The brutal summer heat can have us reaching for any possible solution. From retractable windshield shades to cooling seat covers, any way to escape the scorching rays is both justified and wanted. But what if there was a simple solution? What if there was a way to bake (pun intended) a sun-reflecting apparatus directly into your vehicle, stopping you from having to pull out fancy gadgets and devices. What are infrared windshields? How do they work?
Currently, we are sitting at the pinnacle of the technological age. Nothing is surprising. We have reached the point where cars can drive themselves. What is the future of auto glass? What is the future of keeping out the ever-angry sun from our interior leather and steering wheels?
Luckily, there are scientists and engineers much more intelligent than I. Infrared windshields may be the answer to the ongoing question.
What Is Infrared?
The term infrared may sound like something out of a science fiction novel. As stated, cars can drive themselves now. Are we really that far from science fiction anyway?
Jokes aside, our knowledge of infrared radiation started in the 1800s. Simply put, infrared is electromagnetic radiation that has a wavelength slightly longer than visible light. Overall, the sun and fire are the main producers of infrared radiation.
Theoretically, if a windshield was able to have infrared reflection capabilities, it would ultimately lower the heat radiating from the sun. Therefore, an infrared windshield would lower the temperature inside your car.
But How Does the Windshield Actually Work?
Let’s break down the actual science behind the infrared (IR) windshield, often referred to as a solar windshield.
A modern windshield is made of two panels of tempered glass with a resin between them. This combination creates a safer driving experience. If one of the panes of glass is damaged (from, say, an accident), the broken shards stick to the resin in between, saving the other side from shattering glass. Ultimately, this is why a shattered windshield doesn’t immediately break into the car’s interior.
Solar windshields are the same makeup but involve a metallic (often silver alloy) glaze placed upon the outside pane. This invisible-yet-complex coating works to reflect a majority of infrared rays, while still allowing light rays to get through. Therefore, the driver’s vision is not affected despite a reduction of rays entering the vehicle. Less infrared means less heat.
Unfortunately, the process does not involve a thorough blocking of rays. The glass works to reflect around 50% of IR light. Blocking out the entirety of IR rays would mean blocking out visible light, too. Solar windshields reflect rays into the atmosphere. There are recognizable by a purplish haze on the glass.
What Are the Benefits?
We keep mentioning the reduction of heat as the benefit of infrared windshields. Overall, stopping direct heat is the main benefit, but this causality leads to other effects.
Firstly, the reduction of scorching rays can help improve the lifespan of your interior. For example, dashboards and leather seats can be cracked from the abundance of heat and light. Reducing these rays can only help the longevity of your interior.
Secondly, a cooler vehicle means less air conditioning. Less air conditioning could be seen as a positive in its own right, but the reduction of usage can also lead to less gas and power consumption (though we will get to that later).
What Are the Negatives?
Well, there are a few. Despite being a fancy new technology, there are a few reasons that solar windshields haven’t found their way onto every modern vehicle.
Firstly, IR windshields aren’t cost-effective. Windshields can take the brunt of the damage while driving, which is why companies like SLP Auto Glass exist. With IR windshields being more expensive, the repair is also more costly. Basically, a chip or crack in your solar glass may not be repairable due to damaging the IR coating. Chip repair is often the easiest and cheapest form of windshield repair. If you need a full windshield replacement due to every chip and crack, things can get costly.
Secondly, infrared windshields block the use of radio-controlled devices. These devices often consist of things like remote starter controllers. The IR-reflecting capabilities block the radio waves, too, making the devices useless. The only workaround regarding this would be a patch that allows the remote to work through the IR reflection.
Most clientele prefers remote starters over IR reduction, making the tradeoff unnecessary, especially in Colorado. When it’s only hot a few months out of the year, the remote starter seems more beneficial. No one wants to have to start their car manually on a frigid winter morning.
Do Infrared Windshields Actually Save Gas?
Here’s the third negative:
The whole concept of air conditioning being a gas-guzzling vice is often misconstrued. Certainly, running your air conditioner involves running more power. Therefore, running your air conditioner does use gas. But is the difference noticeable?
In fact, there’s an argument to be made about the drag of having your windows open. While some believe that opening your windows instead of using the AC will save gas mileage, it’s often the opposite. Driving with your windows down makes your car less aerodynamic, causing it to need more power to keep up speed. Ultimately, this leads to more gas usage. At the end of the day, either option balances out. Running your AC will not make enough difference to notice.
If your main selling point is that you can save air conditioning usage, then the benefits aren’t as noticeable as you’d want. Sure, it may save you some gas money by reducing AC usage, but it’s not enough to make up for the higher pricetag of the glass.
There is no definite answer, but the difference between AC and windows is not enough to warrant the purchase of expensive auto glass (in our opinion). But, some stand by it! Some believe the cooler interior is worth the asking price. That’s not our place to judge.
Does SLP Auto Glass Work on Infrared Windshields?
We do! Our experienced auto glass technicians can handle any form of windshield. We can fix or replace any technology from rain sensors to heads-up displays. Furthermore, we only use the highest-grade materials available. Don’t worry about getting your Infrared Windshield replaced with something inferior.
Ultimately, we strive to make the windshield-replacement process simple and efficient. We understand how stressful it can be and how important your auto glass is. We will answer any questions and handle any problems you have, including contacting your insurance company.