Disadvantages Of Low-e Glass

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Disadvantages Of Low-e Glass

At the outset, let me say this - on the whole, there are very few disadvantages of low e glass. It is the reason that nearly 70% to 80% of all new and replacement windows sold today come standard with some form of low-e. Despite this, there are a few disadvantages of low e glass that you should aware of before you start window shopping. (Get it - window shopping - I digress.) First off, let's do a quick primer on low-e glass itself.

Dane - Site Editor - Page Updated In November, 2023

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Low-e glass is an exterior coating applied to the glass during the manufacturing process that allows sunlight to pass through, while reflecting heat (UV rays). The result is a more energy efficient window from the older clear glass used in past decades.

The exterior coating contains metallic particles that help to refract the heat from incoming UV rays. (I once read an extensive article on these metallic properties, but I more or less forgot most of it - and it wasn't all that important anyway.) Please note: low-e glass is NOT like a car window tint, which simply darkens the glass.

These coatings (often multiple coatings) can have different densities and/or consistencies that can alter the amount of heat that enters through the glass. They can also stack the layers in different ways to change how the heat and light are directed.

Disadvantages of Low E Glass: Darker Tint

Life is a trade off and window glass is no exception. Low-e coatings darken the glass pane. How much? For a single coating - not all that much. It’s usually not a big concern for the majority of homeowners. However, as you get into the higher end low-e glass that might contain three or four coatings, this darker tint can be quite noticeable. For some homeowners, it really bugs them visually. For others who live in homes that lack natural sunlight, it can be a big detractor.

Disadvantages of Low E Glass: Green Tint

Glass with multiple low-e coatings can take on a green tint that really bothers certain homeowners. This is one reason it’s so important to see the glass in person prior to ordering it. If you do have a problem with this green-ish tint, ask the sales rep what other glass options they have that might not take on this greenish tint.

Disadvantages of Low E Glass: Cost

Like all upgrades and add ons, low-e will add to the per window cost. A standard low-e upgrade might run $50 per/window - this is for windows that don’t come standard with low-e coatings, which as I stated at the outset is a lot. For a two or three coating upgrade, expect to pay $75 per/window. Finally, upgrading to a premium 4 coating low-e glass, consumers can expect to pay roughly $100 per/window. As with all things in the replacement window industry, these prices will vary by manufacturer. For instance, an expensive seller like Renewal might charge double this price. Check out our Renewal By Andersen complaints page to see some examples of expensive bids and upgrade costs.

Low E Glass Options

Dear Mr Dane, I have filled out the form on your site. Your opinion matters!!! Thank you so much for your great support.

I am having a difficult time to understand how to choose the right Low-E coatings for our windows. My husband and I like the clear glass windows very much, however we understand the importance of the Low-E for energy efficiency.

I am doing my research on the Cardinal Glass Company's website and I read about the Low-E 272 and Low-E 366, they sound good on the paper, but are they good options for the Atlanta, GA area? Are they too dark?

I am sending you a screenshot of the glass package options for one of the windows we are considering (Sunrise Restorations). Would you please share with us your expertise and guide us to the best option for our location?

I am also sending you a picture I took of my neighbor's house during a sunny day at 11:19am, it is located right in front of my house, so you can see that during the morning time and early afternoon the sun shines on my neighbor's house and later in the afternoon it shines on our side. Will that plays a row on how we choose the Low-E coating?

Thank you for your time and have a wonderful week!

Dulce - Homeowner - from 2023

[Site Editor's Answer]

Hi Dulce. So I tend to think that low-e 272 is the best option for providing comfort year round and thermal performance. There are too many what ifs for me with glass -- season, where they face, times of day. There are going to be trade offs that you could spend weeks analyzing and not necessarily coming up with any "magic pill". Then there is the darker tint issue by going with a low-e 366.

If it is a concern, I would absolutely find a showroom near you that has samples of the glass so that you can see what it would look like if you went with low-e 366 on the windows that get full time sun exposure (south facing).

What does the Sunrise sales person say? I feel like they deal with a certain area year in and year out and they have a pretty good pulse on the best options - or if you have to mix and match at all...

Dane - Site Editor - from 2023

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