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Convex Mirrors

Convex Mirrors are the most popular choice of mirrors for a wide range of road safety, security and observation applications. For example, convex security mirrors act as effective deterrents when used in shops and convex safety mirrors for traffic improve visibility and help avoid collisions.

The links below provide answers to the most frequently asked convex mirror questions and will help you choose the right type of mirror for your particular requirements.

But if you need more help or advice regarding any security related question just call us on 01273 475500 - our friendly experts are here to make sure that we help you to get the best value product for your needs.

Convex Mirror FAQs   (click on the questions below to get more information)


What is a convex mirror?

Convex mirror definition: A convex mirror is a curved mirror wherein the mirror lense is curved outwards, the centre of the mirror bulges toward the viewer. A convex mirror may also be simply called a curved mirror, a fisheye mirror or a diverging mirror. The outward bulge or curve of the mirror expands the visible field presented in the mirror reflection. This makes convex mirrors highly suitable for security and safety applications where they are used to expand and improve visibility.

This type of mirror will reflect a wider field of view than a standard flat mirror and the more pronounced the dome, the wider the reflected field of view will be. While you can therefore use a convex mirror to provide a wider angle of view, the curvature of the mirror itself, means that there will be some distortion of the reflected image.

If you have ever visited a crazy hall of mirrors at a funfair, you will have seen curved mirrors which have been taken to the extreme for maximum distortion, with the outward curved convex mirrors reflecting an extremely fat body, while the inward curved concave mirrors reflecting you with an ultra skinny figure!

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What types of convex mirror are available?

Convex mirrors are used in a wide range of safety and security applications along with search and inspection.

Their versatility means that convex mirrors are available in a range of materials and sizes and with a variety of coloured frames to choose from (to meet industry standards for certain types of application or simply to help the mirrors blend into the surrounding environment). 

External grade mirrors are manufactured from materials which will withstand weathering (there are even frost free and anti condensation models available) and typically, they come with more robust fixings and brackets than are used with interior mirrors which don`t have to withstand possible movement or realignment caused by strong winds.

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Where can I use a convex mirror?

As long as your mirror is not positioned in such a way as to invade the privacy of others, convex mirrors are useful for a wide range of applications including; traffic related applications, as a parking aid, for school safety and retail security use and of course for use as search and inspection mirrors.

Traffic related applications include mirrors positioned to eliminate blind spots for drivers exiting from a home driveway, commercial site exit or at a tricky "T" junction where two or more roads meet, often such mirrors will have a distinctive coloured frame to draw the attention of drivers to their presence as a helpful aid. They are also ideal for use as a driver aid where a driver has to park in or negotiate tricky or tight spaces.

Industrial uses include; use in and around warehouses, enabling fork lift truck drivers to see around corners to help avoid collisions with other trucks or pedestrians, as a safety aid in and around vehicle compounds, delivery and dispatch areas, etc and of course at site entrances and exits. 

In shops and retail environments, convex mirrors offer a practical, low cost alternative or addition to CCTV monitoring systems. Traditional style round or rectangular mirrors can be fixed to walls or convenient poles or roof support columns, while ceiling dome mirrors provide a simple method of monitoring shopping aisles which would be concealed from direct line of site at ground level.

The convex shape also makes this type of mirror ideal for use as a search or inspection mirror as the convex surface maximises the area reflected. 

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What materials are convex mirrors made of?

Convex mirrors are available in a range of materials - here is a quick guide to the materials typically used to manufacture the reflective mirror lens;

Glass is an old favourite as it typically reflects a crisp, clear image. On the downside however, glass is relatively fragile and is heavy when compared with plastic type material alternatives such as acrylic or polycarbonate.

The risk of breakage on impact, also makes glass a less than ideal choice where there is a risk of vandalism, or where the mirror is installed in a public place where there would be a risk of injury to customers, staff, or visitors etc. from glass shards in the event of a breakage. 

Acrylic is a generic term used to describe the material used to manufacture many plastic type budget mirrors because it is relatively cheap.

On the plus side, it is a lightweight material that when well manufactured can produce a reflection equal to that achieved with a glass mirror.

On the downside acrylic will shatter on impact which could result in sending sharp shards flying which could cause injury. For that reason, use of acrylic mirrors is not recommended for use in public areas. There are however various grades of mirror sold under the acrylic description, some of which are safer than others as while they will still break on impact, are less prone to fragmentation. Plastic is a softer material than glass and is therefore more easily scratched, which means that it should be cleaned with care (typically simply washed down with clean water and a soft cloth)

Polycarbonate is again typically used as a generic term to describe an alternative type of plastic mirror material such as polycarbonate, polymir, etc.

Polycarbonate mirrors differ from acrylic mirrors in as much as they are virtually unbreakable (approx 200 times as strong as glass) and will withstand even heavy impacts making them ideal for use as traffic mirrors or use in harsh environments, etc.

Unfortunately the manufacture of a high quality semi rigid polycarbonate mirror is a more costly process than that of an acrylic mirror, which is why the selling price has to be higher.

There are however some budget mirrors (typically some cheaper type driveway mirrors, etc) which feature a thin and flexible polycarbonate mirror lens. Whilst these units will withstand the impact of a flying stone thrown up by a passing vehicle for instance, the flexible lens may lead to some minor distortion of the reflected image. This is unlikely to be a problem with a mirror used to increase visibility at a blind spot such as a home driveway exit onto a busy road, but may make such a mirror unsuitable for a more demanding application.

Polycarbonate is a plastic type material which is softer than glass and therefore more easily scratched. Some polycarbonate convex mirrors are available with a special scratch resistant surface which is a help, but like all plastic mirrors, cleaning should be undertaken with care (typically simply washed down with clean water and a soft cloth).

Stainless steel is also used to manufacture mirrors. This is a robust but expensive material and involves an expensive manufacturing process including a finishing process to produce a highly polished reflective surface, which is why stainless steel mirrors cost much more than glass or plastic alternatives.

Such mirrors are often used in vulnerable areas where there is a high risk of vandalism, however being metal, any impact is likely to result in a permanent dent in the mirror surface which would be costly to repair and the surface may require specialist re-polishing from time to time.

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What shapes and sizes of convex mirrors are available? 

Convex mirrors are available in a range of shapes and sizes making them suitable for a wide range of applications. Popular mirror shapes include round, rectangular and hemisphere and part hemisphere formats.

Sizes are normally expressed as metric measurements (i.e. centimetres or millimetres) although mirrors imported from or destined for the USA will normally be measured in inches. Whatever the unit of measurement used, it will normally represent the size of the mirror lens itself, so the overall size inclusive of the mirror frame will be larger.

Round mirrors are measured across the diameter, with popular sizes ranging from 300 to 1,000mm.

Rectangular mirrors typically range from 600 x 400mm to 1,200 x 800mm

Hemisphere (and part hemisphere) mirrors are measured across the diameter of the full hemisphere, with popular sizes ranging from 450 to 1,000mm.

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What colour frame would I need around my convex mirror? 

While for some applications (i.e. such as use for some retail security applications) a frameless mirror may be preferred, most mirrors feature some form of frame and backing to improve overall strength and robustness to the unit.

The frame may take the form of a simple plastic, rubber or metal banding to hold the mirror lens to the backing plate, or may be an integral part of the backplate moulding, etc.

Plastic framed general purpose mirrors are available with red, green or white surrounds. White blends easily with many environments, while green is a popular choice where the mirror needs to blend in with surrounding foliage, and red or orange is designed to catch the eye and make the mirror more visible to the casual user.

Black and yellow striped hi-viz frames are designed to meet the European Standards for use as industrial mirrors or warehouse mirrors, while heavy duty traffic mirrors usually feature a red and white or black and yellow striped surround.

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Are unbreakable convex mirrors available? 

 Yes ...choose a polycarbonate type or stainless steel mirror (see above "What type of material...").

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What can I fix my convex mirror to (i.e. Post, wall, etc)?

Mirrors are typically supplied with either a wall fixing or post fixing bracket. If a mirror is advertised as being supplied with a Wall Fixing Bracket, you may be able to purchase a post fixing bracket from the supplier as an optional extra and vice versa. Some mirrors are supplied with a universal bracket which is suitable for fixing to a wall or post.

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What size convex mirror do I need?

As a guide to which size convex mirror would be best for your application, you need to choose a size where the "Maximum Recommended Viewing Distance" (MVD) matches the distance that you will be viewing the mirror from.

If choosing a mirror to mount at an angle on a post at the end of your home driveway for instance to cover a blind spot and give you a view of traffic approaching along the road you are about to join but which is obscured from view by your garden wall, the distance between your seated position behind the steering wheel of your car and the mirror face may be little more than the length of your car bonnet in which case a mirror with a MVD of say 3 metres may be adequate, where as a mirror mounted at the hedgerow on the opposite side of the road to your driveway may require a mirror with a longer MVD.

see below for a general guide to mirror size & recommended maximum viewing distance, but if in doubt or you think you fall between two different sizes of mirror, we would recommend that you invest in the larger size as in almost every case, larger will be the better choice.

MVD guide for Round Convex Mirrors 

Mirror Size        Recommended "maximum" viewing distance for best performance

300 mm                   approximately          3 metres
400 mm                   approximately          5 metres
500 mm                   approximately          7 metres
600 mm                   approximately        11 metres
800 mm                   approximately        20 metres
900 mm                   approximately        25 metres


MVD guide for Rectangular Convex Mirrors

Mirror Size                Recommended "maximum" viewing distance for best performance

600 x 400 mm           approximately         9 metres
800 x 600 mm           approximately       20 metres
1000 x800 mm          approximately       30 metres

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What’s the history of convex mirrors?

Convex mirrors originated in Europe during the development of glass blowing in the Medieval-Renaissance period (8th - 12th century). You can see convex mirrors often symbolically used in a number of notable historic oil paintings from this period.


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convex mirrors - safety & security type

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