simonton windows reviews, ratings, cost

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 check out our list of the best window companies all over the country.  You can find it right here. 

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Comments

68 responses to “Simonton Reflections 5500 Review”

  1. CLIFFORD R SPEIRAN Avatar
    CLIFFORD R SPEIRAN

    I am currently looking at two window companies to replace the 9 vinyl windows and one vinyl sliding door in my 2-year-old new house. (I don’t know what the current single-hung windows are in this house but they are weak.) The two companies I am looking at are the 5500 double-pane Simonton and the ProVia Endure triple-pane windows. Which of these two would you use in your home and why. The overall price for installation and window is coming in at $12,864. I am leaning toward the ProVia Endure but a second opinion would be great.
    Thank You
    Clifford R Speiran

    1. thewindowdog Avatar
      thewindowdog

      Hi Clifford, of those 2 I’d probably pick the Provia Endure windows vs Simonton 5500 windows. The Simonton is a bit of an old design. What’s your zip code? We may be able to make a better recommendation.

  2. john A Avatar
    john A

    Hi WindowDog
    I am in the process surveying a few different contractors with different window selections.
    I am on a budget so leaning toward vinyl windows.

    For 10 Simonton 5500 windows, I am getting quotes around $14,000 installed. Does that sound about right?

    What are your thoughts on MI windows?

    1. thewindowdog Avatar
      thewindowdog

      Hi John, there can be a lot that goes into the pricing for replacement windows, but $1400 per window for lower end Simonton windows feels a little on the expensive side. Check this section for recommended window companies around the country or let me know your zip code and I’ll see if we can help out.

  3. molly erickson Avatar
    molly erickson

    Thank you for sharing your expertise–I have learned so much….

    Would appreciate your thoughts on replacing 20 windows (mostly double-hung) in a 75-year old home in St Charles MO ( plus will be installing 3 sets of French Doors to the outside.)

    I have an installer, a long-time family friend/carpenter who has done literally hundreds of remodels. This is a retirement project for him. We don’t live in the home so not concerned about the time plus he does super high quality work @ low cost with high trust factor. If anything happens to him in the midst of this remodel I swear I will just sell the house as is.

    He is recommending Simonton 5500 series but I have lots of doubts after much research including your website.

    We don’t need ultra-high-end but I don’t want cheap. Biggest concern is air leakage and protection from heat in summer, cold in winter. Because I don’t need an installer, I’m having trouble finding good windows for DIY. Should I have him call? (Guessing as a contractor he could buy places I couldn’t?)

    With all the buy-ups in the industry it’s been hard to keep up with brands but looking at Sierra Pacific (though suspect the cost will be high), Zen Windows and Sunrise. I also wondered if the higher-end Simonton products would be worth a look.

    Thanks for any insights.

    1. thewindowdog Avatar
      thewindowdog

      Hi Molly, I’m glad you’ve found the site to be helpful. As you’ve probably read I’ve never been a huge fan of the Simonton 5500 series windows for several reasons. They are popular with do it all type smaller contractors as they’re widely distributed, easy to buy and generally easy to service. The trick is that those factors are more important to the installer than the end user.

      You’ll get more glass area and better air infiltration rates with the Alside Mezzo window, as an example, and your installer should be able to buy those easily enough. They only sell to contractors so it’ll definitely be easier for him than for you.

      Other brands like Sunrise will be harder as they’ll only sell through their dealers who will also want to install the windows for you. I don’t know if the local dealer would sell just the windows without installation, but I suspect they will not.

      As far as higher end Simonton windows I don’t see a whole lot of improvement over their more popular models, at least not enough to justify the higher prices. Those other models are often also sold only through specific dealers so the prices will generally be quite a bit higher and they might also insist on installing.

      Good luck with the project and let us know how it goes!

      1. Molly Avatar
        Molly

        Thank you for your thoughts on my options. You raise what I suspected about why my contractor was pushing Simonton in addition to having them in his own home. I have to wonder if the acquisition (one of several in the industry I’m learning) has affected quality by cutting costs post-acquisition. Happens in every industry.

        Now reviewing Alside . Andersen 400 was on the list but saw your recent post. My niece has had A400 for about 3 years in that climate without issue. Can a bad install account for a draft? Good Lord there is not a bright white line to the right answer here….. Thanks for sharing your expertise.

        1. thewindowdog Avatar
          thewindowdog

          Yes, a bad install definitely could account for a draft. Usually the windows will be caulked after install so it’s not too likely you’d get a draft around a new window. It is possible that a window could be twisted or the frame could be stretched a little at the install which could cause a draft or bad seal where the sashes meet the frame.

          This defininltey can be a challenging industry to navigate. Good luck with the project.

    2. Kevin B Avatar
      Kevin B

      We recently had SImonton 5500 reflection windows installed in our house. They replaced windows that were almost 30 years old that had blown seals and leaks. Our contractor promised us that these would make a difference and boy did they. The rooms are now colder! We checked with an infrared thermometer and there is a 10-15 degree temperature difference between the exterior wall and vinyl frame around the glass. Some parts are nearly 15 degrees cooler. Then a thermometer placed in the room near the windows is 10 degrees colder. Brand new windows should perform better than these are. We live in Maryland, just outside of DC and the temperatures were down in the 20’s for these tests. These windows appear to be poorly constructed and poorly insulated.

      As mentioned in the review the actual glass area of the windows is a lot smaller than you would think. We have a couple 2-part sliders that have 6 inches between the edge of the trim and the glass. Yes, that is a lot and I joke that these are more of a port hole than a residential window.

      If you are thinking about going with these windows, I would strongly recommend that you reconsider or else, you will regret these just as much as we do.

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