Solar gain, in simple terms, is a gain in temperature or heat levels which is caused by sunlight, in buildings and other similar enclosed structures. Walls and roofs will conduct heat from the sun’s radiation, but this can be minimised by many different forms of solar shading. Glass panels and windows, being transparent, are responsible for a much of the transfer of heat and require more specialist means to reduce heat radiation from the from the sun’s rays. This becomes a more pressing problem during the summer months when the sun’s rays can be much stronger and hotter. With modern building design making much more use of glass, both as architectural features, and to increase the amount of light entering a building, some very attractive and interesting buildings are being constructed which give a much more spacious, light and airy feeling about them. This in turn, however, makes the question of solar gain a much greater consideration. Fortunately, there are many advances in solutions, including solar screening, becoming available on the market which efficiently, and with ease of operation, are able to substantially reduce the effect of solar gain.
Enviroscreen Systems are a family owned company with over 20 years’ experience providing solar shading solutions for various situations, including some very high profile buildings. Many of their sophisticated systems negate and reduce solar gain whilst affording large savings in energy and associated costs for their clients. A brief overview of some of the solar shading products they are able to provide will give some idea of what can be achieved.
Roller Blinds are a basic but very effective and durable solution to the problem of solar gain. Modern roller blinds can be supplied in a wide range of materials and can be manufactured to fit any size of window or aperture, in both depth and width, to fit any situation. This type of contemporary blind solution can be operated either manually or as a motorised roller blind, and can be set to cover exactly the area that requires a solar shading solution. There is an enormous range of materials available to suit any interior and solar shading requirements, with either open weave or closed, and full blackout blinds can be supplied too. Motorised roller blinds are ideal for long drops, but manual contemporary roller blinds are designed to be very simple to operate and especially cost effective. This type of modern blind, being very durable, are recommended for use in schools, colleges, and other high use areas, and depending on the material used, can significantly reduce solar gain.
Vertical blinds, which include venetian blinds, consist of vertically hung louvres suspended from a horizontal track. They are evenly spaced, and weighted at the bottom to give a uniform appearance, and to ensure that they hang straight. These modern louvres, which are available in varying widths, can be drawn across the window as desired, and rotated through 180 degrees giving exceptional flexibility, with directional control of screening as required. Again, many options are available both in materials and colours, which give the opportunity for very attractive visual appearance for modern interiors. Contemporary vertical blinds can be used on curved windows, and are ideal for longer lengths of glass. Again, there is the possibility of adaptable made to measure blinds, designed for any situation, and can by supplied as manually operated, or motorised. Modern vertical blinds provide a very smart ambiance, and are an ideal complement to modern architectural design.
Pleated blinds are manufactured from a form of fabric which is pleated into 20mm folds. The fabric is semi-opaque, allowing an attractive soft light through, but giving considerable screening from bright sunlight. They can be drawn across a window opening to give greater light if necessary and are suitable for either vertical or horizontal mounting. With the ability to fit tensioned guide wires through the pleats, it is possible to fit them at any angle. For this reason, they are ideal for fitting in conservatories, atria, skylights, and other similar situations. They are comparatively lightweight and very cost effective. Supplied in plain and patterned material, they make for very attractive solar screening in otherwise challenging areas.
In many situations, the traditional curtain is able to provide very acceptable solar screening solutions not only for solar gain but also where blackout conditions may be required. Curtains have been a very long-standing and traditional provision over the years and are therefore very suitable in Heritage and older buildings where they are able to complement the overall ambience. There are many benefits of using curtains – apart from keeping sunlight out – including good insulation and sound reducing properties, as well as the ability to match new or existing interiors. Indeed, one of the features of curtains is the extensive range of materials, patterns and colours that are available, and the added benefit of made to measure sizing. Again, there are options for opening and closing, either by hand, with the use of cords, or even with electric operation. In many situations, curtains can be the obvious choice.
WINDOW FILM AND MANIFESTATION
Another effective measure for solar control is the use of specialist window film. This is particularly useful in giving solar screening on large areas of glass and in helping to control the problems of excess light and heat in these situations. With modern architecturally designed buildings often featuring large areas of glass, this can considerably reduce the expensive environmental damage caused by the heavy use of air conditioning. It can also be used to create privacy and security, and can increase safety in the event of spontaneous breakage or even a bomb blast. There is a wide selection of strength and different colours available in window film, and specialist advice is essential in selecting the best option required. This is a low cost solution which gives many benefits in the area of solar shading and in the right circumstances can provide effective solutions to the problems caused by large areas of architectural glazing.
SOLAR SHADING SOLUTIONS
It is clear that the whole question of solar gain is a serious problem, even in our temperate clime, and the whole consideration of solar shading is something that cannot be overlooked. The options for solar shading measures that can be taken to reduce solar gain are many and varied. The level of solar screening is an important consideration, together with the construction and age of properties, and the type of areas where solar shading solutions are required, and how much reduction of glare and heat within the building is appropriate. With many new technologies becoming available, and specialist computer programs providing the necessary data, skill and experience becomes a much greater factor in the recommendation of the most effective and suitable solar shading solutions in every situation. Indeed, it is also becoming very important to take the whole question of solar gain into account in the design and positioning of new buildings. Gone are the days when a simple blind or basic curtain was all that was required. Today, the whole question of solar gain and solar shading has become much more of a science.
Visit www.enviroscreen.org.uk for solar control solutions or call 01727 220007