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.