Solar glass is different than regular glass as the latter allows sunlight to pass through it while deflecting a large amount of heat which helps in generating electricity onsite. It is used in commercial and residential buildings where keeping the indoors cool is a necessity. It is a perfect combination of great aesthetic appeal and innovation, that’s why it can play an important role in the development of the ‘urban micro-generation’.
To learn more about this special glass type, keep reading this blog-post.
How Is Solar Glass made?
It is manufactured by tinting or applying a metallic coating on the glass. This glass is made of chemical compounds like amorphous silicon, polyvinyl butyral, polycrystalline silicon and chalcogenide. It can be made on a float or patterned glass, but the manufacturing process will be different between them. For the float glass, its molten state will be slowly cooled and removed from the molten tin. The patterned glass, on the other hand, is passed through engraved rollers. This pattern enables lamination, provides better aesthetics and non-binding effect to the solar modules. Then, the coating is deposited on one side of the glass to give it anti-reflection properties.
This glass is usually used for many Building Integrated Photo Voltaic (BIVP) applications such as:
- Semi-transparent solar windows
- Rear-ventilated fronts, curtain walling and rain screens
- Skylight, halls
- Outhouses with transparent solar roofs
- Bus shelters
- Privacy protection panels
Some of the other functions this glass provides are:
- Solar electricity generation
The speciality of this glass is that it can generate electricity from its vertical and sloped facades. To best utilize this function, you should create a proper plan and consider factors like latitude, orientation, shading and temperature or ventilation.
- Shading and glare control
This is another unique attribute of solar glass as it can prevent the entry of harmful ultraviolet(UV) rays while allowing the entry of other light.
- Thermal control
The temperature of the photovoltaic module can increase when exposed to radiation. That heat can be utilized to provide heating or enhancing passive ventilation systems.
- Thermal insulation
Its multilayer glass structure can provide thermal insulation (reduction of heat transfer). This is possible through a combination of shading and absorption where the photons are converted to electricity.
- Sound protection
Solar glass consists of sound insulating properties due to its multi-layer structure. The sound insulation can be adjusted by using asynchronous cover layers or an intermediate layer like polycarbonate and by increasing the thickness of the glazing.
- Structural strength
It is usually sturdy in nature as it is generally laminated containing multi-layers. But for extra safety or security, triple lamination can be done.
There are many advantages of using a solar glass and they are:
- The colour tint helps to absorb the heat.
- The coating helps to reflect heat.
Difference Between Solar Glass and Regular Glass
Read the table below to understand how solar glass is different.
|Solar Glass||Regular Glass|
|1. Energy efficient||Doesn’t aid in energy conservation|
|2. Absorbs heat||Doesn’t absorb heat|
|3. It is a combination of aesthetics and functionality||It only adds to the aesthetic appeal of the space|
There are two types of solar glass available and they are:
- Crystalline cells i.e. monocrystalline or polycrystalline
- Thinfilms like amorphous silicon or cadmium telluride
Crystalline technologies provide the highest standard test conditions (STC) efficiency value which can range between twelve to seventeen percent and for multicrystalline. This number can go as high as twenty percent.
The thin film work in reflected or ambient light on the cloudiest of days, unlike crystallin which requires direct sunlight. Thin film also shows less degradation than the other type at a high temperature.
As solar glass adds great aesthetic value, it is available in several colours such as yellow, light blue, brown and grey. The conventional solar glass is either black or blue and in the case of crystalline silicon, it’s either brown or black. Plus, there are different laminated coatings or films available that can be used to add a pleasing colour. The opacity of this glass varies between zero to fifty percent depending on the tint.
The demand for solar glass is ever-increasing due to its functionality and aesthetic appeal. Many residential and commercial sectors are using it instead of a regular one because of all the above-mentioned uses.
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