The 10 Best Side Window Sunshades
We spent 47 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top options for this wiki. Particularly important when you are carrying an infant or toddler in your back seat, these side window sunshades reduce the impact of harmful UV rays and glare, making the environment in your car, truck, or SUV much more comfortable. They are, of course, of equal benefit to any adult occupants, and also offer the added perk of lowering the temperature of your vehicle when it's parked in the sun. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best side window sunshade on Amazon.
Too Hot In The Car
That’s why, in very short order, the inside of your car can get so dangerously hot.
If you’ve ever driven on a long road that was particularly straight, with the sun beating down through the driver side window, you know that no air conditioning system is quite up to the task of keeping your skin from scorching under those intense UV rays. And often, while this is happening, you can look over at anyone sitting along the passenger side of the vehicle and feel an absurd sense of envy for the shade in which they ride.
Now, imagine you’re a child or a baby, who’s skin is significantly more sensitive to that harsh sunshine, and who is trapped in a car with it beating down on them for hours on end. You can imagine what a health hazard this poses to young children, not to mention the general discomfort they’ll be in, which is guaranteed to translate to outbursts of uncouth behavior. Not only are these outbursts annoying for the adults in the vehicle, they are also dangerous distractions on the road that could result in accidents.
Fortunately, there are side window shades designed specifically for cars that are inexpensive, easy to use, and significantly effective at cutting down on the intensity of sunlight breaking through your windows. These shades will certainly prove effective during the kind of ride we described above, but they’ll also be surprisingly effective at keeping the temperature inside your vehicle lower while it sits parked in the sun.
Getting into a hot car on a sweltering summer day is often a traumatizing experience. Even with the windows cracked, all that sunlight raises the temperature of everything it hits, causing things like your dashboard and your seats to emit higher levels of infrared radiation. That radiation actually bounces back off of the inside of your windshield, and causes something of kin to a greenhouse effect inside your car. That’s why, in very short order, the inside of your car can get so dangerously hot. With a side window shade installed on each of your windows, the amount of sunlight baking all those inner surfaces is reduced, resulting in a reduction of infrared radiation and thus a reduction in the temperature inside the vehicle.
Choosing Your Side Window Shades
Many of the side window shades on the market are pretty cheaply produced, often in factories overseas, and are ubiquitous online and in auto shops. With such a litany of similar models to choose from, it would be tempting to just grab the cheapest one you can find, toss it up in your windows, and hope for the best. There are some important differences, especially among the finer options on the market, that are worth investigating more deeply to ensure that you make an informed and gratifying purchase.
First thing you should consider is how many windows you want to cover. Some sets provide you with enough shade for all your windows, while others limit the number, anticipating that your only interest is in protecting a child or two in the backseat.
Other features to look for in your side window shades include stylish designs and deployment mechanisms.
After you decide how many windows you like to receive shade, you’re going to have to ask yourself whether you want to complete coverage or partial coverage. For ease of installation, most side window shades are smaller than the windows for which they were intended, and many attach with simple suction cups, so you can easily remove or reposition them. There are some models on the market, however, that are designed to cover your entire window. Many of these come in a variety of sizes and some are specifically cut to fit the windows of the make and model of your vehicle before they are shipped to you. These tend to be a little more difficult to install or take down, and many options like this may be a little more expensive, but they’ll do the most thorough job of keeping the sun at bay.
Other features to look for in your side window shades include stylish designs and deployment mechanisms. If you’re putting up your shade in the presence of children, you might want to look for a model that comes with a friendly figure on it like a cute animal or a character from one of their favorite TV shows or movies. Some models allow you to deploy them similarly to some window shades you’d find in the home, attaching by suction cup and giving you the option to literally pull the shades down over your window. These would be a smart idea for someone who finds themself putting up and taking down other window shades over and over again to increase visibility, as they reduce the amount of effort needed to let you see more clearly.
Other Ways To Stay Cool In The Car
Very recently, the air conditioner in my car has decided it wants to play games with me. And not just me; my mechanic can’t seem to wrap his head around what’s going on either. The result is that I often have to drive in a car that’s much hotter than I wanted to be. To fight against this heat, I’ve begun to employ a number of tactics and products that make my ride more bearable.
It makes for a pretty inexpensive solution, and it’s easy to rehydrate while driving.
The first of these was a basic cooling towel. In addition to providing you with an initial jolt of cold when you first put it on, a good cooling towel provides you with any subtle degree of evaporative cooling as the water it contains turns to gas. It makes for a pretty inexpensive solution, and it’s easy to rehydrate while driving.
Installing a few side window shades was a big help, but an even bigger help came when I finally invested in a shade for the windshield itself. That has managed to keep the starting temperature in my car at a minimum by blocking out a tremendous amount of the sunlight that we discussed above causing a bit of a greenhouse effect.
What I’ve done is just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re serious about staying cool you can invest in additional fans for your vehicle, or even coolers that keep food and beverages icy and refreshing and that plug right into your cigarette lighter.
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