How can I cool my conservatoryPleated and Roller Blinds Ceiling Fan Pedestal Fan
Our house has a 3.5m x 3.5m south facing Edwardian style conservatory on it. Although at previous properties we hadn't considered buying or building a new conservatory the idea of having an additional well lit room was appealing when we decided to buy this house. However, we have found that on a sunny summer day it is far too hot to sit in the room even with the doors and windows all open. A second point is that my wife is intending to use the conservatory as a therapy clinic for the Bowen Therapy that she practices.
So, we decided that we needed to spend some money on reducing the temperature. We have several options split into two main categories, passive and active cooling.
Although I have read a lot about them being great and all, preventing the heat from getting in the first place, I was slightly put off by the thought of having a film applied to the outside of the conservatory. We have two small children who will find the slightest defect in anything and pick away at it until it breaks. I imagined that if there was a slight tear in the film coating they would take glee in pulling huge strips of the film off the windows. Decided against. Also my brother-in-law very large conservatory has a solar coating on the roof and yes, it may cool things slightly, but its not enough.
The right sort of conservatory blinds DO make the room look more attractive. Especially at night when it feels more enclosed and your less likely to have some freaky old woman have stick her face to the outside glass in a thunderstorm and scare the crap out of you (once happened to me and is not nice!). To normal people its more cozy. We had several people come round and give quotes. The first company Thomas Sanderson, who my wife found in the Sunday Times magazine (ouch ££), suggested a full coverage of pleated blinds on roof and windows. We were offered motorized blinds for only an extra £250 each and we would need 6. A quick calculation in my head worried me as this alone was what I was expecting to pay for the blinds. The final figure came out at nearly £7000....some taking the p*ss there I feel. I doubt that the conservatory was built for much more than £10000. Besides that the lady was here for more than an hour measuring up. We had second quote come in at a bit around £3000, can't remember who.
Eventually we used Pippa's Blinds from Cambridge. The chap came round, professionally measured the job up quickly and wasn't pushy. We chose roller blinds for the windows and pleated blinds for the ceiling. The ceiling blinds had the most solar coating on them (akin to tin foil) to reflect the most heat. They quoted us £1700 for the whole job including fitting! Excellent said I, when can you start? They didn't make the pleated blinds themselves and would have to wait several weeks for them to be constructed to the measurements he'd taken. Besides he pointed out that our roof would need fixing before any blinds could be attached to it and no he didn't then quote me for the repairs on that as well.
Fortunately our conservatory is still under warranty, which is good as not only did the roof need fixing, but the door hinges replacing as well as some plastic fascia on the exterior. (We didn't have the conservatory built so I will not talk about its build quality or indeed who built it and repaired it)
In all it took about a month for the conservatory to be fixed and all the blinds to arrive. The same man who came round and quoted us installed the blinds. Installation took a long while, not due to incompetence, but down to the pleated blinds being made a few centimeters too wide and needing to be cut down to size before installation. It was also a very hot day in which this guy spent most of it putting our blinds up in our exceptionally hot conservatory.
The end result is that we have some very nice looking blinds in our conservatory. Colour wise we chose very pale yellows and cream to try and keep the room as light as possible, whilst providing privacy and shade. The pleated blinds do look very nice in the ceiling and give the room a sophistication, whilst the roller blinds do their job very well without costing the earth. Yes, they do knock slightly on a breezy day with the windows open but it isn't annoying at all.
Whilst the conservatory is undoubtedly cooler than it was without the blinds - it is still blazing hot. Far too hot to sit in comfortably. So we have tried more drastic measures
We bought a fairly cheap ceiling fan for about £50 and got my brother-in-law an electrician to fit it for us. At full tilt it makes quite a lot of noise as it swishes the air around. However, on a really hot day, with the blinds all down, all it does is blow the hot air trapped near the ceiling down onto your head. Still too hot!
At last! Something that actually cools the room down to a comfortable level. But hang on a second I can't hear anything that you say! We bought a 14000 btu unit as desirable for a conservatory of our size in a south facing garden. When the compressor kicks in it really makes a racket, which would be just about alright for sitting in the room on a hot day, you are after all nice and cool, but not suitable for a relaxing treatment of Bowen from my wife. Whilst the air conditioning unit worked it had to go back.
So, now we have the windows open, blinds all down, ceiling fan on full speed and a pedestal fan blowing air at maximum speed into the face of the person sitting in the conservatory and its very hot, but at least bearable.
Well as its still really too hot and noisy I'm going to try the air conditioning route again. Its the only thing that would cool our south facing conservatory, but was too noisy. My plan is to actually phone people up at air conditioning outlets (rather than sit at Google) and ask their advice wrt noise levels and air con units. If we have to I may even opt for a split unit with the compressor on an outside wall and the blower inside. The downside is that it will have to stay if we move but should cool the room and potentially be quiet enough. Looking around it seems that I can buy a basic split unit rated at 3.5kW for £219, not bad.
Part II describes my further 'adventures' in conservatory cooling!
By Jonathan Pearson
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"The best solution for conservatories that are too hot and too cold is a product called Guardian. They have a website called guardianroof."
"i bought this new product called xtralite roof system from a company in Preston Lancashire called Celtic vista Ltd , its a light weight tile effect roof system that you can fit on to your exiting conservatory window frames and it has an incredible u-vale of just 0.18 that meets building regulations, so no more cold in the winter and too hot in the summer , i had to roof window fitted to allow the light to come through in to my kitchen and now i can really use my conservatory all the time , it took about three days to fit and only cost me £5000 we worth it because i really couldn\\\'t use my conservatory for a good part of the year . If this helps they have a website good luck d"
"Like everyone else who owns a conservatory mine was a nightmare to be in almost any time of year apart from maybe parts of Autumn where it isn't too cold or hot. 10 months ago I had an insulated ceiling installed by a company called sun-room conservatory ceilings their website is www.sun-room.org. They have an outstanding product which was fitted in only one day and for a very reasonable price. I cant recommend them enough."
"I had a very similar problem with my conservatory south facing with underfloor heating and air con. It was OK in the winter but sunny days spring or summer way too hot. Luckily found a company from Newport Gwent that installed Solar reflective insulation with a white PVC finish to existing roof panels, I could not believe what a fantastic difference it made, would highly recommend it. A day and a half to install and change out of £600. Worth every penny. Also the insulation value should make a big difference to my heating bills in the winter too. (Eclipse Conservatory Roof Insulation 01495 760633). Hope this helps. "
"You clearly have an inferior ceiling fan that is not performing the job. If you get a ceiling fan that is correctly sized for the conservatory you won't need any desk or pedestal fans. It will also be quiet and should not wobble but gently stir the air. Try a good name like Hunter as ours and many of my neighbours works very effectively. Jon: True it isn't the biggest/fastest we could have fitted (we actually have a more expensive one in the garage as well still in the box??) but at present it just blows hot air on you from the ceiling."
"No-one seems to have made the point that the only (or at least best) way to cool a conservatory - or any glazed space - is to stop heat reaching the glass. Thus any blinds, barriers or whatever must be on the OUTSIDE not inside. Go to any town in Southern Europe or other hot countries and you will see that all windows have external wood blinds which are closed during the day. Also, note that modern glazed office blocks etc are designed with overhanging 'ledges' or louvres to stop the sun reaching the glass. To repeat, the key is to stop the glass (and hence the space) getting hot - not to dissipate the heat once it has been created."
"A very cheap option, for a conservatory glass roof at least, is 'Bio Coolglass' that is used for greenhouse shading and can be obtained from a garden centre (NB: It's not suitable for plastic sheet). It comes in a powder form in sachets that's mixed with water, then applied using a brush or sprayer. Withstands heavy rainstorms & can if required be wiped off with a duster in winter. Cheap on pocket, but need effort to put on, or wipe off, each season. OK for DIY if got ladder & can safely work on roof."
"Solar window film is definitely the way to go. I had my conservatory roof treated by Sun-X with a stylish bronze film which has made a massive difference to the temperature and glare. I chose this over the silver film, it gives the room a more pleasant feel, especially in winter. They explained that while they did install blinds, this would be the wrong option, as the heat is already in the conservatory by the time it hits the fabric, and then acts like a radiator. Also, the maintenance, trapped flies, and cost issues are not ideal, plus you can still see the sky with the solar film. The temperature is now down to mid-20's at most, and you can sit out there and read without having to wear sunglasses, or have a noisy fan wasting electricity! They fitted the film without any defects in just a few hours, and it all cost less than £1,000."
"Sorry, but this has to be said, If you don't have a conservatory, don't get one as it will be your costliest mistake. Conservatory is a stupid idea. After experiencing my neighbours conservatory and frank opinions from them where they hardly every use their conservatory, we got a proper pitched roof extension 5.7m by 4m, with extrawide double doors 1600mm and large window 1500 by 1500mm and a Velux roof Window for light and the odd ventilation. Spent 18K, and now we have the a large room, warm in winter, 25C in summer, used every day for 6 hours and on weekends for 12 hours. Sitting on our electric recliners, watching 46inch tv, the garden and all the birds, this was the best addition to the house. Would never ever get a conservatory. No matter what, the conervatory will be uncomfortable througout the year unless one is willing to spend on energy bills. "
"An extractor fan in the roof will extract the hot air. Cool air will be drawn in through windows or better still through air bricks at ground level (where the air is cooler). In no time at all your room will be cooler. Of course if the outside temperature is 35 the inside will be also."
"I live in the uk and have a 6m by 3m conservatory which rises to above 40 degC even on a mild hot day! I have experimented with spraying mains water over the roof and within 3 hours reduced the internal temp. to 27 degC. I am now designing a re-circulation system through our rainwater butt, with a filter and water treatment, will let you know how I get you know how it goes, but suspect that I may have to cool the water in the butt...very costly and uk water authorities may refuse application for make-up water. Dave. Air Conditioning Design Engineer "
Dave. member CIBSE
"we had the same problems everybody does with a conservatory. The best buy is a garden room without a glazed roof 20% more to begin with. That is no help to you now we put in solar film in the roof panels to good effect. It is bearable to eat in on a 30c day but we are north facing?"
"There are some new products coming on the market, to replace the polycarbonate or glass panels in the roof with, they are insulated panels that meet the building regs for`u` value. They are obviously not clear, but it`s the same as having blinds. Try thermotop.com."
"Solar films are definitely the best option, they reflect the heat before it enters your conservatory. If you have a low 'e' silver 20 film it will stop 80% of heat entering through the roof and stop 25% of heat loss in winter. We had ours done by Filmcote Ltd and there are no tears or rips, nothing to be able to get your fingers under to pull it off. We can now actually enjoy our conservatory all year round."
"I had a silver 20 solar laminate installed to the roof of my south facing conservatory and it works a treat. Not only is it considerably cooler in the summer but also its warmer in the winter. The laminate gives a slight blueish tint which looks great."
"Depending on the type of conservatory roof you have, having a solar laminate applied to the inside of the glass roof (preventing weathering) will insulate in the winter and reflect upto 80% of the heat coming through your roof. If your roof is polycarbonate try solar inserts, they slot into the top chamber of your polycarbonate roof and again reflect upto 80% of the suns heat before it gets in and also insulate in the winter. Sun Shield Products offer inserts both fitted and DIY for those of us that are a bit concious of pennys. They are easy to install, even I have done them so that my Dads dog could live in the conservatory without frying, and am usless at all things DIY. "
"I'm sorry but I'm extremely dubious of statements like 'my conservatory is the same summer and winter'. I don't believe that is possible without some active environmental control. Aesthetically and for privacy blinds beat coatings - unless you have a mirrored outer surface? Coatings do work, its the extent that they work that concerns me. I don't want to spend a fortune so I can sit in a hot 'tinted' conservatory. Anecdotally, my in-law has an expensive coated glass on his conservatory and it also needs a monster air con unit."
"Not surprising, blinds cannot keep the heat unless they are on the outside, so 1700 quid wasted there. You were dubious about coatings but they work, try sunshield or another similar product, my conservatory is the same summer and winter."
"I have just ordered a conservatory and am now surfing the net for blinds & fans etc. I enjoyed reading your story, however, I am now slightly worried about it being an expensive mistake! I am now going to read part II to see if things improved!"
"I operate an air-conditioning company within a building group. It is no surprise that many conservatory users are disapointed by the air conditioning they use, when they choose on price alone. Many false promises and unrealisic expectations are provided by the less scrupulous contractor. A proper design for a desired result at a realistic price, is what is called for. Circulation fans "Do not cool" in fact they add heat. Mobile airconditioners are noisey, generally too small and are ill suited for the purpose most people require. The "Through-the-wall" type are also noisey, unsightly and generally offer a burglar a good entry point. Best by far are the "split-system" models and "Apartment packages". These are all we provide and make no false promises. The cheaper end of "fit-it-yourself" split systems, can be dangerous and problematical. Best by far is to use a proffessional service from a reputable contractor, willing to guarantee 3-years parts and labour. Best regards Tony Owens M.Inst.R. Building Projects (UK) Ltd 01457 762266 "
Tony Owens M.Inst.R.