Guide to Choosing & Using Solar Shades in or on Buildings to Control Bright Sun & High Heat Gain at Windows
Our page top photograph shows an older solution to solar sunshading in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
These hinged solar screens can be latched and opened or shut as a hinged-vertical sunscreen (photo left side) or as an awning-type sunscreen (photo right side). As we show below, this system also permits individual sections of the louvered screen to be open or shut from indoors.
Our photo (left) shows a variety of solar sun shading alternatives in use in Buenos Aires, Argentina. - Ed.
Accompanying text is reprinted/adapted/excerpted with permission from Solar Age Magazine - editor Steven Bliss. Also see PASSIVE SOLAR Roof & Window Overhangs - an alternative to solar shades. Contact us to suggest text changes and additions and, if you wish, to receive online listing and credit for that contribution. For a discussion of night-time insulation using low-E solar shades, see SOLAR SHADES, LOW-E EFFECTIVENESS.
The question-and-answer article below paraphrases, quotes-from, updates, and comments an original article from Solar Age Magazine and written by Steven Bliss.
Finding Vertical Exterior Sunshades that Retract & Adjust to Block all Direct Sunlight
Question: Where can I find exterior solar shades that use vertical louvered elements that retract and adjust?
While there seem to be plenty of sources for exterior solar shades and interior solar blinds with horizontal fins, slats, or louvers, I have had no luck finding exterior solar shades with vertical elements that retract and adjust.
I have a number of projects with a western exposure overlooking the ocean, where only a vertical shading device can maintain a partial view, while blocking direct sun from above, straight on, and from below (reflected from the water). -- Chris Hendricks, Los Angeles CA
[ur photo at left shows a contemporary horizontal solar shade installation in Tucson, Arizona. As we explain below, for techical reasons vertical-louvered solar shade elements will be uncommon. - Ed.
Answer: Vertical solar shade elements are uncommon but some commercial alternatives are available.
This is a tall order for solar sunshading indeed! Louvered devices that effectively block all direct sun from all angles you mention would have to have both vertical (for low west sun) and horizontal (for straight-on and water-reflected sunlight). This adds up to an egg-crate configuration that would probably cut too much view to be acceptable.
Vertical-louvered systems made for commercial projects could be adapted, but not cheaply. The Moore Co. makes an adjustable vertical solar sunlight screen system with 8-inch aluminum blades that they could taylor to your requirements.
[Our photo (left) shows a versatile louvered sun screen installed on many windows in Buenos Aires, Argentina --DF]
We suggest you consider using an exterior woven polyester shade screen, either fixed or roller-mounted. Available in many colors (charcoal, silver gray, bronze and more ) a polyester woven sunshade screen will reduce solar gain by up to 90 percent, but still allow some through-visibility.
Some of the newer solar screening products such as Pfifer's SuperSolar screening can block 90 percent of sunlight while providing good outwards visibility.
Polyester woven solar screens can be manually or motor-operated, or even automated to respond to sunlight. A polyester sunscreen shade is produced by Levolor Lorentzen and by Phifer Wire Products and other manufacturers.
[Our photo (left) shows use of a woven polyester screen suitable for difficult sunscreening applications, in use in New York City at a construction site. -- DF]
Pfifer also produces insect screening, interior and exterior screening products including
SunTex® - a vinyl-coated polyester woven mesh that blocks 80% to 90% of the sun's rays, intended for use on windows
SuperSolar Screening - a fabric installed like regular insect screening, but blocking 90% of sunlight, ideal for extremely hot windows while providing excellent outward (only) visibility.
SunScreen® -to reduce solar heat gain in summer and to reduce winter heat loss, screens, and
SheerWeave® polyester-coated fiberglass fabrics intended for exterior use.
SunTex awning fabrics - for window shades and awnings
A variety of sun screen products and fabrics is currently available and are shown at Technical Reviewers & References where we list sun screen product and solar screening fabric producers and sources.
Our solar screen photograph (above) of a solar sunshade screening system in widespread use in Buenos Aires shows one of the opening positions of this system, viewed from indoors.
Also see our page top photo of this sunshade system viewed from outdoors.
Our detailed photo (left) demonstrates the ability to open and close individual solar screen segments for outdoor view or admittance of light and air in the strong-sun climate of Buenos Aires, Argentina. -- DF
The question-and-answer article about the use of solar shades or solar blinds and blocking unwanted heat gain from sunlight in buildings, quotes-from, updates, and comments an original article from Solar Age Magazine and written by Steven Bliss.
The link to the original Q&A article in PDF form immediately below was preceded (above) by an expanded/updated online version of this article.
Q&A on Vertical Solar Shades use of solid exterior solar shades or interior solar blinds to control building heat gain - PDF version, use your browser's back button to return to this page
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Solar Age Magazine was the official publication of the American Solar Energy Society. The contemporary solar energy magazine associated with the Society is Solar Today. "Established in 1954, the nonprofit American Solar Energy Society (ASES) is the nation's leading association of solar professionals & advocates. Our mission is to inspire an era of energy innovation and speed the transition to a sustainable energy economy. We advance education, research and policy. Leading for more than 50 years.
ASES leads national efforts to increase the use of solar energy, energy efficiency and other sustainable technologies in the U.S. We publish the award-winning SOLAR TODAY magazine, organize and present the ASES National Solar Conference and lead the ASES National Solar Tour – the largest grassroots solar event in the world."
Steve Bliss's Building Advisor at buildingadvisor.com helps homeowners & contractors plan & complete successful building & remodeling projects: buying land, site work, building design, cost estimating, materials & components, & project management through complete construction. Email: email@example.com
Steven Bliss served as editorial director and co-publisher of The Journal of Light Construction for 16 years and previously as building technology editor for Progressive Builder and Solar Age magazines. He worked in the building trades as a carpenter and design/build contractor for more than ten years and holds a masters degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Excerpts from his recent book, Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction, Wiley (November 18, 2005) ISBN-10: 0471648361, ISBN-13: 978-0471648369, appear throughout this website, with permission and courtesy of Wiley & Sons. Best Practices Guide is available from the publisher, J. Wiley & Sons, and also at Amazon.com
Solar Sun Screens, Shades, Solar Sunscreen Fabrics - Suppliers
Levolor Lorentzen, 1280 Wall St. West, Lyndhurst NJ 07071 - solar screens and sunshades - woven polyester screening
Moore Co., Marceline MO 64568 - solar shades and sunscreens, commercial products
Pfifer Wire Products, sells a variety of screening products including both exterior sun control screening and interior sun control screen products - PHIFER Incorporated
P.O. Box 1700,
Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 35403-1700, USA - 205 -345-2120 - solar screens and sunshades - woven polyester screening - firstname.lastname@example.org
Passive Solar Design Handbook Volume I, the Passive Solar Handbook Introduction to Passive Solar Concepts, in a version used by the U.S. Air Force - online version available at this link and from the USAF also at wbdg.org/ccb/AF/AFH/pshbk_v1.pdf
Passive Solar Design Handbook Volume II, the Passive Solar Handbook Comprehensive Planning Guide, in a version used by the U.S. Air Force - online version available at this link and from the USAF also at wbdg.org/ccb/AF/AFH/pshbk_v2.pdf [This is a large PDF file that can take a while to load]
Passive Solar Handbook Volume III, the Passive Solar Handbook Programming Guide, in a version used by the U.S. Air Force - online version available at this link and from the USAF also at wbdg.org/ccb/AF/AFH/pshbk_v3.pdf
"Passive Solar Home Design", U.S. Department of Energy, describes using a home's windows, walls, and floors to collect and store solar energy for winter heating and also rejecting solar heat in warm weather.
"Solar Water Heaters", U.S. Department of Energy article on solar domestic water heaters to generate domestic hot water in buildings, explains how solar water heaters work. Solar heat for swimming pools is also discussed.
"Heat-Transfer Fluids for Solar Water Heating Systems", U.S. DOE, describes the types of fluids selected to transfer heat between the solar collector and the hot water in storage tanks in a building. These include air, water, water with glycol antifreeze mixtures (needed when using solar hot water systems in freezing climates), hydrocarbon oils, and refrigerants or silicones for heat transfer.
"Solar Water Heating System Freeze Protection", U.S. DOE,using antifreeze mixture in solar water heaters (or other freeze-resistant heat transfer fluids), as well as piping to permit draining the solar collector and piping system.
"Solar Air Heating" U.S. DOE also referred to as "Ventilation Preheating" in which solar systems use air for absorbing and transferring solar energy or heat to a building
"Solar Liquid Heating" U.S. DOE, systems using liquid (typically water) in flat plate solar collectors to collect solar energy in the form of heat for transfer into a building for space heating or hot water heating. The term "solar liquid" is used for accuracy, rather than "solar water" because the water may contain an antifreeze or other chemicals.
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TECHNICAL REFERENCE GUIDE to manufacturer's model and serial number information for heating and cooling equipment, useful for determining the age of heating boilers, furnaces, water heaters is provided by Carson Dunlop, Associates, Toronto - Carson Dunlop Weldon & Associates Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Technical Reference Guide purchased as a single order. Just enter INSPECTATRG in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume.
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