How to Compare Window Specs?

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meatape
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Joined: Sun Jun 26, 2022 6:01 pm

How to Compare Window Specs?

#1 Post by meatape »

Hey All,

I've done a ton of research and sat through too many sales pitches.. Now it's time (I hope) to make a decision. Thank you in advance for the advice!

Looking to replace 10 double hung windows, and 1 slider. Below are some quotes (quotes include a single slider window). I'm in Pittsburgh, PA and plan on living in this house forever. I would rather not spend more at $15k on this project, but there is some wiggle room if the more expensive product is that much better.

I'm leaning toward option 4 as they have the best u-value/shgc - I believe that its the Berkshire Elite Model, which after reading comments on this site, don't seem to be all that great?

1. Am I putting too much value on the u-value/SHGC?
2. Is there another window/company I should be looking at in this price range?


Company 1:
Pella - $18,210
250 Series
NFRC CPD#: PEL-N-211-00072-00001
Double Pane
U-value: 0.27
SHGC: 0.28
Spacer: Stainless Steel U-shaped

Company 2:
Thermo Twin - $10,064
NFRC CPD#: TTN-K-22-00085-00007
Double Pane
U-value: 0.36
SHGC: 0.28
Spacer: Silicone Foam (ZF-S)

Company 3:
Window Universe - $9,261
NFRC CPD#: ASO-A-89-68391-00001
Triple Pane
U-value: 0.21
SHGC: 0.27
Spacer: Stainless Steel U-shaped

Company 4:
Window Universe - $10,240
NFRC CPD#: ASO-A-89-68535-00001
Triple Pane
U-value: 0.21
SHGC: 0.19
Spacer: Stainless Steel U-shaped

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TheWindowNerd
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Location: SE PA & NJ; DFW/Metroplex

Re: How to Compare Window Specs?

#2 Post by TheWindowNerd »

You have a good start and basic understanding.
The first thing I look for is the AL, air leakage test result) for any model that I would consider
The less air leakage the better.
.05 of less, yes, .01 or .02 are best.

Mabe you can find Okna, Vytex, Sunerise, or Soft-lite to look at.

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Windows on Washington
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Location: DC Metropolitan Area-Maryland/Virginia/DC

Re: How to Compare Window Specs?

#3 Post by Windows on Washington »

+1 to what was said above.

U-Factor is absolutely important but in addition to the other items mentioned.

meatape
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Jun 26, 2022 6:01 pm

Re: How to Compare Window Specs?

#4 Post by meatape »

The first thing I look for is the AL, air leakage test result)
Company 1, Pella - is rated: 0.1
Company/windows 2, 3, & 4 are all rated: ≤ 0.3

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Windows on Washington
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Re: How to Compare Window Specs?

#5 Post by Windows on Washington »

I think the prevailing recommendation here, so far, is to see about one of those other brands indicated.

Search for Soft-Lite, Sunrise, Okna, and Vytex.

meatape
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Jun 26, 2022 6:01 pm

Re: How to Compare Window Specs?

#6 Post by meatape »

> Search for Soft-Lite, Sunrise, Okna, and Vytex.

Got it. Thank you for the suggestion! I'll continue to do some more research :D

meatape
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Jun 26, 2022 6:01 pm

Re: How to Compare Window Specs?

#7 Post by meatape »

I received a quote for Soft-lite Classic Plus window for about $8500 ($650 per double hung)

NFRC CPD#: SLL-A-106-00494-00001
Double Pane
U-value: 0.27
SHGC: 0.26
Spacer: Stainless Steel U-shaped

Again, the U-value and SHGC are in the .27/.26 range - which is ~25% worse than Revere Berkshire Elite from original option Window 4. I know I'm comparing double to triple pane so its not exactly apples to apples. I don't see anything in NFRC for air leakage on these.

I asked about triple pane and it would be an upgrade to the Soft Lite Imperial Elite model ($975 per double hung, guesstimate total around 12k)

Soft-lite has a link to some U-value and SHGC stats for the Soft Lite Imperial Elite.

The two with triple pane stats are below:

Triple Pane - Argon
U-value: 0.20
SHGC: 0.24
Spacer: Super Spacer

Triple Pane - Krypton
U-value: 0.17
SHGC: 0.24
Spacer: Super Spacer

How important is Visible Transmittance? - Whats "average" or "noticeable"?

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HomeSealed
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Location: Milwaukee, Madison, Northern IL

Re: How to Compare Window Specs?

#8 Post by HomeSealed »

meatape wrote: Mon Jun 27, 2022 8:43 am
The first thing I look for is the AL, air leakage test result)
Company 1, Pella - is rated: 0.1
Company/windows 2, 3, & 4 are all rated: ≤ 0.3
Great advice from the other pros.

Regarding the ratings that that you've cited, .1 is not good. The <.3 ratings are just stating that the air leakage rating meets the minimum requirement of less than or equal to .3, which is atrocious. I'd reiterate the importance of getting the actual air leakage ratings for products that you are considering (hint: if the company is not promoting them they probably aren't good). I'd also reinforce the recommendation to expand your search. the SL Imperial Elite that you most recently mentioned is the only product that you've seen that I'd personally consider.

meatape
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Jun 26, 2022 6:01 pm

Re: How to Compare Window Specs?

#9 Post by meatape »

the SL Imperial Elite that you most recently mentioned is the only product that you've seen that I'd personally consider.
Curious: why would you choose this over the SL Classic Plus? (The air leakage is much better on the classic plus)
Regarding the ratings that that you've cited, .1 is not good
I went back and checked and indeed the pella 250 series is: "Air Infiltration (cfm/ft2 of frame @ 1.57 psf wind pressure) = 0.10" - goodbye Pella!

As for the others, I pulled them from NFRC site. On the quote for Window 3 and 4, it says "Air Infiltration Rating 0.04 * This is a very tight seal, one reason we recommend this model"- I will absolutely follow up with vendors to get a firm answer.

The Soft-lite Classic Plus double hung is: "0.08 at 25 mph - 3.75 times better than industry minimum of 0.30 cfm" - source
The SL Imperial Elite double hung is : "0.02 cfm at 25 mph — 15 times better than industry minimum of 0.30 cfm" - source

I'm leaning towards the SL Imperial Elite (based on your recommendations) double hung:
1. I'd like to have more light visibility (.51 vs .40) and willing to sacrifice the u rating of 0.27 to 0.20 - is that a good tradeoff?
2. Which spacer should I choose? Super Spacer vs Stainless Steel Intercept Spacer (I can't seem to get a feel as to which is better)
3. SL Classic Plus or SL Imperial Elite - which would you choose?

Again, you guys are the best - I really really really appreciate you taking a look at this and helping me out.

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HomeSealed
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Re: How to Compare Window Specs?

#10 Post by HomeSealed »

meatape wrote: Mon Jun 27, 2022 8:07 pm
the SL Imperial Elite that you most recently mentioned is the only product that you've seen that I'd personally consider.
Curious: why would you choose this over the SL Classic Plus? (The air leakage is much better on the classic plus)
I'm confused by that question. Further down your post you quoted the numbers which are measurably better on the Elite.

The Classic was a great window 30 years ago and is far from the worst product on the market, but at that end of the day its still a 30+ yr old design with a few modern updates. Softlite created the Imperial LS/Elite and Elements to replace that line (Pro and Classic) and bring their offering into the 21st century. Its a very good window, one of the top handful of vinyl products available along with Okna (who incidentally is in your backyard).

As for your other questions:

- Re: window #3 and 4: That rating is respectable, however that product is one of the very few exceptions to the rule where air leakage ratings run parallel to quality. That is not the case on that window. It is improved over its predecessor, but at the end of the day, still closer to "builder grade" as its price would suggest.

1) That sounds like the difference between double and triple pane. In PA, I'd opt for triple pane, I would not want that trade-off.

2) Both are very good. Personally I favor a composite spacer like SS or Duralite, but others prefer the stainless. Very minor pros and cons to each. There is not a wrong answer to that question.

3) Elite, hands down. They really aren't even in the same ballpark. If you'd like a comparable quote, I'd get a quote on the Okna 5,6,or 800 in your area.

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TheWindowNerd
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Re: How to Compare Window Specs?

#11 Post by TheWindowNerd »

Okna is more in my backyard, 45 minute drive. Pittsburgh could be 5.5 to 6.5 hour drive.

Another vote for Elite or Okna 800DX.

Should get very similar results with super spacer or stainless steel from SL.Check to make sure warranty the same on both.

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