Solar Control - what are the benefits?
Windows are fundamental to a building’s structure and the more of them we have, the more natural light we can benefit from to illuminate the space. Making the most of natural light is vital for a healthy living or work environment but there are potential problems caused by them too, including excessive glare, energy costs and solar gain. Without proper management, solar gain can cause excessive energy usage which can increase the carbon footprint of a building as well as expenditure on utility bills. The solution is solar control – but what is solar control and why is it beneficial?
What is solar control?
The heat radiation that builds up when the sun passes through glass is known as solar gain, and it has the potential to make rooms within a building incredibly hot. In south-facing In lower sun angles, solar gain can be a serious problem. Radiation travels at short wavelengths which can penetrate standard glass into the interior spaces of a building. When these waves hit objects inside, they are absorbed and then emitted at longer wavelengths which are incapable of travelling back through the glass. This solar gain means that the interior temperature of the property increases and becomes uncomfortable for those inside.
Solar gain is measured in g-values – the lower the number for a structure, the better the solar control is. Solar control glazing can be used to improve the solar control performance of the glazing by absorbing and reflecting elements of the solar spectrum. It prevents a considerable amount of radiation from the sun from entering the property, reducing heat loss, minimising the need for cooling systems and reducing condensation and glare.
What is the benefit of solar control?
Solar control offers numerous benefits for both occupants of a building and for the wider environment. An excessively hot office building can have a detrimental impact on the wellbeing of staff and can even affect productivity. Offices, schools and commercial buildings often opt for large glass windows and walls to create brighter interiors, but this can compromise thermal comfort if it’s not managed properly.
What’s more, long-term AC usage can have a negative impact on the wellbeing and health of the building’s inhabitants, from respiratory issues to headaches, fatigue and dehydration. In an attempt to keep the interiors comfortable, property owners can wind up spending a fortune on the costs of keeping the building cool. With solar control, property owners can avoid the need for expensive AC systems, as well as on blinds and curtains.
Solar control isn’t just beneficial in terms of keeping occupants comfortable and reducing energy costs – it is also important from an environmental perspective. Solar gain can have a detrimental impact on the energy efficiency of a building, increasing heat and therefore increasing the need for air conditioning systems.
Even just a change of a few degrees can have a significant impact on the comfort level of a room and whether air conditioning is needed. The less energy required to keep a building cool, the better it is for the planet, and solar control can help achieve this without the need for energy. Solar control isn’t just useful during the warmer seasons. It can also help to minimise heat loss in the winter, which again reduces the need for excess energy usage through heating systems in the colder months.
Where is solar control typically used?
Since solar control enables light to pass through a window or glass wall while reflecting away glare, it ensures that interiors remain bright yet cool which improves thermal comfort and the energy efficiency of the building through reducing the need for AC and lighting.
It’s typically used for larger glazed areas such as window walls, as well as conservatories, skylights and roofing, and facades. It can be used to maintain the aesthetic and optical performance properties of standard glass but with the additional environmental and operational benefits that create a building that’s conducive to productivity and comfort. Glass box extensions are also an increasingly common addition to properties and while aesthetically pleasing and wonderful for providing uninterrupted views of the surrounding scenery, they can pose the risk of overheating – especially when installed at the top of buildings. Solar control can help to reduce the issues associated with this.
For more information on solar control products and how they can benefit your building, contact Smartlouvre today and a member of the team will be happy to help.