From transforming a small kitchen space into a first-row seat to a magnificent skyline to modifying the room upstairs into an ideal perch for an outside view, windows can offer a dramatic change to any house. Windows bring vast life and light to a house or a condo unit. For places with vulnerability and cold weather to rain and winter storms, choosing the correct windows is all about finding the right balance between weather resistance, energy efficiency, and safety.
Evolution Of Window Technology
For the past half-century, windows have gone through noticeable changes, enhancing their appearance and functionality for users and developers of residential communities and buildings.
Some of the major innovations are the construction of impact-resistant glass and the use of extruded aluminum for window frames. The creation of the latter came around during the 1960s for offering durability, greater frame strength, and corrosion resistance as well as for use in residential properties. However, during the ‘90s laminated glass and aluminum were used increasingly to build storm-resistant window products. This protection guaranteed the safety of house owners consistently without demanding the addition of shutters for protection from a tropical storm or hurricane while offering an increased level of sound reduction.
The 1990s also witnessed the addition of low-emissive coating to window panes. The solar resistance of low-E coatings can be modified to include specific parts of the infrared and visible spectrum. Thus, a glazing material can be developed to regulate energy flow for natural lighting, cooling, or heating based on a particular climate.
And, the last decade has noticed the continued development of the window system as a whole. Energy efficiency is accomplished with an insulating glazing unit and a high-performance frame made of warm-edge spacer tech, gas fill, and high-performance glass. The modern glazing units may also be made of dynamic glass-like photochromic, electrochromic, or any other recent technologies like vacuum-insulation.
For the last ten years, low-emissive glass are evolving continuously, and currently, dynamic glass is a new yet relevant product becoming increasingly popular. Dynamic glass offers maximum protection against the sun, letting the glass change from clear to almost opaque thereby, blocking out UV rays coming from the sun.
What Are The Trending Window Technologies In 2021?
When it comes to low maintenance and energy efficiency, windows have evolved by leaps and bounds over the past few years. However, in the near future, a new section of windows ensures to set the technology bar even higher. Switchable glazings/smart windows can alter properties like visible transmittance or shading coefficients in response to the electric current or to the altering environmental conditions. Smart windows can be classified into four basic types:
- Electrochromic Glass Windows: At the flip of the switch, these windows transform from clear to almost completely dark. A multi-layer assembly of counter-electrodes, ionic conductors, and electronic conductors is embedded between the double layers of typical glazing in an insulated glass unit. Low-voltage current causes movement of ions between the layers thereby, compelling the window to alter the color. Voltage reversing retains it to its actual state. Electrochromic glass windows function on one to three volts and utilize energy only to change any specific state.
- Photochromic Glass Windows: These glass windows respond to light changes. They are ideal for controlling glare and are less effective with solar heat gain. They do have some issues, for example during winters, when the sun is lower in the sky, the sun rays cause the window to darken more than during the summer. This is exactly the opposite effect that is required for controlling heat gain. Also, while the photochromic technology works perfectly on tiny glass pieces, it isn’t as effective on window-sized glass pieces.
- Thermochromic Glass Windows: These glass windows switch automatically from clear and diffused to white and reflective in response to heat. Gel coatings are an extremely effective method of generating thermochromic products because the response temperatures can be set based on the requirement and glazing position on a building. Some products are available commercially as the gel can be used for almost any typical window assembly.
- Solar-Harvesting Windows: Gathering energy actively from the sun with solar panels has now become a relatively common practice. They can be seen covering the roofs of commercial buildings and residential houses prominently. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to seize the direct afternoon sunlight that strikes your windows during summers and use it as an energy source for your house too? Unlike other window technologies that produce almost a similar effect in colored glasses, solar-harvesting windows have achieved it on transparent, clear material.
- Liquid Crystal Windows: These were the first smart windows available commercially that are installed mostly for privacy control. Two other layers of a thin film will be laminated between the double layers of heat-treated glass encasing a layer of minute liquid crystals. A transparent conductive metal coating is used to cover both faces of the film. The glass is translucent milky white in the off position. When an electric current passes through both the layers of film, the liquid crystals align and the glass gets transparent. These windows allow almost the same amount of heat and light in either position.
Gone are those times when purchasing window replacements only implied choosing a window glass with a highly durable frame that would last for several years and never go out of trend. Currently, there are several factors to be taken into account before calling the shots. Luckily, there are new window solutions and innovations coming up every year.