Great Lakes Windows Warranty Review

The warranty is a critical part of buying new windows and this Great Lakes windows warranty review is here to help you make a smart decision. Many people don’t think much about a window warranty until it’s too late.

We see a lot of comments on the site from folks with window problems who are frustrated that they can’t get warranty coverage. There is one easy way to avoid that fate. Understand the window warranty before you buy to avoid frustration later.

I wrote a Great Lakes windows review yesterday where I said the warranty wasn’t as good as some others. In rereading the warranty today it seems I may have been a little too critical. Or, maybe not. Let’s find out.

How long is the Great Lakes windows warranty?

Like most warranties this is called a “lifetime warranty”. What does that really mean? You might hear a competing salesperson tell you that a lifetime warranty is really only 7 years. It turns out there’s no truth to that at all.

The warranty on these Great Lakes windows, and most other windows, is good for as long as the original purchaser owns and lives in the house. That’s a critical distinction because if you rent the house or if it’s a second home the warranty term is much more limited. You can see that specified in the actual warranty here:

If you don’t live in the house as your primary residence the warranty is only 10 years. This may sound like a long time, but in year 11 that distinction will be pretty important.

The term is also more limited after the warranty is transferred. More on that below.

What is not covered by the Great Lakes windows warranty?

The number one way to avoid being unhappy down the road is to understand what is covered by your warranty. There’s no point in being mad about something not being covered years down the road. Understand the coverage now so you won’t be frustrated later.

When you read the Great Lakes windows warrant you’ll see that there is a lot of language that will allow them to deny coverage down the road. That might make someone nervous about future coverage.

As you can see here, there are many ways for them to avoid coverage.

In the text above you can see they don’t provide coverage for things like “normal deterioration”. What exactly is normal deterioration and how is it different from abnormal deterioration? I have no idea.

Also important to note other limitations. For example the coverage on interior blinds in patio doors is only 10 years on the blinds and 1 short year on the exterior handle. That seems pretty short to me.

There is no coverage for condensation outside the sealed glass unit and no guarantee that the claimed efficiency ratings will be realized in real life.

Also, there is no coverage for caulking (this is very normal), no coverage for labor and no coverage of the installation.

There is a glass breakage warranty but it’s optional. Interestingly it only covered 5 broken sashes. That is a lot of broken sashes, but I haven’t seen other manufacturers limit the total coverage like that.

If you think glass breakage coverage is included you’ll want to get that in writing and that coverage is not transferable. More on transferable window warranties below.

Is the Great Lakes windows warranty transferable?

Yes. Like many warranties it does get more limited when it’s transferred. This usually isn’t a huge deal as the buyer of your house probably doesn’t know that and probably doesn’t care all that much. When you advertise the house you can say the windows come with a warranty and that’s usually where that conversation ends.

But, it’s worthwhile to understand the limitations after the warranty is transferred. For example, there is no glass breakage coverage once the house is sold.

The term of the warranty also gets much shorter after it has been transferred. See chart below for insulated glass coverage.

As you can see, the original purchaser gets full coverage, but the next owner gets a prorated warranty on the glass. Again, not a huge deal in my eyes, but something to be aware of.

Are the warranties for all Great Lakes window models the same?

Basically yes. There are some differences in the actual wording since some features like painted exterior or internal blinds are not available in the cheaper model. Overall the coverage for available features is pretty similar.

What’s the bottom line?

The Great Lakes windows warranty is pretty decent. There are a fair number of limitations. It also looks there are several ways they could avoid coverage down the road if they wanted to. That might not be 100% ideal, but it’s something you’ll find in many window warranties.

One real upside is that the company is owned by Ply Gem, a very large manufacturing company so you’d think they’ll be around for a long time.

Overall I would say you should understand the limitations and I would not let the warranty keep you away from these windows.

How can you find a great window company?

That part is easy.  Check this section for recommendations of window companies all over the country. There’s no better way to get new windows.

Great Lakes Windows Complaints – What’s Wrong Here?

If you’ve seen Great Lakes windows complaints you may be wondering if there’s a systemic problem with these products. Are Great Lakes windows something you should avoid? Let’s find out.

First, it’s important to note that people can complain about anything. Also, when someone is unhappy with their windows they know that they’re unhappy, but they often don’t actually understand who or what is the real cause of their unhappiness.

So, it’s important to take any Great Lakes windows complaints with a grain of salt.

Great Lakes windows complaints and info, warranty, prices and more.

What causes Great Lakes windows complaints?

The biggest factor that I’ve seen is the fact that Great Lakes windows are only distributed through a few dealers in any part of the country. These dealers may be great and they may not.

Sometimes these old fashioned window dealers use all of the old fashioned window sales tactics that we talk about on the site.

They use in-home salespeople who are paid 100% commission. They usually drive their own cars, burn their own gas and make $0 if you don’t buy their windows.

That can lead to salespeople who are overly pushy which can give the customer a bad experience. Commission based in-home salespeople may also have an incentive to tell the customer whatever they want to hear in order to get the order.

Salesmen overpromising can be a common cause of customer complaints.

Find the top lies told by window salespeople here.

How can you avoid being an unhappy Great Lakes window customer?

This can be hard for the customer to manage. It’s definitely possible that the salesman sitting in your living room is great. It’s also possible that he’s not.

Now, I know you may think that the person you met with seemed like a friendly and helpful fellow. They all seem that way. That’s who they get paid to be.

Unfortunately they’re not always as great as they may seem. My best piece of advice is to get everything in writing. Things like the followign should all be writing down in your order:

  • What will the efficiency ratings be for the new windows?
  • What will happen if the stickers on the windows don’t match the claims?
  • How long will it take to get your Great Lakes windows?
  • What will happen if they take longer?
  • What type of window and labor warranty will you get?
  • What are the colors, options and features that you’ll get in the new windows?

If you have these details nailed down in writing before you start your project you’ll be less likely to have a problem down the road. If the salesman made claims that don’t match what you actually received you’ll have record of what you were told.

The he said / she said scenario that results from the customer trusting (or maybe misinterpreting) a commission based in-home salesman can be a huge cause of frustration.

Other posts about Great Lakes windows that you might find helpful:

How can you find a great window company?

That part is easy.  Check this section for recommendations of window companies all over the country. There’s no better way to get new windows.

Other posts you might find interesting:

Great Lakes Harbor Light Windows Reviews

The Great Lakes Harbor Light windows are the low end offering from Great Lakes. Does that mean they’re a great value or a piece of junk that should be avoided? Let’s find out.

First, it’s important to note that Great Lakes is owned by Ply Gem and Ply Gem also makes several other window brands. They tend to separate the window brands by sales channel and quality so Atrium would be a lower end brand and Great Lakes is a higher end brand.

Knowing that, you might think that the lower end Great Lakes window is still a better choice than a nicer Atrium or Simonton window? You might be right, but there are several factors to be aware of. Let’s get into it.

What are the advantages of Great Lakes Harbor Light windows?

One obvious advantage to the Harbor Light windows is the cost. These will be cheaper than the fancier, and more expensive, EcoSmart and Comfort Smart window lines. What do you give up by going to the lower end option? Mainly efficiency and options.

The best efficiency package in the other models yielded a U-Factor of 0.14. In the Harbor Lights model the best advertised U-Factor is 0.22. Remember lower means more efficient when it comes to windows so that’s a pretty big difference.

So, the Harbor Lights model is less efficient but it’s also less expensive. Ultimately a 0.22 U-Factor is pretty good so it may be worthwhile to save the added cost you’ll find in the other models.

Here you can see the main features of the Great Lakes Harbor Light windows.

As you can see in the list of features above, these are all perfectly nice but very common features. You’ll find the same options in most every replacement window on the market.

What are the disadvantages?

The main disadvantage of this model is mainly the efficiency and the lack of options.

We touched on the difference in efficiency above, and the color options are another factor to note. This lower end model is only available in white or beige. There are no other interior or exterior options. If you need an exterior color, like black windows for example, you’ll need to pay more for the other window models.

How much do Great Lakes Harbor Light windows cost?

The pricing for all replacement windows has been rather volatile lately. If you’ve received a quote for Great Lakes windows lately it would be helpful for everyone if you can post a comment below to let us know what you saw.

I would expect you’ll see prices from $500+ installed for these windows and you might find prices closer to $1000 per window. It’s been a strange time.

Additional transparency makes this industry easier for everyone to navigate so sharing info about a quote you’ve received will help everyone who is shopping for new windows.

What colors are available?

The available colors for this model are pretty limited. Here you can see the white and beige and those will be the only options for this lower end model.

If you want any other exterior or interior color you’ll need to pay more for the upgraded window models, and then you pay even more for the other color options.

How efficient are Great Lakes Harbor Light windows?

The efficiency of these windows is not as great as the EcoSmart or Comfort Smart window lines. However, that doesn’t mean these are not efficient windows.

The efficiency ratings for the popular EnergyGuard and SmartGuard packages are pretty similar to ratings you’ll see from most any manufacturer. They advertise the best packages with U-Factors in the range of 0.22 to 0.25 and there are other packages available as well.

Overall, I’d say the efficiency is perfectly good, but not really any better than other window models.

What’s the bottom line?

Overall I’d say this option may be a better value than the other Great Lakes window models as long as you don’t need any other colors or fancy options. If you have a basic project in mind this could be a decent choice.

I would still probably pick different models and we’ve elected not to carry any Great Lakes window models in our stores.

How can you find a great window company?

That part is easy.  Check this section for recommendations of window companies all over the country. There’s no better way to get new windows.

Great Lakes Comfort Smart Windows Reviews

Here we have Great Lakes Comfort Smart windows reviews. We’ll look at the advantages, disadvantages, efficiency, warranty, prices and more. If you’re wondering if these are the best replacement windows for you we’ll find out right here.

Great Lakes Comfort Smart double hung windows reviews, efficiency, prices and more.
Here are two Great Lakes Comfort Smart double hung windows.

What are the advantages of Great Lakes Comfort Smart windows?

Great Lakes remodeled their window like a few years ago. The new products, including the Comfort Smart windows, are defininltey an upgrade.

You’ll find they have basically all of the features that you’ll see in most nicer replacement windows. Things like virgin vinyl, welded corners, low-e glass, etc are all pretty standard and not really remarkable anymore.

The Great Lakes Comfort Smart windows will typically have slightly lower prices than the EcoSmart windows that we recently reviewed and that’s a good feature as well.

Overall I’d say the best advantage of the Great Lakes Comfort Smart windows is the newer design that does make it much more competitive than their older offerings.

However, there are a few disadvantages to be aware of.

What are the disadvantages of Great Lakes Comfort Smart windows?

The disadvantages to this model might be important to you. One disadvantage that is important to me is the loss of glass area. They heavily focused on efficiency when designing these windows and that’s great. One cost of that focus is the thicker frames.

Here you can see the ticker frame of the Great Lakes Comfort Smart windows.

That means you’ll get less glass area in the same size window with this model than you would with some other popular window models.

That can be a bigger deal if you have an older house with smaller windows. If you already have large windows in your house it may be less critical if you loose a little bit of glass area.

Another downside is the higher condensation resistance ratings that typically come with the interior coating of low-e. More on that below.

Finally, while the Great Lakes Comfort Smart windows are backed by Ply Gem, a very large manufacturer, the warranty isn’t as great as you might find with other brands.

How energy efficient are these windows?

Great Lakes offers a pretty wide range of efficiency packages in the Comfort Smart windows and that’s always good. It’s nice to have choices, but you’ll want to understand exactly what you’re getting.

Here is a diagram of the Smart Guard IS package. Remember, the IS or Interior Shield may make the condensation resistance rating worse. You’ll want to confirm this rating before ordering.

They advertise Energy Guard packages in the brochure with very good ratings. You just want to be aware that those packages are only included if they’re clearly specified in your order. Those packages will also drive up the price.

The question you’ll be faced with is whether or not any improvement in efficiency is worth the increase in cost. Very often you’ll find diminishing returns as you get to the top end of the efficiency spectrum.

Beyond the price there are also other downsides to a more efficient window. For example, windows at the top end of the efficiency range will often use darker glass that can make it seem like you’re always wearing sunglasses. This might be fine if you live in Phoenix, but it might not be ideal if you live in Pittsburgh.

Overall, the efficiency ratings for the Comfort Smart windows can be great, or they can be pretty typical. If you’re considering one of the more efficient packages be aware of the VT rating that will show you how much light gets through, the CR rating that shows you how likely you are to get condensation on the glass and the price which can be substantial.

What are Great Lakes Comfort Smart prices?

Speaking of Great Lakes Comfort Smart Prices, they can defininltey span a pretty wide range. One reason for this is that is the limited dealer network.

Great Lakes tends to only sell their windows through certain dealers in every town. This limits competition and tends to increase prices. That might not be a bad thing because a more profitable dealer can also provide better service. That’s the positive spin. The other side of that argument is that the dealers can easily inflate prices because there is very limited local competition.

If you’ve recently received a quote for Great Lakes windows we ask you to post a comment below to let us know. Transparency is what this industry is lacking and you can help by sharing some info about your experience shopping for these windows.

What colors are available for these windows?

The Great Lakes Comfort Smart windows are available in a range of interior and exterior colors that you can see below.

As you can see they do offer a black exterior which is a common color lately. There is no option for a black interior which is also a common choice these days.

It’s important to note that the warranty on the painted exterior colors is 10 years which is shorter than you might expect. In addition, only some of the exterior colors are heat reflective. That means if you live in a very warm climate the options will be limited.

What’s the bottom line?

Overall, these windows have pretty good features. The efficiency ratings are solid and the warranty is decent. Downsides included the warranty being a little more limited that you’ll see from some companies and the prices being higher than other similar options.

This is probably not a window model I would pick for my house but if your local dealer is great and the prices are reasonable then they may make a fine solution.

Other posts about Great Lakes windows that you might find helpful:

How can you find a great window company?

That part is easy.  Check this section for recommendations of window companies all over the country. There’s no better way to get new windows.

Other posts you might find interesting:

Great Lakes EcoSmart Windows Reviews

Here we have Great Lakes Eco Smart windows reviews to see if these are the best replacement windows for your home. For starters it’s important to note that Great Lakes windows are only sold through Great Lakes dealers in any given market.

This means that there will be only one or two companies offering these windows in your town. The downside to this is that if the dealer in your town isn’t a great company there may not be any alternative. This is one reason I tend to recommend finding a great retail company before you fall in love with any window model.

If the Great Lakes window dealer in your town isn’t great you can always find another window model to buy. There are plenty of fish in the sea.

This is the frame used by Great Lakes EcoSmart windows.

What are the advantages of the Great Lakes EcoSmart windows?

You can tell that Great Lakes was really trying to make this Eco Smart window look like a great choice. The brochures are beautiful and there are lots of features listed.

As with most replacement windows, these are custom made so many of the features are options. You can get different types of insulation called SmartCore or EcoCore, you can get different energy efficient glass options, called EnergyGuard and SmartGuard and different colors as well.

All of this is great, but it’s important to keep the results in mind. Do you care if a window has super foam in the frame or quadruple pane glass? Not really. What you care about is the result. Is the window more energy efficient than another option? That’s much more relevant info.

This is the EnergyGuard package used in Great Lakes EcoSmart windows.
Here is the EnergyGuard 3KR IS package. The efficiency ratings are good, but the prices are very high. It might not be the best value around.

Fortunately for the Great Lakes EcoSmart windows, they are very efficient. I would say the best feature is the overall efficiency. They advertise U-Factors as low as 0.14 with a 0.21 SHGC. That’s pretty efficient. Now, that also comes with a relatively substantial cost. The decision you’ll have to make is whether or not that great efficiency is worth the increase in cost.

Overall, I’d say the efficiency is the best advantage for this model.

What are the disadvantages?

One downside to this window model is the thickness of the frames. They were clearly going for max efficiency when they designed this window. That’s great, but one unfortunate result is that the glass area will be smaller than you might expect.

Other newly designed replacement windows are commonly designed with slimmer frames to maximize glass area. To me that’s pretty important as I’m a big sunlight person. You’ll need to decide if that’s important to you.

What about the Great Lakes EcoSmart windows warranty?

Great Lakes EcoSmart warranty

Great Lakes offers a lifetime warranty on the Eco Smart windows. Almost every company offers that these days and there are some important differences.

For example, the original purchaser of these windows does get a lifetime warranty that is good for as long as they own and live in the house. If the house is a rental or not the primary residence of the window purchaser the warranty is only 10 years.

The warranty is transferable, but when it transfers it gets much shorter. For example, the insulated glass is only covered for 50% after 10 years once the warranty is transferred. That percentage goes down with time.

Some aspects of the EcoSmart warranty are also more limited than you might expect. If you order internal blinds you get a 10 year warranty with only 1 year on the exterior blind operator or handle. What happens if that breaks in 13 months? It’s hard to say.

You also get 10 years of warranty on the exterior finish colors and there is no warranty on the installation from Great Lakes. If your salesperson makes claims about an installation warranty you’d want to get that in writing from them. A warranty like that would be from the installation company, not from Great Lakes.

Overall I’d say the Great Lakes window warranty is decent, but not the strongest we’ve seen. You’ll want to understand the limitations if you’re thinking of buying these windows. We have a complete Great Lakes windows warranty review post coming soon.

How about Great Lakes EcoSmart windows prices?

The prices for these windows will likely be one major drawback. Anytime a window manufacturer touts more extreme efficiency ratings (like a 0.14 U-Factor) then you know the prices will be on the high side.

My suggestion would be to compare these windows with another option or two from a different company to try to understand just how these prices compare. It’s also important to note that the package with the 0.14 U-Factor is optional and not always included.

Great Lakes EcoSmart prices.
Here you can see a Great Lakes EcoSmart double hung window.

If the prices from another reputable company are lower (I expect they will be), then you’ll want to weigh how much any improvement in efficiency is actually worth to you. Is a 0.02 improvement in U-Factor worth $200 per window? I might suggest it’s not, but that’s really up to you.

Since window prices have been relatively volatile lately we ask that you let us know what sort of prices you’ve seen for Great Lakes EcoSmart windows. If you’ve recently received a quote post a comment below to let us know. More info like that will help everyone.

What’s the bottom line?

Overall these are decent windows. In my opinion the higher prices and smaller glass area would make them less than ideal. In my house I would prefer a larger glass area with more visible light.

They do offer great efficiency ratings but those are not standard. In order to actually get those ratings you need to pick some of the more expensive glass packages and I don’t really think they represent a great value. The prices go up pretty fast as the efficiency improves.

This may still make sense for some buyers, but I don’t think these are the windows I would install in my house.

How can you find a great window company?

That part is easy.  Check this section for recommendations of window companies all over the country. There’s no better way to get new windows.

Polaris Windows Prices in 2023

I’m sure you’ve heard that prices for building products have been on a wild ride lately and Polaris windows prices are no different. The cost of everything is different now than it was a few years ago. It’s harder than ever to identify what a fair price is for custom made replacement windows. Here we can help each other.

Are there standard replacement window prices?

No. Comparing prices can be a little difficult because almost all replacement windows are custom made. In addition, the labor involved in replacing windows can vary significantly from one project to another.

Beyond that, options like different colors, or internal blinds, or triple pane glass, or krypton gas (yes, that’s a real thing) will all impact the overall cost og a window project.

How can you help to provide more info on current Polaris windows prices?

That part is easy. If you’ve recently received a quote for Polaris windows post a comment below and let us know about it. Helpful info will include the number and type of windows and any options included.

I may follow up with an email to clarify anything and I’ll be happy to provide more info. The info will be available for everyone to see.

Transparency is what this industry needs in order to become easier to navigate. If you’ve recently received window quotes you can help today.

Other posts about Polaris windows that you might find helpful:

How can you find a great window company?

That part is easy.  Check this section for recommendations of window companies all over the country. There’s no better way to get new windows.

Other posts you might find interesting:

Why You Should NEVER Buy Polaris Windows

If you’re considering buying Polaris windows you’ll want to read this post. Here we’re outlining the reasons that anyone should avoid Polaris windows.

To be fair you’ll find that a window salesman will always tell you why you shouldn’t buy this brand or that brand so you’ll want to take this with a bit of a grain of salt. We’re playing devil’s advocate here a little bit, but these are the reasons a competing salesman will tell you to avoid Polaris windows.

Remember, if you think I’m wrong about something post a comment below.

Here are several reasons why you should never buy Polaris windows.
Here you can see another one of these cool angled pictures from the Polaris windows brochure. Am I the only one who thinks these look a little amateur?

First, small manufacturers are risky

Avid readers of this site will know that I routinely suggest avoiding smaller manufacturers. After nearly 20 years in this industry I’ve seen many of these small manufacturers vanish into thin air.

Some of the companies that have gone belly up were very well regarded by “experts” who loved to tell people to buy those windows. When those manufacturers vanished those same “experts” just moved on and started recommending other small manufacturers. It didn’t seem that there were too many lessons learned.

I would only suggest buying windows from one of these small companies if there was a really compelling reason to do so. Maybe there is some feature or option that makes the windows absolutely perfect for your project and is not available anywhere else. If that’s the case maybe you should take the risk, but Polaris doesn’t really offer anything very unique.

I don’t see a compelling reason to take the gamble.

Second, Polaris windows are unremarkable

The features and options you see from Polaris are pretty typical. I would assume it’s hard for a small manufacturer to do much innovating.

They also don’t publish air infiltration rates. That might not be a big deal. I don’t know what the Polaris windows air infiltration rates are. I do assume that if they were outstanding they would be advertised online and in the brochures. If anyone has more info, real info, on Polaris air infiltration rates please post a comment below.

They use the lower end constant force or coil balances even in their top of the line UltraWeld windows. That indicates to me that they weren’t trying to really compete with the nicer windows on the market.

Third, the Polaris windows warranty isn’t that great

The lifetime warranty on the Polaris windows is definitely more limited than warranties you’ll see from other manufacturers. Overall it’s decent, but it’s certainly not a selling point for Polaris windows.

You can find more info on the Polaris window warranty here.

What’s the bottom line?

Overall there are several reasons that a competing salesman would say you shouldn’t buy Polaris windows. Obviously the person trying to sell you these windows would have a different perspective. It’s up to you to evaluate that info and come to a conclusion.

I don’t really see any remarkably redeeming qualities that would make me want to take the gamble on them. If you have questions or comments about Polaris windows I invite you to post a comment below. I do my best to respond to as many comments as I can.

How can you find a great window company?

That part is easy.  Check this section for recommendations of window companies all over the country. There’s no better way to get new windows.

Other posts you might find interesting: