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European Windows and NFRC

Leon_G | Posted in General Questions on

We’re researching windows for our new home construction in Sandy OR.  We’d like to use aluminum European style tilt and turn windows, but I noticed that many of the ones we received quotes for do not have an NFRC certification (Aluprof, Aliplast, Mito, Mitra, etc).

I contacted our Building department and they stated that an NFRC certification sticker is required, with a few exceptions, none of which seem to apply to us.

It seems that a lot of folks use European windows, and don’t see the lack of NFRC certification discussed much on this forum, so I am wondering if I’m missing some (legal) way to get these past an inspector, or if it’s just that other jurisdictions are more lenient than mine?   It’s frustrating because most of these windows have much better performance than traditional windows we see going into new houses here (Milgard), so I wonder if there’s some way to make this work.

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Replies

  1. Greg Smith | | #1

    IMO there are two primary reasons for a Euro window company to avoid NFRC certification.

    First, it's relatively expensive and time consuming to get and maintain the certification based on the potential sales volume in selling into North America.

    Second, certifying to NFRC will result in an apples to apples comparison with their North American counterparts, and their performance values will not look as good as advertised when only converted from the European certification.

    There are exceptions such as Zola, Intus, Oknoplast, and others who have certified NFRC, so you could look for companies that have the certification, or failing that there are North American companies that sell tilt/turns that are every bit as good as the imports, in part because they are likely using Euro hardware and sometimes sash/frame components in their window construction.

  2. Leon_G | | #2

    Thank you Greg, that makes sense. I understand that certification process has its downsides (actually I was told that Aluprof is currently getting NFRC-certified, but probably not in time for our project). And I'm also investigating Zola and other NFRC companies, as well as the domestic suppliers (e.g. Alpen, Reynaers)).

    My real question was primarily regarding how folks are able to use non-NFRC windows in domestic construction, since most jurisdictions require NFRC stickers. My window distributor said they never had a problem using non-NFRC certified windows here, they just provide a "thermal report". But a different supplier said that there's always a risk that an inspector may reject that. I'm just trying to understand if there's a reliable way to use non-NFRC windows here, or if it's always a risk?

    1. Charlie Sullivan | | #3

      I think that in most cases, the inspector sees the numbers and the construction quality and jumps to the conclusion that this is way above code and is delighted to sign off.

      There may be cases in which people have had to use alternatives in the code to prove compliance with overall thermal performance with energy modeling rather than compliance with the prescriptive specifications.

    2. Greg Smith | | #4

      If you aren't married to the idea of aluminum tilt/turn, look north into BC and there are some very good window manufacturers up there that make tilt/turns as well that, as i said earlier, are every bit as good as the imports. Two that immediately come to mind are Innotech and Cascadia.

      When I built my house I choose Innotech vinyl tilt/turns and after over 15 years in place they look and operate like the day they were installed. And while I don't really know Cascadia personally, what I have read and heard about them has been very positive.

      Directly to your question, you will almost certainly receive information on energy performance with any higher-end (not always lower end) windows that you buy, even if it's not NFRC. And I agree that most inspectors will look at that performance information and at the window quality and accept that you easily surpass code requirement even without the NFRC label.

      Accepting the fact that if the performance certificate is based on a conversion of Euro testing into North American terms, then the results appear to be better than they really are when tested to NFRC requirements, something that I suspect few inspectors have any real knowledge of.

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