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Polycarbonate roofing sheets – the perfect combination of roofing coverings and natural light

Posted in Construction & Architecture
Polycarbonate roofing sheets – the perfect combination of roofing coverings and natural light
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By Jonathan Hemsi

There are many advantages to using polycarbonate sheets for a wide range of roofing solutions. Due to its unique inherent properties, this material is now being used all over the world. From China to the United States, through Australia and Brazil, designers of projects large and small are using polycarbonate sheets as an excellent alternative to glass and fiberglass

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The main advantages of polycarbonate roofing sheets:

  • Weight – polycarbonate is a much lighter material than glass.
  • Versatility – polycarbonate is a thermoplastic, which means it is incredibly flexible and versatile.
  • Durability – polycarbonate is extremely strong and durable, and has high impact resistance.
  • Consistency – Polycarbonate maintains its color, transparency, and shape for years.
  • Light transmission – Polycarbonate can transmit much more light in comparison to fiberglass. It also offers the ability to play with its shape, colors, and light transmission percentage.

The best of both worlds

In this post, we are going to shed light (pun intended) on how polycarbonate is the perfect solution for letting natural light into a structure.

When it comes to natural light, Polycarbonate sheets stand out as an ideal roofing solution as they offer the best of both worlds. They come in transparent, semi-transparent and opaque in a range of colors and tints; and allow almost exactly the same amount of natural light into a structure as glass and considerably more than fiberglass. Polycarbonate is also more durable than glass and fiberglass. 

More and more people are beginning to understand that there is no need to compromise on natural light in favor of durability and safety. With polycarbonate roofing sheets, you can now sit under a pergola, gazebo, in a school, shopping center or any other building and enjoy all the natural light while still being protected from the elements and benefiting from minimum maintenance in the long-term.

The positive effects of natural light

Most people take natural light for granted, when in fact, natural light is an incredibly valuable resource (and it’s free!). According to a study conducted in 2014 by Northwestern Medicine and the University of Illinois, office workers with more natural light exposure enjoyed longer sleep duration, better sleep quality, more physical activity and better quality of life as compared to office workers with less natural light in the workplace.

“There is increasing evidence that exposure to light, during the day, particularly in the morning, is beneficial to your health via its effects on mood, alertness and metabolism,” says Phyllis Zee, M.D. a Northwestern Medicine Neurologist and Sleep Specialist.  Sunlight causes our brains to create serotonin and provides us with essential Vitamin D.

For these reasons and to help them blend in with their environment, this new method of architecture incorporates natural light into structures. In addition, by incorporating natural light into structures and buildings (and still maintaining insulation where required), architects and contractors can also contribute to sustainability and meet energy saving requirements.

Controlling heat and light transmission

When incorporating natural light into your structure it is important to consider heat and light transmission. Naturally, when more light is transmitted through a fully transparent roof, it will be hotter under that roof. Scientifically speaking, this heat is created by infrared radiation from the sun which builds up under the roof.

Not all daylight affects us in the same way. The Solar Spectrum helps us differentiate between three different types of radiation:

  • Ultra-Violet – harmful and may cause skin cancer (all Palram polycarbonate products block 99.9% of UV radiation)
  • Visible Light – enables eyesight and promotes well being
  • Near-Infrared – converts to heat when absorbed by objects, resulting in heat buildup

There is, however, a relatively simple solution for this. Special colors with heat-blocking additives can be added to the polycarbonate material to adjust the light and heat transmission percentages based on specific requirements.

Unlike regular tints, SolarSmart sheets admit more natural daylight while reflecting outwards infrared radiation that creates heat. This characteristic helps break the traditional link between shading coefficient and light transmission to allow a different perspective on the specification of natural light in architectural design and interiors.

The efficiency of SolarSmart products is measured by their ability to better differentiate between visible light and near-infrared radiation. In comparison to standard clear and colored sheets, SolarSmart tints enable higher light transmission in while maintaining or decreasing heat.