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Alpen vs Smartwin from Advanced Architectural Woodwork

dpilot83 | Posted in General Questions on

Looking at window packages. For reference, we got a Marvin Ultimate quote at $89,230 for triple pane. I thinks they were maybe a 0.22 u-factor or something like that on average.

Got 4 other quotes but the two I’m most interested in are Smartwin Compact from Advanced Architectural woodwork for either $65.5K or $71K (not sure the quote included sales tax) ans Alpen for either $53.9K or $58K (not sure Alpen quote included shipping so I guessed on shipping for the $58K).

Alpen Pros

– cheaper
– I can’t help but wonder if uPVC is fundamentally better than wood

Alpen cons

– not sure about the thin glass inner pane. Only been out for 4 years or so which is not an extremely long time for checking durability issues
– not very close to me so if any service is needed, it’ll be harder to deal with

AAW pros

– graded highest performance by Emu as a passive house grade A window compared to B grade on Alpen
– I personally know the people who build them and am 25 miles away from them so I’ll get great service
– they will help us on making sure we’re doing a great install

AAW cons

– expensive
– not sure wood is as good of a foundation as uPVC on durability

I’m torn…

Any thoughts?

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  1. xbcornwellco | | #1

    Go with Alpen. ThinGlass is DOE tested, see Green Proving Ground data.

  2. tdbaugha | | #2

    Having seen AAW in person, and chatting with the owner a decent bit, I would go AAW no question. It’ll be the best $15k you spend on your build. I’m a real estate broker and a super high-end window and door package has a profound effect on the “feel” of a finished home.

    That being said, the exterior flashing and trim details are a bit trickier. Since you’re so close I see no reason not to use them.

    Edit, you'd also get better glass. AAW imports their IGUs from Europe which use low iron glass. You CAN get low iron glass from Guardian in North America but its really expensive. And comparing apples to apples, the low-e coatings Guardian offers in Europe are slightly better than the Guardian coatings offered in North America. If Alpen is using Cardinal glass to build their IGUs, same story. The one thing that Cardinal has going for it is a surface 6 coating (i89) which boosts the U factor slightly in favor of Cardinal compared European offerings, but at the expense of condensation resistance. But the LSG ratio is still superior in the low iron offerings. Another advantage to AAW using European glass is they can make very large sizes. This helps the thermal performance and cost when comparing multiple smaller units by Alpen vs one large unit from AAW.

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