There was a time when the idea of self-cleaning glass seemed, quite frankly, a bit ‘pie in the sky’. The very notion of it was comparable to the space-age images of us living in the 21st century, travelling around on hover boards or eating energy capsules rather than tucking into a good old Sunday roast.
However, what was often described as an impossible dream is very much a reality now and self-cleaning glass is being used extensively in all manner of commercial buildings as well as in our homes for windows, doors and conservatories.
Here at Crystal Clear, our customers often ask us how it works and if it’s worth spending the extra money to upgrade their windows and doors with self-cleaning glass – so here’s everything you probably wanted to know but didn’t like to ask.
When was it developed?
The very first self-cleaning glass was developed by the Pilkington Group, back in 2001. Pilkington started life as the St Helens Crown Glass Company in 1826. It was founded by John William Bell who possessed all the technical knowledge and ability, along with three local influential families, the Bromilows, the Greenalls and the Pilkingtons, who possessed all the money. The company was renamed years later after one of the original shareholders William Pilkington was joined by his elder brother Richard.
After years spent researching and developing self-cleaning glass, this British company was finally able to launch their Pilkington Activ range – the world’s first self-cleaning glass. Although other companies have followed with their own versions, Pilkington have remained leaders in this field.
How does it work?
Although modern technology and cleaning products have made window cleaning easier, there’s still an element of elbow grease involved to get your windows sparkling. And in high or hard to reach places, it’s simply one chore we could all do without.
Self-cleaning glass uses a microscopic coating that works with the sun and the rain in two ways:
- The first stage of the cleaning process is called photocatalytic. In simple terms, the coating on the glass reacts with daylight to break down organic dirt and loosen it from the surface.
- Then there’s the hydrophilic stage. What happens here is that rain hits the glass and instead of forming droplets, it spreads evenly, running off the glass and taking any dirt with it. And as a bonus, because the water runs off more quickly, the glass is able to dry sooner without leaving any annoying streaks.
What are the benefits?
Save yourself time and money
There are many benefits to self-cleaning glass. The major benefit is the time and money you’ll save maintaining clean windows or doors. You’ll be able to cut out all your window cleaning costs – or if you normally clean them yourself, you’ll buy yourself more time to do something far more interesting. Some self-cleaning glass even has insulating properties allowing you to reduce your heating bills too.
Help the environment
There’s no need to use any cleaning detergents with self-cleaning glass so it’s a greener option too. All it needs is sunlight and rain to keep working – and if rain is in short supply your garden hose will do just as well.
Some windows or roof lights are just not easy to reach. Even if they are, balancing on a ladder with a bucket of soapy water in one hand and a chamois in the other is not for the faint-hearted. Self-cleaning glass saves you from this chore and protects you from any accidents.
What are the drawbacks?
The only real drawback to having self-cleaning glass installed in your double glazed windows or doors is the cost. It’s likely to be 15-20% more expensive than conventional glazing – although many people say that’s a price worth paying if you take into account the time and money you will save keeping them clean. You’ll also benefit from the fact they’ll be clean all the time rather than just gleaming once a month when you have time to do them.
Relying on the weather
Self-cleaning glass does depend on sunlight and rain for the coating to work. However, only a small amount of UV light is required to kickstart the photocatalytic process so it will work even on a cloudy day. If there is too little rain, you may have to hose down your windows to remove the surface dirt and complete the process.
Only on the outside
You’ll also need to remember that self-cleaning glass only works on the outside so don’t throw your chamois away yet – you’ll still have to give them the occasional wipe over on the inside to keep everything really sparkling and Crystal Clear.
Fancy a chat?
All in all, the advantages of self-cleaning glass do seem to outweigh any drawbacks, especially if you really loathe window cleaning or your windows are inaccessible or hard to reach.
If you’re thinking about replacing your old windows and doors, why not give our experienced and knowledgeable team a call on 01179 717880 for more information and advice. Alternatively you can find a wealth of information in our blog.