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walkereng, Bachelor's Degree
Category: Engineering
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Experience:  Over 30 years of comprehensive experience
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Thanks for being there! My question: If a Solar Window film

Customer Question

Hi, and thanks for being there! My question: If a Solar Window film with a Solar Heat Gain of .25 is applied to a "Low E" window that has a Solar Gain of .26 what will the resulting Solar Heat Gain be?
JA: OK. Is there anything else the Structural Engineer should be aware of?
Customer: nope...
Submitted: 1 month ago.
Category: Engineering
Expert:  William Purpura replied 1 month ago.

Greetings, the short answer is that this is not a simple answer. Pointing you to a relevant FAQ that deals with this very question found at I quote from their site:

Can Window Film Be Used On Low E Windows?

Whether window film should be used on low E windows and how much you will benefit depends on three factors:

  • Type of low E surface used on glass.
  • Location of low E surface in the window system.
  • The desired amount of heat gain reduction, heat loss reduction, or other film benefits.

There are two basic types of low E surfaces on glass. One of these is a conductive coating put on glass as it is being made. It gives some heat loss reduction, but does little to reduce heat gain into a building. The second type is a more complex system of multiple layers of metals and conductive coatings deposited on glass after it has been made. This type of low E glass gives heat reductions of 30% to 50% in addition to reducing heat loss. Obviously there will be more heat gain reduction using film on the first type. If there is any question about the type you may have, ask your glass company or the window manufacturer to send you the specific information about your glass.

The location of the low E surface in your window system is also very important in deciding whether film should be used. If the low E coating is on the room-side surface of the innermost pane of glass, the use of window film may reduce or eliminate the heat loss reduction of the glass itself. This may be more than offset by the heat gain reduction/heat loss reduction properties of the films to be used. Most low E window systems, however, consist of double pane windows where the low E surface faces the air space between the panes. In this case, film can be installed without eliminating the heat loss reduction benefit of the low E glass. The type of window film you choose for low E glass depends entirely on your desired benefit –whether you want to reduce heat gain, control glare, prevent heat loss, reduce fading or enhance the safety of your windows and glass doors. Carefully consider all these benefits before making a final decision.

As you can see there is to may variables here to give you a simple answer since where the film would be applied and the window construction (single, double pane) as well as other design details are missing. To give you and idea why this really a nasty heat transfer equation I will point you to classic technical discussion on how to solve such a problem that can be found at Teh section that may be most applicable here can be found at 5.A11.5 Properties of glass and blind combinations. In this case the film is treated like a blind between the two panes of glass. However, if the film instead it was applied on the outside of the window vs the inside the window the results would be significantly different. The bot***** *****ne, I am sorry to say there there is insufficient detail to provide you an exact answer to your question. Unfortunately this is not a simple case like when you just add the R values together to get the new R value when you put one insulation in series with another.

Expert:  William Purpura replied 29 days ago.

The key things the structural engineer need to be aware of if you are considering adding solar film to a low e-glass are: 1) why do you want to do this since some films are designed to provide different results such as prevent sun damage on things like art work or furniture vs additional privacy. 2) Depending on if you apply it to the inside our outside of the glass will impact its effectiveness, you need to check out the manufactures recommendations here. 3) it is important to know if this will be single or double pane windows since that can further complicate the films effectiveness. 4) Finally, check out the posted reviews for the film your are considering since some are very poor in quality and do not last long, change color with age, and/or difficult to install/remove. The top quality films are the best buy in the long run. I know this is not an exact answer to your original question but if you bring up these issues I listed above a reputable film vendor should be able to then provide you with an exact answer to your question. If they can't walk away and find one who can because adding film is NOT inexpensive and it would be a crime to lose most of the expected gains if you buy the wrong type for your situation or have it installed wrong. Is this enough detail for you to go forward?