Conservatory - brick wall or no?

Hi I am thinking of getting my lean to consevatory updated. I would like to be able to use it for more of the year - at present it is no good from late September onwards - too cold. It is only single glazed, and has brick sides so the only glass is the roof and front, which is all glass with a sliding patio door. Just considering the options for the change - thinking of hardwood. Should I go for a low brick wall or keep it all glass? Which is best for winter use? Thanks for any advice you can give!
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In terms of heat loss you can reduce that by going for double glazed roof and wall/door.
That will be the main part. Going for a low brick wall will only make a difference to the extent of the area of that. If you are getting up to the height of a window as in a normal room window, you risk exceeding the limit for what is allowable for a conservatory.
This is that at least 50% of wall area and 75% of roof area is translucent material (i.e. glass or horrible polycarbonate)
Beyond that it becomes an extension and is subject to building and planning controls and you may not want to bother with that so you will need to measure and check existing wall areas as you may already be close to the limit.
If you are going to add heating, then there must be separate controls for it to those for the house.
In any case, the door and any windows from the main house need to be equivalent to exterior versions in terms of insulating properties - i.e. not knock-throughs
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The existing walls (2 sides, rear) are part of the house - it is based on an original Victorian conservatory. Nothing new is planned, merely updating of a rather out of date design. Are you saying that the dwarf walls won't add to the heat-retaining qualities? Even if insulated to the max?
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They will do, but calculate the areas and heat losses using U values for the surfaces
You can find tables of U values or programs on radiator manufacturer web sites or in the Approved Docs to the Building Regulations.
The calculation for a given surface is to multiply the area in square metres by the U value and the temperature difference. When you are doing this for calculating radiator sizes it is typical to assume -3 degrees outside and 18 or 21 according to taste inside. Clearly the larger the U value the worse the insulating properties.
Out of what you have, it is likely that the largest heat loss will be the current glass because it is single and has a very large area. If the existing walls are single or double brick with no insulation, then they will be next, followed by the floor.
Practically, you probably wouldn't do anything about the floor unless you want to dig it all up, put in a sheet of polystyrene foam 100mm thick and concrete, or create a floor above the existing, on joists, insulate it and board over that.
You could add dwarf walls insulated to modern standards and make some difference vs. having them as all glass. However, unless the area is substantial, the effect will be minor in the context of the overall room. that's why I said that to make a large overall difference you would need to have these walls larger as a proportion of the whole and then you run towards being outside the definition of a conservatory and subject to Building Control.
Certainly the type of glass is the one to go for first.
If you don't mind losing some overall size, you could fix studs to the existing walls, put in Celotex sheet (has 3 times insulating properties of glass wool for a given thickness)and fit plasterboard over that. This would take you to modern insulation standards for walls. It is likely that this would be the second most significant loss of heat after the roof and glass walls and door.
Whichever way, you need to do the sums to know what you are dealing with.
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Thanks Andy and Bazza for your advice. It is very helpful, and has given me plenty of food for thought. Cheers.
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Mikeyboy wrote:

Hi Mikeyboy,
Having finished my self build dwarf wall conservatory just before Christmas (had the parts delivered April 2005 but but then I am a slow worker but did promise the wife that we could have Port and biscuits in it on Christmas day) I fitted underfloor heating (from Screwfix) with tiled floor and walls and 2 twin 13a sockets. Looked at full length Conservatories but considered they looked too much like a greenhouse, already got one of those. The dwarf wall done in the same brick as the house is more anaesthetically pleasing
During a cold spell in January the underfloor heating (150w per square metre) kept it to about 13c when outside it was below freezing, have a convector heater to boost the temperature when needed. The insulated cavity wall will make a difference to the heat retention.
It all boils down to the fact that glass is not a good insulator so less is better for warmth but less glass less light, a dwarf wall system gives you a bit of both
Bazza
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