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Replace windows with which LoE option?

February 15, 2012

We have a new home that is less than one year old. It was built last year with Milgard Styleline East Coast dual pane LoE windows. I am not sure which LoE product is being used, but I do know the glass comes from Cardinal. I also know that Milgard calls it Suncoat (not the SuncoatMAX). We live near St Paul, MN.

The rear of the house faces south and west. There are a lot of windows across the back and these are in the rooms we spend the vast majority of our time. During a four month period during the summer the rear of the house gets blasted quite hard with the summer sun. We end up closing the wood blinds during the day to control glare and some heat. The trees are quite young so there is no natural shade or large eves to cut the sun glare.

The front of the house faces mostly east and north. Our master bedroom is on this side of the house and the sun comes up around 5:30 in the summer and the glare into the windows is quite noticeable even with the blinds closed.

The house has single zone HVAC. It took me a couple of days to balance the A/C to get the best results for summer cooling and I had to do it again for winter heating.

The home is equipped with an AprilAire model 600 whole house humidifier set on auto mode. It keeps the RH between 20 and 35% depending on outdoor temp. No issues with condensation.

I would like to control some of that summer heat, cut down on fading potential, and add a bit of privacy at the same time. We keep the house around 75 degrees on the main level during the summer, but the upstairs does get a bit warmer even with balancing. During the winter we keep the main level at about 66 degrees and it is slightly warmer upstairs.

The interior of the home has warm tones. Natural hickory hardwood flooring, maple cabinets, and different shades and tones of browns for carpet and paint.

I have considered going with a window film and am leaning towards Sunscape Select SB 25 and SB 35 (solar bronze with a VLT of about 25 and 35%). These would cut about 99% of the UV, reduce glare, reduce the SHGC (higher TSER), and offer some daytime privacy due to it being reflective. I can get this done through a friend who does window tinting (residential and car) for about $1,600 for 45 panes of glass , approx, 300 SF.

I also know someone who works for Milgard. He has worked up a price to replace all of the glass with their SuncoatMAX and argon fill. This is Cardinal's LoE3 (366) glass. The cost is just over double the window film. My concern is because of the higher VLT it wont cut the glare, the UV spec is about 95%, but it does seem to have a good SHGC. He quoted the specs as U-value .29, SHGC .21 and a VLT of 48%. I believe this is clear glass, 3 mm panes. Those numbers are different that what I see on Cardinal's website, but maybe I am reading their spec sheet wrong.

He also said I can add a bronze tint, but if I look at the specs right the bronze tint appears to greatly increase the interior glass temp in the almost 100 degrees!! We have a couch along a set of windows and I would imagine that would be quite uncomfortable. It does add a touch more UV control, but does nothing for reflectivity like a bronze film does.

He says the advantages to the 366 glass is it will cut down on the solar gain in the summer and reduce heat loss in the winter over what I have now. I don't think it will reduce the glare or give much privacy as it does not appear to be very reflective. reading Cardinal's website I find a product called LoE2 (240) that appears to have specs similar to 366, but the VLT is much lower so I think it will reduce glare more, the UV rating is not as good so fade control in that spectrum is not as good, but it appears a bit more reflective so maybe it would offer more privacy.

Then there is using laminated glass...

I know I spend more to heat than I do to cool. However, I am not as concerned about the heating costs as I am about controlling the heat and glare. I don't like having the blinds closed in the daytime and I don't want to live in a cave. I want to have my cake and eat it too.

Decisions, decisions...


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