With all the security measures that South Africans take to protect their homes – a beautiful piece of architecture can go from elegant and picturesque to a prison-like fortress. Are you tired of feeling like your home is a prison? Well now you can replace those ominous metal burglar bars with something that’s just as robust and impenetrable but a lot easier on the eyes – transparent burglar bars!
A Brief History of Polycarbonates
Polycarbonates were first discovered in 1898 by a German scientist named Alfred Einhorn, however, it was neither further researched or applied commercially. In 1953 a scientist name Hermann Schnell working for a company name Bayer created and patented polycarbonate.
About 13 years later the first polycarbonate material which had a brown colour was adjusted and a clear polycarbonate material introduced. This is what we now use for the clear burglar bars, airplane windows, car headlights, safety goggles and any other products that require some level of impact resistance.
How Popular are Transparent Burglar Bars?
The product itself has been on the market for quite some time, however, it has not over-saturated the market in Johannesburg and you’ll be unlikely to see it applied in an actual residential setting since the overwhelming majority of homes still make use of the traditional iron burglar bars.
Transparent burglar bars are very popular in coastal areas such as Durban and Cape Town where residents are reluctant to use traditional bars which block the stunning seaside and mountainside views.
Many office buildings also make use of the very versatile invisible bars which not only provides a high level of security but also allows more natural light to enter rooms and makes the area look cleaner, more sophisticated and more spacious.
What are Transparent Burglar Bars Made out of?
All of the invisible or transparent burglar bars that you’ll find are made from polycarbonate – the same thermoplastic that is used for airplane windows and bullet-proof glass. Unlike acrylic or perspex which will simply snap when bent out of shape, polycarbonate cannot be snapped.
Thickness will vary from 5 to 7 mm and some will come with UV protection coatings while others will not. Since clear burglar bars are flexible they are more impact resistant and cutting them at a single point will not allow an intruder to remove a bar since it will simply snap back into place.
How Strong are Invisible Bars?
A quick online search will reveal a number of invisible bars suppliers in Cape Town, Durban and Gauteng and a quick visit to these websites will reveal just how confident these suppliers are in their products. You hear words such as “unbreakable” and “impact-proof” being thrown around.
You can also view multiple strength test videos made by most of these suppliers where they’ll have someone “attack” the bars with hammers, knives, pliers and even fire. ViewProtect (one of the leading suppliers of polycarbnate security bars) has a number of tests on their YouTube channel which you can view.
That said, always remember that burglar bars alone will not suffice to keep your family and home protected and other external security measures must be in place.
Top Reason to Use Transparent Burglar Bars
- Improve the natural light entering any room
- Make an area feel and look more spacious
- Secure upstairs windows without the “prison feel”
- Maintain an open view of beautiful landscapes and outdoor areas
- Ideal for both small and large windows
- Polycarbonate bars do not rust and are virtually maintenance-free
- UV protection for your home – ideal for homes prone to sun bleaching
- It’s strong, impact-proof and virtually unbreakable
- Most suppliers offer a 10-year warranty
The Downfalls of using Polycarbonate Burglar Bars in South Africa
- Since they are transparent they remove the “visible barrier” that acts as a strong deterrent for burglars and intruders and may make your home appear to be an easier target
- Burglars and intruders can hack or saw into the material without making too much noise and eventually gain entry
- Fire can be used to weaken polycarbonate transparent security bars quietly (this would take a long time)
How to Clean Polycarbonate Burglar Bars
You can clean transparent bars with lukewarm water and a non-abrasive household detergent like Sunlight dish washing liquid, certain tile cleaners or washing powder like Ariel. You should use a very small amount of detergent and a soft microfiber cloth. Some suppliers of polycarbonate transparent bars also provide “cleaning kits” – I’ve never used any of these and do not know what they contain.
You should not use scouring powder, Handy-Andy or any abrasive detergents as well as avoid products that contain alcohol, any window cleaning sprays, turpentine and methylated spirits. You should also not use any abrasive materials such as brushes, scouring sponges or rough materials. Although polycarbonate is a highly resistant material using abrasive materials and detergents may ware off the sleek finish and the UV protection over time.
Suppliers of Invisible Security Bars
For marketing purposes suppliers have given polycarbonate security bars a variety of different names from InvisiBarsTM and ClearView Burglar Bars to Trellidor’s Clear Guard – they are all effectively the same thing. I recommend that you review each supplier individually and request multiple quotes before choosing a supplier – remember you’re not only looking for the most affordable product but also for one of the highest quality!
Ensure that you are dealing with a supplier that offer polycarbonate transparent burglar bars and not acrylic or perspex which are both cheaper, look the same but, will leave you very vulnerable since they can easily be snapped, cut and damaged.
Here are a few useful links to major suppliers of polycarbonate security bars: