But new smart glass technology could allow windows to control sunlight and heat, drastically reducing energy costs in the region.
Imagine this: you wake up in the dark hours of an early winter morning, but instead of flipping on the lights, you flip a switch that sends a tiny electric current through the electrochromatic glass of your windows. The windows instantly turn from dark to transparent, allowing the warmth and natural light of the sun to flood your home. This can all be made possible with the application of SPD SmartGlass by SmartGlass International.
Now imagine this: you're the office manager of a company in scorching hot Dubai, UAE. Instead of cranking up the air conditioning when the sun warms the windows of your office to over 100 degrees, you simply flip a switch. Instantly the smart glass windows of your office building become tinted, blocking out the sun and helping to maintain a cooler temperature inside.
While these two scenarios might seem like science fiction, the technology that could make them a reality already exists--and it's about to get a lot cheaper.
Smart window technology has "always been a premium product that, at $50 to $100 per square foot, has been too costly for most commercial and residential construction projects," writes Steven Ashley of Txchnologist.com. But those prices are likely to fall in the next year, as a new, higher-volume manufacturing plant in Faribault, Minn. goes on line, and smaller smart window start-ups across the country begin to ramp up production.
So how does this dynamic glass actually work?
SPD-SmartGlassTM can be manually or automatically “tuned” to precisely control the amount of light, glare and heat passing through a window. While glass is a favored product for use in building facades; glare, solar heat gain and UV exposure are problematic and can often make the use of glass impractical resulting in the need to invest in expensive solar shading devices. Glass facades using patented SPD solar control technology reduce the need for air conditioning during the summer months and heating during winter. The ability to instantly switch the glass to maximize daylight when it’s really needed and to provide controllable solar shading during peak light conditions is valuable and unique to Solar Smart Glass. All SPD SmartGlass panels are bespoke manufactured using a lamination process which encapsulates a SPD “Suspended Particle Device” film between 2 or more glass sheets.
Solar Smart Glass Principle
When the power supply is switched on, the rod shaped suspended particle molecules align, light passes through and the SPD SmartGlass panel clears. SPD SmartGlass protect from damaging UV when on or off. When the power supply is switched off the rod shaped suspended particle molecules are randomly oriented blocking light and the SPD SmartGlass becomes dark blocking up to 99.4% of light. Now, you might be wondering how installing electrified windows is going to help buildings reduce their energy consumption, rather than increase it. Ultra-efficiency is the answer: Experts say that powering 2,000 square feet of the color-changing glass—the equivalent of more than 100 windows—would require less power than illuminating a 60-watt light bulb.