The annual value of the smart glass market is forecast to reach almost $890 million by 2022. Smart glass provides a simple but invaluable feature that conventional (dumb?) glass doesn’t: the ability to manage glare, light, and heat based on ambient conditions. It enables you to maximize your heating efficiency during the winter, and maximize cooling efficiency during summer.
Navigant Research is convinced that this industry will grow from its current size of $88 million a year to $899 million a year by 2022. There is a worldwide effort to shift towards improved energy efficiency, and improving the efficiency of windows is a big part of this, so maybe this could happen.
“The past year has seen several positive developments for the smart glass sector, including the establishment of new industrial-scale production capacity, increased levels of investment, and partnership announcements between smart glass technology companies and upstream and downstream suppliers and participants,” says Eric Bloom, senior research analyst with Navigant Research. “Still, this sector is in formation, and growth is likely to accelerate in the years after 2022.”
Have you ever had to decide whether to use a dark tint on your window and struggle to see at night or a lighter/no tint that enabled you to see at night but resulted in the sun’s glare and heat irritating and scalding you? Nice to have the best of both worlds.
Furthermore, some of you have had to decide whether you want big windows that give you a nicer view or small windows which keep the home better insulated.
These problems are so frustrating!
Imagine being able to thwart all of those problems. You could have your cake and eat it too!
Now, to burst your bubble (but you probably saw this coming): these advanced windows are expensive. According to Navigant Research, these windows cost twice as much as high-performance glazing windows (multiple-pane windows).
Other barriers to smart glass adoption include aesthetic dilemmas, longevity, durability, glazing unit size, and other issues associated with integrating it into existing building energy management systems.
As is the case with many new technologies, these windows can and probably will be used for certain applications in which they are most beneficial, such as strategically placing the smart glass on certain building elevations. And, of course, it boils down to whether or not these windows are worth it for you. They can save money on heating, air conditioning, and lighting, but high upfront cost is expected to remain a limiting factor throughout the forecast period.
The demand for this glass may also grow due to a trend towards the use of more glass on buildings. Conventional glass allows plenty of sunlight into buildings during summer, and that heats them up, driving up air conditioning electricity costs. In this age, more and more buildings are covered with glass from roof to floor. Some of them have outer walls which are mostly glass, with only support beams, rather than concrete or brick. Combine this with the growing cost of electricity and natural gas, and you have another reason for the forecasted increase of demand. In sunny climates, the electricity savings would probably pay off quickly.
Other descriptions for smart glass include switchable, dynamic, or dimmable glass/glazing.