Check out the manual to find out how to clean your cellular shades the right away. Don’t worry though because most of those cleaning methods are still easy to follow.

Solar shades are easy to clean as well. Cleaning them up with a vacuum often does the trick. If there are stubborn stains on the shades, you may have to use a cleaning agent to get rid of them.

Ease of Installation

Unless you’ve installed them before, setting up your first set of shades is always tricky. There are quite a few steps involved in the process.

You have to start by mounting the hardware that will support the shades. How difficult that task is will depend on the kind of hardware you’re given. Some pieces of hardware can still be installed with no issue, but others are more complicated.

Once the hardware is in place, you need to focus on aligning the shades. That job is not that easy either. Brackets must be added in order to keep the shades in position and that goes for both cellular and solar shades.

The installation process gets easier from there, but you can still make mistakes. The set you have may also be different from the conventional option. The installation process for you could also be quite different as a result.

Installing solar shades is easier if you’ve worked with them before. You may encounter more difficulties while installing the cellular shades because individual sets can vary significantly. Remember that when making your final choice.


Many homeowners inevitably think of cost when choosing any new home additions. If that’s going to be a deciding factor for you, then you should know about the price gap.

Cellular shades are significantly more expensive than solar shades. Cellular shades are even considered among the most expensive options.

Your choice of fabric is going to affect how expensive your chosen set is. Price could end up being the reason why you aren’t able to get the exact cellular shades you want.

Solar shades are more uniformly priced. If you can afford one set, chances are you will be able to afford most of them.

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Related Questions

What Other Window Coverings Are Commonly Used?

For those who are not big fans of both cellular and solar shades, there are other options available. Homeowners who want to keep the temperatures down during the summer can use blinds and curtains. Curtains can also help homes retain heat during the winter.Both blinds and curtains also work if you want light control. Just as with shades though, you need to pick the right options to get your desired amount of light control.Now if you want more privacy, you can go for a window film. Special window films are also capable of blocking UV rays.

Are Automated Shades Good for Your Household?

Yes, automated shades can be terrific additions to your home. Set them up in advance so your living room is already at the desired temperature by the time you wake up. Go ahead and tweak the automated settings as needed as temperatures change throughout the year.

Gary Evans
Gary Evans

Gary Evans is passionate about home improvement. He loves finding out how to make improvements in the easiest, most practical, and most affordable ways. Upgrading his home kitchen is one of his ongoing hobbies. Gary is also a long-time content creator and enjoys spending his free time tending to his hydroponic vegetable garden.

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