What Is Solar Glass?

Solar glass may be used to lower energy costs.
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  • Written By: Sheryl Butterfield
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 12 March 2015
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Solar glass is the combination of solar and glass technologies. Glass windows coated with a low-emittance (low-E) coating block radiant heat transfer. This lowers the amount of heat that passes through a window. Depending on energy needs, different types of low-E coatings allow for high, moderate, or low solar gains. Solar glass is often used to lower energy costs.

Low-E coatings are nearly invisible, and made up of layers of metal or metallic oxide on a glass surface. The coating is transparent to visible light. In layered glazing, heat can be transferred between panes of glass, from warmer to cooler. Putting a low-E coated pane in the space between layers of glass helps block that heat. Window technologists in the past filled this gap with air or dry nitrogen.

Today, argon and krypton gas are used between panes, which has improved window performance. Both gases are nontoxic and nonreactive. Krypton is more expensive than argon, so some manufacturers combine the two gases to improve thermal performance at a reasonable cost. Double-glazed windows with an argon gas fill between panes of low-E-coated glass are called pyrolitic, or hard coated. This application is designed to reduce heat loss but allow sunlight in for warmth, or solar gain.


Solar glass with high solar gain is best suited to windows in cold climates. Low solar gain, or spectrally selective, low-E glazings are more beneficial for buildings and homes in warm climates. These products reduce heat loss in cold weather, yet also reduce heat gain in hot weather. Spectrally selective solar glass out-performs most tinted and reflective glazings. The level of visible light let in is high in proportion to the amount of heat reduction.

For climates that require both heating and cooling during different seasons, all levels of low-E coating can result in lower annual energy bills. Solar glass is practical for windows, doors, and skylights. Commercially, it is used for the top surfaces of thermal collectors and photovoltaic modules. The appearance of solar glass is colorless, but can be patterned for optimal solar energy transmission.

High-performance glass products are used across many industries. Recent advances in solar glass include laminated products that boost solar power. This concentrating solar power (CSP) reflectivity provides efficiency and durability.



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Post 7

@Drentel - Some companies offer the argon filled window as their basic energy efficient window. You actually have to pay more for a window without the gas. I know, this makes absolutely no sense.

Post 6

You have to careful when you purchase the windows with the various types of gas that is supposed to help with the performance of your energy efficient windows. These gases make the windows considerably more expensive, and for the most part, the consumer has no way of knowing for certain that the gas is actually trapped between the glass.

If the window loses the seal and the gas escapes then the person who bought the window is left with a basic window with no performance-enhancing gas, and he paid more money for something he is not getting.

Post 5

We have a bank of windows in the room that we use as a den or TV room in our house. The entire east wall in the room is lined with windows. As you can imagine, during the summer when the sun rises and throughout the morning hours the heat from the sun as it comes through the windows is rather intense.

When we decided to replace the old windows with new energy efficient windows, the salesman asked whether we wanted some type solar glass film or some type of tinting to block the sunshine, and keep the house cooler.

We considered choosing this option, but then we thought of how nice the heat felt in the winter

when the weather was cold outside, and how this heat from the sun helped us save on heating costs.

We decided to go with the basic windows. They were less expensive. Now, we just put sun blocking curtains up during the summer and then leave the windows uncovered the rest of the year.

Post 2

i agree that solar glass is very useful and solar glass is very nice to see.

Post 1

where can i get a piece of solar glass approx 26" x 23" 1/2" thick for an inset top on table? Thanks.

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