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What’s the Difference Between Roller and Solar Shades?

What’s the Difference Between Roller and Solar Shades?

The varieties of blinds and shades are endless. Even when two products look the same, they could be completely different. Most of us aren’t well-versed in window coverings… well… let’s be honest, some of us don’t even know the difference in blinds versus shades.

There’s nothing to be ashamed about! There’s a lot more to know about blinds and shades than you’d ever expect. A question we get often is… what’s the difference between roller shades and solar shades? The answer is simple, but one that takes a little explaining… so let’s stop beating around the bush and get to it.

Roller Shades
Roller Shades

At it’s most basic definition, roller shades are simple window coverings, whereas, instead of having slats or veins like blinds, a solid sheet of material covers the window and is brought down with a roller function. Like a paper towel roll, when you pull down, the tube in the middle turns and the material grows in length. When pulled in the opposite direction, the material re-wraps the tube and is shortened.

Roller Shades are simple, budget friendly and sleek. Their uncomplicated design allows for unlimited possibilities when it comes to fashionable fabrics and materials. Our roller shades are available with vinyl and fabric materials. Customers either choose a neutral, solid color and fabric to tie together the space, or make the shade an accent to the room and choose a bold, attention-getting color or pattern. The material used for roller shades is solid, and cannot be seen through.

Solar Shades
Solar Shades

Solar shades are also fairly simple window coverings. Like roller shades, they do not have slats or veins, and when pulled down, a sheet of material covers the window, propelled by a roller and tube function.

Solar shades are slightly more expensive than roller shades, not because of additional bells and whistles on the shade itself, but the material used for the shade. Woven, screen-like material is the base of solar shades. The loose woven nature of the material allows for the screen to be somewhat transparent. The weave of the material is an important aspect of solar shades… and in fact, is the reason they get the name “solar.”

The ultimate goal of solar shades is to block the number of harsh UV Rays coming into your home. This function is designed to allow you to regulate the temperature in your home in the end. Solar Shades are sold based on the number of UV Rays they allow into your home. When you see “14 Percent Openness” solar shades, that means the shade is blocking out 86 percent of UV Rays, while allowing 14 percent of UV rays in your home. Blindster’s solar shades are defined in 1-, 3-, 5-, 10- and 14- openness. The higher the number, the more transparent the shade.

Roller vs. Solar
Roller vs. Solar

So, we realize, just reading what they are might not have cleared up the confusion… so let’s go over what roller and solar shades have in common… and not so in common.


  • Both shades have a roller function.
  • Both shades are completely smooth, with no pleats (unlike roman and pleated shades).
  • Both shades keep a low-profile appearance.
  • Both shades have the ability for the customer to choose the light control.
  • Both shades are measured for and installed exactly the same way.
  • Both shades have options for cassette valences, cordless spring rollers, metal chain lifts, nylon chain lifts and the ability for a reverse roll.
  • Both shades have blackout options.


  • Solar shades specifically block UV rays; Roller shades just block the light coming in.
  • Roller shades are available in vibrant colors; Solar shades are available in neutral colors.
  • Solar shades can be seen in and out of; Roller shades cannot be seen through.
  • Roller shades are available in fabric and vinyl materials; Solar shades are a screen-like material.

As you can see, these shades have far more similarities than differences. It’s no wonder people often get the two confused, after-all, they’re unique in their function compared to other shades. But you’ll see, the material of these shades is the number one difference. In fact, the material may be the defining factor in why you choose one over the other. If you’re in need of a shade that can reduce energy costs, a solar shade might be the choice. If you’re in need of a shade that is budget friendly and stylish, a roller shade can fit the bill. Whatever you decide… we’re here to help!