Window Geeks

Are Double Pane Windows Better Than Triple Pane?

The construction industry has evolved over the past decade and as a result, the requirements for energy-efficient building products are continuing to develop.

We expect our industry will continue to advance, especially with new programs such as the BC Energy Step Code. Pair that with the rising costs of energy and it becomes evidently clear that project managers need to select materials that translate to future cost savings.

As a vinyl window supplier and manufacturer, the most common question we get asked is “Should we be considering triple-pane windows for our next project?”

Our Window Geeks believe that there is a time and place where a triple pane window might be your best option. However, our team of experts believes that defaulting to a triple pane window based on performance is wrong for a number of reasons. When we measure the value in a window, there are 3 major factors to consider.

#1 - Performance

99% of customers select triple pane because of their notions on the performance. They believe they will be the most energy-efficient window they can buy. This makes sense because a properly designed triple pane window will have a better performance value than a double pane. When speaking about a window, it’s no longer a conversation with just a frame and glass. LoE coatings combined with a good frame design can achieve triple-glazed-like performance in a double-glazed window. In most cases, our team of experts can get very close to a base value triple pane window, by using a double pane window with a combination of LoE glass coatings.

The major differences in performance between double and triple glazing is the selection of glass types, gas filling, cavity width, overall unit thickness, and of course, cost. It’s no longer as easy as saying, “Quote windows with LoE please”. We have 4-5 different options that can be used in combination with each other, depending on what your goals are.  We have double pane sliding windows that have U-values as low as 1.39!  That’s a major improvement from the typical builder grade slider with a 1.8 U-value that has been flooding the market for years.

#2 - Cost

This has to be obvious. Nobody ever wants to spend more than they have to.  A double-pane window will cost less than a triple-pane window because it requires less material.  It’s also going to cost you more to install triple-pane windows because they are heavier and require several more installers. 

A high-performance double pane window is lighter, lower in cost and can outperform any entry-level tripled glazed windows in the market. Sure you can spend all the extra money on triple-glazed windows but you won’t be recuperating the benefits.

#3 - Durability 

If the vinyl frame you select was not designed for the weight of a triple pane glass unit, what kind of function issues will come up a few years later?    

Many outfitters offer a cost-effective “upgrade to triple” option, which is generally a third layer of glass squeezed into the same sized glass unit.  This generally means the spacing in-between panes of glass is minimized, which hurts the overall performance and value. This additional layer of glass has also increased the weight that the frame is required to tolerate.

You may also have to adjust the configurations of your windows and make the openers smaller because the extra weight from the added glass will have an impact on your options. Watch out for frames sagging in the middle, or operable windows that do not open and close properly because the vent has shifted from the weight.  This is very common and many people select a low-budget triple-pane option because it sounds good to the consumer. 

Trust the Experts

Our service team consistently receives requests from customers looking to replace 5-year-old triple-pane windows that have failed due to design issues. From an investment standpoint, this is not the best bang for your buck. To get the most for your dollar in a triple-pane window, you should be selecting a casement window with a frame that can support the extra weight of the glass unit. Keep in mind that this option will certainly cost more.

If you take into consideration the 3 factors above you might start to think a little differently when designing your next build. When it comes to all things windows, trust the experts and believe the Window Geeks when we tell you that a Centra double pane window may be the best option.

If you are serious about getting the best quality, best energy savings, and best value in today’s window replacement market, then you need to do your homework. Centra is more than a window company, we’re leaders in building envelope education and it’s important for us to share our knowledge and spread awareness around topics circulating in the industry. Understanding the differences in product design and how it leads to performance can save you energy and money.

If you would like to learn more about this topic, contact our local Window Geek Jake Vandermeer!

We are your certified Window Geeks

Centra Windows is not only the manufacturer but also the installer of its product, which enables us to offer a full warranty, eliminating any confusion between product performance and installation. We view the house as a system and understand how each of the elements must work correctly to maximize the comfort and energy efficiency of your home. Contact our local Employee Owners at 1-888-534-3333 or send us an email at info@centra.ca for more information about this topic and many more. You can also sign up for our biweekly newsletter, providing all the tips and tricks about the window industry.

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