Frequently Asked Questions

What does Solar Seal do?

Solar Seal is a custom fabricator of architectural glass products. We can cut, edge, drill, fabricate (add notches, cutouts etc.), sandblast, temper, add spandrel to, and insulate glass products.

Do you actually make glass?

No, Solar Seal does not manufacture raw glass. We purchase glass from domestic float glass manufacturers, fabricate it, and then distribute it to contract glazing firms primarily in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states.

Whose glass do you use?

Solar Seal's primary suppliers of float glass are Pilkington, PPG and Visteon. To see a list of Solar Seal's partners and suppliers please click here.

What are the different types of coated glass?

While there are many different coated glass products, they typically fall into two categories: reflective and low-e (low emissitivity)

What is low-e glass?

Heat energy is comprised of long and short wave radiation. Low-e coatings help reflect the long wave heat energy back towards its source. The primary purpose of low-e glass is to improve the insulating performance, or "u-value".

Is your low-e available on a tinted or reflective substrate?

Yes it is. Pilkington's Eclipse Advantage® glass provides the benefits of a low-e coating on the reflective surface of the glass. It is recommended that the low-e and reflective coatings be placed on the second surface(#2). All other tints and reflectives can be combined with the low-e on surface #3 and any of our other glass types on surfaces #1 and #2.

Are there different processes for coating glass?

Yes, glass may have a pyrolitic coating applied as it is being manufactured (hardcoat), or it may have a magnetic sputter vacuum deposition (MSVD or softcoat) coating applied in a separate, off line process.

What are the differences between pyrolitic and MSVD coatings?

There are advantages and disadvantages to each coating method. Pyrolitic coatings are readily available and more durable than MSVD coatings. Pyrolitic products are more easily fabricated; including cutting and tempering.

MSVD products have a limited shelf life and the coating is more easily damaged. More care must be taken during the cutting, tempering, and insulating steps. MSVD products cannot be bent and they must typically be fabricated into an insulated unit. However, MSVD products offer greater design flexibility due to a wider selection of substrates, coating and densities. Additionally, MSVD products offer a higher level of performance.

What types of low-e glass does Solar Seal carry?

Solar Seal stocks both pyrolitic (hard coat) and MSVD (soft-coat) low-e products. There have been significant advances in the low-e coating market in the last few years especially with the MSVD. Solar Seal is has gone through a rigorous certification program in order to become a member of PPG's Certified Fabricator Program. This allows us to fabricate their Solar Ban products which are of the MSVD type.

On which surface do you recommend putting the low-e coating?

Solar Seal's standard practice is to manufacture sealed insulating glass units with the low-e on the third surface. The current MASTERSPEC Section 08800-Glazing recommends that this decision be left up to the glass fabricator i.e. Solar Seal. Solar Seal will, at the customer's request, manufacture units with the low-e on the second surface. The insulating, or "u-value" is essentially the same regardless of which surface contains the low-e coating.

What reflective products does Solar Seal sell?

Solar Seal only inventories products coated by the pyrolitic process. For reflective products, we offer the Pilkington's Eclipse Advantage® products, PPG's Solarcool® products and Visteon's RC® product line.

On which surface do you recommend putting the reflective coating?

All of the pyrolitic reflective products (with the exception of Pilkington's Gold Eclipse) can be provided with the coating on the first or second surface. A first surface application results in increased reflectivity, and a crisp mirror-like appearance. A second surface application allows the base color to be more apparent and provides a more subtle reflective appearance. There is a slight variation in performance characteristics, as well as differing installation and cleaning instructions.

What is the difference between heat strengthened and fully tempered glass?

Heat treating glass by heat strengthening or fully tempering it increases its strength. Heat strengthened glass is approximately twice as strong as annealed glass of the same thickness, however heat strengthened glass is NOT a safety glazing product. Fully tempered glass is approximately four to five times as strong as annealed glass of the same thickness, and is a safety glazing product. When fully tempered glass breaks, it will shatter into a large number of small pieces. Solar Seal's tempered glass complies with ANSI Z.97.1, CPSC 16 CFR-1201 and ASTM-C1048.

It is important to note that heat treating glass does not change its stiffness. Glass of equal thickness will deflect equally regardless of whether or not is has been heat treated. For more information on heat treated glass please click here.

How do I know if my project requires annealed, heat strengthened, fully tempered, or laminated glass?

Solar Seal is happy to assist you in determining what safety features must be met for your application. We will make recommendations and direct you to information sources that can assist you in the evaluation process. Please be aware however that Federal, State and Local laws require the use of safety glazing materials in certain glazing situations and the use of non-safety glazing materials in these situations is unlawful and hazardous. The purchaser is solely responsible for specifying and using the appropriate glazing materials and to insure non-safety glazing materials are not used in or resold for hazardous or illegal situations.

What is strain pattern?

Under certain lighting conditions, most notably polarized light, glass viewed at a sharp angle may exhibit a strain pattern, or iridescence. This iridescence is inherent in the heat treating process and is not considered a defect.

What is roller distortion?

Glass is typically heat treated horizontally, carried on a bed of ceramic rollers. Contact with these ceramic rollers causes surface waves on the face of the glass, and will cause distortion when viewing reflected images from a distance. This distortion is inherent in the heat treating process and is not considered a defect.

What is laminated glass?

Laminated glass is two, or more, pieces of glass laminated to each other with a piece of polyvinylbutural (pvb) between each layer. Each lite of glass is available in many thicknesses and colors, and may or may not be heat treated. The pvb is also available in a variety of colors and thicknesses. Laminated glass made with pvb that is at least 0.030" thick is considered a safety glazing product. A primary feature of laminated glass is that it will stay in place when broken. Laminated glass also provides superior sound control and blocks more that 99 percent of ultraviolet light from being transmitted through the glazing.

Where would one consider using laminated glass?

Laminated glass has a number of uses, including: where the consequences of falling glass are severe, where smash and grab is a concern, where effective sound control is an issue or where the fading of furnishings is unacceptable.

Where is it appropriate to use spandrel glass?

Spandrel glass is intended to be used to hide construction materials from view. It is ideal for use above a drop ceiling, below a kneewall or as a column cover. Spandrel glass is designed to only be viewed from one side, and must be glazed against a dark background. Spandrel viewed from the exterior of a building should have the coating applied to the second or forth surface. For more information on spandrel glass please click here.

How can I minimize the banding effect between vision and spandrel glass?

Given the different nature and function of vision and spandrel glass, it is impossible to eliminate the banding effect; however it can be reduced. Methods of doing so include placing the spandrel coating on the fourth surface of an insulating glass unit and using a tinted product for the exterior lite of both the vision and spandrel units. Reflective products, glazed with the reflective coating on the first surface, are excellent at reducing this effect.

When should I consider specifying a silicone seal on my insulating glass units, instead of polysulfide?

While many applications can be satisfied with a secondary seal of polysulfide, certain applications require the superior properties of silicone. Silicone should be specified for all sloped applications, all structural glazing and step-glazed units. Solar Seal uses only silicone for its insulated glass sealing process.

What is argon gas?

In addition to low-e glass, another way to reduce heat transfer is to substitute a gas, other than air, as the fill medium. To this end, Solar Seal offers sealed insulating glass with argon gas. Argon is invisible, heavier than air, non-toxic, not absorbed by desiccant, and fully compatible with our sealant systems.

What causes deflection and distortion in sealed insulating glass units?

When sealed insulating glass units are manufactured, a fixed volume of air is sealed into the cavity. Changes in temperature and barometric pressure will cause the unit to become temporarily concave or convex. This shape will cause reflected images to be distorted. Units made with reflective glass are particularly affected. For more information on deflection please click here.

How much do your products cost?

Solar Seal sells its products to contract glaziers who add other materials such as framing, sealants, labor, and a markup. This package is then sold to a general contractor who adds a markup before selling it to an owner. For this reason, it is impossible for Solar Seal to provide pricing to designers. Solar Seal is pleased, however, to provide you with the names of local glazing contractors that resell our products.

Who can I contact for assistance with design, specifications, or for product literature and samples?

If you are a design professional in need of product information, samples, or specification assistance please contact us.

Who can I contact for information about becoming a distributor of Solar Seal products?

If you are a Dun & Bradstreet rated contract glazier with an established commercial location, located in the Northeast or Mid-Atlantic States, and are interested in learning more about Solar Seal's products, please contact us.