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The Ultimate Guide to Solar Blinds and Solar Shades in the UK

Are you considering buying solar blinds? Still trying to figure out the difference between solar blinds and solar-powered blinds? Not sure which one to get?

We'll answer these questions and more in this complete guide to solar blinds and shades, and at the end, recommend what you should buy for your specific needs.

Sunshades are rising in popularity in households that need to reduce their electric bills and contribute to a sustainable future.

However, many find it challenging to choose one as there are many models and options. Reading this guide should help you decide which one is for you!

What Are Solar Blinds?

Solar-powered blinds (or solar-powered window blinds) are solar panels that are formed into the shape of window shades.

Therefore, they fall under the category of PV systems because they transform the energy coming from the sun into electricity.

Solar-powered blinds with solar panels in them can therefore help you save money on electricity bills by up to 70%!

The UV and heat protecting capabilities that solar sunshades have can be of service by helping save additional power consumption from air conditioning by up to 30%.

Additionally, solar blinds come in different varieties. Each one is designed for a specific purpose and has certain things in common that you should consider before buying one.

Regular solar blinds are similar in design and looks to standard, non-solar roller shades. They're designed to reduce the bright light from the sun's rays, the sun's heat, and UV rays.

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    They do this by using a specially designed fabric. Depending on the materials used for the fabric, they're rated for different UV ray protection, as well as see-through characteristics.

    These all contribute to making shades with different openness factors.

    Keep this in mind when looking to get these solar sunshades.

    What Do Solar-Powered Blinds Do?

    Solar blinds share similar properties with non-solar-powered blinds and solar panels. This means they come with the same advantages and disadvantages:

    • Solar blinds provide protection from glare coming from sunlight through windows. They can be retracted and extended depending on the user's preference.
    • They offer privacy from the outside world the same way that normal shades do, although sharing the same downsides that one-way fabrics do.
    • Additionally, they share the feature of saving energy for your electricity bill. They allow generated energy from the solar panels to reduce your energy bills.

    Solar blinds have moved solar power technology forward in a few ways:

    • Since they're essentially shades, they take up less space than traditional solar panels. Small size and space-saving are some of the most valuable features to have on any appliance or furniture inside an apartment or condominium.
    • Unlike other PV systems, they're also less costly to be installed. Instead of needing to be installed on a roof, they can just be installed indoors on top of your windows.

    Smart solar blinds have also pushed the convenience of using solar blinds forward. Some provide controls to navigate the window shades remotely.

    TAKE NOTE: You'd have to install a mobile application on your smartphone to make full use of the features, which include integration with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

    Applications like these allow for control of the smart solar blinds from a distance and the scanning of your windows and they can generate reports on the performance of the solar panels.

    On top of this, another feature many applications support is an automated rotation of the angle of the solar panels according to the angle of the sun for better performance.

    How Do Smart Solar Blinds Work?

    Solar blinds are PV systems. They work the same way as rooftop solar panels because they both convert energy from the sun into electricity.

    This is done by converting the sun’s rays into direct current (DC) electricity. Unfortunately, this DC energy isn’t useful in the typical system used in a house.

    For this, a DC inverter is needed to convert the electric power into an alternating current (AC). This AC power is what most home appliances use as a power source.

    Therefore, you just need to connect the solar sunshades to the electric grid. The DC inverter will work seamlessly to power your home appliances and devices.

    SIDE NOTE: Another advantage of using either solar panels or solar blinds is that they're grid-connected PV systems. You can store the surplus energy generated by the solar panels in a solar battery for use when you need it.

    So in the event of a sudden blackout, you will have some electricity stored!

    Additionally, you can sell the surplus converted by the solar panels to your provider through a two-way bill, reducing your electricity bills.

    How Much Energy Do Solar Sunshades Generate?

    The energy that the solar window shades can convert into electricity depends on the region that your house is in, the season, and the architecture of the building, apartment, or house.

    For example, one square metre of solar panels can produce up to 100 watts of electricity per hour. This is enough to charge 30 LED light bulbs or even a laptop.

    Smart solar blinds have technology that mimics the sun-tracking characteristics of sunflowers. They automatically adapt to the angle of sun rays for optimal energy capture.

    This smart tech makes them more efficient than non-smart blinds. However, they have a higher price tag, which is a major buying consideration.

    Something to consider when setting them up is their placement in relation to where the sunlight comes from.

    The optimal place to position your sunshades is in the EAST and WEST windows because that's where the sun's position will hit them at the best angles.

    This will allow the panels on the sunshades to absorb the most daylight and produce more electricity.

    How Much Do Solar Blinds Cost?

    The price of solar blinds depends on the size of the window and how many windows you have in your house or apartment building.

    For example, if your apartment has four two-square-metre windows, it will cost approximately £3,700 to fully cover the windows.

    On the other hand, a larger household might need a 4kW power system. This would require almost 28 square metres of rooftop space and cost around £7,000.

    One thing that you should note before buying any solar blinds is that the bigger they are, the higher the price. However, they will also generatemore electricity.

    Consider these two factors and. look for the best price-to-performance!

    Try to find a surface area where you maximise how much you save on electricity without too much up-front cost.

    Another consideration you have to include other than the price is the service cost. The more complicated your setup is, the higher your maintenance costs will be over time. 

    Solar Blinds vs. Regular Solar Panels: What's Better?

    Solar blinds have a few advantages compared to traditional solar panels.

    While they're essentially small solar panels installed on your window, their design has inherent benefits and other differences:

    1) Price

    Solar blinds can have a price point of HALF that of an equivalent solar panel system. This includes the price of the units themselves, installation fees, and maintenance costs.

    This makes them a much better option for any household trying to be more sustainable and save on their electricity bill.

    Sunshades save a lot more money because they're a dual-purpose product. They have solar-powered uses and temperature and daylight control uses.

    PRO TIP: Connect to a two-way electricity provider to get paid for any surplus you send on to the power grid. 

    2) Design

    Rooftop panels can be unsightly and interfere with the original design of a building, especially if it is of an older design.

    Solar sunshades don't have the same issue as they look like regular exterior shades. They also have different sizes and colour options

    Additionally, solar blinds offer other benefits like protection from the sun's heat and privacy, similar to those offered by regular shades.

    Modern smart sunshades are also better integrated, with home control systems and assistants like Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.

    3) Placement

    Installing a solar panel for an apartment you're renting isn't cost-effective and might not be permitted by the landlord. 

    Solar blinds, on the other hand, are easier to install and remove. This can reduce the hassle in the process of moving in and out of different homes.

    Solar blinds don't require a large, open rooftop space for installation. They only need a window space.

    These factors are all in favour of solar blinds and suggest that they are the next step in PV technology being seamlessly integrated into homes!

    Now that you know more about solar blinds, you might have more questions about using them, how they work, or if they're suitable to use in all situations.

    We've answered the most commonly asked questions below:

    Conclusion: Are Solar-Powered Blinds Worth It?

    Blinds that have solar power features can transform the way you use your household appliances and help you save money on electricity bills.

    However, they come with a COST.

    Even though they're cheaper than traditional panels in their installation and service costs, they're still relatively expensive, especially the smart-controlled ones.

    Solar-powered blinds still have benefits that outweigh the costs

    These include the long-term ability to save money, store energy to use when there are unexpected blackouts, and the privacy and daylight-blocking abilities they have.

    Furthermore, you should take note of this before buying:

    • Choose darker sunshades if you want something that blocks more daylight but is warmer.
    • Choose lighter ones if you want less daylight but cooler temperatures.

    Which blinds you get depends on your preferences.

    What you require from it as a service to your household compared to how much you'll pay for it is only for YOU to decide!

    Did you know that Solar Panel Installation can match you with 3 local installers who will provide you with a free quote? Fill out our form today to get in touch with installers.

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    Mark McShane
    Content Writer
    Mark McShane is a seasoned professional in the solar industry and the owner of Skills Training Group, a leading provider of solar training and education. With years of experience in the field, Mark has developed a deep understanding of the latest trends, technologies and best practices in the industry. His expertise and passion for solar energy have helped countless professionals develop the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the fast-growing field of solar energy. Whether you’re an aspiring solar professional or an experienced industry veteran, Mark is an excellent resource for anyone looking to enhance their skills and knowledge of the solar industry.
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