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How Do I Choose the Best Solar Glass?

Mal Baxter
Mal Baxter

In the drive toward increased energy efficiency, homeowners may turn to solar glass. Harnessing solar energy to reduce climate control costs may depend upon technical approach. A homeowner may employ a direct gain, indirect gain, or isolated approach in order to collect and emit solar heat; additionally, the best solar glass to use depends upon its glazing or coating technology and how many panes it has. Contrasted to collecting energy, low emissivity (low-E) and reflective glass may keep the sun's energy out of the house in warmer climates. Material of the window frames also influences window performance.

Solar glass may absorb, reflect, or allow heat to enter a room. Choosing the best solar glass is a matter of first determining its purpose. Selection may also depend on climate and direction the windows face in shifting exposure to the sun. The first step in choosing glass is to understand the type of energy use you wish to employ.

Sheets of solar glass.
Sheets of solar glass.

The direct gain approach captures solar heat through windows for storage in a dark masonry floor. An indirect gain approach may absorb heat in a concrete wall to be dispersed over time through its opposite side. Combining the above techniques, the isolated approach transmits solar heat via ducts to the main house from an isolated area.

A choice of solar glass can depend on these factors as well as material and desired function. There are several varieties of glass. Laminated glass has a plastic interlayer that not only reinforces its structure but effectively dampens sound. This type of glass is highly effective at eliminating ultraviolet (UV) rays.

Strong tempered glass is resistant to impacts and thermal stresses. Two types of glass capable of combating solar heat gain are solar bronze and solar gray types. These and others may be tinted according to their names. It may help to research or discuss your property's characteristics with an architect or specialist to determine the most suitable materials for property and environmental conditions.

Other types of solar glass may also be characterized by light or heavy tinting and UV transmittance. These can be selected according to taste in order to coincide with the overall interior or exterior design. Additional considerations include daylight transmittance and shading coefficients.

Reflective glass may keep heat or light outdoors. This type of glass sometimes allows a view of the interior from the outside at night, so it's important to keep in mind the characteristics of glass through the day, night, weather, and seasons. Other types of glass are tinted or obscured with chips or reeds.

Low emissivity coatings block out solar energy. Insulation and heat-mirror characteristics round out the selections. As a general rule, the more opaque the window, the more energy it can generate. By understanding these special characteristics of glass and balancing them with building design and environment, you can save energy by working with nature instead of against it.

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    • Sheets of solar glass.
      By: laurent dambies
      Sheets of solar glass.