Revere Amherst Plus Windows Reviews

The Revere Amherst Plus windows are one of the newer replacement window options from Revere Building Products.  The Amherst Plus windows occupy the lower end of the replacement window offering and they use a slightly old fashioned design.

First off, it’s completely ok to consider a lower end window option.  Maybe you’re moving soon, or renting the house, or you’re just a little on the cheap side.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that and I can tell you I’ve been accused of being a little cheap myself.  As I’m sure you already know, when you’re going for a lower priced option you’re going to be making sacrifices.  It’s important to be clear on what those sacrifices are and how much you’re saving in return.  That’s the only way to know if you’re making the best move.

As you’ll see the actual wholesale cost difference between the Amherst Plus and the much nicer Berkshire Elite offering is pretty small.  If you’re thinking about Revere replacement windows you may get the best bang for your buck with the Berkshire Elite.

Basically the Revere Amherst Plus is a striped down version of the older Revere Berkshire window.  This window was the workhorse of the Revere window line for many years.  As the industry progressed it started to look a little dated.  Revere needed to upgrade that model in order to stay competitive.  To create the new Amherst Plus model they stripped out several features of the older Berkshire window and gave this new offering a fancy new name.

What are the differences?

Basically if you took the old Revere Berkshire window and removed the balance covers, installed a flimsier screen and switched to the cheaper constant force or coil balances and installed single strength glass you’d have an a “new” Amherst Plus window.

revere amherst plus windows

Does this mean it’s a bad product?

Nope, but it does mean you don’t get a lot of bang for your buck.

What does the Revere Amherst Plus window cost?

Now for the important part.  The actual wholesale cost difference between the Revere Amherst Plus windows and the nicer Revere Berkshire Elite windows is only around $10 per window.  That means for just a couple bucks more you can get upgraded balances, double strength glass, better air infiltration ratings, heavier screen frames, etc.

Of course this doesn’t mean that your local contractor will be charging only $10 more for the nicer window.  They might be padding their profits a little and showing you a $50 difference in price.  Just offer them less and you’ll probably get it.

Only you can decide how cheap you want to be with your new windows.  If you’re selling the home or renting it out and you really don’t care about the windows then maybe these are the right products for you.  If you’re going to be living in the house for any length of time I would really suggest the nicer product as long as you can get it at a reasonable cost.

Find more Revere window reviews and the best replacement window reviews online.

Revere Amherst Windows Reviews

Note: If you’re really looking for Revere Amherst windows reviews you’re getting bad window advice.  The Revere Amherst windows have been discontinued for a number of reasons.  One of which is that they weren’t very nice windows.  If you’ve met a contractor that is suggesting them you should probably find another contractor who knows more about windows.

Revere Amherst windows are the bottom of the Revere window line.  They were designed to be an inexpensive replacement window used for remodeling projects.  While they succeeded in being inexpensive, they are not a very great option.

Revere Amherst replacement windows
Here is a cutaway view of the Revere Amherst window.

The biggest drawback to the Revere Amherst windows is the method of construction.  Instead of welded corners which are found on just about all windows these days the older Revere Amherst windows still use mechanically fastened or screwed together frames.

This means the frame is able to twist and flex more than a newer welded window.  It also opens the door to leaks as the corners of the window are not necessarily weather tight.

What’s good about the Revere Amherst windows?

While I may be sounding a little negative there are a few highlights when looking at the Revere Amherst option.  First, they use the upgraded block and tackle balance mechanism found in other Revere replacement windows.  The balance mechanism is the part that allows the window to open and close and this type is better than the inexpensive “constant force” or coil balances used in many other windows.

They also feature standard metal reinforcement in the sashes which is something that competitors often charge extra for.  This reinforcement is placed at the bottom of the top sash and the top of the bottom sash (at the middle of the window) which is the weakest point.  They reinforce the structure to help these windows stand up to the wind and rain.

How about the Revere Amherst windows warranty?

Another good point is that the Amherst windows are covered by the same warranty as all Revere windows.  This is a pretty strong warranty and it’s backed up by Revere’s parent company, Associated Materials, Inc.  This means you not only get a good strong warranty, but you also get one that will likely stand the test of time.

How about the cost of the Revere Amherst windows?

This is where they lose me.  Based on the info I was given the wholesale cost difference between the Revere Amherst windows and the much nicer Revere Berkshire Elite windows is only about $15 per window.  If you’re considering new windows for your home and you’re not willing to spring for an extra $15 to get the much nicer Berkshire Elite windows then you just might be beyond help.

At the end of the day the Revere Amherst window was designed to be a cheap option.  It’s cheap alright, but not cheap enough to justify all of the sacrifices.

Find more reviews of Revere windows here and other brands here.

Revere Berkshire Elite Windows Reviews

If you’re considering Revere Berkshire Elite windows we sure hope you’ll appreciate this review.  The Revere window line is distributed through a network of professional installers across the country.  They are available on the east and west coast with specific products for each market.  Our Revere Berkshire Elite windows reviews will go through the features, warranty, cost, and drawbacks of this popular new model.

best replacement windows of 2015

The Revere Berkshire Elite windows are a new model that replaced the older Revere Berkshire window.  While this new model shares a similar name it is an entirely new window.  This new model addresses many of the shortcomings that were present in the older Revere Berkshire windows.

A common misconception in the window business has to do with the parent company of Revere Building Products.  Several years ago Revere was bought by Associated Materials Inc.  They’re a holding company that owns several large building products manufacturers.  They own Alpine windows on the west coast, Gentek windows in Canada, Alside windows in the US and Preservation windows also available across the US.

Revere windows will a unique spot in the stable of products produced by AMI.  They’re available all across the US, but mostly through large window installation companies rather than distribution centers that sell windows to any contractor with a pickup truck.  Revere does this to ensure that only established companies offer their products.  This helps them keep their warranty costs down as the windows are typically installed well.

Our favorite feature when it comes to the new Revere Berkshire Elite windows is the large glass area.  This is a common theme in our reviews because it directly relates to how you’re going to enjoy the new windows.  Revere Berkshire Elite windows allow for a very large glass area while still maintaining great efficiency ratings.  This is a combination that many other manufactures have not been able to accomplish.

revere berkshire elite windows reviews
Notice the large glass area of the Revere Berkshire Elite window

Notice the dramatic effect of the larger glass area.  Many replacement windows use these thick frames that dramatically reduce the amount of light (not heat) that enters the home.

The Berkshire Elite window is designed to be a high end window.  It’s available in 9 exterior colors and 9 interior finishes.  This is a pretty extensive selection for a replacement window.  While most folks pick white or beige windows the finish options for nice vinyl windows are much more beautiful than they used to be.

berkshire elite design options

A major advantage to the Revere Berkshire Elite windows is the upgraded balance mechanism that they use.  The block and tackle balance system in these windows is tested to last 2.5 times longer than the less expensive constant force or coil balances that are used in many replacement windows.  Revere is certainly not the only company to use these nicer balances, Okna, Sunrise, Thompson Creek and Stanek windows also use these high end balances.  Many other manufactures such as Alside, Soft Lite and Simonton still use the older and less expensive coil option.

Here are the drawbacks of the coil or constant force balances as listed in a promotional piece produced by Associated Materials.  Remember this is a parent company of Alside, of of the largest companies offering the less expensive coil option:

best replacement window balances

It’s pretty clear which type the nicer windows out there use.  The Revere Berkshire Elite only use the block and tackle balance system.

There are two more great new features relating to the sill at the bottom.  The sill is a true sloped sill which means it does not use weep holes to drain water.  This is the way most new windows are designed, but many older design still drain water through the frames.

revere window sill design
The welded sloped sill drains water to the exterior.

What about the screens?

One similarity the Revere Berkshire Elite windows share with the Alside Mezzo windows is the high quality screen.  They both share a heavy duty extruded screen frame that resists bending and twisting. It’s a heavy duty product that is warrantied for as long as you own your home.

Most other companies offer a flimsy roll formed screen as their standard product with a heavy duty screen as an option.  With Revere you get the nice screen every time.  It may sound like a small feature, but it goes to show you how seriously they take the quality of their products.

What about the efficiency?

The Revere Berkshire Elite windows can have great efficiency ratings depending on how they are ordered.  They are available with many types of glass coatings, spacer systems and gas fills that all affect the ratings.  For example the Revere Berkshire Elite window can easily meet or exceed the 2015 Energy Star guidelines for all regions of the country with double pane glass.  Most of the other window designs require triple pane glass options to hit these levels.

UPDATE: Triple pane glass is now available in the Revere Berkshire Elite window and it’s become a very popular option.  They offer several triple pane glass packages in this model with SHGC ratings as low as 0.17 and U-Factors as low as 0.21.  If you’re considering this window model, triple pane glass is an option you may want to consider.  

How much do Berkshire Elite windows cost?

The cost of these windows can vary widely based on the options you select, the complexity of the installation and the company offering them.  Basic white double hung windows typically run in the $400 per window range including installation.  Some companies will charge more and some less so make sure you’re comfortable that you’re getting a fair price before moving forward with your replacement window project.

You will find that Revere windows will likely be available from a small number of companies in your area.  This is the case with many nicer windows.  If you don’t like the company offer them or if you’re not comfortable for any reason just move on.  There are plenty of great windows out there so if you can’t find something you like when it comes to these just pick another brand.

How about the Revere Berkshire Elite window warranty?

The warranty on these windows is pretty strong, but generally similar to warranties offered by many high end window manufactures.  For example the window frames and hardware are covered for as long as you own your home.  They cover the seal in the insulated glass and even the screens as well.  Be aware that a glass breakage warranty is available, but it is not standard so the company doing the installation will need to include it.  If you don’t have that in writing you probably don’t have it so it’s worth double checking.

What are the drawbacks of the Berkshire Elite windows?

The limited distribution can be a drawback of the Revere windows.  If the company that offers them in your area is great then you’re in great shape, if not you’re out of luck.  Don’t sweat that too much.  If you don’t like the local company for any reason just find another product.  There are plenty of great windows out there.

Find more detailed Revere windows reviews here.

Best Replacement Windows

So what are the best replacement windows?  There’s a question that’s been asked a million times before.  As you’re sorting through the options remember that there is no one “best” product.  If there was, everyone would know it and your decision would be easy.

Why isn’t there one type of best replacement windows?

There are several reasons, but the biggest factor is that different people want  different things.  For instance, some of our customers buy windows because they’re moving soon and they want to dress up the house.  Some buy new windows because they’re about to have a baby and they want to make the house less drafty.  Some folks buy new windows as part of a larger remodeling project and some folk just want to make their home more comfortable in the hot summer.  The best replacement windows for each of these folks are completely different.

So, before you can decide what the best replacement windows are for you, you’ll need to be really clear about these factors:

  • How long are you planing on living in the home?
  • If you don’t live in the home at all, are you flipping the house, renting or is a family member living there?
  • Rank these characteristics: efficiency, looks, durability/warranty, price

Once you have a more clear idea of what you’re looking for the question of what are the best replacement windows will become easier to answer.

For example, if you’re going to be renting the house you’ll want windows that look nice, and won’t cause problems.  Perhaps you’re less concerned with efficiency and price is probably an important concern.  You probably don’t want junk, but you also don’t need the greatest windows ever produced by mankind.

On the other hand, if you’ve just bought your new home and you’re undergoing a substantial remodel to turn it into your dream house that you plan on living in for the rest of your days you probably have a different set of priorities.  You want a product that looks great, keeps the house as comfortable as possible and will last a very long time.

Of course, even if you’re in the exact same situation as someone else you still may end up choosing a different product.  You might be more concerned about a product that looks and feels great like a wood window or maybe a fiberglass option while someone else might want the most efficient option available which would probably be a triple pane vinyl window.

 So you’re starting to see why there are so many options.  Why isn’t it easy to find answers regarding the best replacement windows?

Well, it’s a competitive business.  There are just about no patents in the industry so every company is building windows from the same parts and they’re fighting to earn your business.

Companies that are trying to produce the “best replacement windows” are all fighting to say they’re better than the rest.  Companies trying to produce the least expensive products for the price sensitive customer are all trying to be less expensive than the rest.

Keep this intense competition in mind when you’re learning about new windows.

A wise man once said, “before you can find the answer, you must find the question”.  Don’t bother trying to find the best replacement windows until you really understand what you want.

If you’re thinking vinyl windows and you’re interested in being on the low end of the price spectrum you’ll see companies all over the place advertising “new windows installed for $189” or sometimes even less.  Of course they’ll try to up sell you on all sorts of options so most end up being easily double that price.

You’ll also find companies that claim to offer the “best replacement windows” with a 3 hour sales pitch that leads to one discount after another in an effort to get you to sign up right away.  I always ask why they need to work so hard to sell these windows if they really are so good.  You’d think if they genuinely were the best replacement windows folks would just buy them and the dramatic sales pitch wouldn’t be necessary.

So, be sure you don’t waste your time meeting with companies and sorting through options until you have a clear idea of what you want.    Start to get an idea of what the best replacement windows for you will look like.

Once you have an idea of what you want and how you’ll rank the variables of efficiency, looks, durability/warranty, price you’ll be ready to start finding a local window company.  A quick google search will show you more window companies in your area than you can shake a stick at.  For example, when I google “replacement window company” I get 102,000,000 results.  That’s a lot.

Here’s another post on how to identify the best replacement window installation company.  stay tuned.   For now, take a look through some replacement window reviews get an idea of what’s out there.

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.

Soft-Lite Pro vs Soft-Lite Classic

We’ve received a few requests recently to compare the Soft-Lite Pro vs Soft-Lite Classic windows.  As you’ll see below these two window models are pretty similar.  In fact, they are essentially the same window with a few small differences.

Soft-lite pro vs Soft-Lite classic windows reviewsAs you can see here, the two windows are essentially the same.  This picture points out the biggest difference between the Soft-Lite Pro vs Soft-Lite Classic windows.  The exterior design of the frame is a little busier on the Pro model.  We tend to like the simple look of the classic, but it’s your house, pick out whichever style you like best.

Another difference between the two models is the foam insulation in the frame.

Soft-lite foam filled frames

As you can see in the picture above, the foam insulation in the frame is standard with the Soft-Lite Pro and it’s optional with the Soft-Lite Classic.  Typically foam insulation in frames is mostly about the sales pitch.  It typically doesn’t have much affect on the ratings, but if you like the idea make sure it’s included.

The last difference is the reinforcement in the sash.  As you can see in this picture the Pro model comes with standard reinforcement in the sash and the Classic does not.

soft lite pro classic reinforced sashThe reinforcement helps the window stand up to extreme windows and can also help with intrusion prevention.  This is more important for very wide windows or for windows that will be subjected to very high winds.  Generally speaking we recommend getting windows with reinforced sashes.  The cost isn’t very high and it does make them stronger.

That’s it!

Those are all of the differences in the Soft-Lite Pro vs Soft-Lite Classic windows.  Typically when contractors offer the Classic window for a few dollars less than the Pro they’re not ordering the foam filled frames or the reinforced sashes.  If you want these features be sure they’re included.  Once they are added in the pricing should be about the same between these two windows.

If you have any more specific questions about Soft-Lite windows just let us know.  You can find more detailed information and reviews of Soft-Lite products right here!

Soft-Lite Pro Windows Reviews

The Soft-Lite Pro window is very similar to the Soft-Lite Classic window as they both fall in the middle of the Soft-Lite window line.

The Soft-Lite Pro window aren’t especially remarkable, but they have decent ratings, larger glass area than other options, and are typically offered at a better price than other Soft-Lite windows.  As we go through the review we’ll look at the style, the warranty, the ratings, and the drawbacks.

So how about the Soft-Lite Pro ratings?

When you look at the nfrc ratings you’ll see that the Soft-Lite Pro windows tend to be unremarkable.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but there isn’t anything fantastic abut ratings like these.  For more detailed explanations of what the ratings mean click here.

As with most replacement windows there are many glass options that can affect the ratings.  This model is available with triple pane glass and U-Factors as low as 0.18.  This range of U-Factors (from 0.30 to 0.18) is pretty typical.

You’ll probably also notice that the Visible Transmittance ratings for this window are considerably better than the Soft-Lite Imperial LS and the Soft-Lite Elements and  that we’ve reviewed in the past .  This means you’ll get much MORE glass area with similar efficiency ratings with this model.

How about air infiltration or air leakage?

So the degree to which Soft-Lite focuses on air infiltration ratings is kind of a joke within the industry.  The degree to which some salespeople dwell on these ratings can be downright comical.  In this case the air infiltration rating is 0.07 to 0.11 depending on how the window is equipped.

In their brochure they highlight the 0.07 number and put the 0.11 number in the fine print in the bottom. The ratings aren’t always as good as they might first appear.

These ratings are fine, but they aren’t remarkable.  We’ve written at length on how air infiltration ratings are misconstrued so we won’t repeat everything here.  Just remember that these ratings are just fine and you’ll probably never notice the difference between this and a window with “better” ratings.

What about the style options?

One thing we’re not thrilled with about the Soft-Lite Pro windows is the complex design on the exterior.

We know that windows with all sorts of fancy lines, details and designs on the exterior can look sharp when a sample is sitting on your kitchen table.  Just remember that once the windows are installed you want them to look like they’ve always been part of the house rather than some fancy thing that was added later.  This design it’s nearly as busy as some, but it looks a little too complicated in our mind, but it’s your house, get what you like.

How about the Soft-Lite Pro warranty?

If you’ve been shopping for windows you’ve seen that most say they come with a “lifetime warranty”.  You need to really read the warranty to see what is actually covered.  In this case there are several important limitations:

  • Soft-Lite does not cover labor to fix a warranty problem
  • Soft-Lite does not cover glass breakage
  • Soft-Lite does not cover shipping of replacement parts

These limitations aren’t necessarily deal breakers they are more limited than what you’ll find from many other manufacturers.  You may find that your local dealer adds to the warranty.  That’s fine, just make sure you have it in writing.  You should also know that the warranty is only as good as the company that backs it.

Our complete breakdown of the Soft-Lite window warranty will be published soon.

How about drawbacks of this Soft-Lite Pro window?

One drawback is the fact that Soft-Lite is a relatively small manufacturer.  While they have been growing, their total sales just recently surpassed $50MM according to Window and Door magazine.  This may sound like a lot, but for a manufacturing company it’s relatively small.  The risk there is that smaller companies that made fine products (e.g. Gorell, Schuco, Kensington, Republic, etc) have come and gone.  When one of these companies goes away all of the folks who purchased their products are left with no warranty.  This is a risk with any company, but it is very important to recognize with a smaller company like Soft-Lite.

Another drawback to consider is the use of inexpensive hardware in the Soft-Lite Pro window.  They use the cheaper constant force balance mechanisms to let the windows open and close.  These are common among lower end windows and they’re known to have shorter operating lives than other types.  Is this a high deal?  No, but it is one way Soft-Lite has cut cost out of this product that you should be aware of.

So what’s the bottom line?

At the end of the day, if you’re set on getting Soft-Lite windows the Soft-Lite Pro is a decent option, but you may want to take a look at the Soft-Lite Classic as it’s essentially the same window with cleaner lines.  We tend to think the “higher end” windows look like they’re trying too hard and the mid-range windows tend to offer the best value.  There are a few drawbacks mentioned above and I wouldn’t pay more for this window that comparable windows from other manufacturers, if you can get good pricing from a reputable local company this window could be a good value.

Take a look at more reviews of windows from Soft-Lite or other replacement window manufacturers.

Disclosure: based on the info provided here and our detailed consideration of all of the replacement windows available today our company has elected to occasionally offer Soft-Lite windows in several markets.

 

Soft-Lite Classic Windows Reviews

The Soft-Lite Classic window falls in the middle of the Soft-Lite window lineup.  There is nothing particularly remarkable about the Soft-Lite Classic windows, but they have solid ratings, large glass area, and are typically offered at more competitive prices.  As we go through the review we’ll look at the ratings, the style, the warranty and the drawbacks.

So how about the Soft-Lite Classic ratings?

The Soft-Lite Classic windows tend to come with relatively common efficiency ratings.

As with all windows there are several glass options that can affect the ratings.  With triple pane glass they can achieve U-Factors as low as 0.18 which is common.  This range of U-Factors (from 0.30 to 0.18) is pretty typical.  T

You’ll probably also notice that the Visible Transmittance ratings for this model are considerably better than the Soft-Lite Elements and the Soft-Lite Imperial LS that we’ve reviewed previously .  This means you’ll get MORE glass area with similar efficiency ratings with this model.

How about air infiltration ratings?

So the degree to which Soft-Lite focuses on air infiltration ratings is kind of a joke within the industry.  The degree to which some salespeople dwell on these ratings can be comical.  In this case the air infiltration rating is 0.07 to 0.11 depending on how the window is equipped.

These ratings are fine, but they aren’t remarkable.  We’ve written at length on how air infiltration ratings are misconstrued so we won’t repeat everything here.  The short answer is that these ratings are just fine and you’ll probably never notice the difference between this and a window with “better” ratings.

What about the style options?

One thing we like about the Soft-Lite Classic windows is the simple design on the exterior.  It doesn’t have all of the curly fancy business on the outside that you’ll find on some other Soft-Lite models.

We know that windows with all sorts of fancy lines, details and designs on the exterior can look sharp when a sample is sitting on your kitchen table.  Just remember that once the windows are installed you want them to look like they’ve always been part of the house rather than some fancy thing that was added later.  This simple design lends itself to that style.

How about the Soft-Lite Classic warranty?

If you’ve been shopping for windows you’ve seen that most say they come with a “lifetime warranty”.  You need to really read the warranty to see what is actually covered.  In this case there are several important limitations:

  • Soft-Lite does not cover glass breakage
  • Soft-Lite does not cover labor to fix a warranty problem
  • Soft-Lite does not cover shipping of replacement parts

These limitations aren’t necessarily deal breakers they are more limited than what you’ll find from several other manufacturers.  You may find that your local dealer adds to the warranty.  That’s fine, just make sure you have it in writing.

Our complete breakdown of the Soft-Lite window warranty will be published soon.

How about drawbacks of this Soft-Lite Classic window?

One drawback to consider is the use of inexpensive hardware in the Soft-Lite Classic window.  They use the cheaper constant force balance mechanisms to let the windows open and close.  These are common among lower end windows and they’re known to have shorter operating lives than other types.  Is this a high deal?  No, but it is one way Soft-Lite has cut cost out of this product that you should be aware of.

Another drawback is the fact that Soft-Lite is a relatively small manufacturer.  While they have been growing, their total sales just recently surpassed $50MM according to Window and Door magazine.  This may sound like a lot, but for a manufacturing company it’s relatively small.  The risk there is that smaller companies that made fine products (e.g. Gorell, Schuco, Kensington, Republic, etc) have come and gone.  When one of these companies goes away all of the folks who purchased their products are left with no warranty.  This is a risk with any company, but it is very important to recognize with a smaller company like Soft-Lite.

So what’s the bottom line?

At the end of the day, if you’re set on getting Soft-Lite windows the Soft-Lite Classic is one of our favorites.  We tend to think the “higher end” windows look like they’re trying too hard and the mid-range windows tend to offer the best value.  There are a few drawbacks mentioned above and I wouldn’t pay more for this window that comparable windows from other manufacturers, if you can get good pricing from a reputable local company this window could be a good value.

Take a look at more reviews of windows from Soft-Lite or other replacement window manufacturers.

Soft-Lite Imperial LS Windows Reviews

Here we’ll take a look at the Soft-Lite Imperial LS windows.  When comparing Soft-Lite windows you’ll notice that different dealers will often offer or recommend different models.  For some dealers the Imperial LS is the fanciest model they offer while other will push the Soft-Lite Elements model.  These two models are relatively similar except that the Imperial LS window is often offered at a lower price so it typically represents a better value.

As with most replacement windows these days there are many glass options to chose from.  These options will affect the ratings so it’s important to make sure you pick the one that is right for you.  Remember that lower is not always better.

Ratings for the Soft-Lite Imperial LS windows vary from a U-Factor of 0.28 down to 0.17.  The solar heat gain ranges from 0.28 to 0.24.

As you can see, these ratings are solid, but they’re not one of a kind.  For example the visible transmittance rating of 0.51 and lower for a double pane window is a little low.  That is due to the fact that the Imperial LS window uses a thicker frame than some other options.  If you’re going with double pane glass there are other windows that will give you more light at the same efficiency ratings.  The salesperson offering the Soft-Lite Imperial LS windows typically won’t point that out.

From a design standpoint, the Soft-Lite Imperial LS windows are available with two different types of locks that both look sharp.  The recessed hardware shown below has a very clean, simple look that many folks appreciate.

They also offer the Auto-Majik self locking lock.  Despite the horribly awkward name, it can be a convenient option.  I’ve never felt that locking windows myself was too much of a chore, but if you do this will save you a step.

One drawback to the Soft-Lite Imperial LS is the balance mechanism that they use.  The balance mechanism is the component that lets the window open and close and prevents it from falling.  It’s a little bit of a surprise that Soft-Lite still uses constant force balances even in their nicer offerings.  They’ll tell you why it’s great, but we’ve received a few Soft-Lite samples with coil balances and they both have issues.  We’ll be uploading some videos showing how they perform soon.

Typically higher end windows have moved away from these coil balances for several reasons including longevity.  Instead of switching the type, Soft-Lite opted to change the name.  They call it an Endura-Force balance.  These balance mechanisms do work ok, and they are easy enough to replace when they fail, but it would be a nice touch to do away with these balances.

How about the Soft-Lite Imperial LS warranty?

As is the case with all quality replacement windows they come with a “lifetime warranty”.  As always you need to really read the warranty to see what is actually covered.  In this case there are several important limitations:

  • Soft-Lite does not cover labor to fix a warranty problem
  • Soft-Lite does not cover shipping of replacement parts
  • Soft-Lite does not cover glass breakage

These limitations aren’t necessarily deal breakers they are more limited than what you’ll find from several other manufacturers.

 What’s the bottom line?

The Soft-Lite Imperial LS window is a fine option.  There’s nothing too remarkable about it and the pricing offered by local dealers can vary quite a bit.

When comparing options don’t be swayed by a salesperson who may tell you that this is the absolute greatest product ever produced by mankind.  It’s a good window, but you can find similar products from other manufacturers.  As always there are no vinyl double hung windows that are worth $800 per window.  If you’re buying this one in the $400-$500 range you’re probably getting a decent value.  If you’re getting quotes any higher than that for typical windows it would be wise to keep looking.

Soft-Lite Elements Windows Reviews

Here we’ll take a look at Soft-Lite Elements windows.  We were recently asked to write this review by one of our loyal readers are we’re happy to help.  When looking at Soft-Lite Elements windows you’ll quickly learn that they are billed as the “most energy efficient windows” produced in North America.  While they are awfully energy efficient when paired with the most expensive glass options, that level of efficiency is probably overkill for most folks.

Since they make the efficiency a cornerstone of the pitch for the Soft-Lite Elements let’s start there.  When the Elements window is ordered with the Solar Ultimate Glass the ratings are very low.

They advertise these windows with a U-Factor of 0.16 which is pretty darn good.  The trick is that lower isn’t always better when it comes to efficiency ratings.  For example, a Solar Heat Gain Coefficient of 0.21 is pretty low.  That’s great if you live in a climate that is dominated by high sun, but it’s not so good if you live in a colder area.  In colder regions you want to take advantage of the sun and this option would block out too much.

Perhaps more importantly the visible transmittance rating (VT rating) is pretty low with this option.  A rating of 0.37 means that the window will look dark.  It would be smart to look at a sample window with this glass option before purchasing to make sure you’re comfortable with how it will look.

Of course you probably wouldn’t pick this glass option unless it made sense for your home and in your climate.  The important takeaway here is that the claim of “the most efficient window” isn’t really relevant unless you’re going for bragging rights.  It is much more effective to pick a window and a glass option that is right for your home and your climate.

What about the look of the Solf-Lite Elements windows?

In our opinion when some windows try to be “high end” they end up working  a little too hard.  For example, the exterior of the frame of the window is full of curly designs that can look a little busy.

Some folks like all of these lines and the salesperson will probably tell you all about how this gives it the look of a wood window, but in our mind it’s a little much.  We like windows that look like they were always part of the home rather that one that tries too hard to stand out.

This is certainly a style factor and you might like a different look than we do, but consider that a window that looks fancy when sitting on your kitchen table might look a little too busy when installed in your home.

Another style feature on the inside of the Soft-lite Elements window gives it a very clean look.  The Elements window does not have the traditional tilt latches.  The tilt latches are incorporated into the locks which keeps the interior of the window looking clean and uncluttered.

In the past we have seen folks who struggled with how to tilt in their windows when they have this hardware.  It’s not exactly intuitive, but it works well enough.

The salesperson talked a lot about air infiltration.  Is it that special?

Air infiltration ratings are a big part of the pitch for the higher end Soft-Lite windows.  Their ratings are good, but they’re not unmatched.  For example, the published rating for a Soft-Lite Elements window is 0.01.  While there are several reasons this rating is a little deceptive (reasons described in our post on air infiltration ratings), there are other windows out there that achieve the same or very similar ratings.  We know every manufacturer wants to do their best to accentuate their strengths, but in our mind Soft-Lite goes a little too far with this pitch.

How about the warranty for Soft-Lite Elements Windows?

As is the case with all quality replacement windows they come with a “lifetime warranty”.  As always you need to really read the warranty to see what is actually covered.  In this case there are several important limitations:

  • Soft-Lite does not cover labor to fix a warranty problem
  • Soft-Lite does not cover shipping of replacement parts
  • Soft-Lite offers 2 versions of their window warranty, one with glass breakage coverage and one without.  Make sure you know which one you’d be getting.

These limitations aren’t necessarily deal breakers they are more limited than what you’ll find from several other manufacturers.

What’s the bottom line?

To sum things up, the Soft-Lite Elements windows are a nice option.  They can be configured to have great ratings, but the marketing claims tend to push the envelope a little too far.  Realistically they’re pretty darn similar to the ratings offered by many other windows.   It’s important to remember that unless you’re planning on living in the home another 50 years you may not realize any savings with a 0.01 difference in any particular rating.

If you’re looking for a “high end” option, you like the local dealer and you’re comfortable with the pricing, this is a fine option.  Just don’t let anyone make you think you have to spend $800 per window to get good quality.  You have several other options to achieve similar ratings so be sure to shop around if your not comfortable.  At $400-$500 for a typical double hung window this is a fine option.  Much more than that and you’ll be better served to keep looking.

Due to the way Soft-Lite windows are typically marketed you may be able to find a better value in the Soft-Lite Imperial LS window which is very similar.  There isn’t much reason to pay any more for one than the other.

 

Alside Excalibur II Windows Reviews

The Alside Excalibur II windows are produced for use on the west coast.  They are designed to be installed into homes with the stucco exteriors that are typical in that part of the country.  While the Alside Excalibur and the Excalibur II share a name, they are in fact different windows.

Excalibur II or 2 windows
Notice the stucco flange on the Alside Excalibur II.

The stucco flange on the exterior of the window allows for simple installation into stucco homes.  This design element is common on the west coast, but seen less often in the mid-west and east coast.

The Alside Excalibur II windows are designed to be competitively priced windows that offer standard features that many other companies list as options.

Alside Excalibur II windows reviews
Here’s a pretty shot of an Alside Excalibur II sliding window.

These windows are custom manufactured at plants in Yuma, Arizona and Bothell, Washington.  Alside is different than most vinyl window manufacturers in that they ship windows to all 50 states.

What’s the typical cost of Alside Excalibur II windows?

As with all replacement windows the pricing can vary quite a bit from one dealer to another and in different installation scenarios.  One project could look similar, but be substantial more or less expensive than another.

With that being said, the Alside Excalibur II windows should typically go for $300-$400 including installation.  It is possible that difficult installations or more expensive options could drive the price higher and a very basic window with very basic installation could easily be under $300.

Find more detailed window reviews here.