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.
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.