Today, replacement windows can come in many shapes, sizes, materials, and styles. With so many choices available to a homeowner, choosing the right window manufacturer goes a long way. Good window manufacturers pride themselves on offering custom solutions, quality products, impressive certifications, and excellent service. Here is everything you need to know about finding the right window manufacturer.
Climate Zones and Energy Efficiency
One important factor to consider when evaluating window manufacturers for your home is your climate. For example, if you live in a hot, Southern region, then it’s important to find a company who offers windows that are manufactured with effective insulation, glass options, and a low Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (≤ 0.25 per ENERGY STAR). Meanwhile, if you live in an area prone to severe weather, such as Hurricanes, focus on finding a window manufacturer that offers impact-rated windows. Two key components to consider when weighing window options are the frame material and the glass type.
As far as frame material, Vinyl windows – like the ones manufactured by SoftLite - are insulated, resist extreme temperatures, won’t conduct heat, and are built from one of the most durable materials available on the market today. They don’t rot like wood, and perform well against wind, rain and snow – ensuring moisture and mold won’t affect your home. After selecting the type of window frame that will best suit your climate, evaluate the glass packages. Selecting glass packages with double or triple pane and Low-e glass can significantly impact insulation and energy efficiency. Finding a manufacturer that pairs your preferred frame material and style with the right glass package for your home will help maximize energy returns in the long run.
One of first things you’re going to want to know about a potential manufacturer’s products is the level of quality. Top window manufacturers highlight window features such as insulation, energy efficiency, and aesthetic design. They also feature the results of the independent testing done on their windows and show their list of certifications. SoftLite windows have an AAMA Gold-Label certification, a recognition reserved for those windows that provide superior durability and efficiency, as well as a manufacturing process that has been verified to consistently exceed standards.
Quality windows will also feature glass options that provide ratings to help you achieve the best energy efficiency possible (U-Factor, condensation resistance, Solar Heat Gain Coefficient, and Visible Transmittance). U-factor measures the amount of heat a window transfers and the rating ranges between .20 and 1.20. The lower the U-Factor, the better the window will insulate your home. Condensation resistance will help prevent water build-up and is graded on a scale of 0-100 with higher numbers indicating better condensation resistance. Solar Heat Gain Coefficient, or SHGC, measures how well a window blocks the heat associated with direct sunlight. Depending on the climate you live in, a higher SHGC rating (.30 -.60) will be better for colder regions, while a lower SHGC rating (less than .40) will be better for warmer regions. Visual Transmittance (VT) indicates how much sunlight is let into your home (the higher the rating the more sunlight is let in).
Another product feature to keep in mind are gas fills between the glass panes, which provide an additional layer of insulation and protection. Argon and Krypton are gases used to fill windows and displace the air between the panels. Argon is clear, non-toxic and odorless, and has a solid thermal conductivity rating. Meanwhile, Krypton provides good insulating qualities, and is denser than Argon. Often, Argon gas will be used to fill larger areas, while Krypton will be used to cover smaller gaps in the ¼ - ½ inch range. Mixtures of Argon, Krypton and oxygen may also be used.
Product Spotlight: Imperial Elite Windows
Imperial Elite Windows from SoftLite incorporate top-of-the-line materials and the newest manufacturing technology on the market. The Imperial Elite Double-Hung Window comes complete with:
- Two operating, tilt-in sashes for easy cleaning and open/close operation
- Low-profile locks and an ergonomically designed sash lift rail
- High performance glass options that provide excellent energy efficiency
- Fusion welded, uPVC frame and sashes that provide long-lasting strength and durability. This material will never rot like wood windows or corrode like metal windows, and will require little to no maintenance.
- UltraSmart™ triple-fin weather stripping – featuring Ultrafab® Tri-Fin® Gold Series gaskets with built-in Ultra-Fresh® antimicrobial protection—wraps the sash perimeter and minimizes air infiltration.
- CFM of .02 - an air infiltration rating that makes the Imperial Elite 11 times more airtight than traditional wood double hung windows and over 7 times more airtight than many competitor vinyl windows
The Best Window Manufacturer
Whether you are looking to improve your existing windows, or replace them entirely, SoftLite is here. The energy efficiency and savings that come alongside our top-of-the-line products make the investment well worth it. SoftLite Windows offers a variety of products guaranteed to exceed industry standards. For over 80 years, homeowners have relied on SoftLite’s ability to manufacture the most reliable, durable, and high-performing windows on the market. To find a dealer who offers SoftLite windows, visit our dealer locator.