Volume 36, Issue 5, May 2001
Sell-out or Epiphany?
I've Become a Believer
by Dez Farnady
High-tech has been slow in making its way to the glass industry—but just like everywhere else, it is happening. The search for the non-glass glass—glass with characteristics that are not glass—is slowly inching us toward the supreme cure-all. For at least the last half-century the glassmakers have been searching for the magic that will turn the conductor into an insulator and the substance most transparent to light into one that is the least transparent to some of light’s less desirable components.
Evolution or Not?
I suppose I knew it was coming. I just was not patient enough. I have always hated Darwin for accusing my great uncle of being a monkey. Evolution has always been an idea just out there somewhere, but I never got to sit and watch it. Or worse yet, gripe about it only to have it jump up and bite me. Years ago, I grumbled about all of the first hard coat low-E products right here in this magazine. Yes, I was the cynic who complained about the cure-all claims of the hard coat low-E’s made by all of the big guys. At that stage of the game, it was a cold climate product, no two were the same color and you could neither mix them nor tell them apart.
I then resolved to support the color theory because tints were here, they were attractive and they worked in all the warm climates. I could also play the expert and solve commercial tint problems because I could tell a “grey” from a “gray” or a solex from a blue-green. My responsibilities were tied more closely to the commercial and contract part of the glass business where colored glass becomes part of the architectural aesthetic. But times change, it marches on and clichés and life go on. And evolution continues—even in the glass business.
A Saving Grace
And those “E” glasses just keep on evolving. Tinted glass products have never been accepted very well in the residential market. And as I myself have evolved and moved a few steps closer to the residential market, I find the new E products (low, high, squared or cubed) to have become my salvation. I have to admit in public that regardless of what I may have said in the past, the darn things work. While I struggled for years preaching the benefits of the evergreens and azurelites, as good as they may be, this stuff is an absolute no brainer. Your house is too hot and too cold—oh, OK this stuff will take care of it. “But it looks like clear glass.” That’s right, it certainly does, but take it anyway, because it does work.
I have a sample of Cardinal low-E2 and a sample of PPG Solarban 60 on my desk and, while I am not prepared to mix them, they are close enough that I might be tempted one day, if circumstances require it. The light transmission, at around 70 percent, is great. Both products are color-neutral and both work to reduce heat gain with a shading coefficient under .50. Heat loss numbers with U-values around .30 convert to about R 3 and that is about as good as it gets. Before long we will come full circle with an energy-efficient clear product that the industry has been pursuing for the last decade of the 20th century. This performance E stuff will soon become a commodity just like clear glass.
With the increased business I do with residential work and overhead glazing now, the low-E products are the first place I go when energy questions are asked. Maybe I am just lazy, but a color-neutral product that performs does not even require discussion. The customer just says “OK and what about the next item?” The tremendous improvements in the service levels have enabled anyone to offer performance low-E glass even for fast turnaround custom applications. We are considering offering performance low-E, not the old hard coat, as a standard, just as many large window manufacturers have. No fuss, no muss, no bother. Yes, this is an epiphany
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