Translucent Vs. Transparent Daylighting

transparent vs translucent daylighting

When Should You Use Transparent Daylighting and When Should You Use Translucent?

Proper daylighting design requires use of both translucent vs. transparent daylighting. Glass or other transparent glazings provide a view of the outside, making the room feel larger and bringing the outdoors in. However, glass also brings in solar heat and causes glare, making the space uncomfortable and difficult to work in.

Translucent Vs. Transparent Daylighting

Translucent Daylighting Is the Most Cost Effective

Utilizing translucent daylighting is the most efficient and effective way to provide natural daylighting. Translucent panels are far more effective at blocking heat, providing savings in energy usage. Translucent panels also scatter the light, eliminating glare and reducing the amount of both artificial light and amount of daylighting needed, reducing both operating costs and installation costs. Translucent panels are cheaper to manufacture and install than glass, providing the best cost to usage ratio.

CPI Daylighting’s translucent polycarbonate, like their UniQuad or QuadWall products, provide highly diffused light without glare or solar heat gain. Diffuse light is like light on a cloudy day; small shadows, no spotlighting, low heat and easy on the eyes.

Transparent Daylighting Provides a View

Glass on the other hand provides a view. However the tradeoff is that it also delivers glare and solar heat gain. Glass is also expensive, and to get similar U-values, the glass has to be coated, triple pane, and insulated with argon gases, all adding to the costs. The seals will eventually break down, the gases leak out, and performance drops, and either replacements are expensive and difficult, or impossible.

But, there are areas that a view is necessary. No one wants to work in a building without a window or view outside. So the key is to balance the translucent vs. transparent daylighting in the design.

Translucent Vs. Transparent Daylighting Usage

For general use, walls at eye height (6 feet – 8 feet) should have some transparent glazing, allowing for views outside. In almost all other cases translucent daylighting provides the best performance at the best price. It really depends upon the usage: gymnasiums work best with translucent daylighting, and office buildings do well with translucent daylighting, as glare and heat can drop productivity quickly.

Lakewood Mall Retrofit with Quadwall

Los Angeles area mall reduces glare and daily energy expenditure with CPI Daylighting’s Quadwall® panels

Bright spots, dark patches and solar heat gain plagued suburban Los Angeles’ Lakewood Center for decades, causing a rise in the mall’s HVAC costs and energy expenditure. In 2010, the then 60-year-old mall began a 4-phase renovation over the next four years that would replace 42,000  square feet of ageing plexiglass skylight with CPI Daylighting’s Quadwall® panels.

The number one advantage of the Quadwall is that there’s an insulating factor between the outside and the inside, which helps the climate control inside the mall because the right temperature can be maintained using less HVAC, since the renovation, we’ve cut the run time of the AC units by four hours per day!

Scott Cleveland, Operations Manager, Lakewood Center, Lakewood, CA

The skylights were installed 25 years ago when the roof was first put on the once open mall, but had leaked and cracked over time, holding a U-value of .73 when replaced. By contrast, the new CPI Daylighting Quadwall panels have a .22 U-value.

An assembly of two independent translucent insulated panels, the Quadwall system provides indefinite building envelope protection with its Removable Skin Technology (RST) that allows the exterior panel to be removed while still maintaining the integrity of the interior panel. Joined by a mechanically interlocking connection, the dry-glazed Quadwall system eliminates the need for vulnerable adhesives, adding durability, as well as even light distribution with the system’s tight-cell technology. Specified for Lakewood Center in 10 mm ice white matte exterior over 8 mm ice white matte interior, the two panel Quadwall system is an integrated, high-performance daylighting system.

With the Removable Skin Technology, we won’t have the same type of replacement challenges, plus the strength of the panel and the way it’s built makes a big difference too. In the long run, because of zero maintenance and CPI Daylighting’s warranty, costs should be very low on the maintenance side of it.

Scott Cleveland, Operations Manager, Lakewood Center, Lakewood, CA

Scalable, the Quadwall system can be configured with additional insulation, UL-rated Class A or B fire rated roof assembly, sound reduction, dynamic shading, additional structural performance or even military forced entry resistance as well.

Today, visitors to the Lakewood Center enjoy an enhanced shopping experience, as high quality light streams through the new CPI Daylighting Quadwall panels.

I definitely see a difference in the way the interior light looks from the old skylight to the new Quadwall. It’s much brighter without any glare. Now, that’s what we were looking to achieve!

Scott Cleveland, Operations Manager, Lakewood Center, Lakewood, CA

Otterbox Gets New Warehouse Skylights

Otterbox’s new home brings natural daylight into the workplace

Otterbox’s new home brings natural daylight into the workplaceSkylight Specialists was contacted by General Contractor Brinkman Construction. They wanted to bring in Daylighting into a 36,000 sqft warehouse. Their goal was to achieve savings to the lighting costs of such a large indoor space. The placement of the 4’ x 8’ translucent skylights bring in a tremendous amount of light. The dramatic scene shown above illustrates the need for very little electrical illumination.

Bringing natural daylighting into the workplace or schools for that matter achieve better attendance, higher productivity and even health into the structure. Daylighting studies have shown that when you bring in the blue spectrum of natural daylight you make your workers and your students better and healthier people.

Saving Energy With a Good Daylighting System

Properly designed daylighting systems save energy and costs

Artificial lighting requires large amounts of energy and can represent as much as 50% of the electricity consumption of a building. Artificial lighting also generates a large amount of heat. When a good daylighting system is considered in the design phase the HVAC system can be reduced in size and operational cost will be lower.

Replacing artificial lighting systems with an effective daylighting system can reduce a building’s energy costs by as much as 30% to 70%. It is essential that lighting controls be utilized in a good daylighting system.  If the artificial lights are not turned off when the appropriate light levels are met the daylighting system is probably not saving any money on energy.

There are skylight manufacturers that tie the available daylighting into the lighting controls to always insure correct amounts of light and at the same time manage costs to avoid waste.