Florida is known for fun in the sun – ocean breezes, palm trees, moderate winters. But, Florida heat and hurricane threats make it a necessity to protect our homes. Many people opt for hurricane shutters of some sort, but many others want the added benefits of impact windows – added security and insulation that can dramatically reduce your energy bills.
But even among impact windows, one type does not suit all needs. Since all impact windows must meet the same stringent codes for hurricane debris and hurricane-force winds, the type you select may depend on the size and type of window openings you seek to protect.
How do they work?
Not all damage to windows is the result of wind; during a hurricane or other major storm, damage can come from flying debris. Impact windows are designed to prevent this because. once your home is compromised, internal pressure can build up leading to serious structural damage.
To qualify as an impact window, the product must meet hurricane or wind codes from an approved body such as Miami-Dade or Florida Building.
Beyond the obvious safety benefits, choosing impact windows has wide-reaching effects across almost all areas of home ownership. Among them:
- Security: The laminated glass used in impact windows adds another layer of 24/7 protection between residents of the home and intruders.
- Lower energy costs: Good impact windows come with many glass options. Based on the glass chosen, energy efficiency can increase dramatically. The most cost-effective impact window glazing option is tinted laminated glass. Additionally, laminated glass or insulated laminated glass with a LoE coating would deliver even higher energy savings. While both options do cost a little more, they offer the best energy efficiency protection on the market.
- Lower insurance costs: In most cases, installing impact windows will lower property insurance costs, offering another financial benefit.
- UV ray reduction: Laminated impact glass eliminates up to 99 percent of UV ray damage to the interior furnishings and decorations of a home or commercial building.
- Resale value: Better windows = better home safety and protection = better resale value.
- Sound reduction: Laminated impact glass reduces outside noise transmission.
Vinyl or Aluminum?
Keep in mind that aluminum impact windows are stronger then vinyl impact windows and can have larger spans.
If strength is your priority, you can upgrade to SGP interlayer by DuPont. This impact glass boasts five times the strength of a normal PVB interlayer, and is rated for cyclonic and extreme high wind conditions! This glass is the ideal solution for glass balustrades or federal building facades when a stronger barrier is required for storm protection or bomb blasts and increased security, but keep in mind it come at a much higher cost — 25% more.
- PVB (Polyvinyl Butyral) layer installed between two panes of glass 5/16’ or 7/16’ thick will provide adequate protection and is rated for Category 5 hurricanes. This will save you money that our money or put it into energy efficient windows and doors or upgrade to a new look like French doors or casements if that is the style you like
If energy efficient windows are important to you can go to the whole nine yards and have vinyl impact windows insulated with Argon gas with Low E installed. However, depending on the manufacturer you choose, these can cost you 30-50% more than good aluminum impact windows or doors. Also keep in mind that In warm climates like South Florida the SHGC is much more important to keep the heat out then the U factor to keep the heat in.
Facts To Help You Choose
The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) provides standards for energy efficiency in impact and other types of glass. Keep in mind that just because a window has an NFRC certification label does not mean a window or door is energy efficient. Rather, it provides information about energy performance that users can then use to determine if the product is efficient for the region or situation. You’ll note the label contains other information as well, including company name, framing material, product type, etc., so be sure to compare similar products with each other.
In Florida, the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) rating is the most important since we are usually trying to block the most heat from coming in: The lower the number, the greater the heat blocking ability
- Clear non-impact glass single pane – SHGC .090
- Clear impact window – SHGC .060
- Tinted gray/bronze impact window – SHGC .050
- Impact window adding lowE SHGC -.029 (These cost 5-10% more, but the best bang for your money)
- Impact windows adding insulated glass with argon gas SHGC .022 (cost 15-20 % more)
- Vinyl impact windows insulated with argon gas with Low E SHGC 0.20 (cost 25% more for windows to 40 % more for sliders or French doors more than Impact window
All impact windows help provide year-round security against intruders, dramatically reduce outdoor noise, and filter out 99% of the UV light that causes fading in your home. When combined with Low-E you have energy efficient windows that can significantly reduce cooling and heating costs. It’s continuous, 24/7 protection.
We at Assured offer you the best impact windows and doors. All the manufactures we use will do the job, but we try to bring you the best quality at the best price. We often do this by mixing brands since frames, casements and sliders may vary in look and price among them.
Thousands of our customers have provided feedback and we and our customers voted for manufacturers by product:
- Impact windows: CGI was selected as best for both single hung and horizontal. CGI is picked over PGT 9 out of 10 times mainly because they have aÂ cleaner look and because they lock when closed. Prices are the same for both.
- Fixed Impact Windows: Cosmetically all were close, but based on prices ECO and EAS came out on top.
- Impact Sliders: CGI holds the top spot for single-family homes because they open easily and are less expensive. EAS has a 6000 series which is about 10% less and is still a good choice if you want to save a little money. The main difference is that the track screws do not have covers and can be seen. In condominiums where a higher pressure is needed on any buildings over 50 feet or in Zone 5, EAS has the best price with its 8100 series
- Impact French Doors: ECO wins by far in price, aesthetics, and is the only French door with a five-point locking system.
- Impact Casement Windows: All look good, but when price comes in play ECO rises to the top again
We’re Here To Help
Assured Storm Protection has been in this business since 1980 and is here to help you make the important decision regarding what type of impact window suits your needs. Because we have access to so many manufacturers, our goals remain to get you the best products that suit your needs, at the best price, and installed expertly by our trained staff.
So whether you are building a new home or office or renovating and upgrading a current one, keep in mind that windows are a key element in safety, protection, energy efficiency and even resale value. When you’re making a selection, Assured Storm Protection will work along with you to ensure that you are getting the quality products and workmanship that you are seeking and at the best price possible.