We sat down with sunshade-expert Peter Jones from Sola-Cure Marine Window Blinds to answer common questions about selecting, sizing and installing Sola-Cure Solar Blinds on your vessel. If you’re unsure if you need solar blinds on your vessel, check out our previous article: The Benefits of Using Sunshades on Your Vessel.
What do I need to consider when measuring the window dimensions?
There are many things to think of – shape of window and where you are going to mount them. Check out the questionnaire that will take you step by step to identify the window shape and how to measure.
In addition to the above, consider where the cassette will be installed and check there are no obstructions. Typically these might be a motor wiper box or other navigational equipment. Parallelogram shaped windows offer the biggest challenge. In this case, consider if it is possible to extend the cassette length beyond the top of the window that will generate full coverage of the glass.
What mounting options are available?
There are two mounting options: bulkhead mounting and overhead mounting. Bulkhead mounting requires the use of a supplied 90-degree bracket, while overhead mounting fixes to the ceiling.
What is the difference between constant-tension type & self-locking type?
Constant tension uses a spring mechanism that is always taut. It is therefore less likely to have any waves or ripples in the film. However, the most common method of fixing a constant tension blind in position is to wrap the operating cord around a cleat. Using a cleat is more time consuming than a self-locking blind where a cleat is not necessary. Sometimes, constant tension is preferred but using a cleat is not desired, so the user will install retaining hooks.
The only disadvantage to using retaining hooks is that the location of the hooks determines the position of where the blind is pulled down. The most common application for the retaining hooks is a user that wants the blinds fully up or fully down. Self-locking type allows the user to leave the blinds at several different heights.
Self-locking type is exactly as it sounds, with several different positions that the shade will lock into place. This type does not require cleats or retaining hooks.
Do I need wire guides?
There are several scenarios in which Sola-Cure recommends using wire-guides along the sides of the shade to keep it in place. If the shade is mounted on a slant, it is a good idea to add guides, though if it is a very small window they may not be necessary. Overhead windows always require wire guides. If the ship is often in heavy seas, wire guides are recommended to keep the shades from slapping around. And generally, any shade over 1-meter should use wire guides to ensure the highest-quality installation.
Can Sola-Cure be mounted to overhead windows?
Yes, but they will need wire guides. For overhead windows, Sola-Cure recommends constant-tension type to ensure the film is taut.
Can blinds be mounted below the window?
Yes. Where the window is wider at the bottom than at the top, it may be necessary to mount the cassette below the window and the blind pulled up to achieve full coverage. As with overhead blinds, constant tension is the only suitable mechanism for bottom mounted blinds.
Can I add wire guides later if I determine I need them after installation?
Yes it is possible, though it requires drilling four small holes in the bottom bar (two per wire). The bottom bar is an aluminum extruded profile so drilling is easy and self tapping screws can be used.
What are the minimum & maximum shade sizes?
The cassette or “roll” is limited in width to 2.6-meters (8’5”) and the minimum width is 335mm (13.25”)
Sola-Cure uses 1.8m wide rolls of film (72”). Where a window exceeds this figure in both width and depth, two pieces of film are joined together. The joint creates a horizontal line where they are joined. Sola-Cure always makes sure the joint is near to the bottom rail and therefore below the eye line.
What is the shade material made out of?
The material is a polymer film.
Are different shade-color options available?
The interior of the shade will appear grey, and the exterior color can be grey, silver or gold.
Are there advantages of one film color over another?
Tests show there are some small differences in some of the data such as visible light transmission and heat reflection. However in each case, the naked eye does not distinguish these differences. Reflective films (Grey/Silver and Grey/Gold) reject more heat than Grey/Grey. Sola-Cure does, however, recommend Grey/Grey film for inland waters. This is to avoid reflection for oncoming vessels.
Is the film fire retardant to IMO standards?
No, as a polymer film, the material does not meet FR standards. However, there is no requirement for FR compliance in the wheelhouse or bridge.
If the windows are in a public area such as on a ferry, Sola-Cure offers a perforated fabric sunscreen that does meet FR regulations and still reduces UV rays by 99%.
How do I clean the shades?
For a quick clean, a feather duster is enough. For a deeper clean, Sola-Cure suggests taking the blind down and placing on a large flat surface, free from debris, and use a lint-free cloth to gently wipe the film.
For even more information, be sure to download the Sola-Cure catalog!