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What is Electrochromic Glass?

By SageGlass

Jan. 25, 2018

If you are interested in learning more about electrochromic glass and its role in architectural design, you’ve come to the right place.

Electrochromic Glass Definition

Electrochromic glass (a.k.a. smart glass or dynamic glass) is an electronically tintable glass used for windows, skylights, facades and curtain walls. Electrochromic glass, which can be directly controlled by building occupants, is popular for its ability to improve occupant comfort, maximize access to daylight and outdoor views, reduce energy costs and provide architects with more design freedom.

Smart Glass Benefits and Features

Electrochromic glass is a smart solution for buildings in which solar control is a challenge, including classroom settings, healthcare facilities, commercial offices, retail spaces, museums and cultural institutions. Interior spaces featuring an atrium or skylights also benefit from the use of smart glass. SageGlass has completed a number of installations to provide solar control in all of these sectors, protecting occupants from heat and glare. Electrochromic glass maintains access to daylight and outdoor views, which are linked to faster rates of learning and patient recovery, improved emotional wellness, increased productivity and reduced employee absenteeism.

Electrochromic glass offers a variety of control options. With SageGlass’ advanced proprietary algorithms, users can operate automatic control settings to manage light, glare, energy use and color rendering. The controls can also be integrated into an existing building automation system. For users who desire more control, SageGlass can be manually overridden using a wall panel, allowing the user to alter the tint of the glass. Users can also change the tint level via the SageGlass mobile app.

In addition, SageGlass helps building owners achieve their sustainability goals through energy conservation. By maximizing solar energy and minimizing heat and glare, SageGlass allows building owners to achieve cost savings over the building’s life cycle by reducing overall energy loads by an average of 20 percent and peak energy demand by up to 26 percent. However, not only building owners and occupants benefit – architects are also given the freedom to design without the need for blinds and other shading devices that clutter the exterior of the building.

How Does Electrochromic Glazing Work?

SageGlass’ electrochromic coating consists of five layers that are less than a 50th of the thickness of a single human hair. After applying the coatings, SageGlass is manufactured into industry-standard insulating glass units (IGUs), which can be installed into frames supplied by the company’s window, skylight and curtain wall partners or by the client’s preferred glazing supplier.

The tint of electrochromic glass is controlled by the amount of voltage applied to the glass. Applying a low voltage of electricity darkens the coating as lithium ions and electrons transfer from one electrochromic layer to another. Removing voltage, and reversing its polarity, causes the ions and electrons to return to their original layers, causing the glass to lighten and return to its clear state.

The five layers of electrochromic coating include two transparent conductor (TC) layers; one electrochromic (EC) layer, sandwiched between the two TC layers; the ion conductor (IC); and the counter electrode (CE). Applying a positive voltage to the transparent conductor in contact with the counter electrode causes lithium ions to be driven across the ion conductor and inserted into the electrochromic layer. Simultaneously, a charge-compensating electron is extracted from the counter electrode, flows around the external circuit and is inserted into the electrochromic layer. 

Due to electrochromic glass’ reliance on low-voltage electricity, it takes less electricity to operate 2,000 square feet of SageGlass than to power a single 60-watt light bulb. Maximizing daylight through the strategic use of smart glass can reduce a building’s reliance on artificial lighting. 

As the leading manufacturer of electrochromic class, SageGlass is backed by its parent company, Saint-Gobain, with more than 352 years of building science expertise. SageGlass offers its electrochromic glass in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors to solve design challenges. In addition, SageGlass is manufactured in a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility that upholds the highest standards of safety, attention to detail and integrity.  

To learn more about SageGlass’ offerings, visit the products page or get in touch here