Solar shading (sometimes referred to as ‘solar control’ or ‘solar protection’) is the term used to identify a number of systems to control the amount of heat and light admitted from the sun into a building. Solar radiation provides natural light and heat, which reduces the need for artificial lighting and heating, although excessive solar radiation could result in overheating, which would need to be countered with cooling air conditioning. This is where solar shading methods can reduce the cost and energy usage of this environment control. Another issue solar shading alleviates is glare and other visual discomforts caused to the occupants of the building.

Solar shading is important to mitigate the impact of a buildings’ energy use whilst providing thermal and visual comfort.

The sun makes a huge difference in the design of a building and can present a serious problem to large areas of glazing. This is where solar shading is important to mitigate the impact of a buildings’ energy use whilst providing thermal and visual comfort.

There are two types of solar shading – Fixed or Dynamic.

enviroscreen solar shading london

Fixed Solar Shading

This type of device is usually external and part of the architectural design of the building, although fixed shading can also be a separate structure or even trees and vegetation.

Architectural sun control can capably reduce heat gain within a building and improve natural lighting, especially for visual comfort by controlling glare. During warmer seasons excess solar gain would result in using air-cooling systems, so external window shading is an appropriate solution to help ease this problem. The shading design can factor in the low-angled sun for solar penetration during winter months or even act as a reflector, bouncing light into building interiors.

Effective fixed solar shading depends on the orientation of a buildings’ façade. It is necessary to understand the position of the sun during the day in all seasons in terms of altitude and azimuth angles. Enviroscreen are experts in Solar Control, please contact us if you have any questions or projects regarding external shading solutions, including Tensile Fabric Structures or Window Films.

Types of Fixed Solar Shading:

  • Overhangs, vertical fins or balconies
  • Canopies and awnings
  • Trees, hedges and other vegetation
  • External louvres or brise-soleil
  • Light shelves
  • Solar control glazing
  • Recessed windows

These devices can be a great architectural feature and are practical for certain buildings. The importance of heating, cooling and light control must be taken into consideration, although they are not as effective at combatting some of these issues as dynamic shading solutions are. On façades facing east or west they don’t provide the most effective protection from a low-angled morning or afternoon sun and vertical fins tend to reduce internal illumination.

enviroscreen office blinds

Dynamic Solar Shading

The complication of controlling sunlight and heat gain is due to the variable angles of the sun and the most efficient way of managing this is by fitting retractable shading devices. Internal blinds or curtains are the most popular method, but external systems can be potentially more efficient as they stop the sunlight before it hits the glass. There can be a fixed / dynamic cross-over here as awnings, louvres and canopies can be permanent or retractable.

Daylight levels can be most easily controlled, regardless of the season or time of day with a dynamic solar shading solution. These devices can be operated manually with cords, chains, wands or crank handles and have electronically powered systems, even timer or conditional automation. Effective dynamic shading will provide an improved thermal indoor climate, minimize the risk of glare, manage the entrance of natural daylight and maintain privacy.

Types of Dynamic Solar Shading:

  • Internal blinds
  • Curtains
  • Internal shutters
  • External shutters
  • Adjustable awnings, louvres and canopies

Both blinds and curtains are incredibly versatile, durable and even fashionable, from an interior design perspective. They can be completely customised to complement any colour scheme, offer light control and give privacy when needed. Although curtains grant better insulation benefits than standard blinds, there are certain installation methods to improve blind insulation, and blinds do give much more precise light control. We have an article called Vertical Louvre Blinds or Curtains? which will give you a better idea of the differences between blinds and curtains and how to choose between them for your window dressings.

There is a plethora of blinds available including vertical & horizontal blinds, roller & tensioned roller blinds and pleated, cellular or honeycomb shades. Take a look at our article – The Benefits of Blinds & Solar Shading in Office Buildings for an overview of these types of blind fittings, their operation styles, materials and variations. The information in this article is still relevant for residential properties, schools and any other type of building.

Roller shutters are defined by a screen made of horizontal bars hinged together. They are raised vertically for security, solar protection and shading purposes and are height adjustable. They are more commonly used externally, but internal shutters are a potential solution in some circumstances. In relation to motorised operation they can be automated to ensure efficient light and heat control during the day and night and offer considerably more security and privacy than blinds or curtains. Interior shading devices do not offer as much reduction to cooling as exterior alternatives due to the heat already being transferred through the glass of the window.


Solar Shading Automation

The manner in which these devices are controlled can have a significant impact on energy efficiency and occupant comfort. Incorrect operation can lead to shading when it doesn’t need to be, overheating and the lack of glare control. And one of the great benefits that this type of solar shading has to offer is the incredible control over the light that enters a room, thermal conditions and maintaining privacy, so automation or programmable electronic movement can ensure these function efficiently.

We have a huge range of automation options with battery operated or mains powered available, there is something available to suit every scenario. There are also a large variety of control options including – standard switches, remote sensors, timers and remote-control handsets. We also supply and install our innovative Blind Box system which can hide the blind from view when fully retracted. See our Manhattan Loft Gardens and One Tower Bridge case studies for a more in-depth description of the results achieved from this mechanism.

Having a solar shading system that is effectively controlled helps to create a better indoor environment and can positively influence comfort, well-being and productivity in the workplace and significantly contributes to energy management.

Tower Bridge Blinds Lowered

Fixed Solar Shading vs Dynamic Solar Shading

The answer to this comparison depends on the building design, where the windows are situated and their size as well as many other factors. It is advisable to seek the guidance of an expert as experience and knowledge will be needed to make the most of the available solutions. In some cases a mix of both fixed and dynamic shading options could be a more effective recommendation.

At Enviroscreen, we pride ourselves on our experience in installing solar shading of all types for residential properties, offices, schools and universities and have been on the London market for over twenty-five years. We supply a wide range of solar shading and customised solutions and have worked with world renowned designers, architects and contractors.


What do you Need to Consider when Looking at Solar Shading Options?

Our experts can give you guidance on these considerations, and these are the areas we would look at to make a decision on the solution.

Location
Knowing whether уоur wіndоw faces nоrth, south, еаѕt or wеѕt іѕ the first ѕtер in choosing the rіght ѕоlаr ѕhаdе. The sun is at its coolest in the morning east facing and its hottest in early to mid afternoon south-west facing depending on the time of year. Knowing thе dіrесtіоn уоur window fасеѕ will hеlр іn dеtеrmіnіng which solution offers the lеvеl оf соntrоl you аrе seeking combined wіth thе іndіvіduаl ѕtуlе thаt іѕ aesthetically арреаlіng.

Pеrfоrmаnсе
Sоlаr Shаdеѕ саn reduce ѕоlаr heat gаіn, rеduсе glаrе, рrоvіdе a dеgrее оf dауtіmе privacy аnd fіltеr nаturаl lіght tо іllumіnаtе thе interior. Hоwеvеr, yоu may need tо dесіdе whісh fеаturе іѕ thе most іmроrtаnt оr fіnd a соmfоrtаblе bаlаnсе bеtwееn them.

Openness Fасtоr for Blind Fabric
The Openness Factor rерrеѕеntѕ the dеnѕіtу of thе wеаvе in some types of blind fabric. A fаbrіс wіth a lоw Openness Fасtоr (OF) prevents mоrе UV rays from passing through, рrоvіdеѕ grеаtеr dауtіmе privacy аnd оffеrѕ the grеаtеѕt glаrе rеduсtіоn. A fabric wіth a hіgh OF рrоvіdеѕ a better vіеw out but dоеѕn’t reflect as muсh UV light, rеduсеѕ daytime privacy аnd allows more nаturаl lіght tо filter thrоugh thе fаbrіс to іllumіnаtе the interior. Many оf the benefits аѕѕосіаtеd wіth a lоw оr hіgh Oреnnеѕѕ Factor can be еnhаnсеd or negated depending on the fаbrіс colour ѕеlесtеd.

Mоuntіng Stуlе for Dynamic Shades
Bеfоrе taking аnу measurements, ѕtер back from your wіndоw аnd dесіdе if you want tо mоunt thе window trеаtmеnt іnѕіdе thе wіndоw rесеѕѕ оr оutѕіdе оn thе wаll оr mоldіng. Wе uѕuаllу rесоmmеnd аn inside mоunt whеnеvеr роѕѕіblе bесаuѕе іt provides a сlеаnеr lооk. Hоwеvеr, аn оutѕіdе mount саn make a window appear lаrgеr or hide аn unattractive wіndоw as well as adding better privacy and insulation, unless roller blind side channels are utilised.

somfy blinds enviroscreen6

The Benefits of Solar Shading

In conclusion, solar shading is a purposeful insulation of the transparent parts of a building, effectively managing the entry of solar heat and light to provide a thermally and visually comfortable indoor space, that remains cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Accomplishing a glare free space all year round with the outdoor view maintained and a minimum energy demand on installed cooling, heating and lighting units.

It enhances the aesthetics of the building both inside and out and coordinates with the interior design and architecture. With such a wide variety of options there is an ideal solution for any project and multiple ways of achieving this, which offer freedom and usability in controlling the indoor environment.

For a quote or any inquiries about solar shading, please contact us here:

Enviroscreen Systems
Swift House,
13 Ronsons Way,
St Albans,
AL4 9QT
United Kingdom

Telephone: 01727 220 007
E-mail: info@enviroscreen.org.uk