Motorized Shades have been a mainstay of the custom window coverings industry for several years. One of our most prominent suppliers, Hunter Douglas, even has available a smart phone app available that allows motorized window fashions to be seamlessly integrated with any home automation system…making fashion and function non-exclusive concepts for window coverings and interior design.
As in any industry, time and technology march forward…bringing newer competing options that could be more effective and efficient…depending on individual needs.
Benefits of Smart Glass over Motorized Shades
Already cozy and comfy with your motorized window treatments that work so well? Why even consider a new techy alternative called Smart Glass?
There are three main reasons to consider smart glass for your business or home: energy efficiency, aesthetics, and practicality.
- If it’s mounted inside of a building and it’s supposedly designed to reflect or reject heat (e.g., motorized shades) …it’s already at a disadvantage. Once solar radiation makes its way past a structure’s glass windows, much of it stays inside the structure in the form of heat. The best-in-class smart glass is electrochromic…and can reject up to 91% of the solar heat gain, whereas solar shades typically allow two to four times as much solar energy to enter a structure. Note that PDLC and SPD smart glass windows typically perform no better and in some cases worse than typical solar shades, although there are some that perform quite well.
- Aesthetics - Smart glass wins because there are no pockets or slots in the soffit or ceiling to worry about. Unlike when shades are in the “down” position and there are gaps along the edges where light enters (unless side channels are installed), most smart glass windows are uniformly dark across the entire window, although some still have a small sliver of light where the electrical conductors are located. Smart glass also can be used in “butt glass” window installations where glass sections are joined with a sealant (often at angles) with no mullion. While curved draperies could work in such scenarios, they could not preserve the clean angled look of the windows. Roller shades would be impractical because the ends would overlap and destroy the continuity.
- Noise & Maintenance - while there are really quiet roller shade motors on the market, all of them are noisier than any available smart glass. - The longest-life smart glass, electrochromic, is non-organic in nature and at least one manufacturer has been tested to ASTM standards with an expected life of more than 50 years. This longevity can be especially important in challenging installations such as slanted or sloped windows, skylights, or very high windows where scaffolding would be required for servicing.