What Are The Different Types Of Solar Shading Systems
There is something beautiful about a room flooded with sunshine. Especially in the mornings when it has gently warmed the space and the light is still relatively soft. However, by midday, the strength of the sun has usually caused the room to become uncomfortably hot and the light is creating glare.
Solar gain is an issue for both homes and commercial buildings, particularly those with a lot of glass. Glass walls, doors and windows are wonderful at opening up internal spaces, allowing a view outside and attracting natural light and warmth.
Office buildings look beautifully modern with plenty of glass, welcoming in the natural light which is generally good for workplace wellbeing. Yet, glare is not technology-friendly making it difficult for business personnel to work on computer screens. Furthermore, with multiple people in a building, controlling heat is already a challenge, so solar gain must be properly managed.
Although ventilation, insulation and thermal mass can assist in controlling the temperature in a building, solar shading systems are the most versatile solution for day-to-day comfort.
Here are a few different types of solar shading systems:
Solar Control Glazing
Ideally, if you have a large amount of glass in your building then you’ll have solar glazing control. This is a high-tech coating that is added to glass enabling it to reflect away much of the sun’s heat whilst allowing light to pass through. Solar control glazing is not uncommon, whether for use in conservatories or skyscrapers, and the level of effectiveness varies depending on the product and use. Aesthetic finishes, such as coloured or mirrored glass, can usually be applied to windows with solar control glazing.
Overall, solar control glazing is highly effective at improving thermal efficiency and can be used for skylights as well as windows and doors. However, solar control glass absorbs some of the heat which can make it hot and it is also very expensive.
However, the key disadvantage is, that rather than control the solar gain penetrating a building solar glazing blocks it almost completely, which means the space does not benefit from solar heating. In homes and hospitality spaces especially, it seems a shame not to take advantage of natural (and free) heat energy when the conditions are right.
Canopies and Awnings
There is a good reason that in warmer countries you’ll often find awnings above windows and canopies overhanging shops and cafes. A small piece of material positioned correctly, can be very effective at blocking sunlight and heat.
However, awnings do not have to be made from fabric or pulled out manually on a pull cord system. There are plenty of more modern awning solutions including solar control glass awnings and shade sail canopies.
Awnings and canopies offer high UV protection and also help to control the flow of air and ventilation which is beneficial for shaded outdoor spaces. Awnings can also be retractable with some even being motorised. This makes it easier to leave windows free to draw in light and heat in cooler weather, then bring out the awnings for protection as sun radiation gets stronger.
However, canopies are admittedly more effective for outdoor areas than indoors and their ability to shield depends on their relation to the position of the sun, which changes by the hour. Awnings and canopies also tend to cast shadows which can result in some very light and some very dark spaces. Not providing the heat and light balance desired.
Solar Shading Blinds
Blinds are a popular form of solar shading for both office buildings and homes. Offering a more flexible solution than solar control glazing and more balance than awnings and canopies, modern blinds provide a wide range of options. As well as solar shading and light control, blinds offer privacy and a certain level of acoustic control.
The louvre blind technique has been used since medieval times to keep out sun and moisture in European buildings. Louver (or louvre) windows have slats directing the flow of light and air in a building and this technique is still the one used in modern blinds. The ability to tilt gives blinds a huge advantage over curtains and there are a variety of ways to position blinds to let in the desired amount of light at different points throughout the day.
Of course, blinds do restrict much of the view from windows and although they can be beautifully designed, they are never going to be as attractive as the open view from the windows. Restricting the flow of light also impairs its well-being benefits for those using the home or commercial space. Not to mention that blinds are relentless gatherers of dust and not the easiest to keep clean.
MicroLouvre Solar Shading System
MicroLouvre is a modern solution for solar shading that allows light to flow freely into a room but prevents glare and controls heat gain to maintain optimum indoor temperature.
MircoLouvre uses the same louvre technique as most shutter blinds, however, as the world’s thinnest louvre system this metal fabric is just 1.55mm thick. The technically advanced mesh can also be easily fixed to glass to provide a near-invisible and high-effective solar shading system.
Outperforming all other external solar shading systems, MicroLouvre prevents both solar gain and solar glare, whilst allowing for light, ventilation and a clear view.