Hi Everyone —
I’m in the preliminary stages of a window replacement job in Maui, Hawaii. I’ve been reading about Serious brand Windows. Their specs are amazing, and I’m wondering if anyone has installed them. I’d like to know about cost, quality of fit and finish, and longevity. I don’t think they’ve been around too long, and I’m always a little nervous about buying a product without much of a history. Any comments are welcome.
I just trimmed out a few, installed by someone else. Weatherstripping , hardware, etc. was nice. These were an awning mulled above a fixed unit of the same size and there was a pronounced hump at the mulled joint. I had to scribe all my jamb extensions to fit.
This could have been due to the install, but they appeared to be nice and flat on the exterior.
Another detail I've not seen is a small balloon attached to a small diameter metal tube going into the glass sandwich. Something to do with shipping from the higher altitude manufacturing facility. Maybe something to ask about since you are near sea level.
Thanks. They have some kind of proprietary spacer that may be the balloon you saw. I'm going to check on pricing this week.Maintaining the Illusion of Consciousness Since 1969
I just reviewed their website briefly. It looks to me like they are using the technology [possibly formerly] commonly known as Heat Mirror tm glass technology that uses a suspended mylar film between two 'normal' panes of glass. Serious calls it a "suspended coated film"; which sounds to me like Heat Mirror.
I've been in the industry for many years now. Heat Mirror IMO has always been a very good product. I bought several hundred sqft of it for my own house. I've always nudged clients and people to use it. The concept and general product are solid. There have been concerns that the suspension of the film between the two panes can result in a failure of the hermetically seal of standard double insulated glass.
The film is coated w/ a low-e coating ... tailored if you like to your needs (e.g. commercial buildings often want solar rejection. As far as I've know, they still make Heat Mirror glass, but maybe the patent has expired leaving it to an open market.
Heat Mirror is superior to triple glazing as it WAS less expensive and lighter/less bulky. You could combine multiple films for even higher performance touting R-values in the range of R-10. The typical U-value for Heat Mirror GLASS (no frame) was/is around 0.20-0.25 or so. Much better than low-e coated glass in a double insulated unit.
Some windows were/are made with Heat Mirror standard - Hurd windows had it in their units as standard glass.
Heat Mirror wasn't/isn't made in the local backyard glass shop like much other glazing is. It required a special process/machine and at one time in the west, there were only 3-4 places it was made. Last I knew, there were maybe 2 places (LA and maybe Seattle). Lack of manufacturing drove the cost up. Last I purchased some replacement glass, it was quite high in price.
Again, a very good concept and product. The concerns were arguably unfounded. I've seen them applied in commercial applications very successfully by some developers that were 'finicky' about what they spent their money on. I've seen the panes last a LONG time. They were first installed on a city hall renovation project that I was fringe involved with and they didn't have failure problems over 20 years.
So, it looks like that is what they are using here. Their warranty of the 'windows' makes no mention of the glazing ... usually a separate warranty issue. I think most window mfgs. have a separate warranty for glass seal failure and one for the frame.
So, for the buyer, a couple of questions ... 1) glass seal warranty - do they have one and will they provide it in writing? and 2) what about NFRC testing and label? In my circle, that is an absolute requirement. If it isn't NFRC tested and labeled, then you should not buy it. Out west, it is required by all the energy codes; not sure about elsewhere or if e.g. the International Residential Code requires it. The NFRC is a widely accepted industry standard.
On the surface, it looks like this company could be providing a good product. Fiberglass and vinyl frames are common. But the devil is in the details. Are the frames quality frames? Lots of mediocre vinyl products out there. Fiberglass I think would be the one of choice ... but I've no experience with them.
Approach cautiously if that is your nature .... check the two key items re: the glass. Do you have a chance to play w/ some samples in the store? Slide them, open them, inspect them. Do they seem like a quality product?
They are delving into an industry w/ significant experience (e.g. Pella, Anderson, etc.). That can be a tall order, so it makes sense to go into it w/ eyes wide open.
Thanks CLewless1. I appreciate you sharing your industry klnowledge. I will definitely check out their specific warranties and the NFRC rating. Unfortunately, being in Hawaii makes it difficult to see the unit "in person". Cost is obviously going to be a major factor as well, although we are only replacing two windows at present. Will post any developments.Maintaining the Illusion of Consciousness Since 1969
If you want to know more about the concept ... google Southwall technologies and Heat Mirror tm .... they originally 'invented' this concept.
You are in an extremely mild climate. Serious windows have excellent performance numbers, however they are not inexpensive. I would suggest that in your climate they are way beyond overkill.
Serious Windows does use the Heat Mirror glass package.
The Heat Mirror concept originated at MIT back in the 70's. It was eventually developed by a company called Southwall Technologies out of Palo Alto California.
Heat Mirror isn't more widely used in the window industry in large part because of some substantial field failure issues that affected the product in the past. Southwall was eventually sued by all three of the "major" window companies to ever offer Heat Mirror (they also lost a couple of patent infringement suits as well, but those were not related to product performance issues).
Serious Windows is part of Serious Materials a company owned by a gentleman named Kevin Surace. Mr Surace is a marketing guru. He has had a very successful career in marketing and in developing new companies.
Serious Windows emerged when Alpen Windows was purchased by Serious Materials. Alpen offered the Heat Mirror glass package for many years and unlike the larger window companies they were reportedly very successful using it with very few reported failures.
In addition to Alpen, Serious has also acquired two other window companies that had failed due to economic / other reasons and converted them to the Heat Mirror glass package and the sash/frame system that Serious uses.
Serious offers both vinyl and pultruded fiberglass sash/frame, the fiberglass comes from Inline windows in Canada and I am not sure who extrudes their vinyl.
As Clewless pointed out, Heat Mirror uses a suspended film between the lites that has an applied LowE coating.
Heat Mirror does have some really excellent energy performance numbers because the system allows for the inclusion of multiple layers of film in the space between the two outside glass layers. However, Heat Mirror with a single film layer will not outperform a standard triple pane unit. The advantage is the multiple layers of mylar each with its own layer of LowE which allows triple, quad, and even quintuple layer IG units. In addition, Serious also coats the glass as an option and they offer both krypton and xenon as gas infill options (spelled $$$$$).
In your environment, I would sugest that a dual pane IG with a Low Solar Heat Gain LowE coating is going to be more than adequate at a very substantial cost savings over a super-high-performance product like Serious.
Edited 11/3/2009 7:59 pm ET by Oberon
Hi Oberon --Are you sure this is a temperate climate? The South side of Maui, where we are, routinely gets into the high 80's in the summer and the South-facing wall we're working on is on a second story without shade, about 90-percent window in one room and about 20-percent in the other room. The solar gain from these two single-glazed, aluminum-framed windows is huge. We're also planning on spray-insulating the surrounding walls. I', just concerned about a large R-3 or R-4 hole in the wall when it could be an R-10 hole. I still need to get pricing, though.-Pete
Maintaining the Illusion of Consciousness Since 1969
Just for reference, the zip code out here is 96753.
Maintaining the Illusion of Consciousness Since 1969
Well, where I come from we can go over 100Â°F in the summer and drop below -30Â°F winter, so from my point-of-view I would consider Maui to be a very mild climate.
A higher R value (or lower U value - which is really a more accurate assessment) is going to help keep warm air in and warm air out of your home depending on season, but that number isn't related to direct solar heat gain. In your situation if you want to block the solar heat from coming into your home, then you need to cosider SHGC or Solar Heat Gain Coefficient rather than U value.
Typically, windows with low U value will have correspondingly low SHGC (or visa versa) simply because the LowE coatings on the more efficient windows will affect both U value and SHGC. But simply by choosing the right coating you can block significant amounts of that solar heat gain without spending all sorts of money for a lower U value that you really don't need.
Are you open to the idea of tinted windows which will also cut down on glare or do you prefer the idea of maximum light thru the window just without much of the associated heat gain?
Tinted windows alone (no LowE coating) are far less effective at blocking heat than are LowE coated windows (assuming the right coating), but the combination of LowE and tint can be very effective at blocking heat gain.
Edited 11/4/2009 6:55 am ET by Oberon
Tinted windows are a good idea, and they're pretty common out here. The condo development I'm working in has very strict construction guidelines: "Tinting must not create a 'mirror' effect. Approved color is Medium Grey or Smoke. Reflective properties are not to exceed 35%."What manufacturer would you recommend? The frame color must be dark bronze to match the existing aluminum frames (another association requirement). I think fiberglass is going to be the best choice for this wall. I think bark brown vinyl will distort in the heat.Maintaining the Illusion of Consciousness Since 1969
When light (be it UV, visible, or Infrared) contacts the glass surface of your windows three things are going to happen - some of the light is going to be reflected, some of it is going to be absorbed, and some of it is going to pass right thru the glass.<!----><!---->
In order to keep your home cooler, you want to maximize the "bad" light (heat energy) that is reflected from the glass surface as well as minimizing the "bad" light that passes thru the glass, and you want the "bad" light that was absorbed by the glass to reradiate outside and not into your home. All this while allowing "good" light into your home.<!----><!---->
A great many architects, designers, builders, and homeowners believe that tinted glass alone will serve that purpose - and it will to a limited extent. Unfortunately, the tint colors that are the very best for keeping unwanted heat out of your home are not always the colors that people want for their windows - for example green tint is just about the best color for blocking solar heat gain - but few people want bright green windows.<!----><!---->
Gray tint, on the other hand, is just about the worst color for blocking unwanted heat gain - but it works really well for blocking solar glare - but gray is what most people specify. I have also seen bronze tint specified a good bit and bronze falls somewhere in the middle.<!----><!---->
LowE coatings come in high solar heat gain, moderate solar heat gain, and low solar heat gain. In your case low solar heat gain is the obvious choice. <!----><!---->
A low solar heat gain coating will significantly outperform tinted glass in limiting solar heat gain thru your windows (by how much is depends on the tint color and the particular coating). Even a moderate solar gain coating will outperform any regular tinted glass on the market. The only exception would be a highly reflective tinted glass which would not be aesthetically pleasing to most folks IMO. But, a dual pane IG with a low solar heat gain LowE coating on the exterior lite (surface 2 - counting from the outside in) and tinted glass as the interior lite will be very effective at keeping solar heat gain to a minimum. <!----><!---->
All light contains heat. UV light is minimal, so it can be discounted. Visible light carries a good bit of heat into your home - between 30% and 40% (I don't recall the exact percentage at the moment) of solar heat entering your home is in the form of visible light - primarily in the red part of the visible spectrum - with the remainder of radiant heat gain coming from the infrared part of the spectrum. Direct solar heat gain is in the near infrared and ambient heat gain is in the far infrared portion of the spectrum. <!----><!---->
The LowE coating is going to primarily affect heat gain in the IR spectrum - depending on the coating both in the near infrared and far infrared - while the tinted lite is going to limit visible light coming into your home, thus affecting heat gain associated with visible light.<!----><!---->
One problem with using tinted alone goes back to things that happen to light that contacts a window. While different tinted glass has different absorption levels and reflective ability, and tinted glass will block a portion of visible light heat gain, it also absorbs a lot of light as heat and this heat will then be reradiated from of the tinted glass both outside and inside your home. The cooler you are inside, the more heat will radiate into your home from the tinted glass. Adding a second lite with LowE coating to the exterior will block much of the direct solar heat from ever reaching the tinted glass so the advantage of the tint - blocking visible light heat gain - won't be compromised by heat absorption and reradiation. <!----><!---->
If the tinted glass was outside and the LowE the inside lite the SHGC (solar heat gain coefficient) would go up slightly versus the identical glass package but installed reversed. But the other, potentially more serious, problem would be that the heat that was reradiated by the exterior tinted glass would be blocked from entering the home by the lite with the LowE coating - which is good and bad. Good because it would keep your home cooler. Bad because that heat would be trapped in the IG between the tinted glass and the lowE coated lite.<!----><!---->
And as the sun continues to shine on the window the temperature in the IG airspace will climb and the physical temperature of the interior lite with the LowE coating will climb as well. That interior pane of glass can get VERY hot in those conditions. In fact, because of the coating the temperature of the interior lite will (will) be higher than would be the temperature of a clear (non coated) lite in the same conditions. The reason is because a clear lite would "dump" all that excess heat into your home while the LowE lite traps it in the space. The glass would be hot because there is now a lot of trapped heat in that airspace and the there is a real possibility of glass breakage or seal failure because of the excessive heat build up. It can get VERY hot in that airspace in those conditions.<!----><!---->
So, if you are thinking an IG with Low Solar Heat Gain glass and tinted glass, I would strongly recommend that you make sure to specify to the architect, designer, builder, window company, whoever, that your windows have the LowE on the #2 surface and the tinted glass as the interior lite. People do build them the other way and I know of glass and seal failures related directly to that sort of IG construction.
Edited 11/8/2009 10:54 am ET by Oberon
I tend to agree w/ Oberon ... but you have some restrictions. If you can tint w/ a color ... I'd tint to the max (regardless of the low-e coating or whether you choose the Heat Mirror). You can tint glass or mirror finish it or both and there are usually wide ranges of performance to choose from. PPG glass will give you a good idea of the available tinting options available in the industry.
Proper choice of low-e coating can, as Oberon pointed out, make a difference on the cooling side.
I often find window dealers who don't understand Heat Mirror (most don't even know what it is) and likely not variations in low-e coatings. I've had to educate them and then have them order what I want. A good dealer will understand this stuff and help you get what you need.
IMO you are in a somewhat mild climate ... into the 80s in the summer. I live where we had nearly 80 straight days of 100 degF++ weather this summer (typical daily high was 105). Consider a selected low-e coating and tinting to keep w/in the CC&Rs.
Thank you both for the wealth of information. I need to do a little studying to completely understand how the different glass combinations work together. I wish their was a possibility of creating some kind of overhang or blocking the sun before it hit the glass, but this is a condo and we're not allowed to change the look from the outside or alter the outside of the building in any way. They will have window coverings inside, but it's Hawaii, and everyone wants to look out the window. So, we'll just do the best we can through the proper window and insulation.Maintaining the Illusion of Consciousness Since 1969
I'd think there may be huge restrictions on e.g. window replacements in a condo kind of situation. Both in color of glass and frame type.
Even going to low-e glass can alter the appearance of the exterior as some low-e glass has a hint of blue or green ... which doesn't look like much ... until it is seen side by side with 'other' glass. Then you get neighbor 'C' who uses yet another glazing replacement and pretty soon the complex may look a bit strange. It depends on a lot of things, though.
Frankly, until now, never really thought of the ramifications of owning a condo and then wanting to upgrade the windows or glazing (which is often one of my first things to think about). If I were buying a condo and thought I'd want to change the glazing, I'd have to check my restrictions. I tend to want to 'trick out' the glazing to serve my needs the most and that may not bode well for some association restrictions.
Can you get fiberglass frames in a dark color? Option would be thermally improved metal to match existing (assuming that is what you might have).
That is where Heat Mirror can be beneficial ... controlling that unwanted sun. I had a house w/ extreme west exposure on a second floor. Summer temps sometimes into the high 90s and more. I installed Heat Mirror 33 with tinted and mirror finishes on the glass. Made a huge difference in the solar gain. I couldn't really tell it was tinted from the inside.
However, I'd consider shading options for your situation. Is there a way to shade your glass from the sun? There are many companies that have sun shade products (cloth awnings being a simple, less durable example). I always encourage preventing the sun from hitting the window in the first place as the best way to control solar gain. Other than doing nothing, blinds and curtains are the worst way. Glazing/windows are good in the absence of shading devices.
Yeah, that's one of the advantages of fiberglass, the frames can be dark because fiberglass maintains structural integrity at much higher temperatures than vinyl.
They can be painted a different color in the future, too, as the color scheme of the building is changed.
Definitely going to push for fiberglass, but it's pricy.I'm going to decide what to recommend for glazing as soon as I get home. Been out of the country for a week...Maintaining the Illusion of Consciousness Since 1969