What is Brise Soleil
Brise Soleil (also called solar shading) is a system consisting of aluminium louvre blades fixed to horizontal or vertical support arms known as mullions or stringers, that is usually fixed to the outside of a building, for one of five purposes:
Brise Soleil blades are available in a number of sizes, typically domestic dwellings use the smaller blades (60 mm or 120 mm wide), whereas larger commercial applications tend to use wider blades – 145 mm, 200 mm or 300 mm wide). Some bespoke designs use a combination of blade widths within a system. Usually the system has a polyester powder coat finish, with a very wide choice of colours, generally to match other aluminium components such as window frames or flashings.
As a general rule, most shading applications use a horizontally mounted system, fixed immediately above the window or door to be shaded. This means that effective shade can be provided without restricting the opening of windows or doors. Vertically mounted systems tend to be used more for privacy screens, ventilation walls and aesthetic purposes. Both horizontally and vertically mounted systems can be supplied as standalone units, or joined together to form continuous runs of canopies or screens.
Brise Soleil - Myth Busting
"Solar shading is not worth having in the UK"
Although we may not get as much sun in the UK as some countries, there is still a major problem in the summer months with buildings overheating. The running costs of air conditioning and the associated greenhouse gases that it produces are a major issue. There are a number of pieces of legislation in place that call for the designers of buildings to make every effort to reduce solar gain within buildings, and solar shading can play a significant role in achieving this.
"Solar shading has to project a long way out from the building"
The way that solar shading canopies are designed means that even a modest projection can shade full height doors and windows. See an example here where the shade is highlighted in green.
"Solar shading is only for new buildings"
Whilst it is true that more and more new buildings have solar shading fitted as part of the initial build, the fact is that most solar shading is retro fitted to existing buildings. Brackets and fixing systems have been developed to allow connection to just about any existing building infrastructure, and the wide choice of colour finishes mean that almost any existing metalwork can be colour matched.
"There is no return on the investment"
The cost of the supply and installation of correctly specified solar shading will in fact be recovered over time, by the reduction in air conditioning plant required, and also the reduction in energy costs. As solar shading is a passive solution, there is no appreciable on-going cost, and therefore the energy savings can be significant. Systems supplied for aesthetic reasons can add to the value of a building, hiding unsightly plant equipment, fire escapes etc. and can also improve the level of security by providing an additional physical barrier.
"Solar shading is difficult to install"
Every installation is unique, and by it’s very nature, the system does require access to the area above the window or door to be shaded. However continual development and improvement of brackets and fixing systems means that the installation time (and therefore the cost) has been reduced over time. The latest generation of systems generally take about one hour per square metre to fit, however this can vary considerably and is dependent upon specific site circumstances. The geographical location of the building also plays a part in the installation time and cost. A large system installed in the middle of the country will cost less per square metre then a small system in the Scottish Highlands. Installations in major cities also come with their own issues, projects in Central London for example have to allow for the higher cost of parking, accommodation and other overheads. There may also be issues with Health and Safety if an installation is close to areas where the general public have access.
"Solar shading will not be of any use to me"
This may be true, the windows on the north facing elevation of a building will not benefit from solar shading to reduce heat gain. However they may improve the look of the building if solar shading has been installed on other elevations, or may provide privacy. Each potential customer has a unique set of requirements, and by offering a diverse range of integrated products, the chances of satisfying those requirements are greatly increased.