Blinds Vs Electrochromic Glass
Discover which solution is right for your commercial project
Natural light is an integral part of any architecturally designed commercial space, as it is proven to enhance productivity and general wellness. When large elevations of glass are specified in commercial environments, solar shading must be considered whether this is in the form of a technical glass solution or external shading systems.
Particularly in office designs or educational settings, it is important to control solar gain to prevent it from interfering with day to day activities. There are many options when it comes to solar control, from external shutters to solar control glass, but this article will explore the advantages of both blinds and electrochromic glass.
It is best to consider solar control during the early planning stages of a project to ensure the right solutions can be incorporated and the glass specification can accommodate the chosen solution. When solar control is an afterthought, blind systems are installed to prevent solar glare as this is the only feasible option once building works are complete.
The main advantage of blinds is the ability to completely block the sun, with the use of blackout blinds or dark materials. When you specify blind systems, in most cases the operating mechanisms are manual. Blind systems from Grants Blinds can be fully automated and even incorporated into a complete smart home system, enhancing the functionality. As well as automation options, the blind solutions can be completely concealed within the building finishes for a clean, minimal look.
One disadvantage with blinds is the human interaction they require – despite the system’s ability to be automated, this still requires human interaction to open or close the systems. Once blinds are pulled closed, humans are likely to forget about the blinds and leave them closed for the majority of the time as a result of this. This results in increased energy consumption due to the need for electric lighting.
Studies show that when manually operated blinds in commercial spaces are closed due to experiencing solar glare, they stay closed for 76% of the time, whilst automated systems stay closed 52% of the time. This means that elegant glazing systems are not maximised but instead covered up, blocking the natural light and views completely, thus losing the benefits of natural light in commercial spaces.
Although electrochromic glass cannot block 100% of the sun’s rays, it can significantly reduce heat and glare when used correctly. IQ recommends in-pane zoning, where the glass pane is split into zones depending on the strength and direction of the sunlight. This means that the dark blue tint doesn’t need to cover the whole area, it can simply be a darker strip, for example, at the top of a window where the glass gets the most sun. Opting for this method will also eliminate the blue tint that can occur in internal living spaces when electrochromic glass is used across the whole pane. The technical glass solution can also be specified with gradient zoning for an enhanced aesthetic.
Electrochromic glass is the best option if you are striving to achieve enhanced visual comfort and benefit from all the health advantages of natural light and views. As well as the advantages to humans, the interior design of a building remains intact when the technical glass acts as the solar shading solution.
In traditional spaces, blinds may be the preferred option, but for modern commercial buildings that want to maintain a minimal design both inside and out, specifying electrochromic glass is advised. The blue-tinted glass can also be used as a design feature on the external face of a building, creating a striking contrast against the building materials. To speak to a member of the team about the right solution for your project, get in touch with us here.