The windows in your home play a significant role in energy consumption, as well as energy efficiency. Energy efficient windows usually have energy measurements and solar heat gain coefficient numbers, which show you how much heat they can bring in to the house.
The issue is that these measurements are fixed, and they do not reflect your varied use of windows. Windows can let the right amount of heat in during the winter, which can reduce heating costs and energy consumption, and provide you with natural light, further decreasing energy costs. However, there are times where you require less visibility or less protection, and the specific uses of the windows may not mix well with your energy efficiency goals for the house.
Fortunately, new technology developments allow a greater amount of flexibility for these functions. Switchable glass technology now allows users to control the capabilities of the windows, depending on the situation, through the flip of a switch. If you believe switchable glass windows are the best solution for your problems, continue reading to learn more about them, as well as their benefits and applications.
What is Electric Switchable Glass?
Electric switchable glass is also known under other names, such as privacy smart glass, smart glass, privacy glass, or simply switchable glass. This glass contains electro-chromatic technology, usually connected to Wi-Fi or another online or wireless system, that allows the user to change how the amount of light transmission that goes through it. The transmission changes through the application of voltage, heat, or light, and causes the window to switch between a typical clear and transparent appearance and a foggy, opaque look.
The switching mechanisms for these windows are different and depend on the user’s desired use. Some systems are automated, following a setting schedule you provide. Others use sensors that determine the room’s weather, sunlight and room population to switch to the appropriate setting that allows more heat in when it is colder and blocks heat when the temperature is hotter. There are also systems can be activated by your direct control. You can use a manual controller or an application in your smart phone, tablet, or computer to switch between settings.
Benefits of Electric Switchable Glass
Even though electric switchable glass tends to be at least 50% more expensive than traditional glass due to its innovative technology, as well as the cost of applying it to each window in the building, it also provides several benefits that offset the cost. Switchable glass provides a variety of advantages that relate to energy efficiency and beyond.
• Quick and Ample Privacy. Sometimes, you need to cover the window or office to maintain privacy. Switchable glass allows you to frost the entire window to maintain this right without giving up natural light. You can also adapt this technology to larger windows and glass doors, and apply it to different rooms, such as corporate offices or a larger home bathroom.
• Lack of Blinds, Shades and Curtains. The application of curtains, shades, or blinds to reduce heat and block light from coming in the house is not entirely reliable and downright outdated. Even though you might block some light from coming in, other bits of light will also sneak in no matter how much you close the blinds. Also, they do not stop heat from coming in, thus reducing their energy efficiency. Not to mention these systems are difficult to install and maintain, and some users may find them an eyesore that detracts from the room. Switchable glass allows you the same benefits, but with far greater efficiency and without the maintenance or installment issues.
• Reduction of Costs. The greater efficiency of switchable glass means it can reduce the amount of heat entering in the room during warmer weather or climate. This function reduces the use of air conditioning, which also decreases energy consumption and saves you money. It also fulfills other energy efficient functions, such as providing natural light to avoid artificial lighting, without bringing in the heat that comes with it.
• Protection from UV Light. Most smart glass systems block ultraviolet (UV) rays from entering the building. UV light can harm the skin of anyone in the building and negatively impact the integrity of the furniture and fabric, causing it to fade. Switchable glass prevents this process from taking place.
• Aesthetic Value. Some switchable glass systems give you the opportunity to liven up the opaque look of the glass. These systems have a projection screen feature that allow you to play any type of multimedia project in the windows, from different types of color and light shows to animations shifting between different patterns and shades. The entertainment possibilities are endless.
Common Applications of Switchable Glass
The multiple benefits of electronic switchable glass make it an appropriate choice for a variety of purposes and locations. Despite being a form of high-end technology, smart glass is appropriate for both residential and commercial buildings.
• Outside Home Windows. Switchable glass is a cleaner, more efficient alternative to blinds, shades, and curtains in a room or home office. It provides the same shading properties, but with greater efficiency.
• Commercial and Office Use. The greater speed and transition between clear and opaque settings make switchable glass an ideal choice for offices that prioritize privacy. The frosted look also provides a sleek, minimalist appearance that is lost when using clunky curtains or blinds.
• Hospitals and Hospitality Establishments. Smart glass reduces the hygienic issues inherent with curtains and blinds, which is useful in places such as hospitals and hotels, where hygiene is important.
• Bathrooms and Guestrooms. You can use the clear or opaque settings to either project visual entertainment or use natural light and space to highlight features in your bathroom or guestrooms. The opaque setting also provides on-demand privacy necessary for bathrooms, while also reducing the need for bathroom curtains that are difficult to clean and maintain.
Modern Solution for Modern Problems
Electronic switchable glass adapts to the specific needs of your home or building, while providing you with enhanced energy efficiency benefits. While it might have a greater cost than traditional glass, the expense, aesthetic, and efficiency advantages make the price well worth it.