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Friday, February 17, 2012

Look Ma No Shades! The Power Of LCD - Part 1

Adhesive Smart Film Being Applied
New technology that's cool is a wonderful thing. I've located a company that is letting me develop a new product with them. If any of you have been in a high end office in the last couple of years you may have come across LCD glass. This stuff allows you to control its opacity with a dial(!) Just like pulling down a shade to dim your RV, except NO SHADES! The "coolness" factor alone make me want them!


Milk White LCD Glass Installed (Left is Opaque, Right is Clear)
As usual, TANSTAAFL (There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch). This is going to require some power to operate. When no juice is applied the system is opaque. To keep it clear (or someplace  in betweeen) you have to apply power to it. Right now it's based on 110v. You need 7 Watts per Square Meter. Now, after speaking with a product engineer at the company, I have found out that it actually requires 60-65V to activate.

For example, if you have a 92" x 40" window (This is their test size) you will need  .13amps (about 7.8W) at 60V to make it completely clear. If you convert 60V to 12V the power needed at 12 Volts is .65 amps. Not so bad. Add up all your windows and take an educated guess. Figure around 5-10 amps total for the average sized coach. That is assuming you have all of them completely clear all the time. More likely 2.5-5 amps during the day and essentially nothing at night. Hey, most folks want privacy at night! A small solar charging system would support this easily and when on the move, your alternator can feed the requirement without a problem.
Aero Cruiser Kitchen Window

It is available in four colors, Milk White, Light Gray, Dark Grey and Light Blue. I'm going to try out the Dark Gray version. It block 98 percent+ of harmful UV rays and is a 40% solar reducer.

I apologize for the window photos, it's not very picturesque with the winter cover on! The sun is coming in the North East...soon.

12 V Dimmer (Example)
Remote 12 V Dimmer (Example)
The power supply/dimmer assembly can be one piece or separate. There are small tabs on the adhesive sheets to connect the positive and negative wires. You can have each window separate or all of them on the same dimmer. You can even have it remotely wired.



The panels can be daisy chained so you need only one dimmer, but you give up the flexibility of multiple dimmers. I'm going to have one for every window, but NOT each "side" of my windows.

Aero Cruiser Middle Size Window
Now for a few issues. What happens if there is a failure and your driving down the road? Good question. Everything goes opaque! I would recommend that you only cover windows you don't need to drive. The DOT won't let you tint the windshield so at least you can see out the front! Many states have limits on driver side (and sometimes passenger side) tint levels so that should be OK. It's your choice weather to put this on your rear window (if you have one.) I haven't decided if I am going to or not.


Overall I like this concept. I can get rid of my rattling metal blinds and maybe even the drapes. I doesn't extend inward from the window at all (3mm or less) so it should make the RV more "airy." The current pricing for this technology is around $85.00 per square foot retail. There are likely some OEM manufacturers that will begin offering this as an option and the aftermarket products are on the way. If you measure all your windows and then figure out the square footage (Length x Width = Square Footage) you can estimate the overall cost. Likely prices will come down as the aftermarket begins to release complete kits.

We'll see. Stay tuned.

Be Seeing You....Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"
http://www.thewanderman.com

16 comments:

  1. Those are neat, but unless you have dual or triple pane windows or some kind of storm window system, you're still going to want drapes of some kind to act as a thermal buffer for the heat transfer that comes from the window glass.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Big Matt,
      Most current windows are double pane. In the summer a solar barrier is usually enough to keep things manageable. In winter you are spot on!

      Yeah, they are cool!

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
    2. Only in rigs where they have all weather packages, your average RV usually has single pane glass.

      Delete
    3. Big Matt,
      I guess you'll have to have drapes too.

      Still way cool. And they DO have some thermal value.

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
  2. I'd like to say, "Why didn't I think of that?" but I can't because I did... about a year ago. I dismissed it though, not knowing it was a film applied to the glass. I thought it was made into the glass.

    I wonder how the film will stand up after a few years? Like, will it shrink or yellow? What about scratches or peeling edges/corners? I guess that's what we're gonna find out from your tests.

    I'm also curious about just how opaque it really is. Can you dance naked in front of the window with no one knowing what you're doing, when it's dark outside and the lights are on inside? Conversely, how well might it prevent the sun from waking you in the morning?

    I think Matt's concern can be addressed with a "low-e" coating, like for house windows, to keep the heat transfer to a minimum.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Paul,
    A year ago, this stuff was hard to come by, much more expensive and power hungry. The new version seems much better.

    Long term testing and viability will always be a concern when it comes to technology projects. I do not have a problem being a trailblazer! I am assured that the film is removable with now residue (that cannot be easily removed)and that their UV coating should prevent any yellowing or shrinkage. Since it's applied on the inside, likely it will experience much less direct UV.

    I will ask about the low-e coating....I may have hear that they already use it.

    These products are also available as window glass and can be cut to size (including plexiglass and lexan) but it is MUCH more expensive and since RVs windows aren't really a single (or double or even triple) standard it could get much pricier in a hurry.

    They do go completely opaque. I haven't danced naked in a long time, but if you'd like to I'm sure it wouldn't be a problem.

    Rich "The Wanderman"

    ReplyDelete
  4. Shades of KITT (Knight Industries Two Thousand) Remember knight rider with the self darkening windows?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Seann,
      Absolutely! KITT all the way. Now how can I get my RV to have an intelligent conversation with me? Seriously, didn't the car come off as more intelligent than David Hasselhoff?

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
  5. The car was more intelligent than the Hoff, and probably sang better too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anon,
      Too funny! And probably accurate!

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
  6. No mention of how the power is connected to the active (sliding) window pane. Surely you won't use a pair of #20 wires with 18" of slack hanging on each pane, so there will have to be a little connection block that mounts on the window frame and another that travels with the glass. And, unless you get really complicated, that means the shading effect will work only on a fully closed active pane.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ed,
      The fix is in the works. We have a system, similar to that used on minivans, to "travel" the sliding window. I will be testing that and several other methods this spring.

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
    2. My first thought was one of those little "wire winder" gizmo's like's used on some earbud wires. No doubt there's a better solution.

      Delete
    3. Paul,
      that's way close, but we've got something simpler in the works. No re-inventing the wheel. Just existing proven tech.

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
    4. Would the "proven tech" by any chance simply involve a plastic tape film with two gold contact strips on it and a roller assembly that attaches to he moving window and rides on the track?

      :p

      Delete
    5. Big Matt,

      Errr...maybe...!

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete

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