We’ve all been there. The sun is blazing through a glass window, threatening to melt you and everyone else in the room. It can be completely insufferable and no one needs the drama. So what can be done to deal with this nightmare scenario? Whilst blinds are great they obviously cut out natural light which is a bit of a bummer. So, how about solar control glass?
How does solar control glass work?
When sunlight interacts directly with an object or material this triggers 3 mechanisms of of solar energy management. Reflectability, absorption and transmittance.
"When sunlight interacts with an object it triggers reflectability, absorption and transmittance."
Reflectability relates to the ability of a material to reflect solar energy and not let it pass through.
Absorption refers to ability to absorb solar energy.
Transmittance means the materials capability to allow solar energy to pass through it.
Solar control glass is coated with a material that reflects infrared and absorbs ultraviolet wavelengths from the solar energy that hits it.
Reflecting Infrared means solar control glass reduces the amount of heat that comes in to the building. Whereas absorbing ultraviolet protects the interior of the room from fading. This also protects people from the harm that can come from natural sunlight.
"Solar control glass can protect people from harmful UV rays."
There are many pros to solar control glass. Firstly the temperature regulation benefits have a huge impact on the cost of cooling and heating a building. This is due to the high thermal insulation for retaining heat during winter and low energy transmittance to keep the room cooler during hot summers. Not only this but high light transmittance allows a lot of light in on overcast days. The solar control elements also don’t tint the glass, leaving it neutral, to allow for a clear view.
Less spending on heating and cooling also means that less energy is being used which is a big plus for the environment.
"Less spending on heating and cooling also means that less energy is being used which is a big plus for the environment."
The major negative is that it is a higher cost investment than traditional glass. Due to the absorption the glass undergoes, it is prone to overheating also. This is definitely something to consider.
How do they make solar control glass?
The glass is coated with microscopically thin layers of solar control coating. The method they use to do this is known as magnetron sputtering. This is done within a vacuum chamber. Noble gas ions are hurled at great speed at metal targets. Atoms then dislodge and condense in a thin layer on the surface of the glass. The material is laid atom by atom, up to 15 layers. Even then the total of the layers in thinner than a strand of hair.
"The 15 layers of solar control coating is still thinner than a strand of human hair."
There are of course cons with solar control glass, however, the innovation involved is undeniable. We’ve all been in a hot office on a summer day, or have been let down by inadequate double glazing in winter.
The future is bright for windows in the construction industry!