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Cellular Shades – Differences Between Cell Numbers

Cellular Shades provide elegance and modern lines along with the benefits of noise insulation and energy efficiency. These popular shades come in a variety of styles however, and it's important to understand the differences between them before choosing the best cellular shades that suit your individual needs.

Cellular shades are named for the pockets, or cells, of air that get trapped between the layers of the shade. Each shade consists of at least two layers of fabric, pinched together at the pleats to create a tunnel (cell) of air between them. Depending on the pleat size, these cells can range in size from 3/8” to 2” and come in multiple layers of cells. These layers, also known as cell numbers, provide a range of insulating properties and noise reduction.

Larger cell sizes only come in single layers. Some larger pleat sizes, however, like a few produced by the manufacturers at Hunter Douglas, contain multiple layers of smaller cells but look like single layer cellular shades. Most multiple-layer, or multiple cell shades, however, consist of bunches of smaller cells grouped side by side to provide higher levels of insulation. These shades resemble the look of single layers of small shades with very small pleats but have the depth of larger cells due to the multiple layers.

Common cell numbers and functions:

  • Single Cell – Single Cell Cellular shades consist of a single layer of cells. These shades come in a wide variety of cell and pleat widths ranging from 3/8” to 2”. Larger single cell shades are best suited for larger and deeper windows while smaller cell sizes look better on smaller, shallow windows. Like all cellular shades, single cell shades offer light diffusion, some energy efficiency and some noise insulation. Basically, these are designed to trap a single layer of air between your room and the outside.

  • Double Cells – Double Cell Cellular shades consist of two layers of interconnected cells, one row of cells closer to the room and the other closer to the window. Double cells offer better sound and energy insulation, but do not come in the same range of cell sizes as single cells. Double cells are usually restricted to cell sizes of less than 1/2” and similar pleat sizes. Some manufacturers, however, have squeezed multiple cells into larger pleat sizes.

  • Triple Cells – Triple cell shades refer to cellular shades with at least three layers of cells between the room and the outdoors. These shades offer maximum insulation and help with energy or heat loss. Although these also offer excellent noise insulation, they're most often used in homes where blazing sun or freezing weather can cause energy loss through windows. These shades usually only come in smaller sized cells and pleats. These tend to be a bit thick so are recommended for deeper windows.

Popular manufacturers such as Comfortex, Bali, and YourBlinds carry a wide range of cellular shades of various cell counts. Hunter Douglas, although they carry conventional cellular shades, also offers wide pleated shades consisting of multiple cells. These give the look of single layer large cell cellular shades but have the benefit of the double and triple layers.