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Old 06-24-2008, 10:37 PM   #1
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To Low-E or not low-E


I am about to purchase Simonton stormbreaker plus windows which come standard with argon gas. I only have 7 windows.

I live in Florida. 1 window (49" x52") gets about 3 or 4 hours of morning sun, 2 windows (52" x 37") get 4-5 hours of sun later on.

The upgrade is apprx $500.00. Does anybody have an opinion on if it is worth the money in this situation?

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Old 06-24-2008, 11:36 PM   #2
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If you mean argon over non argon I think it will take you a long time to recoup the investment, but you definitly want low e windows which usually are dual pane with a coating on the inside surface of one or both panes. I noticed a difference with thermally broken windows especially important with aluminum windows.

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Old 06-25-2008, 07:11 AM   #3
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Thanks for the reply. No, the argon comes in it no matter what. The store salesman sat down with me to go over the contract. He assumed I wanted the lowest price and no Low-E. I wanted the Low-E, but because it already has argon he felt I probably didn't need it, especially as only 3 windows are effective.

I would tell him to just put it in those 3 windows, but my wife does not want 4 windows without the slight bluish tint that Low-E gives off and 3 with.

Believe me, I could find a lot to do with $500, so before I spend it I would like as my opinions as I can get.
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Old 06-25-2008, 07:59 AM   #4
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I'd pony up for the 500.00. The low-e will help prevent ultraviolet light from damaging your interior (carpet fade...).
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Old 06-25-2008, 08:00 AM   #5
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There are two issues involved here; U-factor and SHGC or Solar Heat Gain Coefficient.

SHGC is based on how much direct solar gain can pass thru the window and U-factor is the total amount of heat that passes thru the window.

While argon will improve (lower) the U-factor of the window, the LowE coating will have an effect on both U-factor and SHGC. The LowE coating will impact the U-factor more than the argon will, so even if four of the windows don't have direct solar gain, the LowE will still stop a significant portion of the outdoor heat from entering your home when you don't want it to do so.

Studies comparing identical homes in hot climates show that LowE windows cuts down the overall energy usage in the home by as much as 35% versus homes that don't have LowE windows installed.

Many folks in the south feel that LowE is a northern window product and that it isn't worth it in cooling-dominated climates. In fact, savings from using LowE coatings tend to be even better in warmer climates than in cooler climates.

You were correct and the salesman was not - you want the coating, but for best perfromance you want it on all seven windows.

Last edited by oberon; 06-25-2008 at 08:03 AM.
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Old 06-25-2008, 06:24 PM   #6
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Thank you both for your responses. I also asked a windows and doors person at work and got a similar answer.

I will pony up for Low-E, however I may need a new source. According to Simonton, if you buy Stormbreaker plus with Argon, it automatically has Low-E. You apparently can buy without Argon, which also means no Low-E.

They have always done this. The salesperson gave another excuse. So now I have to ask, was this a genuine mistake or was I about to get sold Argon-less windows because I wouldn't know the difference?
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Old 06-25-2008, 10:41 PM   #7
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worth the xtra in the long run and good for resale. most homeowners have this option
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Old 06-26-2008, 07:01 AM   #8
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I would guess an honest mistake. The salesfolks generally have limited knowledge of these products and their performance data and he may simply have been confused by the information available.

I might suggest that you do shop around a little and see if you can find a window dealer who carries the same window - just for a comparison between different sellers.

Keep in mind that the quality of the installation is at least as important as the quality of the window itself, and a bad installation of a good window means that you now have a bad window in your opening.

The vast majority of window complaints relate to installation - even if people don't always realize it.

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Old 06-26-2008, 08:53 PM   #9
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for what its worth...of the $500 your goona spend for low-e and argon, about $463 will be their profit. 9 outta 10 people use some kind of window dressing so my thoughts are ot to waste $500 on upgrades......27 years in the window biz here!
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Old 06-27-2008, 10:45 PM   #10
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Thanks again everyone. Interesting thoughts Oberon and Lyndon.

Oberon. Yes. I do think it may very well be a mistake. I am leaning that way. But, at first I was a little upset, I actually (well my wife) called around and found a little known window called Gorrell, which a contractor has told me he can get great prices on and are supposed to be every bit as good a Simonton. We'll see.

Lyndon. I see where you are coming from, but it is so hard to argue with a demonstration with a heat lamp. Then I saw a home improvement program where they took the old window outside held it over their face, then the new Low-E glass and they notice a difference.

The faux wood blinds certainly cut down on energy, however, we don't want to keep them down and closed up all the time.

Oh, the upgrade price turned out to be $700 not $500.
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Old 06-29-2008, 07:59 PM   #11
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Don't let the "heat lamp" test make your descision. At no time will your glass ever see those temp's that a heat lamp gives. So therefore, the amout of heatgain is minimal. IF you decide to get low-e glass, make sure your getting the top low-e available. Most places have some kind of titanium low-e also called "AC-36"
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Old 06-29-2008, 09:16 PM   #12
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The heat lamp test is actually a very good demonstration of the ability of a LowE coating to block unwanted heat. LowE coatings are designed to block infrared energy and the heat lamps emit infrared energy which we feel as heat.
In Florida, it is quite possible for your windows, when exposed to direct sunlight, to reach glass surface temperatures of 150F - which is way too hot to touch; whereas you can touch the glass with no real discomfort when demonstrating the heat lamp test. Installed window glass temperatures can exceed the demonstration glass temperatures by a good bit.

There are two primary types of LowE coatings available - hardcoat and softcoat. As a general rule (but with some exceptions), softcoats block both near and far infrared energy; while hardcoats block only far infrared energy while passing near infrared.

In a cooling dominated climate, and Florida certainly fits that category, you want a window that keeps outside heat outside as much as possible; you want a coating that blocks both near and far infrared. This can be accomplished by using a Low Solar Heat Gain (LSHG) softcoat LowE coating that blocks both direct solar heat gain (near infrared) and heat energy that is not directly from solar gain far infrared). This is the type of coating that you would be using in your location.

Softcoat LowE coatings consist of multiple layers of metals and metallic oxides applied in a process called "sputtering". Most LSHG coatings use either two or three layers of silver as the working part of the coating, but one manufacturer, AGC (formerly known as AFG or AFGC), uses titanium rather than silver as the operative part of their softcoat coating. They refer to their softcoat coatings using titanium as Ti-AC - and they have a bunch of them - with the best SHGC number in their Ti-AC36 of .26. This isn't quite as good as the best silver-based coatings, but it is still a very good number.

Even at $700 for the upgrade, LowE is worth the money. There is a measureable payback in energy savings when using a LSHG coating in your environment, and while I totally dislike suggesting potential savings to folks contemplating replacing windows simply because of all the variables involved, but in your environment that $700 upgrade should payback very quickly in lower energy bills - and certainly in increased comfort.
The window that you originally mentioned is available directly from dealers that handle Simonton products - besides HD. HD might be the best choice for you, or it might not, but it pays to see what a dealer might be able to offer as well.




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Old 06-29-2008, 09:52 PM   #13
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It is definately hot at times in my windows. I don't think the glass has hit 150 degrees, but not far off.

I'm glad you mentioned the softcoat. That is what the Gorell salesperson sold me on. Home Depot is out as they do not sell Simonton unless they install them too. Despite some good warranties the price is way way above my budget.

I wish I knew what energy savings and insurance savings I will get. It would help in some of my decisions, but oh well, that's life.
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Old 06-30-2008, 06:52 AM   #14
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I think the Low-E is worth it. Seeing as you are in a nice warm climate you would probably notice the difference.
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Old 06-30-2008, 08:29 AM   #15
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For what its worth, I installed Gorrell replacement windows (low-e and argon) in my house four years ago and have been pleased. At that time they qualified for an energy rebate from NY State.

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