Photo By sergeyryzhov at istock
Home improvement projects or upgrades are often focused on improving comfort and energy efficiency. Energy efficient windows help homeowners achieve both of these goals. The wide range of available window choices can be overwhelming. Triple pane windows are worth serious consideration due to many desirable qualities and benefits.
A triple pane window is made with three layers of glass or two layers of glass with a low-emissivity film between them. They have very high insulation properties and were first used in Sweden to save energy and improve indoor comfort during cold weather.
Triple pane configurations are structured in several different ways. Some use a traditional spacer in each gap between panes. One type has glass in the center with a U-type channel in the interior. The suspended attached film between two panes can shrink and expand according to temperature to heighten visual clarity.
Triple pane windows are heavier than single or double pane windows, so a strong window frame is necessary. High quality vinyl or fiberglass frames last for years and prevent warping. Spacers are a very important component, so homeowners should always purchase windows from trusted sources to ensure precise spacer placement. The superior insulation is due in large part to the increased space available for gas fill. Inert gas fill between panes is usually argon or krypton.
Insulated Glass Units
Multi-paned windows contain insulated glass units, or IGUs. Sometimes they are simply referred to as sealed units. A sealed unit is a combination of multiple panes with energy efficient spacers with inert gas filler. Other components include an edge seal, pressure-sensitive adhesive, and barrier film reinforcing corners.
A well constructed triple pane window has two completely separate sealed units that share the interior pane. Thermoset cellular silicone sealant and a metallized multi-gas and vapor barrier film blocks air exchange between units and prevents leaks through exterior and interior panes.
One of the most important advantages of triple panes over double panes is the capacity for additional Low-E coatings. Low-emissivity coatings look like window tints or a thin film, but it is actually a coating applied at a molecular level. Double pane windows can also utilize Low-E coatings, but three panes let manufacturers use two coatings per window.
Energy efficient windows are graded with R-value rates according to their resistance to heat conduction. High resistance means a window does not conduct heat well. Double pane windows have designated R-values from 3 to 3.8. Triple pane windows reach R-values between 7 to 8. Replacing double panes with triple panes can reduce average heat loss by as much as 50% percent.
A window’s rate of heat loss is rated as the U-factor or U-value. Lower U-factor values indicate higher resistance to heat flow and better insulation. This means lower numbers are preferable. The National Fenestration Rating Council, or NFRC, rates the entire window, including frame, spacers, and glazing.
Center-of-glass U-factor is a rating value for glass alone. The glass is only one part of a window’s energy efficient qualities, so the overall U-factor is almost always higher than the glass rating.
Vinyl double pane windows have an average U-Factor of 0.35, and their lowest rating is approximately 0.27. An average U-factor rating of triple pane windows is 0.17, which is a 52% improvement compared to the average double pane.
The IG thickness is another important consideration in choosing new windows. Triple pane glass is typically offered with an overall thickness of 7/8″ opposed to 1-1/4″ or 1-3/8.” Look for windows produced by manufacturers with NAMI or NFRC certification.
Glass pane thickness contributes to the relatively heavy weight of triple pane windows. A qualified and trained contractor can install heavy triple pane configurations that fit perfectly. The window frame or surrounding area may need reinforcement in older homes.
Triple pane windows are very resistant to condensation. Water vapor condensing on interior window surfaces may cause water damage to wooden sills or frames. It can even cause discoloration on the surrounding wall.
Condensation forms when the surface temperature of a window’s interior pane falls below the outdoor dew point. Higher window insulation quality corresponds to higher surface temperatures of interior panes. This means that highly insulated windows maintain relatively high interior pane temperatures that rarely fall below the dew point.
A triple pane window maintains temperatures within two degrees of surrounding wall temperatures. The minimal temperature difference promotes stable indoor temperatures overall. A pocket of cold air forms around many windows during cold winter months, but the area surrounding triple pane windows are the same temperature as the rest of the home’s interior.
Strong insulating performance also greatly reduces outdoor noise infiltration from traffic, equipment, and normal speech and daily activities. Upgrading from single pane to triple pane windows reduces noise pollution by approximately 19%. Sound decibels are measured on an algorithmic scale, so a 19% reduction is actually a very noticeable difference.
Triple-pane windows in Dallas, TX, can also offer an additional layer of safety. It is more difficult and time-consuming for a potential burglar or vandal to break a window with three panes than a single or double-paned window. The triple panes also offer some protection from projectiles, such as balls, rocks, or debris.
Triple pane windows increase home value, so they are a good choice for homeowners expecting to sell their homes in the near future. Stylish modern designs enhance curb appeal and the triple panes let natural light shine through while filtering 95% of UV light.
Consult Energy Window Solutions in Dallas, TX, to discuss triple pane window upgrades. Knowledgeable professionals can help you choose the best window type to meet your needs and complement your home’s aesthetics.