In the introduction to this series on choosing the right roof for your new sunroom, we discussed the issue of Solar Heat Gain. We have all experienced that wonderful warmth that comes from sitting beside a window on sunshiny winter day…the warmth comes from the suns solar energy being transferred through the glass you are sitting beside. Unfortunately this phenomenon can also heat the interior of a sunroom to the point where it is impossible to use. The type of material used to construct the roof of your new sunroom can make a dramatic impact on the amount of Solar Heat Gain so it is very important to understand that there are alternatives.

The most common materials used for a sunroom roof panel are tempered glass, impact resistant acrylic and EPS insulated laminated panels.

Tempered Glass is very strong and won’t develop dangerous shards if it is broken. It can be configured in single, double and triple glazed units using high tech coatings that can reduce solar gain, UV and heat loss. Clear glass has the lowest insulating properties and the highest solar gain of all the materials under discussion but Triple glazed Solarban 60 has the lowest solar gain and highest insulating properties. The more sophisticated the configuration, the more expensive the unit.

Acrylic is very strong; Relative to glass it’s also lightweight. It can be single or double glazed. While it cannot reach the specifications of some high performance glass it can get very close for significantly less money. Its insulating properties are equivalent to regular double glazed glass.

EPS Insulated Laminated panels are very strong and have by far the best insulating properties – but they block all light from entering the room. “EPS” laminate panels are made from Expanded Polystyrene Foam which is closed-cell insulation. It is laminated between two sheets of Aluminum which give it structural strength and surface protection.

In very cold climates a combination of EPS laminated panels and either Acrylic or double glazed low-e glass used as skylights is the most common roof configuration. In more temperate climates Acrylic or high end glass can be used.

In our next post on this subject we will provide a discussion of the technical terms used to describe the performance values of the above materials.

Until Next Time,

Ben Hume

Sheppards Sunroom Expert