Handy Comparison between Polycarbonate and Glass

By Tamir Horesh
December 12, 2018

Deciding whether to use glass or polycarbonate is about more than just aesthetics. While polycarbonate is versatile enough to meet a variety of design challenges, it’s also extremely strong, provides effective insulation against heat, cold, and UV radiation, as well as offering unparalleled ease of installation with the added bonus of reduced costs.

 

<< 5 great polycarbonate alternatives to glass >>

 

When weighing the benefits of polycarbonate versus glass, take these important features into account:

 

1. Stronger and lighter

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Polycarbonate offers the best of both worlds: It’s 200 times stronger and more than 50% lighter, without compromising on natural daylight transmission and high clarity.

Sheet Thickness Glass Weight PALSUN® Weight
mm2 in. kg/m2 lb/ft2 kg/m2 lb/ft2
2 0.08 4.90 1.00 2.40 0.491
3 0.12 7.34 1.50 3.60 0.737
4 0.16 9.80 2.00 4.80 0.983
5 0.20 12.24 2.51 6.00 1.23
6 0.24 14.68 3.00 7.20 1.47
8 0.31 19.60 4.01 9.60 1.97
10 0.39 24.48 5.01 12.00 2.46


The designers of the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium in Russia – one of the 2018 World Cup host stadiums – were looking for a roofing solution that could withstand the area’s extreme weather conditions. Winter temperatures in Nizhny Novgorod can reach an average low of -13 Celsius and snowfall can be extremely heavy (in December 2017, the region experienced 48.5 cm of snow, falling for 24 consecutive days.) In only 4 months, the roof (60,000 square meters) was covered with SUNPAL, which protected the spectators from harmful UV rays on sunny days and was strong enough to withstand the area’s harsh winter conditions.

 

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In Australia, replacing an old roof completely ruined by hail required the design and manufacture of a custom made SUNLITE multi-wall panel with a 2mm solid polycarbonate upper wall, supplied with an extended guarantee!

 

2. Superior thermal insulation

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Effective thermal insulation isn’t just “nice to have”, it’s a must. PALSUN glazing offers better insulation by more than 20% than its glass counterpart.

 

Glazing thickness K Value
mm in. Glass PALSUN 
3.0 18 5.87 5.49
5.0 1364 5.80 5.21 
6.0 14 5.77 5.09
9.5 38 5.68 4.69
12.0 12 5.58 4.35


3. Saves on energy costs

The benefits of a well-insulated building go far beyond making it pleasant for occupants, irrespective of the weather outside. It also results in substantial cost savings. Materials with higher U-values are poor insulators and result in greater heat loss. Thicker sheets with a lower U-value offer greater insulation and reduced heat loss. Using PALSUN results in a significant reduction in energy costs both for heating in winter and air-conditioning during the summer. It’s important to note that using solar control sheets provides excellent insulation and also reduces air conditioning costs because of near infrared reflection and reduced heat buildup.

 

Thickness Glass U-Value PALSUN U-Value
mm in (W/m2.⚬K) (W/m2.⚬K)
3 (0.12) 5.81 5.47
5 (0.20) 5.72 5.19
6 (0.24) 5.68 5.07
8 (0.31) 5.60 4.48
10 (0.39) 5.52 4.63
12 (0.47) 5.45 4.43

 

 

4. Polycarbonate offers the best protection from UV radiation

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More than ever before, providing effective exposure to UltraViolet (UV) solar radiation is a key concern when planning transparent roofing, especially for applications such as pool covers or pergolas.

While properly applied sunscreen offers effective protection, the most effective barrier is PALSUN, which completely blocks out UV radiation.

 

UV
 

5. Polycarbonate offers effective control over light transmission and diffusion 

 

The amount of light coming into a building has a significant effect on health and wellbeing, as affecting working conditions. Polycarbonate can be adjusted to transmit a specific percentage of light as well as providing UV and solar heat control.
 
When the glass atrium over the Warriner Secondary School’s art studio continued to leak, despite several repairs, they sought a durable and reliable solution. In addition to leaking, the existing clear glass allowed direct sunlight into the classroom, causing intense light in some areas and shadows in others, which isn’t ideal for an art studio. The bright sunlight increased internal temperatures, causing discomfort to the students and teachers. After considering a number of options, they chose SUNGLAZE, which solved all the challenges: It’s resistant to impact and bad weather conditions, controls light transmission, and reduces heat buildup within the structure.
 
Because of its incredible insulation properties, SUNLITE is often used for commercial greenhouses and garden centres. Requiring very little maintenance, it provides the farmer and grower with better control over light transmission and diffusion. It is also used for architectural skylights. 

When the architects of the indoor market in Garraunkilla, Ireland were planning the Garraunkilla Farmers Market, they wanted a transparent roof to give visitors that outdoor feeling. In addition to letting the light in, the roof also had to be highly impact resistant, to withstand heavy rainfall and rainstorms. One of the initial designs utilized flat glass, but they soon realized that going with SUNGLAZE would give them the freedom to design a more creative and aesthetically pleasing curved roof design. They went with SUNGLAZE 14-meter-long continuous transparent sheets with a double curve, achieved by on-site cold curving.
 

6. Versatile polycarbonate offers ease of installation

 

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Using polycarbonate does away with the design constraints imposed by glass, making the implementation of curved designs simple and easy. Because installers can cold bend a polycarbonate panel on site during installation, it does away with the need for expensive glass roll-forming, eliminates the need for butt joints, and enables the use of single-length sheets. Using single-length sheets provides better protection against leakage and enables fast and easy installation. Cutting and drilling polycarbonate can be carried out at the site.
 
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Design and manufacturing SUNTUF corrugated panels with flat edges enabled the onsite adjustment and installation of an elliptical roof for the Stadionul Ion Oblemenco / Craiova Stadium in Romania.

More than 4,251 individually-sized and shaped polycarbonate panels for the new roof of the Aviva Stadium in Ireland were manufactured, cut to size, shipped, identified, and installed according to scheme.

While Palram’s solutions differ in size, use, texture and tints, they all share the inherent properties that make polycarbonate such a great alternative to glass: Durability, light weight, versatility, flexibility and light transmission. 
 

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Tamir Horesh

About the Author:
Tamir Horesh

Tamir is the Head of Palram Projects. He strongly believes that great solutions are achieved through passion for innovation and creativity.

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