Triple Pane vs Double Pane Windows

When deciding on triple pane vs double pane glass for your new windows there are several important factors to consider.  There are differences in sound transmission, weight, efficiency and cost.  Here we’ll take a look at all 5 factors to help you make the best decision for you and your home.

double pand vs triple pane windows, cost, prices, noise and sound
When comparing double pane vs triple pane windows there are many factors to consider.

How about noise through triple pane vs double pane windows?

It is VERY common for replacement window salespeople to tell folks that windows with triple pane glass will reduce noise in the home.  In fact, switching from double pane to triple pane has a very small impact on sound.  You’d be much better served by going with laminated glass.  We go into more depth on this in our sound transmission post.  The long and the short of it is if you’re buying triple pane windows to reduce noise you’re overspending.

best replacement windows of 2015

Are triple pane windows heavy?

Well, yes they are heavier, but it shouldn’t matter to you.  A high quality replacement windows will have a balance mechanism to counterbalance the weight of the sash.  Regardless of how heavy the glass is the window should slide up and down effortlessly.  If your new windows are hard to open it’s either because the balance mechanism is not working correctly, the windows don’t fit in the opening just right or something else is impeding their motion.  The weight of the glass or the sash shouldn’t have an impact.

Along these same lines, some folks think triple pane windows will have a higher failure rate because of the weight and the fact that they have 2 air chambers.  This stems either from the days of old or from a salesperson pushing an agenda.  All nice new windows come with a complete warranty that protects you against any future problems.

How beneficial are triple pane energy efficient windows?

There is certainly an improvement in efficiency when comparing triple pane vs double pane windows.  It’s important to compare the window ratings including u-factor, shgc and visible transmission when comparing the options in order to understand the differences.

Triple pane windows will typically have u-factors that are about 20-30% better than a similar double pane window.  That’s a pretty substantial improvement.  They will also have better SHGC ratings as they tend to have two surfaces coated with a low-e coating.  These coatings will leave you with a lower visible transmission rating meaning it will typically be darker in a home with triple pane windows.

Are these increases in efficiency worth the trade off of increased cost and decreased light?  Only you can decide that, but with the cost difference likely being lower than you might expect more folks are picking triple pane options.

single pane, double pane, triple pane
Some folks even compare single pane with double and triple pane options.

Cost of triple pane vs double pane windows:

In my experience, when the topic of triple pane glass comes up some homeowners immediately say “oh no, we don’t need that!”  I find they tend to say that because they’ve received a quote for windows with triple pane glass before and the pricing was HIGH.  This led them to believe that pricing for all triple pane windows will be high.

As with everything relating to prices of replacement windows there are many factors at play, but the cost difference doesn’t need to be too substantial.  Perhaps $100 per window is a decent estimate.  So if you can get a great vinyl replacement window installed for around $350 with double pane glass then switching to triple pane glass would put you in the $450 neighborhood.  Sure, it’s more expensive, but it’s nowhere near the $800 per window that some companies try to charge.

Why do some companies try to charge $800-$1000 per window for triple pane windows? 

We’ll be writing a whole series on the tricky practices of some window companies out there.  The short answer is because people pay it sometimes.  If nobody was buying they’d either change their ways or go out of business.  Congrats to you for not taking the bait, but you can be sure there was someone behind you snapping it up.

These companies will likely tend to continue to struggle due to the fact that people are much more informed than they were years ago.

Remember, when deciding between triple pane vs double pane think about how long you’ll be in the home and whether energy savings over time are worth spending money upfront today.  

If you haven’t taken a look yet, try out our window reviews pages to get a better idea of the options.

If you’re looking for a window company right now, the best advice we have is to join Angie’s List.  For just a couple bucks you can get a 1-month membership and it’ll be worth much more than a caramel macchiato in the long run.  You can find the best pricing for Angie’s List on the internet right here

If you’re already a member of Angie’s List or if you’re just not going to join (despite my ringing endorsement), you can find our suggestions for the best companies in your area right here.

Alside Mezzo Warranty

The Alside Mezzo warranty is rather comprehensive and is in line with most higher end replacement windows.  We’ll summarize the details of Mezzo warranty here.  At the end of this post you can find a pdf of the Alside Mezzo warranty.

If you’ve been shopping for residential replacement windows you’ve probably seen that most vinyl window manufacturers offer “lifetime” warranties.  At first glance it could appear that all of these warranties are the same, but they are certainly not.

One important factor to keep in mind is the difference between parts, labor and installation.  For example, if you get foggy glass in your windows what will you do?  Do you call the manufacturer or the company that installed the windows?  Do you get new glass or a new sash?  Who will install the new parts for you?  What if you get a leak in your window down the road?  The manufacturer won’t cover it if it was an installation problem.  What will you do then?  These questions illustrate the important differences in “lifetime” warranties.

The Alside Mezzo warranty includes:

  • Lifetime warranty on vinyl
  • Lifetime warranty on moving parts
  • Lifetime warranty on glass seal
  • Lifetime warranty on screens and screen frames
  • 1 year warranty on labor
  • Glass breakage NOT covered (optional warranty is available)
  •  Installation NOT covered (may be offered by your installation company)

The Alside Mezzo warranty is transferable, BUT when it transfers it becomes pro-rated after 10 years and is no longer a “lifetime” warranty.  You might say you don’t care much about what happens after the warranty is transferred because you’ve sold the house and that’s not an unreasonable position.

Overall this is a pretty comprehensive warranty as it includes screens and hardware which are often left out of warranties.  Remember that glass breakage is NOT included unless you get the optional warranty and the whole thing gets more limited when you sell the house.

On a positive note, Alside has been in business for over 60 years and they are owned by a $1 Billion corporation so they are likely to be around to honor their warranty long into the future.

You can download a copy of the Alside Mezzo warranty here.

You can also see our complete review of the Alside Mezzo window or take a look through our other replacement window reviews.

 

Alside Mezzo Windows Review

Disclaimer: We recently started offering Alside windows (almost) nationwide for you to install yourself or with professional installation by the manufacturer.  We do it all with no in-home salespeople.  Details here

As we started writing this Alside Mezzo windows review we were impressed with the newest offering from Alside.  This newly designed window addresses many of the shortcomings of the previous model, the Alside Excalibur.

While the Alside Mezzo windows are new, Alside has been around for quite a while.  They’re a pretty large company that most consumers have never heard of.  With 5 window manufacturing plants around the country their products are very widely distributed.

Alside mezzo window reviews
Notice the slim frame of the Alside Mezzo windows.

As you can see in the above picture, the Alside Mezzo windows have a slim frame which maximizes the glass area.  This is a factor we’ve repeatedly mentioned in our replacement window reviews.  This is an important factor that is often overlooked by consumers.

The Alside Mezzo window is designed to be the workhorse of their replacement window line.  It will likely become the most popular window they offer.

Like just about all vinyl replacement windows, the Alside Mezzo window is custom made so the range of available options is pretty substantial.

alside mezzo colors, warranty cost
Here are the interior and exterior colors offered on the Alside Mezzo window.

As you can see there are many colors available on the Alside Mezzo window including interior and exterior color options.

Alside has always offered a very high quality screen standard with their windows and they’ve continued that with the Mezzo.  As you can see there, the screen is made of heavy duty extruded aluminum and the spline is on the inside to keep it out of the sun.

alside mezzo windows reviews
Alside Mezzo windows come with a heavy duty screen standard.

 

How about energy efficiency?

The Alside Mezzo window can produce pretty solid ratings for a double hung window.  They are in line with other recently designed double pane windows and a solid step above previous generation products.  For example the Alside Mezzo window can meet or exceed the 2015 Energy Star guidelines for all regions of the country with double pane glass.  Many older windows still require the expense of triple pane glass to hit these numbers.

The Alside Mezzo windows are NOT available in triple pane, so if you’re looking for the best ratings in town you’ll need to look elsewhere.  There are other Alside windows that do offer triple pane options, but as you’ll see in those reviews, they leave a little to be desired.

Alside Mezzo windows warranty

Newer vinyl replacement windows tend to come with pretty solid warranties and the Alside Mezzo windows are no exception.  The lifetime warranty is pretty robust and it is transferable to the next owner.

It is VERY IMPORTANT that you get a written installation warranty from whoever is installing the windows.  Alside, like all manufacturers, covers the windows and manufacturing defects, but they DO NOT cover the installations.

See the full Alside Mezzo windows warranty here

Alside Mezzo windows cost

The retail price of Alside Mezzo windows depends on the company that is selling them.  Alside distributes these windows through an extremely large network of independent distributors and they each set their own retail pricing.  Typical costs for windows like this would be in the range of $250 to $350 depending on the options and colors chosen.  Typical installation for Alside Mezzo windows would run in the range of $100 so the total per window cost including installation is usually under $450.

best replacement windows of 2015

Some companies do try to charge quite a bit more for these products so remember to shop around if you’re unsure.  There is really no reason to pay more than $500 for a typical vinyl replacement window and most windows can be had for substantially less than that.  For example a basic white double hung window with professional installation can typically be found for around $300.

alside mezzo windows reviews and cost
Note the slim frame and the new contemporary locks of the Alside Mezzo windows.

Drawbacks of the Alside Mezzo windows?

One drawback we see is the continued use of the constant force or coil balance system.  This is in line with the workhorse nature of this product as it’s not designed to be the very top of the line (mezzo means middle in Italian).  The constant force balances are a less expensive option so they do contribute to the competitiveness of the pricing, but its not the option we would typically pick.

In addition, Alside has had a reputation for questionable quality control at times.  Some of this talk is driven by competitors or those companies that offer competing products, but some of it is real.  Alside tells us they have invested in new manufacturing equipment for the new Alside Mezzo windows so only time will tell if these past issues have been corrected.

Disclosure: Our company has never offered Alside windows in the past. With the release of the Mezzo window we now occasionally offer this Alside product under a new program we have recently started.

Find detailed reviews on more Alside window options here.

If you’re looking for a window company right now, the best advice we have is to join Angie’s List.  For just a couple bucks you can get a 1-month membership and it’ll be worth much more than a caramel macchiato in the long run.  You can find the best pricing for Angie’s List on the internet right here

If you’re already a member of Angie’s List or if you’re just not going to join (despite my ringing endorsement), you can find our suggestions for the best companies in your area right here.

Marvin Infinity Reviews

As we get started on our Marvin Infinity reviews it’s important to keep in mind that this is a fiberglass replacement window.  It’s a bit of a different animal than either vinyl replacement windows or wood windows.  Fiberglass windows are designed to replicate the look of a wood window with increased durability.

While we’ll be writing another post soon on the advantages and disadvantages of different types of window construction it’s important to note that many wood replacement windows offer warranties as good or better than what you’ll get with a fiberglass product.  With fiberglass replacement windows you’re paying a premium over the cost of a vinyl window to get the look of wood.  It would be worthwhile to compare the cost difference between fiberglass and real wood.   The price difference is often very small.

Back to the Marvin Infinity review.  First of all this a great looking window.  It looks very solid, comes in a wide range of colors and offers a substantial amount of style options.

 

marvin infinity window
Here is a very nice looking Marvin Infinity replacement window

As you can see in the above picture the Marvin Infinity window does a great job of looking like a traditional wood window.

Marvin Infinity windows are often ordered with simulated divided lites or SDL grids.  This means the grids are on the outside of the glass which is consistent with the look of a wood window.

Marvin infinity windows cost
SDL grids on a Marvin Infinity window.

You can see the joint between the grid and the sash frame is pretty tight and very clean looking.  If you get up this close to it, you can tell that it is a separate piece, but nobody is going to go around you house inspecting things like this.  If they are you probably don’t want to invite them over anyway!

Notice the hardware in the picture below.  There are MANY options and they have a very nice classic look.

marvin infinity window hardware
Marvin Infinity window hardware provides a classic look.

One last design element to point out is the lack of typical tilt-latches.  As you can see in this picture, the Marvin Infinity window skips the typical told latches for a very clean and elegant look.

Marvin Infinity window cost and price and pricing
Marvin Infinity windows without the typical tilt latch on the sash.

 

How about efficiency?

The NFRC ratings for the Marvin Infinity window are pretty solid, but not particularly spectacular.  This makes sense as the product was clearly designed to be pretty rather than the most efficient window on the block.

marvin infinity windows u-factor ratings
martin infinity u-factor and nfrc ratings

You can see in this NFRC sticker showing the Marvin Infinity U-Factor that the ratings for this window are solid, but not remarkable.  You’re paying a premium to get this fiberglass window vs a vinyl window, but you’re not getting any real improvement in efficiency.

There are MANY options that affect the ratings so this certainly isn’t the only option, but the Marvin Infinity window will only ever be average in terms of efficiency ratings.  It will never be a top performer no matter how you order it.

In addition you do get a pretty high air infiltration rating with this window.  That means it does not provide a particularly great seal in windy conditions.  This is more of a concern for some folks than others, but if you’re in a relatively high wind area or if you’re particularly concerned about a tight seal, the Marvin Infinity window might not be for you.

Marvin Infinity Warranty?

Unfortunately the Marvin Infinity warranty leaves much to be desired.  They say it has a “lifetime” warranty, but it sure does have a lot of limitations and exclusions.

Breakdown of the Marvin Infinity warranty:

  • Insulated glass seal – 20 years NOT lifetime
  • Accidental glass breakage – NOT COVERED
  • Ultrex fiberglass – Lifetime until transferred, then 10 years
  • Ultrex fiberglass finish – 10 years NOT lifetime
  • Non-glass components (screens, hardware etc)- 10 years NOT lifetime

See the Marvin Infinity warranty on Marvin’s website or download the Marvin Infinity warranty here.

As you can see the Marvin Infinity warranty isn’t nearly as thorough as you might expect for a window sold at this price point.

 How about the Marvin Infinity window cost?

The cost for Marvin Infinity windows can vary dramatically.  There are MANY options that have a huge impact on the price so it’s difficult to even give a range.  For example a basic double hung window without installation might start at about $500 and a fancy window with several expensive options could easily top $1000.

If you’ve decided to go with the Marvin Infinity windows the easiest way to get a great price is to shop around.  Find out who are the Marvin Infinity dealers in your area and get quotes for the same products.  There will likely not be too many local dealers as Marvin limits the distribution to avoid price shopping, but you can always call someone out of town too.  A reputable company should be able to send you a quote and a little shopping can go a long way to lowering the price.

To sum up this Marvin Infinity windows review I’d say it’s important to remember that these windows are pretty, but they command a premium price and they offer a very limited warranty.

You’re paying more for this product than you would be for a vinyl window.  That doesn’t mean this product is any better, but it sure does look nice.

You may be better off with a wood window with a longer warranty than this fiberglass product.  You’re paying the premium for the looks rather than for the efficiency and the look is still that of a simulated wood window.  A real wood window would look even better and based on the warranty it should last longer as well.

Take a look through several more reviews on wood, fiberglass, composite and vinyl replacement windows here.

If you’re looking for a window company right now, the best advice we have is to join Angie’s List.  For just a couple bucks you can get a 1-month membership and it’ll be worth much more than a caramel macchiato in the long run.  You can find the best pricing for Angie’s List on the internet right here

If you’re already a member of Angie’s List or if you’re just not going to join (despite my ringing endorsement), you can find our suggestions for the best companies in your area right here.

Home Depot Window Installations

Note: Since we published this post we’ve been in touch with Home Depot and they’ve provided some additional information.  The original post is here and you can see additional notes at the end.

So here’s a funny story.  I was recently visiting the team at a home and garden show in Richmond VA.  We had some information to show prospective customers regarding typical pricing for replacement windows.  We try to be as transparent as we can regarding all of the costs associated with a project like this and we find customers tend to appreciate it.

One of our examples showed a real quote that one of our customers received from Home Depot At Home Services along with the quote he received from us.  We use this to illustrate the idea that we can typically offer better pricing for similar products that a big box store.    The example shows our pricing was over $2,000 better for a typical project than the pricing offered by Home Depot window installations team.

While we were there, someone with some affiliation to Home Depot window installations came up to one of our managers and told him that our information was incorrect.  We asked him what was incorrect and he stated that Home Depot At Home Services offers a lifetime warranty on their labor.  We’ve never heard this before and we’re pretty in tune with the window business so we asked him for a copy of the warranty.  At first he said it was proprietary and when we asked why their warranty would be a secret he said we could find it online.

Our goal is always to be accurate so we checked online and found that the Home Depot At Home Services website clearly states that they offer a 1 year labor warranty.  This isn’t the end of the world, but it is a pretty short warranty.  It would be a real shame to pay thousands more for a project and then have to pay again a year later to fix something.

Our manager tried to show the friendly gentleman from Home Depot that their own website was pretty clear, but he didn’t seem interested.  He told us he was a district manager in charge of 90+ stores.  You’d think he’d have his facts straight 😉

Anyway, we got a kick out of it.  Here’s a screen shot of their site and a link as well.

home depot window warranty
Here’s a screen shot straight from the Home Depot website. Seems pretty clear to us.

 

Home Depot At Home Services – Why Home Depot

 Update: Since we wrote this post we’ve been in touch with Home Depot and they’ve provided some clarity on their warranty for installed replacement windows.  Home Depot offers 2 main lines of replacement windows through their installation program.  They are American Craftsman (made by Andersen) and Vantage Point (made by Simonton).

The American Craftsman windows from Andersen come with the 1-yera labor warranty that we mention above.  This is pretty weak, but folks buying these windows likely aren’t focusing on getting top quality.

The Vantage Point windows from Simonton do come with a lifetime labor warranty.  They call it a craftsmanship warranty which the salesperson in me really likes.  Craftsmanship sounds nice and warm.  They did provide us with a written warranty this time which we certainly appreciated.  The labor warranty comes from Home Depot and not from Simonton, and that’s the way all labor warranties work.

There are some limitations which mean it’s not the greatest warranty we’ve ever seen, but it is better than the 1-year warranty that comes with the cheaper products.  We’ll likely write up a full post on window warranties from big box stores in the future.

Thanks to the folks at Home Depot for providing additional info about their services.

If anyone reading this has any specific questions on the warranty or the limitations post a comment and ask!

If you’re looking for a window company right now, the best advice we have is to join Angie’s List.  For just a couple bucks you can get a 1-month membership and it’ll be worth much more than a caramel macchiato in the long run.  You can find the best pricing for Angie’s List on the internet right here

Simonton Reflections 5500 Review

The Simonton Reflections 5500 is at the higher end of the Simonton replacement windows.  This model is distributed nationwide with several variations offered under various brand names including Prism or Prism Platinum.

Overall, as we’ve said before, Simonton makes a fine product, but this model is getting a little long in the tooth.  It utilizes some older design elements and offers less than outstanding performance numbers.

best replacement windows of 2015

The biggest drawback for me is the thickness of the vinyl.  You certainly get less glass area with the Simonton Reflections 5500 than you would with some competing products.  For example, in the NFRC sticker below you can see the window with a U-Factor of 0.29 a SHGC of 0.24 and a rather low visible transmittance rating of 0.45.

Simonton Reflections 5500 window ratings
Simonton Reflections 5500 window ratings

This window would block out too much light for my taste.  There are other models that can achieve very similar ratings with a thinner vinyl frame resulting in more visible light and a higher VT rating.

As with most windows there are several glass options that can certainly affect the numbers, but the thick frame is here to stay.

In addition the Simonton Reflections 5500 also uses the inexpensive constant force balance mechanism which have several drawbacks.  They also charge extra for features that many companies offer standard such as double strength glass, balance covers and heavy duty screens.

Here you can see a Simonton Reflections 5500 window with the constant force balance and no balance cover.

simonton reflections 5500
See this Simonton Reflections 5500 window with inexpensive constant force balance and no balance covers.

The last picture I’ll show you for now is of the sash stops this model utilizes.  This block at the top of the frame prevents the sash from opening all the way.  It’s not a very big deal on a large window and Simonton does a good job of making it as small as they can.  On smaller windows you won’t be able to open the window as far as you’d expect.  Why do they put it there?  They have to because of the cheap constant force balance mechanism used in the jambs.

simonton 5500 window review
See the sash stop that prevents the bottom sash from sliding all the way to the top.

You might ask yourself if this balance mechanism or the lack of a balance cover or the sash stops are a huge deal and the answer is probably no.  I mention them here to illustrate the idea that perhaps this product doesn’t represent a fantastic bang for your buck.

There are many old and outdated design elements in this product that just aren’t necessary anymore.  The price of a Simonton Reflections 5500 window doesn’t typically reflect the fact that it’s a bit old fashioned.

As you’re considering your options remember that manufacturers will often offer the same or VERY similar products under many brand names.  They do this to help contractors selling the products avoid competing directly on price.  If you get 2 quotes from 2 companies offering the exact same product then the price becomes a relatively important point of differentiation.  If one of the companies can tell you all about why their product is “better” then perhaps the price will become less of a factor.

If you think this is a little strange, you’re right, but it happens in every industry from mattresses to bowling balls.

To sum up this Simonton Reflections 5500 window review I’d say overall it’s a fine product from a reputable manufacturer (despite my nitpicking), but you can usually do better for a lower price.

Keep looking.

If you’re looking for a window company right now, the best advice we have is to join Angie’s List.  For just a couple bucks you can get a 1-month membership and it’ll be worth much more than a caramel macchiato in the long run.  You can find the best pricing for Angie’s List on the internet right here

If you’re already a member of Angie’s List or if you’re just not going to join (despite my ringing endorsement), you can find our suggestions for the best companies in your area right here.