Glass-ceramic is one material that can add a sleek, modern feel to any room in the house.
Jaw-dropping design has never been enough. Form can’t live without function, and nowhere is that clearer than in modern homes, where aesthetics are often intertwined with efficiency. Designers, architects and builders can reduce the energy footprint of a home, improve home heating, and accelerate cooking by tapping technologies and materials that also feed current design trends.
Glass-ceramic is one of those materials. It adds a sleek, modern feel to any room in the house, but its true power lies in its ability to boost the efficiency of appliances and fixtures throughout the home.
Warmer, More Efficient Living Rooms
Glass-ceramic can withstand temperatures up to 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes it an important component in energy-efficient fireplace and woodstove design. Fireplaces and wood stoves featuring glass-ceramic panels give home designers the efficiency modern buyers want, coupled with the safety of a closed system and the visible aesthetic of a fire.
For centuries, fireplaces have been a focal point of living rooms, and new models offer a litany of innovative design options. Many of them are more efficient than ever and solve one of the most pervasive complaints about fireplaces – that they unevenly heat a room. Glass-ceramic helps fireplaces more effectively heat a space without wasting the heat they generate. A glass-ceramic fireplace window also protects homes from sparks, ash and smoke without sacrificing a view of the flames.
In enclosed fireplaces, glass-ceramic assists the system to burn the fuel more efficiently and radiate the heat more evenly throughout a room. When sealed with glass-ceramic, closed fireplace systems burn 43 percent less wood than standard open fireplaces over the same time period, but generate up to 26 percent more heat per kilogram of fuel than equivalent open fireplaces. Since these fires burn hotter, they more evenly consume fuel. Plus, glass-ceramic’s unique thermal properties help to uniformly radiate heat throughout a living space.
Ben Franklin invented the fireplace’s sibling, the wood stove, and even he likely would be impressed by the advancements that have made wood stoves clean-burning heat sources. Modern wood stoves are 50 percent more energy efficient when equipped with glass-ceramic panels than the wood stoves developed decades ago, and like fireplaces, they radiate heat more evenly. This not only keeps homes warmer, but slashes emissions as well. Modern wood stoves produce 70 percent less particle pollution because they burn fuel at hotter temperatures.
Energy Efficiency in Kitchens
Kitchens are a prime gathering space in a home, and also one of the largest power consumers. But the kitchen’s big three – the refrigerator, dishwasher and stove – are becoming increasingly efficient. For instance, cooktops made of glass-ceramic can trim down energy bills through highly efficient cooking methods.
Induction stoves that use a glass-ceramic cooking surface can be remarkably energy efficient, even while generating temperatures north of 900 degrees Fahrenheit. Induction burners below the cooktop surface use magnetic waves to turn the pot into the heat source and cook food. Almost all of the energy used for induction cooking – about 90 percent – goes into heating the cookware when the magnetic field is activated. The low transverse heat conductivity of glass-ceramic cooktops means little of that heat is dissipated across the cooking surface. Because little energy is lost during the cooking process, induction stoves can speed up cooking times and is one of the fastest ways to cook.
Electric cooktops with glass-ceramic are also energy savers, at about 70 percent efficiency. Glass-ceramic channels the heat from the electric burner to the pot without losing significant heat to the surrounding cooktop surface. Induction and electric are much more efficient than gas ranges.
High-end appliance designers, like Wolf and Viking, see the powerful capabilities and appeal of glass-ceramic, and they’re adopting it for some of their cooktops. While electric and induction stovetops blend in with the sleek and refined aesthetic of contemporary kitchen design, they do so without sacrificing power or hogging energy.
Heat on the Patio
When the weather’s just right, many of us move from the kitchen to the patio, and light up the grill for hamburgers, chicken, and more. But grilling presents its own challenges and drawbacks – checking food on the grill by lifting the lid lets considerable heat escape, but grillers want to keep an eye on their steaks or hot dogs so they’re cooked to perfection.
More and more grill manufacturers are unveiling transparent, heat-resistant glass-ceramic lids, which allow backyard barbecuers to check the food cooking on the grill without lifting the lid and allowing heat to escape. Because glass-ceramic can be manufactured in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, it can be used on round grills as well as traditional rectangular lids.
In addition, some grill manufacturers are using glass-ceramic cooktops – similar to the technology in the kitchen – as a side burner to heat other dishes.
Glass-ceramic’s low thermal expansion and transverse heat conductivity make it a perfect material for a grill side burner, as it better transfers heat energy to warm up side dishes or hamburger buns.