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12/18/2012

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Dan Beideck

I have these very same shades in my home. I too have a blackout shade over a large window bay and have experienced hardware that is stressed to handle the load. Additionally, I've discovered that one needs to be careful about leaving the blackout shade fully down on a sunny day. The window with the blackout shade faces South and the triple glaze windows have a SHGC of 0.45. The temperature between the window and shade has gotten warm enough to soften and distort the plastic side tracks!

I'd recommend the blackout shade for a average or small window as long as one is careful not to leave them down on a sunny day. The translucent shades have worked fine for even the large window bay we have it installed.

Marc Rosenbaum

Thanks very much for sharing your experience, Dan. Great point about leaving the shade down. I think if I were to leave the house unoccupied I might try the shade down with the top lowered several inches - have you tried that, and if so, does it help?

Dan Beideck

The shades that we purchased don't have a top/down feature. Therefore, it's not an option for us to leave it open at the top. We have tried leaving 12 inches open at the bottom, however. I'm sure that's not as good as being able to leave it cracked at the top, but seems to do good enough as we haven't experienced the same problem as we did when fully closed.

Kate Stephenson

Marc- I have been looking into these shades to install in a skylight and wonder if you have any concern about the condensation on the glass and whether that would eventually cause any mildew on the shade?
We're looking for something to block light from the skylight above our bed in our bedroom, and already when we wake up in the morning the glass is usually all fogged up (too much breathing?).

Marc Rosenbaum

I reckon that leaving the shade down from the top still traps much of the cooler air between the window and shade, and an opening at the bottom lets the cold air drop and is replaced by room air. How much difference this makes, I don't know.

Marc Rosenbaum

Hi Kate!
The skylight glazing gets colder for the same assembly due to night sky radiation, so I think it would be even more important to have a sealed edge assembly in a skylight. Whether there is enough condensation to actually drip I can't say.

Ben Hemberger

Marc - We just installed several similar shades in our bedroom - my wife wanted the light blocked, and I was curious about blocking heat loss, but concerned about condensation.
The first few nights the condensation was really bad, but after talking with the supplier, we left the bottom of the shade slightly open to allow a little bit of air flow, which mostly solved the issue.

Obviously they are great for blocking light, but do you think the airflow needed to keep condensation down negates most of the insulating value of these things?

Marc Rosenbaum

Yes, exactly right. So the next step is to measure the actual temp and RH in the bedroom and see if part of the issue is not enough ventilation in the room. Master bedrooms are worse, with two adults, than other rooms usually

Jan Juran

Hi Marc: at R-4, I wonder if the Ecosmart window shades might provide one half of a solution for moveable night time window insulation. For decades inventors have contemplated coming up with an automated system for adding opaque window insulation in passive solar houses during night time. For example, a Zomeworks product blew styrofoam beads between two panes of glass then vacuumed them out during the daytime.
Have you ever heard of a timer controlled motorized mechanism which could pull an Ecosmart or similar window shade up in the early morning, then down at night fall? Could be possible cheap and easy retrofit solution for many R-2 windows in the existing housing stock.

Marc

Large scale motorized shades were around 30 years ago in the heyday of the passive solar days. In fact, one that South Mountain installed just recently failed after all that time! I expect that many shade manufacturers could fix you up with a motorized set-up. The Ecosmart shades have a fair bit of friction and occasionally jump the sidetrack, so i wouldn't try to motorize them without some re-design.

Dodd Stacy

Hi Marc,

We installed some 60" tall triple cell fiber shades (no foil) from Smith Noble several years ago. I observe that the hanging weight of the shade material itself (the bottom rail is supported by the cords) causes the hex cells to stretch out vertically and pretty much collapse flat. This thins the shade substantially, especially in the upper part. S-N advises to pull the shades up all the way and leave for a day from time to time to restore the cell shape, but this is not very effective. What is your experience with the Ecosmart material in this regard? Does the foil stiffen the cells and resist collapse any better?

Marc

Hello Dodd
I don't see that effect - for one thing, there are enough rows of cells that even when fully extended they are hexagonal. And the side tracks provide friction that seems to keep the extension even along the length of the shade.

Dodd Stacy

Thanks, Marc. That's helpful to know. I like the design of the Ecosmart side tracks - they look simple and reasonably effective, and all the better if they help maintain uniform cell geometry. The top/bottom "cordless" mechanisms on my current shades are not very durable (rapid cord abrasion and frequent breakage), so I will be replacing them over time. I appreciate hearing of your experience with your shades and the usefulness of your blog posts in general.

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