Let the sun shine

Renson Fabrications discusses the options for outdoor sun protection systems that allow the light in while maintaining a comfortable indoor climate.

The trend is clear. We want to allow as much natural light in as possible. That is why we use so much glass. The intensity of natural light changes considerably depending on the season, time of day and cloud cover while the desired comfort level in classrooms remains the same, including the prevention of overheat- ing in the summer. No wonder managing that natural light becomes more important each day.

Thanks to winter sunlight, energy consumption can be reduced. However in summertime the sun can cause a lot of problems. An intensive insulation of build- ings keeps the warmth inside, which results in overheating. The sun also interferes with visual comfort by reflecting off TV screens or computer monitors. And uncontrolled incoming sunlight can also lead to discolouration of furniture, floors
and curtains.

Those problems can be prevented easily by using efficient sun protection. This creates optimal thermal comfort and makes a positive contribution to the energy consumption of the entire building. Studies show that well conceived sun protection can reduce the annual energy consumption levels for a building by 10 per cent.

It should also not be forgotten that sun protection has an important aesthetic role to play. Making good choices will not only ensure that your project is energy efficient, but will also make an important contribu- tion to its aesthetic value.

Three ways to keep out the sun

Indoor sun protection is a good and relatively inexpensive way to keep the sun’s rays out. However, it is not an optimal thermal solution, because the heat will eventually get in the building.

Reflective glass also provides protection from excessive solar heat. The disadvantage is that the light is also limited during the winter period, so less warmth gets in then.

Outdoor sun protection, structural or screens, is the most efficient way to protect from the sun. It prevents the sun’s rays from hitting the glass directly. The entering of natural light and heat can be controlled depending on the situation.

An extensive choice in outdoor sun protection systems

There are many different types of outdoor sun protection solutions, split into two categories: structural sun protection and external blinds.

As horizontal brise soleil blades are mounted above windows, they do not inter- fere with the view from the inside. They also provide good shading when the sun is high in summer. During winter, when the sun is much lower, they allow the warmth of the sun to come in.

Vertically-mounted shutters – both fixed or moveable, in front of the windows – are frequently used in non-residential projects as well, due to the sun protection as well as the aesthetic aspect.

When there is a risk of overheating, the windows can be covered partially or completely by moveable sliding panels as well.

Folding shutters are a type of dynamic sun protection which can be converted from sun protection in front of the window into a horizontal open position above the window.

As for external blinds, there has been a transition to windproof solutions. These systems are usually equipped with side guide zip technology. This ensures a tight and windproof screen in every position.

Different types of screens each have their own characteristics: fibreglass fabric insulates well and keeps UV-rays out, is 100 per cent stable and easy to maintain. Polyester fibre cloths are also highly valued for their resistance to wear and tear. And of course, there are also fabrics that are completely translucent, semi-translucent and obscuring.

The efficiency of a screen is related to its colour. Light-coloured screens allow more light and UV-rays to enter the building, while darker fabrics filter out over 90 per cent of the UV-rays. Screens with logos or artwork printed on them are also possible.