Is Smart Glass Worth It?
While it’s obvious that smart glass and film provide privacy on demand, there’s much more to these products than meets the eye. Discover what's making switchable glass so popular among interior designers everywhere, how much it costs and whether it’s worth the hype.
Smart glass is rapidly spreading across the world, from residential buildings to offices. But what's all this fuss about it? While it is obvious that smart glass provides instant privacy when it goes from clear to frosted, this innovative technology offers numerous other benefits and helps with energy savings too! Discover what is making smart glass and smart film so popular among interior designers, architects, schools, hospitals and the government alike.
Smart glass is also known as switchable glass, privacy glass, switch glass and PDLC glass– though it is most commonly referred to as smart glass because it is the smart choice. Smart glass is the most innovative window treatment to hit the glass market in decades. For centuries, the only way to obtain privacy on glass surfaces was to cover them with curtains or blinds. Now you can simply order glass with built-in privacy, making it extremely versatile and convenient.
How Does Smart Glass Work?
Smart glass and film can switch from transparent to opaque in an instant, like magic. This effect is produced by the action of tiny liquid crystals, known as polymer-dispersed liquid crystals (PDLC), within the material that align when electricity is applied, letting light through with clarity. In the absence of electric current they drift and scatter the light, turning the glass a milky white.
Smart Glass vs. Smart Film
Smart glass technology comes in two forms: switchable glass and switchable film. Which one is best for you? Well it all depends on the size of the glass area, installation location and whether or not you already have glass installed.
Smart film is applied to existing glass surfaces, transforming them into privacy glass. This makes it ideal for retrofit projects. Smart film is often the preferred choice for small glass areas too, even when new glass is being installed, simply because it is easy to apply and less expensive to ship than smart glass.
In some scenarios, for example a glass surface that will come into direct contact with water or other elements, it is better to install smart glass as the switchable layer is protected by two pieces of laminated and tempered glass, making it difficult to damage.
Privacy and Beyond: The Benefits of Privacy Glass & Film
Like most smart technologies, switchable glass serves as an effective solution to many modern day problems- from privacy to security and energy efficiency. Here are some of the other impressive advantages of smart glass:
Smart glass can transition from clear to private in a fraction of a second. This makes it extremely versatile. While it is commonly wired to operate with a wall switch or button, it can even be controlled without contact via a smartphone, remote control or voice command. This gives architects and interior designers unprecedented design freedom as they can create open floor plans with switchable glass partitions, allowing spaces to easily transition from open and connected to private, confidential and distraction free as the needs of its users change throughout the day.
When switched to frosted, smart glass still allows about two thirds of natural light through. This light transmission allows people to balance privacy with a desire for natural light. Natural light has been proven to improve learning, mood, productivity and health.
Privacy glass and film are cleaned just like regular glass. Curtains and blinds hold onto dust, germs and pathogens and can be costly and time consuming to clean. This is one reason why switchable glass technology is becoming increasingly popular in medical facilities.
Ease of Use
Operating smart film and glass is very straightforward. It is turned on and off, just like a light.
By blocking 99% of IR and UV light (a source of heat gain), smart glass greatly reduces HVAC costs. It also decreases the need for artificial lighting, making it an energy efficient product. Yes smart glass does use some electricity to function, though no more than a standard lightbulb and its energy savings outweigh its energy use.
Privacy glass and window film add an invisible layer of security to any glass surface. Whatsmore, smart glass is safety glass that acts as a barrier against intruders. Both products hold the glass together should it become shattered, preventing damage and keeping occupants safe.
In addition to providing privacy, smart glass can double as a rear projection screen or whiteboard, making it a great option for classrooms and meeting rooms. It can even have switchable designs and logos embedded in the glass, presenting unique branding opportunities.
Due to its structure, smart glass has noise reduction properties. Normally, such glass would cost around $100 or more per square foot. Switchable glass includes this benefit at no extra cost.
Last but not least, smart glass is stylish- it instantly modernizes any space and complements minimalist designs. Another advantage is that it will never go out of fashion, unlike most curtains and blinds.
The Cost of Smart Glass & Smart Film
Switchable glass and film are not as cheap as ordinary glass or curtains. High quality smart glass costs an average of $85-130 USD per square foot (though some companies charge much more) and smart film costs an average of $25-45 USD per square foot.
You may find smart glass to be a bit expensive, but considering the technology incorporated in them, the price range is understandable. However, if you add up the costs of cleaning and energy costs across its lifetime along with its other benefits it is actually a very cost-effective product.
Smart glass is revolutionizing the way we protect our privacy - without sacrificing natural light and open floor plans. Smart glass and smart film are definitely worth the price tag.
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