The solid roof market is really only in its infancy when you compare it to the rest of the glazing home improvement market. Despite this, the solid roof market has taken off rapidly in that short space of time, to become one of the fastest growing niches in our industry.

Yet, although still in it’s early years, there is a product set to take the UK market by storm that could threaten to derail the solid roof market. That product is SageGlass – an electrochromic, solar control glass which solves the many problems that come with ordinary glass and polycarbonate roofs. Could this be a genuine challenger to the solid roof market?

What is SageGlass?

For those who aren’t familiar with SageGlass and couldn’t get to the FIT Show to see it in action, check out this video:

Cool no? You can control this via an app too.

SageGlass is very much an American enterprise, and most applications of this product have been on large commercial projects. However, the company, which is part of Saint-Gobain, is currently working on spreading it’s reach in Europe and the UK, and looking to expand into the residential market.

Immediately, you think of the three million or so conservatories that already exist in this country. Most of all suffer from the stereotypical too hot/too cold scenarios throughout the year. This is one of the markets that SageGlass are looking at hitting. The refurbishment market is a new one, and with lots of untapped potential. Just think of all those roof that could be changed to make any existing consveratory more comfortable.

A product like this would allow a home owner to remove glare at the touch of a button, let as much light in as they wish at any given time, give themselves privacy if there are high-rise buildings around there. Climate is controlled, comfort is controlled. All without losing the view up above.

But the conservatory refurbishment market isn’t the only niche this product would be useful for. Self-builders with large glazed facades would find this useful, ensuring their building doesn’t become too hot or suffer from glare. The bi-folding door market could have a nice synergy with SageGlass, given their large glazed expanses.

So why would a product like this be a challenger to solid roofs?

A non-permanent solution

In all honesty, I do like solid roofs. When done right, they look superb. Capable of alternative or real tiles, constructed in ever reducing time spans, massively insulative and transforms any conservatory into a structure which feels like a genuine extension. It is very easy to see why they have taken off.

But they are also very permanent, and have a negative effect on light filtering through to the adjoining rooms. Even with Velux roof lights, a solid roof will never be as light and airy as a glazed roof. And that is a feature many British home owners miss, given that we get limited amounts per year and we want to make the most of it when we can.

That is why SageGlass could be a threat. It’s a non-permanent solution. It can be made darker when needed, lighter when needed. The room it connects on to doesn’t suffer. And yet, climate is fully controlled. Views are maintained at all times. It gives the home owner that flexibility.

The cost

As with all new technologies, the price can make a few eyes water. So as you can imagine, SageGlass doesn’t come all that cheap, at least not right now. If you were to compare the costs of that, and a solid roof, it is the latter which would come out more cost effective. But I don’t think that is going to hold this product back.

There are a lot of advantages to the SageGlass product, as stated above. And I think the right type of home owner, who is serious about spending good money on a great structure, would genuinely consider this as a roof solution.

It won’t be for everyone, and I think those at the company and the rest of the industry know that. And perhaps it won’t quite rid the industry of solid roofs altogether, but it will give them a good run for their money, and keep them on their toes.

The roof market is going to continue to be one of the most competitive and innovative sectors in our industry, and it’s only going to become more frenzied in the years to come.

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