Introduction: Cheap & Easy Solar Shield

Do you live in a hot climate?  Does the sun beat down upon your home?  Do you wish you could reduce solar heating?  Do you want to block the sun before it gets inside your dwelling (blinds work only so well -- the heat is already inside at this point).  I answered yes to all of these, so I made a Solar Shield.  I'll show you how in this Instructable.

I made this about a year ago, and it still looks the same the day I installed it.  So it has some robustness.  The bad part is I forget some of the details.  (Sorry!  But you can figure it out pretty easily I think -- read on.)

I think the total cost was ~$30.

Step 1: Stuff You Need

I got a roll of this Solar Shield material at my home store.  This is the most expensive component (~$25).  When unrolled, it's about 4' wide and about 7' long.

(2) 8' lengths of flat molding.  (The corners are rounded a bit to take the edge away.)

Staple gun & 1/4" or 3/8" staples.

1-1/2" flat plate.  These might be called "repair" plates.  (I forget.)

(2) flat-head machine screws, #6 or #8,  length is ~3/4" (I forget this too.)

(4) nuts to match machine screws.  I used double-nuts.

(7) Self-tapping screws

(4) screws eyes (You'll have to judge the size based on how windy it is where you are.)

Step 2: Attach the Bottom Molding

Cut the molding to length and staple the molding to the bottom side.  This will give the shield stiffness and keep it from flapping in the wind.

Step 3: Roll Over the Bottom Molding

Roll the bottom molding over twice and staple it again so the molding is completely concealed.

Step 4: Attach the Bottom Plates

Drill a hole through the bottom molding and attach the two flat plates on the bottom.  I put mine at about 1/4 and 3/4 length.  Use a flat-head machine screw and 2 nuts at each location.  I added a couple drops of crazy glue (Loctite works too) on the nuts.

Step 5: Add the Top Molding

Cut the second molding to length and staple it along the top on the side of the Shield.  Take a minute and review where you want to put the shield.

This molding is used to mount the Solar Shield.

Step 6: Install the Shield Where You Want It

The assembly will have a decent weight to it; be careful not to break the molding by letting it bend too much.  Better to have a second set of hands to help you here.

I used self-tapping screws so I didn't have to drill pilot holes and worry about getting them lined up.  If you do have a friend to help it might be easier to drill and screw each location.  Nails will probably work too, but don't split the molding!

I used about 7 screws spaced about a foot apart along the length.

Step 7: Bungee Cords

A couple mini bungee cords are used to keep the Shield in place and from blowing around in the wind.  The bungee cords should be just barely taut.  They will stretch a bit over time.

Attach the other end of the bungee cord to a screw eye.

I had to crimp the hooks on the bungee cord a little bit to keep them from coming free too easily, especially after they stretch.  I want mine to come free for when I hang the Shield horizontally in the winter -- we want the sun then!

So I added a couple more screw eyes to the back wall which allows me to swing the shield up and out of the way in winter and when we have a storm or very windy day.  You'll have to check out how you can best "store" the Shield out of the way.  (Maybe you have some better ideas.)

Step 8: Enjoy Lower AC Bills!

I haven't been able to measure the Solar Shield's effectiveness, but it is noticeably cooler = fewer kWh the AC uses = less electricity $$.  One of the requirements I had is I didn't want to completely block out the sun -- I wanted to see through the Shield.  (Otherwise, you could just hang a sheet of plywood, which isn't very attractive!)