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Privacy is important in our offices and homes, especially with the rising use of digital gadgets for self-isolated duties. Switchable smart glass is one product in the glass industry designed to ensure privacy and stunning interiors. It is undoubtedly an effective and convenient design for our interior space. You may want to consider this glass for your office and homes. However, it is important that before you make that choice, you may want to ask yourself these questions – what is switchable smart glass, and how does switchable smart glass work?

This article provides detailed information on what you need to know about switchable smart glass.

What is Switchable Smart Glass?

Switchable smart glass is a kind of glass in which the application of light, voltage or heat changes its light transmission properties from translucent to transparent or vice versa. It is also called smart window or switchable window, privacy glass, smart glass, switchable glass, intelligent glass, electric window tint, electric frosted glass or LCG (Light control glass). The glass panel can control different forms of light such as UV, IR, and visible light.

It was invented to proffer solutions to the demand for a functional and design technology that balances the benefits of views, natural light, and open floor plans while ensuring privacy and energy conservation.

Switchable smart glass is typically a glass panel that can switch from very clear to shaded or opaque at the push of a button. This can be used for partitions, windows, and transparent surfaces for other purposes such as interior design, architecture, automotive, and consumer electronics. Although it may be amazing how this is possible, it is, indeed, a reality.

Types of Switchable Smart Glass

Switchable smart glasses are classified based on whether their ability to switch is dependent on electrical charge or not. Hence, there are two major types of switchable smart glass – active and passive.

The active switchable smart glass depends on an electrical charge to switch between clear and opaque, while the passive switchable smart glass does not depend on an electrical charge.

There are various types of active switchable smart glass:

  • Polymer Dispersed Liquid Crystal (PDLC) Glass is mainly for privacy partitions in commercial properties

  • Suspended Particle Device (SPD) Glass is mainly used as shady windows in automobiles and buildings

  • Electrochromic (EC) Glass is mainly used as coated windows that slowly turn shady

The two types of passive switchable smart glass include:

  • Photochromic glass: mainly used as coated eyeglasses that tint automatically under the sun

  • Thermochromic glass: mainly used as windows with coatings that respond to temperature changes.

How Switchable Smart Glass Work

Switchable smart glass can change from transparent to opaque in different ways, based on the method relevant for its application. There are three most popular methods of achieving switchable smart glass – application of electric charge, exposure to heat or exposure to light. These methods offer the same result in applications; however, they work differently on glass types.

Electrochromic Glass

Electrochromic glass is controlled by the push of a button to change from transparent to opaque. The glass is made of thin coatings that can be charged with a large quantity of lithium ions. The lithium ions and electrons are moved from one coating layer to another when current is applied, producing an outward tinted effect. On turning off the switch, the glass becomes crystal clear again.

Electrochromic glass is mainly used in buildings where inhabitants could have full control over it.

Photochromic glass

This is made of small molecules of silver halide. When the glass is exposed to sunlight, it darkens as molecules combine with silver elements in the glass. This is a passive glass and does not depend on an electric charge for switching. It is usually used to make eyeglasses for optical use to protect the eyes from sunlight.

Thermochromic glass

Thermochromic glass works in a very similar way as photochromic glass. The difference between the two glass types is that the reaction in thermochromic glass is caused by heat and not sunlight. When the sun heats the pane, the glass darkens as it lets less light through. This type of switchable smart glass blocks radiation, heat and could swap between making a room hot and cold. Although it darkens a room when the sun comes out, it is important because of its ability to regulate the temperature in a room. It is mainly used in building constructions for making windows.

Switchable smart glass has so many properties that differentiate it from other types of glass. That is why you must understand these properties and identify which of the switchable smart glass types best suit your needs.

At Fabmac Glass we are professional installers of PDLC switchable smart glass. You can get started by requesting a free technician visit and evaluation.

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