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FAQ’s

Solar Shading

What is the point of solar shading?

The National Energy Foundation cites the key benefits of solar shading as:

  • Thermal comfort – providing an insulating protection for the building envelope, reducing solar heat gain in the building
  • Visual comfort – greater use of transparent façade materials enables higher levels of natural daylighting, without the high levels of glare that can occur without shading.
  • Internal air quality – lower internal temperatures without detriment to the supply of fresh air
  • Overheating – reduces extent to which incoming solar radiation is absorbed by internal objects and re-radiated as thermal radiation (i.e. greenhouse effect)
Should I choose aluminium or timber as the material for the solar shading fins?

The answer depends on the drivers for the material selection. Timber can often be specified due to the specific aesthetic being sought. Western Red Cedar, for example, ages to an attractive silver grey colour. However, another key driver is the sustainability of timber, particularly where the timber is sourced from FSC certified forests. Aluminium is increasingly popular due to its high strength to weight ratio, non-combustible composition and lower maintenance requirements. Modern finishes to aluminium can also mimic the effect of timber with much greater realism.

Should I have a solar shading system outside or will internal shades achieve the same objective?
An external solar shading system will typically be more effective. It has the added benefit of reducing solar heat gain within the building by blocking virtually all incoming shortwave radiation (either through reflection or absorption).
Do I only need solar shading on the southern elevation?
Not necessarily. Shading requirements will be dependent on the seasonal climate and orientation of the building. In many instances, shading will be required on at least one of the east and west elevations. However, equally, north facing elevations may also benefit from solar shading. North elevations will receive high angle sun in the summer time. Shading systems will therefore benefit the building, but they will not typically be as extensive as they would be for south facing elevations.
What are the benefits of a dynamic solar shading solution?
Dynamic solar shading systems will enable the shading solution to adapt to current conditions and should increase the effectiveness of the system as a result. Dynamic systems may be controlled – manually or automatically through control programmes – to amend its position to reflect current conditions. The decision to operate a dynamic system must weigh up the additional whole life costs versus the benefit, taking into account the ability to operate the system (where dependent on manual operations).

Balconies

How are the balconies fixed to the building?
Typically, a connector is cast into the concrete structure. To this, a Levolux first fix bracket is secured. This allows the building envelope / façade system to be installed before the off-site manufactured balconies are brought to site just-in-time for installation.
Do I need rainwater drainage on my balcony?
Drainage is required on balconies that have an area of 6 m2 or more. However, even on smaller balconies, it is recommended to consider where the water will end up and what impact this may have on the building fabric.
Are laminated and toughened glass the same?
No. Both are types of safety glass with superior strength to standard glass. However, laminated glass and toughened glass differ significantly in how they react when shattered.
Which type of glass is best for use as a balustrade?

The question of whether toughened glass or laminated glass is best depends on the application. If the development is greater than 18 m in height, laminated glass is not permitted due to the combustibility of the plastic layer that is sandwiched between the two sheets of glass. Toughened glass is therefore the typical choice here.
Toughened glass tends to be significantly stronger than laminated glass. Toughened glass is therefore more difficult to break. However, if the glass does break, unlike laminated glass, toughened glass shatters. Some people prefer laminated glass on overhead glass structures. Others will argue that toughened glass is still the safer option as the likelihood of it shattering is far less likely, while the tiny fragments of glass that do rain down are not sharp or jagged and therefore unlikely to cause serious injury.

When do I need to specify aluminium decking rather than a composite deck?
Composite decking can, currently, be specified on buildings with heights of less than 18 m. Anything above this height requires non-combustible aluminium decking. Where the balcony area is 6 m2 or greater, it is required to have ‘managed drainage’ and an interlocking aluminium deck will therefore be required.

Architectural Facades

Is the choice of ventilation louvre system based solely on aesthetics?

No. The choice of ventilation louvre should be made on the basis of two primary characteristics: (1) discharge loss coefficient, i.e. pressure drop. This impacts on the performance of the mechanical and electrical plant; and (2) penetration of rain through the louvre system.

Do the perforated panels need to be uniform or can bespoke patterns be created?

Levolux can supply panels that have been perforated to bespoke patterns, whether that is a logo, brand message or any other image type.

Should I specify an anodised or polyester powder coated finish to aluminium?

Polyester powder coating (PPC) offers the advantages of having the largest possible choice of colour and textured / effect coatings. PPC finishes tend to have greater uniformity of colour, even when produced across different batches. Whilst PPC coats the profile, anodised finishes become ‘ingrained’ and offers even greater peel resistance. Anodising may therefore be preferable in applications involving large amounts of trafficking / use. Anodising can also achieve a deeper metallic colour.

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