Energy Performance Analysis of Prototype Electrochromic Windows

TitleEnergy Performance Analysis of Prototype Electrochromic Windows
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication1996
AuthorsRobert Sullivan, Michael D. Rubin, Stephen E. Selkowitz
Conference NameASHRAE Transactions
Date Published07/1997
Conference LocationBoston, MA
Call NumberLBNL-39905

This paper presents the results of a study investigating the energy performance of three newly developed prototype electrochromic devices. The DOE-2.1E energy simulation program was used to analyze the annual cooling, lighting, and total electric energy use and peak demand as a function of window type and size. We simulated a prototypical commercial office building module located in the cooling-dominated locations of Phoenix, AZ and Miami, FL. Heating energy use was also studied in the heating-dominated location of Madison, WI. Daylight illuminance was used to control electrochromic state-switching. Two types of window systems were analyzed; i.e., the outer pane electrochromic glazing was combined with either a conventional low-E or a spectrally selective inner pane. The properties of the electrochromic glazings are based on measured data of new prototypes developed as part of a cooperative DOE-industry program.

Our results show the largest difference in annual electric energy performance between the different window types occurs in Phoenix and is about 6.5 kWh/m2 floor area (0.60 kWh/ft2) which can represent a cost of about $.52/m2 ($.05/ft2) using electricity costing $.08/kWh. Much larger differences exist when electrochromic windows are compared to conventional glazings in use today. At large window sizes, such energy savings can be as large as 90 kWh/m2 (8.4 kWh/ft2). Specific electrochromic performance varies with window-to-wall area ratio; i.e., at low ratios, one type electrochromic performs best, while at large ratios, another type performs best. In general, an electrochromic glazing combined with a spectrally selective glazings is better than one combined with a low-E glazing; however, at low-window-to-wall area ratios, this situation reverses slightly. There is almost no difference in peak electric demand for the different electrochromic windows analyzed.

In heating-dominated locations, the electrochromic should be maintained in its bleached state during the heating season to take advantage of beneficial solar heat gain which would reduce the amount of required heating. This also means that the electrochromic window with the largest solar heat gain coefficient is best. The largest heating energy performance difference in Madison for the various window types is 43 MJ/m2 floor area (4.0 kBtu/ft2). This represents a cost of about $.26/m2 floor area ($.024/ft2) using gas costing $0.60/therm ($5.69/GJ, $6.00/MBtu). However, a non-switching electrochromic will not provide desired glare control so that a control strategy that minimizes winter heating use may not be routinely desirable in many buildings.

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