Diffuse daylight reflectance of glasses

Related services Glass optical & thermal properties, Daylight reflectance

As discussed in the glass daylight reflectance page, the diffuse daylight reflectance of a glass is negligible, with the following two relationships:

Diffuse daylight reflectance = 0
Total daylight reflectance = Specular daylight reflectance

In the test report, we will report the glass daylight reflectance only. Below is an example:

There is only 1 result, without the separate total/diffuse/specular reflectance components.

If the result above is expressed in the conventional total/diffuse/specular daylight reflectance format, it would be:

  • Total daylight reflectance = 0.088 (8.8%)
  • Diffuse daylight reflectance = 0.000 (0.0%)
  • Specular daylight reflectance = 0.088 (8.8%)

The diffuse daylight reflectance is negligible, but not exactly 0. It is related to the haze level of the glass. The haze level of typical glasses is less than 0.5%. The diffuse daylight reflectance can be calculated as 0.088 × 0.005 = 0.00044 (0.044%) ≈ 0.000 (0.0%)

In practice, the instrument is not able to accurately measure (or resolve) the diffuse daylight reflectance of a glass. The test method of measuring glass diffuse reflectance is also not defined in the standards.

Therefore, there is only 1 result in the test report, without 3 separate components. The diffuse daylight reflectance of a glass can be estimated theoretically, but cannot the determined by an instrument.

Glass U-value and glass tilt

Related services Glass optical & thermal properties

We were asked why the U-value of a glass is different when the glass is installed horizontally.

There are 3 heat transfer modes: conduction, convection, and radiation. The convection part is dependent on the glass tilt and it affects the glass U-value.

By default, we evaluate the U-value of a glass with the vertical tilt, which is the most common position of glasses. For a horizontally tilted glass, the U-value is significantly greater than the U-value of the same glass with the vertical tilt.

Besides the dependency on tilt, the U-value is also dependent on the glass height. Other thermal properties (e.g. SHGC) are dependent on the tilt too.

However, it does not mean that the glass U-value shall be evaluated with different tilts. There are primarily two applications:

  • Glass performance rating
  • Fenestration performance rating

For glass performance rating, it is sufficient to evaluate the glass U-value with the vertical tilt only. With this standardized tilt, fair comparisons can be performed conveniently.

For fenestration performance rating, the glass tilt is considered in the evaluation by default.

Are the test methods for glass optical & thermal properties applicable to transparent plastic sheets?

Related services Glass optical & thermal properties

As an alternative to glasses, several transparent plastic materials are utilized as window glazing panels. Transparent polycarbonate sheets and transparent acrylic sheets are two examples of such transparent plastic materials.

Can the standard NFRC/EN/ISO glass test methods still be employed to determine the optical & thermal properties of such transparent plastic materials?

The NFRC/EN/SIO glass test methods are for glazing materials, which are not limited to glasses. Plastics are a type of glazing material. Transparent plastic sheets can be tested by the NFRC/EN/ISO methods when the following conditions are met:

  1. With specular transmission and reflection only: materials with significant diffuse transmission/reflection are out of the scope (for example, frosted glasses, glasses with ceramic frits, and hazy plastic sheets).

    Note: in the latest NFRC methods (2020 version), diffuse materials are supported, but our lab is not ready to test such diffuse materials.
  2. Homogenous and flat sheet: corrugated plastic sheets and double-wall (multiple-wall) polycarbonate sheets are out of the scope.
  3. Without far-infrared transmission: plastic sheets with significant far-infrared transmission in the 5 µm to 50 µm range are out of the scope.

    Note: in the NFRC methods, it is possible to test materials with far-infrared transmission, but our lab is not ready to test such materials.

In principle, the scope of the NFRC/EN/ISO glass optical & thermal property test methods is based on the optical characteristics, but not on the material type. Transparent plastic sheets with the same optical characteristics as transparent glasses are within the scope.

Glass UV transmittance calculation

Related services Glass optical & thermal properties

As defined in ISO 9050 or EN 410, the UV transmittance of glass is calculated with the equation below:

In the equation above:

  • τUV: UV transmittance
  • λ: wavelength
  • τλ: spectral transmittance
  • SλΔλ: normalized relative spectral distribution of the UV radiation (part of the standard global solar radiation)

The wavelength range of interest is 300 nm – 380 nm. The term SλΔλ is the weights used in the weighted average of the spectral transmittance. The standard values of SλΔλ are plotted in the figure below.

The peak of the UV radiation distribution is at 375 nm. Glasses with high spectral transmittance near 375 nm are with high UV transmittance.

There are some small differences between the ISO 9050 and EN 410 UV distributions. The UV transmittances calculated according to the two standards could be slightly different.

Import Optics user database into LBNL WINDOW

Related services Glass optical & thermal properties

We have a post on how to import user IGDB format file into LBNL optics. The next step is to import the user database created into LBNL WINDOW for further calculations. Please refer to the steps below for the operations.

Step 1. Set the user database as the optical data source

In the “File” -> “Preference” -> “Optical Data” tab, browse the Optics user database file and set it as the optical data source, as shown below.

Step 2. Import glass optical data from Optics user database

In the glass library (“Libraries” -> “Glass”), click “Import” (in the “List” view). In the pop-up window, set the format as “IGDB or Optics User Database”, as shown below. The optical data entries in the Optics user database can then be imported in the next pop-up window.

How to get window film optical & thermal properties with different glass substrates?

Related services Glass optical & thermal properties

Typically, window film optical & thermal properties are tested with 3 – 6 mm clear or low-iron glasses as the substrate. Window film properties obtained with such high transparency glass substrates are more appropriate for product performance rating purposes.

In real buildings, window film products can be attached to all possible glass substrate types, such as tinted glasses, low-e coated glasses, laminated glasses, and double glazing units (DGUs). There are two methods to get window film optical & thermal properties with different glass substrates, as described below.

Option 1: direct physical test method

With the direct physical test method, the window film shall be attached to the actual glass substrate to be used. The whole glass system with window film is tested as usual.

This method is recommended for most applications, with a small number of glass substrate types.

Option 2: physical test + calculation method

With the physical test + calculation method, the following glasses need to be tested (based on the NFRC 304 method):

  1. Window film on a reference glass substrate (typically a 3 – 6 mm clear or low iron glass)
  2. The reference glass substrate (without window film)
  3. Other glass substrates

With the test results of glasses 1 & 2, the window film only optical data can be calculated. The window film only optical data can then be added to all glass substrates tested in step 3 to get the combined glass with window film optical & thermal properties.

This method is recommended for product development applications, with a large number of glass substrate types.

On-site measurement of glass color uniformity

Related services Glass optical & thermal properties, Color & color difference, On-site testing & monitoring

Glass color uniformity is important to building facade aesthetics. It is possible to instrumentally measure the glass color uniformity on-site with a handheld spectrophotometer (a type of instrument for color measurement).

The principle

There are two steps in measuring glass color uniformity:

  1. Determination a reference color
  2. Determination of color differences between the sample glasses and the reference color

Reference color

The reference color cannot be defined numerically (refer to the inter-instrument error section for the reasons) and it must be defined physically. There are two possible ways:

  • A phyical glass sample (i.e. a control glass provided by the client)
  • A group of glasses identified on-site (e.g. 10 installed glass selected by the client)

For the second option, the average color of the selected glasses is used as the reference color. According to ASTM C1376, a minimum of 10 glasses are required. The second option is often used in practice, as it is more convenient to use installed glasses as the reference.

Color difference between a sample glass and the reference color

In the CIELAB color space, a color is expressed as 3 values: L*, a and b:

  • L*: represents the lightness of a color, with the range 0 – 100 (0: black; 100: white)
  • a: represents the position of a color between red and green (a > 0: redish; a < 0: greenish), with the typical range -128 – 127
  • b: represents the position of a color between yellow and blue (b > 0: yellowish; b < 0: bluish), with the typical range -128 – 127

The color difference, ΔE, between the reference color, L*abref, and a specific sample color, L*absample, is calculated as:

If the color difference (ΔE) is smaller than the criteria, the sample glass color is close to the reference color, i.e. in good color uniformity; otherwise, the color uniformity is poor. The criteria defined in ASTM C1376 is ΔE < 4.0.

Inter-instrument error

The glass color measurement instrument (typically a handheld spectrophotometer) measures the color in CIELAB color space.

Due to the wide range of CIELAB color space (typical ranges: L*: 0 – 100; a: -128 – 127; b: -128 – 127), ordinary color measurement instruments cannot measure colors with sufficient accuracy.

In contrast, the range of color difference (ΔE) is small (typical range: ΔE < 10, as larger color differences can be easily perceived by human eyes). Most color measurements can measure color differences with sufficient accuracy (e.g. better than ±0.2).

In order to achieve satisfactory measurement accuracy of color difference (ΔE), the same instrument shall be used in both reference color and sample color measurement. If the reference color and sample color are measured by different instruments, the inter-instrument error makes the color difference (ΔE) results very unreliable. This is the reason that, in the reference color section, physical colors need to be used as the reference color.

What is the difference between solar energy transmittance and SHGC?

Related services Glass optical & thermal properties

As shown above, solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) consists of two components:

  • Primary solar heat gain: the solar heat directly transmitted through a glass in its original solar radiation form.
  • Secondary solar heat gain: the solar heat absorbed by a glass and further transferred to the indoor space as heat and via all 3 heat transfer modes (conduction, connection and radiation)

The primary solar heat gain component is just the solar energy transmittance of the glass.

The secondary solar heat gain component is calculated as the solar energy absorptance of the glass multiplied by its inward flowing fraction. The solar heat absorbed by the glass causes a temperature increase of the glass. The absorbed solar heat flows to either the indoor side or the outdoor side. The fraction flowing to the indoor side is the inward flowing fraction.

For example, for a glass with 30% solar energy transmittance, 20% solar energy absorptance and 0.25 inward flowing fraction:

  • Its primary solar heat gain is 30%: 30% of the overall solar energy is directly transmitted to the indoor space
  • Its secondary solar heat gain is 20% × 0.25 = 5%: 20% of the overall solar energy is absorbed by the glass and 0.25 fraction of it is transmitted to the indoor space;
  • Its SHGC is therefore 30% + 5% = 35% or 0.35.

In summary:

SHGC = primary solar heat gain + secondary solar heat gain

Primary solar heat gain = Solar energy transmittance
Secondary solar heat gain = solar energy absorptance × inward flow fraction

Solar energy transmittance and SHGC are different. Solar energy transmittance is the primary solar heat gain component of SHGC only. The SHGC of a glass is always greater than its solar energy transmittance.

Laboratory test of thermochromic and electrochromic glass optical & thermal properties

Related services Glass optical & thermal properties

The optical properties of a thermochromic glass change with the glass temperature. For example, the glass is tinted with increased glass temperature.

The optical properties of an electrochromic glass change with the electrical control. For example, the glass is tinted with an electrical voltage applied.

The optical and thermal properties (e.g. visible light transmittance or VLT, solar heat gain coefficient or SHGC, and shading coefficient) of a thermochromic glass or an electrochromic glass can be tested as an ordinary glass, as described in this article, except that the optical states need to be properly controlled in the lab.

Thermochromic glass optical state control

For thermochromic glasses, the glass temperature needs to be controlled. Shown below is the setup available at OTM for thermochromic glass temperature control.

A rubber pad heater with a 1-inch circular opening at the center (the amber color part) is attached to the thermochromic glass surface. The power output to the heater is regulated by a temperature controller, based on a thermocouple attached to the glass surface.

With this setup, we’ve successfully measured one thermochromic glass in the temperature range from room temperature to 65 °C, with temperature stability better than 1 °C and temperature accuracy better than 2 °C.

Thermochromic glass temperature control setup

Electrochromic glass optical state control

For electrochromic glasses, an electrochromic glass controller needs to be provided by the customer. It can be a simple device with a constant DC voltage output. Shown below is the setup.

We’ve measured a few electrochromic glasses, with customer’s controller.

Electrochromic glass electrical control setup