What are the differences in Solar Low-E and Reflective Glass?

Understanding differences between Solar Low-E and Reflective Glass

Solar low-e (low emissivity) glass and reflective glass are both types of glass that have special coatings to control the amount of solar heat and light that enters a building. However, they achieve this in different ways and have distinct characteristics.

The choice between solar low-e glass and reflective glass depends on factors such as climate, building orientation, energy efficiency goals, and aesthetic preferences. Both types have their advantages and are suitable for different applications, so it's important to consider your specific needs before making a decision.

Key Differences:

  • Function: Solar low-e glass primarily controls infrared radiation (heat), allowing visible light to pass through. Reflective glass reflects both visible light and solar heat.
  • Coating Type: Low-e glass has a thin, transparent coating that is not highly reflective. Reflective glass has a more reflective metallic coating.
  • Aesthetics: Low-e glass maintains a more natural appearance, while reflective glass often has a mirrored or metallic look.
  • Visible Light Transmission: Low-e glass can be designed to have high visible light transmission, whereas reflective glass may reduce the amount of visible light entering the building.
  1. Solar Low-E Glass:

    • Purpose: The primary purpose of low-e glass is to minimize heat transfer through the glass while allowing visible light to pass through.
    • Coating: Low-e glass has a thin, transparent coating that reflects long-wave infrared energy (heat) while allowing visible light to pass through.
    • Infrared Control: It is designed to control the transmission of infrared (heat) radiation. In cold climates, low-e glass helps to keep the interior warm by reflecting radiant heat back into the building. In hot climates, it helps to reduce heat gain by reflecting a portion of the sun's infrared radiation.
    • Visible Light Transmission: Low-e glass can be designed to have a high visible light transmission, allowing natural light into the building without the associated heat.
  2. Reflective Glass:

    • Purpose: Reflective glass is designed to reflect a significant amount of both visible light and solar radiation.
    • Coating: Reflective glass has a reflective coating that is typically silver, aluminum, or other metallic substances. This coating gives the glass a mirrored appearance. During the daytime, reflective glass allows visibility from one side, but at night, it becomes see-through from both sides. Therefore, to ensure privacy, curtains are still necessary.
    • Solar Heat Reflection: Reflective glass is effective at reflecting a substantial amount of solar heat away from the building, making it a good choice for controlling heat gain in warm climates.
    • Visible Light Reflection: Reflective glass reflects a portion of visible light as well, which can affect the amount of natural light entering the building. This can create a mirrored or one-way mirror effect.