This has been a very cold winter. All of us in the Northern climates are quite thrilled when the sun comes out and toasts up the conservatory to a spring like temperature.
However, planning is an important part of the conservatory design, and building without a plan for heat control is not responsible.
We know, when the weather gets warm outside, it is going to get even warmer in the conservatory. Let me take you through the steps we use with our clients when doing a conservatory design.
1) Exposure: Does the room face directly south? (Mine does).
What natural shading occurs during the day? Does the house shade the room for a portion of the day? Be mindful the sun changes in altitude. In the winter, the low sun shines in through the side windows. In the summer, the heat gain comes through the roof.
Being a Horticulturalist, the first assistance I look for comes from plants. Trees to be specific. Deciduous trees to be more specific. Deciduous trees (ones that lose leaves in the winter) are your best friends.
They shade the room in the summer, and allow sun to shine through in the winter. What a great relationship you will have with trees, well thought near your conservatory. A note here, if you are not a tree expert, get some expert advice. You do not want soft wood trees that easily lose branches in storms or winds. You do not want trees that make a big mess with seeds. You also want to make sure your tree is not ‘sappy’ or a tree that attracts insects that produce sap.
Sound impossible? Not at all. Just get good advice.
OK, we have the trees planted where they will best serve our needs. Now what? I still have heat while I am waiting for this tree to grow!
2) Glass. Glass is rated by experts in two ways. Solar gain and heat gain. They are different entities. Without going into a deep discussion, what you want is to control heat gain, and that is with shading coefficient.
We can get shading co-efficiency to a point where the glass can be 75% shading. This may cause a loss of visibility, so look at different glass and decide what level of shading you want in the glass.
3) Blinds. Well, you may call them shades too. Blinds come in all designs and colors as well as efficiency. We love the blinds that we use because the colors we select to go with your conservatory as well as the house and decor, add much charm to the space.
Blinds have multiple functions. They do the obvious thing of shading out the sun, but in the winter, at night, they hold heat into the room. A great plus when its below zero like it has been for us so many times this winter.
Consider automation. We can motorize the blinds so you can control them many ways. Sensors in the room can raise and lower them based on time of day, temperature in the room or sun intensity. We can also allow you to manually operate the blinds from you laptop whilst on a sunny beach in the Caribbean!
4) Mechanics. How do commercial greenhouses keep them cool? A simple thing: moving air. We like to move a lot of air through the conservatory. When it is 75 degrees outside and the conservatory has just hit 90, you can control the temperature by simply moving air. We call it air exchanges. If you exchange the air in the room 6 times in an hour, you should be what we call ‘ambient’.
Moving air is cheap. You notice I have not talked about air conditioning yet. That is the last option on my list. You can use roof vents with automatic louvers to open side windows and roof vents to create a chimney affect. Have a ceiling fan below pushing the air up to the roof. The natural movement of hot air is up, so let it go up, and get it out!
We also use attic fans that take the air from the conservatory, up high, and expel through the roof of the house or a soffit on the conservatory. This is a bit more complicated, so rely on your designer to get you through this one.
OK, now the air conditioner. I only use mine as a last resort. I think the mini-split is the way to go. Look into Mitusibishi or Fijitsju for a couple of great products that can cool a conservatory in no time. They just cost more to run.
So, I read the internet, and I see many frustrated, and unhappy people trying to cool their conservatory. You know why that happens? They bought from the wrong company. They bought from a company more interested in closing a sale, than educating the buyer as to the many options they may have and a design that meets their expectations. Don’t be that person.
Talk to us at www.conservatorycraftsmen.com. My name is Jim and I am always there to help.