How is Smart Glass Powered? Exploring the Technology Behind Switchable Glass and Window Film

What makes smart glass switchable? Learn how electrical current transforms privacy glass from clear to frosted. Explore wiring options, control methods, and the myriad of applications of smart film and glass across sectors.

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In an era where innovation and technology redefine the boundaries of what we once thought possible, smart glass emerges as an example of human ingenuity. Transforming from clear to frosted with a mere flick of a switch, smart glass technology seems like magic. But how exactly does privacy glass work?

The switchable properties of smart film and glass are not magic, they are accomplished with the application of electrical current. In this article we will explain how smart glass and smart film work, how it is powered and how much power it consumes. 

The Technology Behind the Magic

At its core, smart glass operates on the principle of electrical manipulation of its properties. Tiny polymer-dispersed liquid crystals, known as PDLC, are embedded within the glass. These crystals align when an electrical current is applied, rendering the glass transparent. Conversely, in the absence of electricity, these crystals scatter light, creating an opaque appearance.

At the heart of this technology lies PDLC (Polymer Dispersed Liquid Crystal), a medium whose light-scattering properties can be manipulated by an electric field. PDLC film comprises a polymer matrix of liquid crystals enclosed by electrically conductive Indium Tin Oxide-coated PET film. This film is wired to a conductive copper strip, also known as a busbar, along its edge, which, when connected to a power source, induces the alignment of liquid crystal molecules, thus transitioning the glass from opaque to transparent. For this reason, smart glass is often referred to as PDLC glass or PDLC window film

How Are Smart Film and Glass Connected to a Power Source?

There are many different ways smart glass can be wired and connected to a power source, though they all involve connecting the wires coming out of the busbar to a power transformer before being connected to the electrical power source. 

The wattage of the transformer depends on the size of the glass area you are looking to control. At Smart Glass Country we sell 50 watt, 100 watt and 200 watt transformers. We even can source dimmable transformers for those looking for adjustable privacy. 

Switchable window film and glass can be wired on all kinds of glass surfaces including operable glass walls, windows and glass doors. Watch the video below for more information on wiring smart glass:

All wiring should be done by a certified electrician. 

How Much Electricity Does Smart Glass Consume?

Now, let's address the elephant in the room: power consumption. While privacy glass indeed requires electricity to function, the amount it consumes is relatively minimal. On average, only 5 watts of power are consumed per 10 square feet of smart glass or film. To put it into perspective, this energy usage is akin to that of a standard 60-watt light bulb.

What Happens to Smart Glass In the Event of a Power Outage? 

If the electricity supply is cut off while the smart glass is switched on (clear) the glass will simply become opaque, just as it would if it were switched off.

How is Smart Glass Controlled

There are many ways to control smart glass and film. The process of switching PDLC glass from clear to frosted is similar to turning a light on and off.  Every order of switchable glass or film comes equipped with a transformer and a remote control. However, the glass can also be switched on and off using a wall switch, smartphone, home automation system, voice command or a button. 

The versatility of smart glass extends across various sectors, including residential, commercial, retail, healthcare, hospitality, and banking. From conference rooms to ICU doors, from changing rooms to safe deposit rooms, the applications are boundless. Moreover, as technology continues to evolve, the potential for further innovation in smart glass remains promising.

Through the controlled application of electricity, switchable glass technology transforms spaces, offering both privacy and transparency at the touch of a button. As we look to the future, the horizon of possibilities for smart glass appears limitless, heralding a new era where form seamlessly meets function.

Have more questions about smart glass? Visit our FAQ page

Want to see more videos featuring smart film and glass installation and wiring? Browse our YouTube channel. 

Ready to get started on your order of smart glass or smart film? Contact Smart Glass Country now. 

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