Soft-Lite Elements vs. Renewal by Anderson

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JasonDalMN
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Soft-Lite Elements vs. Renewal by Anderson

#1 Post by JasonDalMN »

Howdy! First off, I have scoured the internet for information, including this site, and think I sort of have an answer to my question, but given how great replies have been to posts I've read, I thought I'd put this out there.

I live in the Twin Cities in Minnesota and am replacing 17 (yes, 17) single pane, original (1955) windows, including a picture window (not original) and swapping in a two-slider where there is currently side-by-side double-hung. The estimates I have are for inserts, as all the reps have said that inserts are fine, with one exception (see below).

I've gotten 4 estimates, which I think is reasonable, that include installation, and believe I'm down to 2 choices. I'm hung up a little on how dramatic the difference in VT will be first between ANY new window and the original single-pane I have now, then how noticeable the difference is between .40 and .49 for the VT values. Being in Minnesota means we need as much sun as we can get, but gotta balance it with efficiency.

Soft-Lite Elements with triple-pane Ultimate Glass with Krypton fill (U: 0.16, SHGC 0.24, VT 0.40) - Cost: $25,000

Renewal by Anderson 400 Series(?) (Fibrex) with double-pane Low-E Smart Sun Glass with Argon fill (U: 0.27, SHGC 0.21, VT 0.49) Cost: $32,000 (this includes doing a full frame for the new 2-slider rather than just an insert).

I also have an estimate for Sunrise Solace, which is basically the Restoration but with the name changed to be "exclusive" to the remodeling company. The estimate for the Sunrise is on par price-wise with Soft-Lite, with "stats" similar to the Renewal.

I have an estimate for Walsh EcoMaxx6000 windows (equal to their Tundra 6000), but don't think they're in the running, really, despite having an estimate that went down to $19k if I give them a good Google review and have their sign out in my lawn for 90 days. It just seemed really hard to find specifics on them. Their site has their "thermal packages" but don't really speak to specific values to make it easy to compare.

My feeling is that the Soft-Lite are the best bet, especially when it comes to a $7k difference in price. I just can't determine how the values impact each other, aside from knowing that the Andersons will let more light into the home, but at a cost to efficiency. What are other folks thoughts?

(FWIW, the picture window may be the most important, as it's in the living room where we sit ALL the time, and is west facing. My thought is that maybe the picture could be double instead of triple pane, but again, I'm not sure the VT trade with efficiency is going to be worth it.)

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toddinmn
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Re: Soft-Lite Elements vs. Renewal by Anderson

#2 Post by toddinmn »

The triple pane is nice but I think the Krypton would be overkill fit to cost and return on investment, I’d do the picture in triple as well.Seems odd to compare a triple paned window with Krypton to dual panes in the others. I think the solar heat gain is to low in the Anderson in a dual pain. I don’t like the idea of doing a full frame for the slider as it will probably have a different appearance on the outside and inside then the others. I would simply remove the mull and put it in like a normal insert. The interior stool would have to be repaired or replaced which is simple. TheWalsh is decent but the Soft—Lite is better and has a much more expensive glass pack.

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Randy
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Re: Soft-Lite Elements vs. Renewal by Anderson

#3 Post by Randy »

Howdy Jason!

The Soft-lite outperforms the RBA in every category of efficiency. RBA’s Air Leakage rating is so bad, they won’t even provide it. Save the money and get the better window.

JasonDalMN
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Re: Soft-Lite Elements vs. Renewal by Anderson

#4 Post by JasonDalMN »

I got clarification that the Soft-Lites are argon, not krypton, so that’s my bad and crossing up who said what without looking back at my notes. Interestingly, the RBA person didn’t even offer triple pane, which is why the triple vs. double comparison.

The only reason I (briefly) considered double instead of triple for the picture was consideration of the visibility transmission. In all reality, that was the only place the Soft-Lite were “worse”, aside from knowing we’ll lose more glass area with hem than the RBA.

I youth I’d found the AI for the RBA somewhere, but would have to confirm it. Apparently, the RBA are not the 400, but something referred to as “Series 1”, an RBA exclusive which I can’t find any information aside from what the person sent me via email.

Starting to feel more and more that the $8k difference is well worth saving, since it would help cover any problems requiring out of pocket costs.
toddinmn wrote: Tue May 18, 2021 3:17 pm The triple pane is nice but I think the Krypton would be overkill fit to cost and return on investment, I’d do the picture in triple as well.Seems odd to compare a triple paned window with Krypton to dual panes in the others. I think the solar heat gain is to low in the Anderson in a dual pain. I don’t like the idea of doing a full frame for the slider as it will probably have a different appearance on the outside and inside then the others. I would simply remove the mull and put it in like a normal insert. The interior stool would have to be repaired or replaced which is simple. TheWalsh is decent but the Soft—Lite is better and has a much more expensive glass pack.

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toddinmn
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Re: Soft-Lite Elements vs. Renewal by Anderson

#5 Post by toddinmn »

I’m not gonna hold Andersen’s lack of providing air infiltration numbers against them, try getting any current Current air numbers is pretty difficult from any company. I’d throw the Andersen bid as it is not really comparable to the others and would never use a Renewal bid as a reference point. As far as reference points go I don’t think the 3 are comparable , but if you’re comfortable with the Soft-Lite bid I think is a good choice and would be my pick of the 3. The Sunrise bid would be more comparable IMO but I really prefer the Soft-Lite Over the Sunrise when it comes to double-hungs. I’m not sure if the exact dimensions of the Renewal vs the Soft-Lite but the difference in glass loss would be very minimal.

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Windows on Washington
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Re: Soft-Lite Elements vs. Renewal by Anderson

#6 Post by Windows on Washington »

I doubt you'll see any difference between the Elements or RBA visually. Your pocketbook and utility bills will note the difference.

The Elements is the significantly better performance window. Hands down.

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Randy
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Re: Soft-Lite Elements vs. Renewal by Anderson

#7 Post by Randy »

Like most things, if the rating is something to boast about, it will be on all of the promotional material. So if a rating is hard to find, it’s not good.

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HomeSealed
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Re: Soft-Lite Elements vs. Renewal by Anderson

#8 Post by HomeSealed »

Few things:

1) As the other pros stated, the Elements is the best window of the bunch, with the Solace/Restorations also very good. The other two are not in the same tier of overall performance

2) On that topic (performance), you will also want to consider air leakage for obvious reasons, and design pressure is good to compare as well as an indicator of strength. Condensation resistance is very relevant for you up in Minnesota as well.

3) I agree with the sentiment that the substantial improvement in performance will far more than make up for a small drop in VT. That will normally happen when triple pane is chosen. Changing to double pane in the Softlite would even out the VT numbers but still hold an advantage in every other metric. If the VT is a big deal to you, that's an easy answer, but again for your location I think you'll be much better served with the triple pane package.

Lastly, are ratings quoted on the RBA in print or given to you verbally? I searched nfrc.org through 40 pages of glass packages (admittedly there are more), and couldn't find one with that set of ratings. I'm questioning the VT they are quoting when paired with that U value and SHGC, it seems like that should be lower.

JasonDalMN
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Re: Soft-Lite Elements vs. Renewal by Anderson

#9 Post by JasonDalMN »

I believe those RBA numbers are from their site or a brochure I scoured the internet for. However, I finally got something from the sales person with the numbers U: 0.24, SHGC: 0.28, VT: 65%. In the end, having to work this hard to find materials with numbers on efficiency and CR seems to take RBA off the table. The response when I started asking about the NFRC information was...interesting...though he did go ahead and send me some more info.

(FWIW - They do have the RBA listed on the 2020 Most Efficient site, along with the Soft-Lite - https://www.energystar.gov/products/mos ... er_windows)

I'm right on the fringe of pulling the trigger on the Elements bid, though there's one more "twist" I'm going to mull over a bit.

I just got an estimate for Zen Nirvana windows that comes in at about $14,000, which feels like a shockingly low price. I do know the Nirvana is basically the Soft-Lite Classic, which is a couple pegs down below the Elements, but still, it seems really low. I am going to ask for an estimate to move up to the Lotus which is closer to the Elements, but not holding out for very long - this Zen estimate came after sending the info in to them 3 days ago.

I still think the Elements will win out, though, as the Lotus still aren't quite as good as, and I expect there to be much less difference between the two estimates.

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TheWindowNerd
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Re: Soft-Lite Elements vs. Renewal by Anderson

#10 Post by TheWindowNerd »

The SL elements for sure.

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toddinmn
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Re: Soft-Lite Elements vs. Renewal by Anderson

#11 Post by toddinmn »

I’d would call the Element bid high before I’d call the Nirvana bid shockingly low.

JasonDalMN
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Re: Soft-Lite Elements vs. Renewal by Anderson

#12 Post by JasonDalMN »

I was getting the feeling the Elements may have been on the high end the more I researched. It looks like the Lotus/Pro with the Ultra Low E triple pane really aren't that far apart in the efficiency, air infiltration, and condensation resistance values. I'm attaching the estimate for the Lotus - I'd do the same with the Elements, but I haven't gotten nearly the specific documentation as I have for the Lotus.

One thing that stands out with the Lotus is that costs for replacing wood as needed in the frames isn't included, but is just outlined as to the cost of any type of replacement needed. According to the rep for the Elements, that is included in their price. I also noticed the Lotus total didn't include "vacuuming windows" and removing stickers, which just seems weird.

All told, when I add in metal wrapping, having them remove and replace 3 awnings, and "cleaning" the windows, the total is $16,870. If I factor in some of the listed wood repair at having to do some of it for every window, it's still only $20,545. While it's probably safe to assume that not every window will require wood replace/repair, it helps to add that to the estimate.

Now I'm a bit more on the fence between the Elements and the Lotus. In this case, though, I still need to physically see and "touch" the Lotus, so this may also be a place where the 5k difference IS worth it to get the slightly better efficiency.

Or, I'm just creating analysis paralysis and need to just stop :)
toddinmn wrote: Wed May 19, 2021 3:30 pm I’d would call the Element bid high before I’d call the Nirvana bid shockingly low.

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HomeSealed
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Re: Soft-Lite Elements vs. Renewal by Anderson

#13 Post by HomeSealed »

The Elements is a slam dunk here if that is the final two. Much greater difference in quality than the numbers would lead you to believe, and I suspect there will be a similar discrepancy in the install company. Search the site for thoughts on Zen, there is not much love lost for them from pros in the industry.

Conversely, while nothing is guaranteed, the Elements is Softlite's top offering and is reserved only for their most reputable dealers. If you want a finished product that you will be happy with upon install, at year 10, and at year 25, the odds of that are much, much higher with the Elements option and well worth the extra $ IMO.

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toddinmn
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Re: Soft-Lite Elements vs. Renewal by Anderson

#14 Post by toddinmn »

Typically houses of that era here have very little rotted wood. I would not call it a slam dunk at roughly a $350 per window premium. I would do your own research on the Zen dealer here as they are all independent dealers. Yes the Element is a premium line but the Lotus/Pro is pretty good and still better than most windows.

JasonDalMN
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Re: Soft-Lite Elements vs. Renewal by Anderson

#15 Post by JasonDalMN »

Thank you all for the input...if anything, it’s almost made it a little harder to make a definitive choice. The difference is roughly 7k for the entire project (15 double hung, one slider, 1 picture). Interestingly, if I were to base it on the sales person, I’d be leaning to Zen; the person with the Elements has been almost exclusively verbal with what’s included, whereas the Zen quote was pretty detailed.

I feel like it’s bordering on a coin toss, as there are improvements between the pro and elements and some little things that could justify the increase, but is 7k a reasonable difference? I just don’t know.

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