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July-August 2002

Now You See Me
Now You DON’T

The Physical and Environmental Benefits of Retractable Screen Systems

Picture the humble bug screen; simple, often overlooked, always taken for granted—except when it isn’t there. 
As useful and necessary as they may be, the inherent problems associated with fixed screens in particular are well-known to window manufacturers and homeowners alike. Most manufacturers of windows with fixed screens experience problems with proper fit, particularly with tall, narrow screens which tend to “hourglass” as the mesh is tightened into the frame. This can result in warping, causing poor fit and allowing insects to enter the home through the space between the window and screen frames.

Daylighting Benefits
In addition to manufacturing issues, fixed screens are responsible for blocking much of the desirable daylight from penetrating the window. Daylighting, as it is known, can have a major effect on occupant health and productivity.
Because the concept of daylighting is so new, many architects fail to recognize its importance when designing for residential or light commercial use. Over the past 100 years, as North America has shifted away from an agriculturally-based society to that of an industrial economy, people have spent less and less time working outdoors. In fact, the average person in North America is now exposed to only 90 minutes of full spectrum daylight levels per day.
Recent studies show that humans require sustained exposure to natural daylight in order to maintain the body’s natural rhythms. Lack of daylight exposure can result in several psychological affectations such as seasonal affective disorder, also known as the winter blues. 
Daylighting can be controlled by several different methods in residential and commercial construction; however, windows continue to be the most natural and cost effective way to introduce healthy natural light into any environment. Because of im-provements in glass and window manufacturing technology, windows can now be built much larger, allowing more light to reach the occupants and increasing the overall aesthetic value of the structure.
However, screens remain the enemy of daylighting, blocking up to 50 percent of the natural light from penetrating the window, affecting its thermal characteristics. Current National Fenestration Rating Council tests to calculate the U-factor and solar heat gain coefficient of windows are performed with the screens removed. This provides unreliable results since most homeowners retain the screens in place year-round, which can have a direct effect on overall heating costs.

Letting in the Light
Recent advances in screen-cloth technology have led to the introduction and stunning success of retractable screen systems by several aftermarket manufacturers. By retracting the screen when it is not required, owners not only improve their view and aesthetic quality of the window but also reap the physical benefits of natural daylight. 
The human eye adjusts to changing light levels constantly and focuses between short and long-range views forging a physical association with weather and time, often causing eye fatigue. Roll-away screen systems provide a clear, unobstructed view when not in use and maximizes the daylighting properties of the window. 
From the manufacturer’s point of view, the evidence is well-documented that the market for retractable screen systems exists. The runaway success of add-on roll-away screen systems has proven that the consumer is willing to pay a premium for the convenience and benefits that such a system offers. 
Because of the popularity of retractable screens, window manufacturers are beginning to realize the advantages of providing an integrated roll-away screen as a standard feature on their windows and patio doors.
Additionally, roll-away screen systems tend to remain much cleaner than fixed screens which are constantly exposed to the elements. Consumer polls indicate that homeowners are twice as likely to choose a window with a retractable screen as one without because of its real and perceived value.
Manufacturers seeking a clear market differentiator over their competition while increasing bottom line profits would be well advised to consider integrating roll-away screen systems into their window designs. 


Sean Davies is chief executive officer and director of engineering for Preferred Engineering Products Ltd., based in Ontario.


                Out of Sight
Retractable Door and Window Screens Increase in Popularity 
As homeowners are looking increasingly for products that add to the aesthetic appeal of their homes, many companies are offering a variety of window and door screens that retract when not in use. But these are not the only features offered: Following are some of the products available to meet your window and door screen needs.

Security Screens and More
If you’re looking for a variety of screen options, say retractable window screens or security screen doors, R. Lang Co. of Richmond, Calif., has what you’re looking for.

screens1 The company’s Roll-Away disappearing window screen rolls up like a window shade when it is not in use, offering an unobstructed view and ventilation at the same time. Additionally, the screen may be installed in minutes and they are custom-made to fit practically every type, material and size of window.

The company’s Tru-Frame Security Screen Doors are made of high tensile strength extruded aluminum construction with four screws at each corner for extra durability, and the products are screened with a durable corrosion-resistant charcoal aluminum insect screen, according to the company. Additionally, the company says the product is keyed lock with an inside thumb latch, stainless steel strike plate and deep extending dead bolt lock with a five-pin tumbler cylinder. The company says this makes the product virtually pick proof, eliminating the need to purchase expensive locksets.

Integral to Your Screen Needs
ODL of Zeeland, Mich., offers a variety of options when it comes to screen doors. The company recently introduced its EntryPoint™ Retractable Screen Door for retrofit applications. The product features a safety recoil system that the company says installs easily to fit most standard right and left in-swing doors and closes securely with a latch. The company adds that its Slam-Proof Safety Recoil System ensures a safe, smooth action when unit is unlatched and recoils into the housing unit. 
ODL also offers its Integral Screen System, which features a retractable screen door that is integrated into the pre-hung door trim. The screen unit is attached to the entrance door jamb at the distributor locations which takes the place of traditional brickmold. 

The Right Retractable Screen 
Rite Screen of Elizabethville, Pa., has introduced two new screens systems—the Hide-Rite Retractable Screen System and the Top Rolling Patio Screen. 

screens2 The Hide-Rite system features a spring-loaded casing which retracts and hides the screen when it is in not in use. Additionally, the screen casing, pull bar, guides and strike are made of extruded aluminum and the product’s full brush pile provides extra protection against insects, according to the company. The screen fits single, swing, double swing and sliding glass patio doors, and a versatile screen casing can be adapted to window applications, according to the company. 

With Rite Screen’s Top Rolling Patio Screen, the company says the screen can be custom-made to a customer’s expectations, and the product can be adapted easily to incorporate the top-hung system. Additionally, the screens roll silently on nylon wheels and the door can be reversed for left- or right-hand opening.

Think Big
screens3 Phantom Screens of British Columbia, Canada, challenges companies to think big when choosing screen products. The company offers its Executive Screens for large projects such as balconies, lanais, garage doors, porches, picture windows, and adds that the screens fit most oversized applications, retracts when not in use and offers solar-resistant options.

The company also offers its Vision Screens, which offer full ventilation, retractable design and limited lifetime warranty. The screens may be used in single-, double-hung, casement, awning and sliding windows as well as in specialty window applications, according to the company. 

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