The 10 Best Windshield Shades
Why Protecting Your Vehicle Is Cool
It’s the first hot, sunny day of the season, and it’s time to head to the beach.
It’s almost enough to make you want to time travel back to the doldrums of winter.
Go ahead and imagine the blissful feeling that accompanies the annual arrival of summer. You survived those desolate winter months, when you spent both your morning and evening commutes shrouded in frigid darkness. You endured an unpredictable spring — weeks of cold rain and gray skies and thunderstorms with an occasional sprinkle of sun and warmth.
It’s the first hot, sunny day of the season, and it’s time to head to the beach. You head out to the car, open the driver’s door, and BAM! Calling it a sauna doesn’t adequately describe the heat inside; it’s a revolting inferno, emitting odors of singed upholstery and gradually melting plastic. It’s almost enough to make you want to time travel back to the doldrums of winter.
It doesn’t have to be this way, you know. The interior of a parked car in the sun can reach nearly 200 degrees Fahrenheit, causing permanent damage to the vehicle, the driver, and the passengers — which is why you should seriously consider obtaining a windshield shade, if you haven’t already.
While every automobile is susceptible to sunlight, a quality windshield shade will expel the extreme heat and prevent unnecessary harm to your vehicle’s interior. While a shade won’t completely eliminate the buildup of heat inside of your car, it will minimize rising temperatures by deflecting the sun’s rays.
When it comes to the sun, personal safety is of the utmost concern — not only your safety, but that of your passengers, as well. Everyone, including children, is vulnerable to long-term health risks associated with excessive sun exposure. This includes a variety of ailments at varying levels of severity, including skin cancer. Windshield shades block some of the harmful rays that standard window glass cannot.
If the sun’s rays can inflict this type of damage onto your skin, think about what they can do to vinyl, carpeting, fabric, and leather car interiors. The same goes for electronic components like stereo systems and digital screens. Sustained exposure can wreak havoc on your dashboard and seats, leaving them bleached, faded, cracked, and warped — not exactly an effective strategy for upping the resale value of your car.
Styles And Features: Finding The Shadiest Shade
Automobiles come in a wide range of styles and price ranges, and the windshield shades that protect them are no different. Depending on the level of protection, durability, and portability you require, you’ll be able to choose between a foldable custom fit, a roll-up custom fit, a universal roll-up, or an accordion-style shade.
Collapsible for easy setup and storage, the foldable custom fit is tailor-made for your vehicle to ensure comprehensive coverage of your windshield. The roll-up custom fit is also designed specifically for your car, although it’s not as easy to install as the foldable model. While not custom-built, the universal roll-up is economical and versatile, making it useful for a variety of vehicle makes and models.
While not custom-built, the universal roll-up is economical and versatile, making it useful for a variety of vehicle makes and models.
The last style — and perhaps the most complex — is the accordion shade. These retractable units mount directly to your windshield, so you should never misplace it or have to re-install it. When you want to deploy the shade, you simply pull a cord, stretch the accordion to the other side of the windshield, then hook it into place. It doesn’t provide quite as much coverage as the other types, but it’s easy to handle and highly reflective.
Regardless of style, a number of factors differentiate each individual product. When assessing the shade’s material, most people focus on options that are versatile and long-lasting, which is why nylon and polyester have emerged as popular materials due to their light weight and durable properties.
Stability is critical, as well; a weak shade that falls over fifteen minutes after you park your car isn’t really fulfilling its intended purpose, is it? Look for options with built-in elastic or Velco straps for securing the shade into place. Some even have side flaps that you can fold out to provide coverage on the driver and passenger side windows, which delivers even more protection for your vehicle’s interior.
If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, customized models are an ideal solution for a few reasons. First, you won’t need to worry about testing different sizes, as the shade is tailored to your vehicle. Next, you can buy it in the color and design of your choosing, which allows you to enjoy its appearance as much as its functionality. And lastly, you can ensure that it includes your desired set of features — which can also help make the process of setting it up, taking it down, and storing it as effortless as possible.
A Very Brief Lesson In Physics
Think about your car as a microcosm of the earth; sunlight, which contains an extensive range of wavelengths of light, enters your vehicle through the windshield glass — similar to the way sunlight reaches the earth through the atmosphere.
The increase in energy then causes those molecules to bounce around faster, making the interior hotter still.
While most of the visible light passes through the glass, the majority of the ultraviolet (and some of the infrared) light is unable to make it through. The contents of your car then absorb that visible light, which leads to an increase in temperature within the vehicle, similar to what happens to the earth.
Once your car’s dashboard or upholstery absorbs that light, the character of the light changes — increasing the energy of the atoms and molecules that make up those components. Therefore, in a sense, your car has become a mechanism for changing the visible light into infrared light.
Without getting too scientific, this causes your vehicle’s interior to increase in temperature because that new infrared light falls within a wavelength range that the windshield glass blocks, trapping the heat inside. The increase in energy then causes those molecules to bounce around faster, making the interior hotter still. If your car’s equipped with an effective windshield shade, it will prevent most of that light from entering your vehicle in the first place, halting the heating process before it starts.