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Comparing Window Film and Window Shades

May 20, 2014 | 5 comments

Sunlight can be extremely valuable for improving health and productivity. But if the sun’s UV rays are not controlled, they can cause damage to skin, floors and furniture, artwork, wallcoverings, and display merchandise.

Window film is a viable option for controlling UV rays, but it certainly isn’t the only option. How does window film stack up when compared to the most obvious sun-blocking alternative: window shades and blinds?

Glare Prevention
Window film and window shades both do a good job of preventing glare so tenants and occupants aren’t bothered by direct or reflected sunlight – but they do it in different ways. Window shades block or redirect sunlight so it doesn’t enter the space, so using them to prevent glare may mean an increase in artificial lighting requirements. Controlling excessive brightness, window film can prevent distracting glare while still letting in natural light.

Solar Heat Gain and Energy Savings
If you invest in high-performance, low-e window film, you can improve window insulating performance year-round instead of just during summer months. Low-e window film reduces heat loss in winter and solar heat gain in summer, resulting in both cooling and heating energy savings. Because window blinds and shades don’t always improve window insulating performance (they only provide improved insulating performance when down completely with blind slats closed), they can’t provide as much year-round energy savings as low-e window films. Window shades and blinds are located inside the room, so they also capture (absorb) and radiate solar heat into the space. Window film prevents a much higher percentage of solar heat gain from permeating the glass by reflecting the sun’s heat back outdoors.

Access to Safe, Natural Light
Window shades and blinds may create dark interior environments because they block a large amount of natural light. Window film works by blocking up to 99.9% of harmful UV rays, letting in natural daylight and possibly decreasing artificial lighting requirements. Newer low-e films are designed to be spectrally selective and reduce infrared heat while still allowing visible light to pass through. Studies show that providing tenants and occupants with exposure to daylight can improve productivity, reduce absenteeism, diminish health complaints, and increase test scores.

Preservation of Views
Because window shades must be closed in order to work, they inherently block views to nature and outdoor scenery. Window film allows tenants and occupants to enjoy outdoor views while minimizing glare or solar heat gain. One study found that employees with views of nature were more satisfied at work and had more patience, less frustration, and fewer health problems. Another study notes that not having access to outdoor views is associated with higher tension and anxiety levels in office environments.

What methods have you successfully incorporated to control glare and capture year-round energy reduction?


    May 31, 2014

    I was pleasantly surprised when I read your article and you mentioned the true benefits that Window Films provide.

  2. Vista
    June 2, 2014

    Hi Scotty, glad you agree! Window film offers great benefits for both residential and commercial buildings!

  3. Image Blinds
    September 29, 2015

    Yes, I’ve seen fabulous designs of window films and I was awed. It could be a nice addition to my window treatment selections.

  4. One thing I like about shades as window treatment is we can actually regulate the light coming into our room. If you prefer it rolled up all the way to the top, it gives you a breathtaking, unobstructed view of the outside world.

  5. Vista
    October 5, 2015

    Thanks for your feedback! You’re right – shades rolled all the way to the top of the window offer an unobstructed view. But this may also cause problems with solar heat gain by letting in uncontrolled natural light. That’s where window film comes into play .. it still allows for the breathtaking, unobstructed views you mention, but also controls solar heat gain to reduce air-conditioning loads, prevent fading and glare, etc. Hope this offers a helpful explanation!

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