Window shades are the preferred daylighting control system for several reasons. Shades allow natural light to enter the room while controlling unwanted, uncomfortable glare. They can provide a view to the outside world – even when the shades are down. This helps with improvements in productivity and HVAC cost savings so you can get the most out of solar control shading.

One key to getting the most out of a shading system is coming up with a control plan. Here are factors to consider when developing a shade control plan.

What is your budget?
The shading system’s percentage of the overall project budget varies with the size of the budget. Likewise, there are shade solutions available to fit nearly any budget need. Manual operation tends to be less expensive initially, while motorized systems can bring more value by allowing better use of a larger system. By specifying the correct operators, fabrics, and high or low voltage, you can choose a control system that is appropriate to the resources available.

When doing this, however, it’s important not to make choices that will negatively impact the performance of the shading system.

What is the size and scope of your project?
The larger the project, the bigger the difference in the impact of the shading system. For one or a handful of windows, manual operation is an economical and effective solution. More windows and more complex building requirements make motorized shades a more likely choice.

But one size doesn’t fit all. There may be some areas where the shades do not need to be operated very often, so manual operation or a wall switch works fine, while other parts of the shading system require motorization.

What are your solar control goals?
Setting realistic goals at the beginning of the shade system design process will help in developing the system you need, while a cut-and-paste specification that has been used thousands of times can lead to a shading system that creates more problems than it solves.

For instance, manual shades are often left in one position throughout the day, either up or down. When the shades are left up glare is not being controlled and unnecessary heat may be entering the space, making building occupants irritable or uncomfortable and thus less productive. Conversely, when shades are left down all day glare and heat is controlled but daylight and outside views are not maximized.

Do you want to control glare? Are you more interested in increasing occupant comfort and productivity, or in impacting HVAC costs? Will shading needs change depending on the time of day or the location of the windows? Do you want privacy or views through to the outside? Answering these questions will help you design the right system for the job.

Who do you want controlling the shades?
The question of who gets to control shade position can be a thorny one. With local control, the person occupying a space can position her shade or shades for optimum personal comfort. Whether using manual shades or motorized with local wall switches, however, this can lead to the shades remaining in the same place all the time when the occupant doesn’t remember to change its position.

Motorization allows for automated control, guaranteeing the shades will always be in the optimum position and providing maximum efficiency. Connecting the shade control system to autonomous solar tracking or BMS control further enhances its integration into the whole building. Such systems bring a lot of value to a building project by maximizing productivity gains. Since the cost increases are relatively minor compared to the overall project budget, this is a good way to positively impact the bottom line for years to come.

You can also design a system that provides the best of both worlds: local control for the appropriate areas for user comfort combined with automation that periodically moves shades into the most advantageous position based on the position of the sun. To learn more about our shading solutions, and to find documentation to help you plan and specify the right shade control system, visit our website then click on “Solar Control Solutions.”

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