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I am researching fiberglass windows for the passive-solar home that we will be building

I am researching fiberglass windows for the passive-solar home that we will be building. What is the best fiberglass (or fiber-combo) window for our Tucson, AZ, application?

We are considering Pella, Alpen HPP, Marvin Integrity, FiberFrame and even Milgard (though we had less-than-positive results & stellar LACK of service from them on our last custom home 20 years ago. I've been told that their product(s) and their SERVICE have greatly improved.)

Are there other brands that we should consider? Is there any site that is both OBJECTIVE and TRUTHFUL into which I should look?

I've read one long blog on this site, but it's over four years old and I'm thinking that there might be some more RECENT observations that some of you might like to share.... ???

Asked by Shirley Requard
Posted Sat, 07/05/2014 - 13:00
Edited Sun, 07/06/2014 - 05:34


2 Answers

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I look forward to reading the comments of GBA readers who have had experience with these manufacturers.

To me, glazing specifications matter more than the window manufacturer. For more information on glazing specifications, see All About Glazing Options.

It's worth noting that one of the manufacturers on your list, Alpen Windows, uses Heat Mirror glazing (glazing which includes one or more plastic films suspended between two glass panes). Heat Mirror has some advantages -- it weighs less than triple-pane glazing -- but some builders worry that it may not be as durable as glass options.

Answered by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor
Posted Sun, 07/06/2014 - 06:08

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Hi Shirley, I would rule out Milgard right away. Although they offer an excellent warranty and from what I can tell a very affordable yet quality window, they just don't have the glazing options needed to meet passive solar requirements. Also, their triple-paned IGU is only 3/4" which is not wide enough to maximize U value so not really worth it. I really wanted to use them for a current passive solar project because they are a local window manufacturer to me. I drove up and met with them at their Temecula CA plant, and discussed my specs in detail, hoping they could custom order Cardinal IGUs for me and install them in their frames. But they wouldn't do it, all their glazing option are geared for low SHGC, yet you want a high SHGC glazing, with high u value as well.

Answered by Stu Turner
Posted Mon, 07/07/2014 - 14:04

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