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.