Focus On Glazing by Simon Tennant

When designing a conservatory, the choice of whether to use glass or polycarbonate in the roof is an important one and when it comes to interpreting your customers’ needs and budgets, the glazing specification in a conservatory roof is a major consideration for homeowners and installers. Homeowners in general are becoming more aware of energy efficiency and want a conservatory that allows maximum light into the home and which can be used comfortably all year round. Many of today’s conservatory buyers are also installing their second or even third conservatory and may be wary of the pitfalls of heat loss and heat gain through a conservatory roof which can result in many conservatories remaining unused for up to half the year, considered too cold in Winter and too warm in Summer. Simon Tennant, Northern Technical Support Manager at Ultraframe discusses how some of the latest glazing options can help satisfy these requirements.

Polycarbonate
The conservatory industry has done a superb job in promoting the benefits of polycarbonate glazing to homeowners and it is currently the most popular conservatory roof glazing material. It is very durable, easy to handle, relatively inexpensive and comes in a range of thicknesses with various coloured tints or anti-glare properties. However, whilst lightweight polycarbonate glazing has been very popular, inappropriately specified polycarbonate can contribute to overheating. The process of solar heat gain occurs when sunlight enters a building and is absorbed by its surfaces and contents and reflected back again. During the course of this absorption and reflection more infra red light, heat-bearing radiation, is produced. Glazing materials, such as polycarbonate, reflect a large proportion of this back into the conservatory where it is trapped and builds up inside, potentially causing an uncomfortable interior temperature.

In order to help combat the issue of overheating, Ultraframe now offers installers the opportunity to offer customers a polycarbonate with the best solar control properties on the market. Unique to Ultraframe, the new 25mm five wall Polyspan Optimum is available in two colour options, grey and blue. Available for use on all Ultraframe roof systems, this high performance glazing offers installers a cost-effective and lightweight solution to combat solar heat gain in conservatories.

Ultraframe’s Polyspan Optimum also provides excellent thermal properties. It has a ‘U’ value of just 1.5 W/m2K, compared to 1.6 on standard 25mm polycarbonate . It features two co-extruded U.V. protective layers that provide the sheet with exceptional resistance to ageing. Also, because the polycarbonate has the layers on both sides, it cannot be installed upside down.
The use of secondary ventilation solutions such as controllable trickle ventilation, available on all Ultraframe systems as standard, coupled with new Polyspan Optimum, ensures all year round environmental control and most importantly customer satisfaction.

Glass
Although inherently more expensive than polycarbonate, many people are now favouring glass conservatory roofs. Homeowners like the traditional look and transparency of glass roofs, as well as the high quality finish and natural elegance a glass roof can provide. However, standard sealed glass units can contribute to overheating, can be difficult to clean and are thermally inefficient.

Ultraframe already recognised the importance of offering consumers even greater choice and had introduced a new generation of double glazed sealed units as far back as 2001. However, the specification has been updated and new Conservaglass is ideal for homeowners who prefer glass roofs and are looking for exemplary thermal performance and a room for all seasons. Conservaglass is developed especially for conservatories used in the British climate and dramatically outperforms standard sealed units to deliver enhanced value and all year round comfort. With an impressive ‘U’ value of just 1.1, Conservaglass keeps out nearly two thirds of the sun’s heat energy.

The glazing unit comprises of a sandwich of two 4mm sheets of toughened glass and a 16mm Argon-filled cavity. Conservaglass is more than twice as effective as standard DGU’s, making a difference of up to 10 degrees cooler when it’s hot and sunny outside. To cater for different tastes Conservaglass is available in a choice of Subtle Blue and Neutral Clear. The re-launch of Conservaglass includes a five to seven day lead time and new pricing to ensure excellent value.

Other industry developments look set to increase the popularity of glass roofs further. The introduction of a revolutionary Tie Bar Replacement Kit from Ultraframe means that larger span conservatories, with heavy glass roofs, in many instances no longer require tie bars, which many homeowners find obtrusive. The Kit strengthens the roof ridge and improves its resistance to deflection. It significantly reduces the need for tie bars, whilst maintaining the structural integrity of the conservatory even in extreme weather conditions. Visitors to Ultraframe’s Glassex stand will have seen the uninterrupted roof vista the Kit created on the 5m by 4m Classic glass roof exhibited there.

Selling to homeowners
Careful planning and dialogue with the homeowner will ultimately lead to a perfect installation. To help homeowners understand the scope of options available to them, Ultraframe has developed a comprehensive and stylish range of marketing support. The Conservatory Directory features inspiring imagery and informative pages on glazing options, technical issues and a summary of FAQs to ensure your customers complete peace of mind. Installers can also direct their customers to Ultraframe’s informative and interactive consumer website, or to a copy of the Ultra Guide, Ultraframe’s glossy consumer magazine which provides a complete insight into the process of buying a conservatory, including advice on glazing and ventilation options.

For more information on Ultraframe’s market leading glazing options contact the Installer First team on 0870 414 1002