If you are an avid watcher of home improvement and housebuilding television you will have seen smart glass used in various projects – but it certainly was never viewed as a standard product for all homes. Otherwise known as electrochromic glass, this is able to change from clear to opaque with a simple switch giving you all the flexibility you need. Plus it has huge environmental benefits.

What is smart glass?

Glass looks fantastic on our homes, but it can cause problems too. In particular, your home may become very warm during the summer due to the amount of heat and light that enters your home. Your furnishings may be faded due to the sunlight too. This is where electrochromatic glass can work wonders.

Electrochromatic glass changes colour when an electrical charge is passed across it. Usually they are double glazed units where one of the interior panes is coated with up to five ultra-thin layers including two electrodes and electrical contact layers. Lithium ions pass back and forth between these layers – when they are gathered on the innermost electrode layer the glass is clear. When the lithium ions move to the outermost electrode layer the glass turns opaque. This is because this layer is made of tungsten oxide which reflects light.

Why have smart windows?

In our increasingly warm summers and winters, having windows that reflect light away from our homes can be a huge benefit. If you usually use air conditioning this can result in lowered energy use. The energy used to switch the windows to opaque is minimal – similar to standard light bulb and you get the clean lines for your home you want. No more dusty blinds, heavy curtains and cumbersome shutters. Your interior furnishings will also be protected from sunlight and fading.

Possible retrofitting

If you love the idea of smart glass, but not the costs you might like the idea of adding the technology to your existing windows. There is an expectation that this could be provided as a simple film that can be attached to current windows and that they can even be included in solar windows that will allow you to create energy while you prevent it from entering your home. A win win.

So if you are looking to replace your windows in the future maybe try these smart windows and see how they can transform your home.