Vinyl Solarium System A Snap

Solariums have traditionally come in two basic styles: labor-intensive and expensive wooden sunrooms that are beyond most people's means or aluminum-frame structures which are afford-able but inefficient and relatively fragile.
By Rob Fanjoy | December 31, 1999
Solariums have traditionally come in two basic styles: labor-intensive and expensive wooden sunrooms that are beyond most people's means or aluminum-frame structures which are affordable but inefficient and relatively fragile. An Ohio company is looking to remedy those problems with a factory-built vinyl solarium system that provides year-round living space at an affordable price.

The Solar Elegance Vinyl Solarium is the in-dustry's first patented sunroom system, which is created with prefabricated modules that lock together on the jobsite.

"This system is suited perfectly for new home builders to offer as an option or upgrade, or for remodelers to sell as an all-season sunroom addition," says Daniel McCarthy, president of Po-laris Technologies. The system consists of an alignment base, which is fastened to a cement slab or wooden deck, front panels, side panels manufactured to produce a 15-degree roof pitch, and roof panels which slide easily into aluminum roof "trusses." Beads of adhesive are necessary in certain places and some parts are screwed together, but once the final vinyl trimwork is snapped into place, there are no screws or fasteners visible.

The vinyl construction makes these solariums much more thermally efficient than aluminum, and the roof panel system diffuses sunlight to spread warmth and minimize UV damage to interior fabrics. Extensive testing was performed on assembled units in a lab environment, and exceeded all requirements for wind and water penetration and snow load capacity. High performance, break-resistant glass is standard, as is a lifetime glass breakage warranty.

Polaris Technologies is marketing these solariums to professionals only as home additions, stand-alone patios, and even swimming pool enclosures. McCarthy says they have distribution capabilities for nearly every region east of the Mississippi River and plans to keep expanding.

"Everywhere we've gone and installed one of our Solar Elegance Solariums, we've been nothing but well received," says McCarthy. He says they have put up nearly 80 solariums in such diverse locales as Myrtle Beach, S.C., Cincinnati and Chicago, and the structures perform equally well in all climates.

The system is flexible and allows consumers to customize their designs by adding operable windows in either casement, double-hung or glider - each with standard full screens. Patio doors fit within two modules and also comes with a standard screen. Knee wall modules are also available without floor level window units at a cheaper price.

The units are currently offered in white and tan only, but McCarthy says the company is currently working on a simulated wood-grain interior. Polaris is also tinkering with different roof pitches and uses for the solariums, such as a conservatory.

Polaris also has an agreement with high-end blind manufacturer Hunter-Douglas to redesign certain aspects of their patented window coverings. The hybrid product will be color-coded and customized to fit exactly into the roof panels and windows of the front and side panels.

Polaris Technologies offers training seminars to all interested contractors so that they are able to begin putting these units up--sometimes in less than one day from start to finish. The homeowner's cost for these solariums is about $100 per square foot, which is comparable to typical room additions.