How to maximise a conservatory's performance

`Effective environmental control makes for enjoyable conservatory ownership


Homeowners expect optimum performance from their conservatories. They expect a room for all seasons, an enjoyable and comfortable addition to their home. The management of the conservatory environment – temperature, airflow and condensation - is crucial to the all year round enjoyment of the conservatory.

The provision of effective ventilation is only one element in managing the conservatory environment and in this article we will examine all the elements to take a balanced look at what steps installers can take to make the ownership experience truly enjoyable.

Ultraframe has always made a virtue of its ventilation systems in its conservatory roof and is the only manufacturer to provide ventilation on all its roofing systems as standard.

Mark Hanson, Marketing Manager at Ultraframe and Chairman of the Conservatory Association said: “It is essential that installers are familiar with the site conditions, specify methods for obtaining airflow through the conservatory and offer the homeowner the best advice on environmental control measures. At Ultraframe we offer installers a greater competitive advantage because all our roofing systems have a range of effective ventilation solutions built in as standard to ensure premium comfort for the homeowner. ”

Provision of conservatory ventilation falls into two categories – primary and secondary ventilation. Primary ventilation includes the opening of top light windows, roof vents. The provision of roof vents is a particularly effective method of ventilation with one roof vent providing the equivalent ventilation of four windows. For its Classic system roof system, Ultraframe offers a choice of either uPVC or a new uPVC frame/aluminium sash combi vent ensuring that installers can choose the most effective product for each particular site/design.

Mark Hanson continued: “As well as roof vents and windows, consider secondary ventilation. Ideally ventilation should be provided in the ridge and in the eaves beam to encourage air movement and minimise heat build up in the summer months. Natural cross flow ventilation is created by the prudent use of eaves vents ,which when combined with ridge units to utilise convection currents (which can be enhanced by the use of fans), provides the optimum internal environment .”

So, as we have seen, the correct specification of ventilation in a conservatory is a real winner, particularly as retail companies rely on recommendations for most of their work. As there is virtually no chance of a consumer with an overheating conservatory putting in a good word with the neighbours, it stands to reason that giving due consideration to the correct specification of glazing can be a real winner too.

Solar heat energy - in colder climates, winter months or in north facing elevations - can be beneficial to a conservatory. In this situation the conservatory acts as a `buffer` between the house and the outside – on older Victorian properties with no cavities in the masonry, this buffering effect can be positive and substantial. In the summer months, unmanaged solar heat energy creates a thermal load that the glazed structure generally cannot comfortably accommodate and this load must be controlled or removed.

Its far better and more cost effective to screen out unwanted solar energy at the design stage and thankfully this is now even easier thanks to high performance sealed units and polycarbonate glazing materials. At Ultraframe we developed Conservaglass and Polyspan Optimum for our Classic roof system users, two products with quite wonderful solar control properties for high performance in summer and with incredibly low `U` values for efficient winter heat retention.

Other `tricks of the trade’ that can be deployed alongside effective ventilation and the correct selection of glazing material to control the conservatory environment include using under floor heating which is unobtrusive and cost effective to run and choosing subtle paint tints to the walls, such as cool blues in south facing conservatories and warm terracottas in north facing ones.

Mark Hanson concluded: “Homeowners depend on industry experts to assist in turning their dreams into an all year round reality. To assist retail installers, Ultraframe roofing systems include a selection of patented primary and secondary ventilation solutions which when combined with other products and design techniques, ensure comfort for conservatory owners whatever the weather.”