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Sourcing High-Performance Windows in the Northeast

nynick | Posted in General Questions on

Zone 5-Coastal CT.
40-50 windows

My GC got a quote for some PVC Marvin Elevate double glazed, double hung windows. I got quotes from Shuco and KLAR, both triple glazed and both tilt and turn European types. These are approximately 30% more expensive than the Marvin double glazed. I don’t want double hung.

I’m trying to get the best energy efficient building I can muster in a 150 year old renovation, within reason. I understand there’s little to no sensible ROI on these more expensive windows, at least in my lifetime, but they sure are nice.

Are there better choices here in the Northeast or US that build high quality, triple glazed windows and can deliver product with a reasonable amount of lead time? I’m willing to splurge on high quality windows, but how much is enough?

THX
Nick

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Replies

  1. StephenSheehy | | #1

    Maybe the ROI in dollar terms isn't favorable. But comfort, while hard to quantify, is important. We put in good European tilt/turn windows in our pretty good house, built in 2015. A couple of weeks ago, we had a big wind storm, with 60 mph gusts. Unless we looked out the window, we didn't even know it was windy, the house remained quiet. And being able to sit close to windows in winter is nice.

    1. Patrick_OSullivan | | #4

      > Unless we looked out the window, we didn't even know it was windy, the house remained quiet.

      Have you been in a house with well installed American casement windows? Because the experience is similar.

  2. benwolk | | #2

    Have you looked at Wythe Windows? They are based in NJ, so that might help with reduced transport costs and also increase the ease of reps to come out to your project: https://www.wythewindows.com/

    No guarantee on lead times these days from any window company it seems.

    I've also used Alpen Windows in the past for projects in the NE: https://thinkalpen.com and Fenstur windows from British Columbia have been reasonably priced but those are farther away from you: https://www.fensturwindows.com/

    1. andyfrog | | #11

      https://www.youtube.com/@thesharingeconomy/videos This person had a quite poor experience with Alpen

      1. nynick | | #21

        couldn't find which video that was about Alpen.

    2. nynick | | #22

      Got an Alpen quote. I'll update the thread when I do a price comparison. I now have 4 quotes.

    3. nickdefabrizio | | #56

      Wow, Wythe is not far from me in Northern NJ. Their web site is not very detailed but says taht the windows are made in the US! Do you know where they actually make the windows?

  3. jimgove30 | | #3

    We went with Euroline uPVC, and although they haven't arrived on site yet (they're done, waiting for our GC to coordinate the delivery), they have been great to work with, were priced cheaper than Marvin and Andersen, but the shipping costs were high. We decided to splurge a bit, and chose them based on our architect's recommendation for their quality, and the lead time was only 8-10 weeks at the time, where Shuco was 14-16.
    https://euroline-windows.com/

    1. buildzilla | | #12

      wrt euroline, did u consider their fiberglass option?

      if so, can u comment on why u decided on upvc?

      also, where is your build site regionally?

      1. jimgove30 | | #48

        We ended up with a mix of the 1800 series (uPVC) for the fixed units, 4700 series (FG) for tilt/turn operables and 3800 smart slide doors over the 4700 series lift and slides. Budget/value was a main driver, so we went triple-pane in the spaces we thought we'd spend the most time or be closest to the glass, and double pane elsewhere.
        We're in the White Mountains of NH, zone 6.

  4. Expert Member
    BILL WICHERS | | #5

    If you go with casement windows instead of double hungs, you're going to have much better performing windows (due to much better air seals) without a significant increase in cost, and you're sticking with a window style that most builders are still going to be familiar with. This might be a happy medium for you.

    If you want triple pane windows for performance, try to get "full depth" triple pane assemblies, which means 1-3/8" deep IGUs. The 7/8" deep triple pane assemblies are convenient for manufacturers since they can fit in similar frames to the more common double pane assemblies, but the narrower air spaces greatly reduce the insulating effectiveness you'd otherwise get from the third pane. This holds for ANY window style, casement, picture, tilt and turn, etc.

    Bill

  5. Expert Member
    Michael Maines | | #6

    I'm not aware of any Marvin windows that are PVC. Perhaps you're thinking of their Essentials line, made of fiberglass?

    Would you be ok with tilt/turn windows? Logic makes European-style windows in Pennsylvania. But not everyone likes the inward-swinging action.

    I agree with the other comments that casements generally perform better than double hung windows. But I also understand that some people want double hungs, period. On an addition for my MIL's house we used triple glazed Sierra Pacific H3 double-hung windows; they have a composite exterior, wood interior, look good, perform well and were reasonably priced.

    I'm about to do my second project with PVC triple-glazed windows from Mathews Brothers in Maine. They are extremely affordable.

  6. brp_nh | | #7

    Coastal CT is pretty mild compared to northern New England. I think you should shoot for above average performing windows, but super high end might be overkill.

    We're in the White Mountains of NH (zone 6) and have Alpen fiberglass windows in our house. They've changed names of the lines, but we have the equivalent of the ZR-5: https://thinkalpen.com/products/zenith-series-windows-doors/

    We're approaching 10 years with the windows and have been happy with them, the low maintenance of fiberglass is nice. They would be worth looking into.

  7. Expert Member
    Akos | | #8

    One option is to use more expensive windows in areas where you spend a lot of time and budget ones elsewhere. When you go this route the thing you have to watch is the glass coatings which can significantly effect the color of the glazing and you don't want dissimilar looking windows close by.

    P.S. After having lived with uPVC tilt and turns, I can't see going back to standard north American style windows. They are easier to use, seal much better and feel way more solid. The inswing is an issue with window coverings but I find that I use them mostly in tilt position unless airing out the house. I'm 50/50 on tilt and slide patio doors, I think larger tilt and turn window configured as a French door is a better idea.

    1. buildzilla | | #13

      wrt to upvc when compared to fiberglass, how important do you feel the low-expansion characteristics of fiberglass are?

      are there any upvc assemblies that integrate characteristics which mitigate the effect of expansion (eg around gaskets)?

      low-expansion is one of the touted benefits of fiberglass, but i haven't seen the expansion characteristic quantified such that i can assign a weight to it in a decision process...

      1. Expert Member
        Akos | | #14

        The Euro style windows are not made the same as north American PVC ones. The extrusion has a steel structural core which means the plastic is only there as decoration. Unlike domestic stuff that will twist and bend over time, I can say my decade old uPVC tilt and turns are just as straight, square and seal as the day they were installed.

        Fiberglass VS regular domestic PVC windows is a different story. There the stability of fiberglass means they will generally last longer.

        1. buildzilla | | #16

          that's good info and a good data point with your own upvc-euro's.

          i was considering tilt-n-turns with 12" thick-walls, you think if i mount them close to the sheathing like pseudo-outies, that i can mount some cellular shades on the furthest inside spot possible and still tilt-open the window without hitting the shade?

          1. Expert Member
            Akos | | #29

            With 12" thick walls you should have no problems. The windows typically tilt in about 5" so you should have plenty of space.

  8. DC_Contrarian | | #9

    I have Loewen triple-glazed windows in my house in DC and I love them. I looked into putting them into a house in RI last year but they were quoting delivery times of eight months and were very, very expensive. If you can find a good local dealer I'd recommend the windows.

  9. mikeferro | | #10

    I'd recommend reaching out to European Architectual Supply in Massachusetts (https://www.eas-usa.com/). They offer a very reasonably priced uPVC window by Auluplast/Salamander. It's a tilt-turn style triple-glazed window of similar quality to Shuco. They also offer aluminum and wood products, but those will be much costlier.

    1. nynick | | #15

      Thanks Mike. That is where I got my Shuco quote. It's the container costs that hurt the most.

      1. buildzilla | | #17

        how much was your container cost? (to ny based on your username?)

        1. Patrick_OSullivan | | #20

          Mid-2019, a container to NJ (from a similar but different manufacturer) was $5,800. I'm sure it's only gone up.

        2. nynick | | #23

          9900

          1. StephenSheehy | | #27

            The cost of transporting shipping containers has plummeted in the last few months.

      2. mikeferro | | #18

        Another way to significantly reduce window cost is to consider whether you need all to be operable or not. A fixed triple pane is much less expensive.

        1. nynick | | #24

          Yup. I asked for quotes based on the architects window schedules so I could compare apples to apples. After I narrow things down, I will ask for second quotes with non-ops. I'm hoping this helps substantially.
          For instance, I think I can have 8 non-ops out of 17 windows for my garage and AUD. That should make a big difference. For the house, I'm thinking maybe 7-8 out of 33. It all adds up.

      3. Patrick_OSullivan | | #19

        Having explored other (but similar) European windows for my own build, the container costs are ridiculous. It's not that I think they are opportunistically using it as another source of profit. Quite the opposite, in fact. If your business model requires shipping something so bulky and irregularly sized in a way that the shipping costs can be 20-25% of the product itself, the model needs to be reconsidered.

        These suppliers either need to find a way to more efficiently collate orders into much more efficiently used containers or focus on domestic supply chain. Otherwise, they will forever remain a niche product.

        1. Expert Member
          BILL WICHERS | | #25

          I've been told by some of my vendors that container shipping rates are up 4x (FOUR TIMES!) from what they were before the pandemic, and that shippers are extremely reluctant to ship partially filled containers -- so they'll wait until containers are full, delaying orders from shipping. The hope is that those shipping costs will return to closer to what they once were, but no one has any idea when that might happen.

          Maybe some domestic manufacturers will use this as an oppurtunity to come out with some new Euro-styled model lines?

          Bill

        2. mikeferro | | #26

          A lot of the high products that we choose to use in our high performance homes come from overseas. Many of these products already have the shipping costs built-in and we attribute the higher prices we pay to the higher-quality product. In the case of windows, most dealers break-out the shipping costs.

          In my experience these window dealers use container space as effectively as possible. In the case of smaller orders they definitely will comingle it with another order in a container in an effort to reduce cost.

          When I bought triple pane Salamander windows about a year ago, my container costs were about 15% of the order price. I knew I wanted triple pane european windows and I was able to justify the price. In my opinion, it's a matter of deciding where to allocate your budget during construction or renovation - on the flashy things or on high-performing things such as windows that ultimately result in greater comfort and a better building.

  10. nynick | | #28

    Four window quotes, not all apples to apples, as the Marvin are double glazed double hung and the others are Tilt and Turn, triple glazed.
    Compared to the Marvin quote:
    Shuco is 29% higher
    KLAR is 29 % higher
    Alpen is 24% higher.

    Different products and different performance for sure. I took int0 account shipping (zero for Marvin) and also whether Sales Tax is applicable for out of state purchases or not. Each one of these are thousands of dollars, plus or minus. You need to factor these into the equation.

    The overall increased cost represents a small portion of the total budget. Seems like a pretty easy decision for me.

    Thank you all for your input.

    1. Expert Member
      Michael Maines | | #31

      Nick, thanks for the update. What Marvin product line did you price? They don't have a PVC Elevate.

      When you say the decision was easy, is your decision to go with Marvin? Considering the performance differences, the answer is not obvious.

      1. nynick | | #33

        Of course you're correct Mike. The Marvin Elevate is fiberglass. That's what I priced.
        I say the decision is easy for me to choose a higher quality window like Alpen for the performance difference versus the increase in price.

        1. Expert Member
          Michael Maines | | #40

          Nick, thanks--Elevate is a wood-framed, fiberglass-clad window, vs. Alpen which is all fiberglass (or all PVC in their tilt/turn line). I was afraid that your "easy decision" was to save on the initial cost; kudos for going for performance instead.

  11. Patrick_OSullivan | | #30

    > The overall increased cost represents a small portion of the total budget.

    Careful. Easy to do that with every single component on a building and suddenly you're talking about real money.

    1. nynick | | #34

      I hear ya.

  12. rockies63 | | #32

    There's this 2018 article about the passive certifications for Alpen windows.
    https://thinkalpen.com/alpen-introduces-first-dual-passive-house-certified-window-made-in-north-america/
    There may be more passive certified window manufacturers in the US now.
    One way to decrease costs is to use more fixed windows. Usually people install too many operable windows - you only need one in a small to medium sized room and maybe two for cross-ventilation in a great room.

    1. nynick | | #35

      Thanks. I think I specified 17 out of 47 windows as fixed. I was surprised that the price delta wasn't as dramatic as I was expecting but still worthwhile overall.

      1. buildzilla | | #37

        sounds like u r leaning towards alpen, probably hard to go wrong with those makes. can you provide some associated detail like the exact model of windows (sliders + entry too?) that you were comparing from alpen, klar and schuco?

        1. nynick | | #45

          Shuco model is 82 AS
          Klar model is Comfort PVC
          Alpen is Tyrol

          I tried to simplify the quotes by only comparing windows, but I did get some entry door numbers. The Alpen had some decent sliding doors that were less than the other two.

      2. Patrick_OSullivan | | #38

        If I were you (and assuming you'd like to value engineer some more), I would give another pass at the fixed:operable ratio. My build had 39 windows. 18 are operable. I was concerned with my choices at the time, but now after living in the space, I realized just the other day that there are 2 more operable windows that I should have ordered as fixed. "Only" a few hundred dollars difference, but nonetheless I'm annoyed I didn't think it at the time.

        1. AdamPNW | | #39

          I’m in the midst of that very same decision tree now, trying to design in as many fixed as possible. Would you mind sharing some of the circumstances where you went with fixed, where others might have gone for operable? And which situation did you think you’d need an operable, but now you wish you hadn’t? Thanks for any tips,
          Adam

          1. Patrick_OSullivan | | #41

            I have a few spots with ganged windows. That is, adjacent individual rough openings. In those cases, I went with a single operable window for a set of three. I used Andersen A-series which are explicitly designed so that all windows of a given size are visually as similar as possible. So, from outside it looks like I have three identical windows in a row, but only the center one opens.

            I have a "sunroom" with 9 windows in it. It has a total of 4 operable windows. Given how the room is used, I could have easily done 3 or even 2 operable instead with zero downside.

            Overall, most rooms in the house have only 1 or 2 operable windows despite having plenty of natural light in each room.

          2. DC_Contrarian | | #42

            In my house I did no more than one operable window per wall per room. That allows for a cross-breeze.

          3. Expert Member
            BILL WICHERS | | #43

            You can sometimes break up a large operable window into a large picture window with a smaller operable window either underneath (an awning window), or next to (a casement window) the picture window. I have some like that in my home with the awning windows, and they are nice in that they can be left open in light rain without much rain blowing inside.

            BTW, I very much like DC's idea to allow for cross breeze. I try to setup things the same way, for the same reason.

            Bill

          4. nynick | | #46

            In my case, I did it room by room. For instance, my LRM has 6 windows. 2 east, 2 west, 2 north. I specified the 2 north as fixed. In my Den, there are 5 windows. 2 or 3 would be fixed. So on and so forth. There are also some vented attic windows. Of course fixed.

        2. nynick | | #44

          Thanks. I'll give it another look. I thought 40% fixed was pretty good.

  13. Arian_Doda | | #47

    nynick, If you need a quote dont hesitate to contact us,we have NFRC certified tilt & turn windows ,our products are made inPoland, lead time 8-10 weeks.

    [email protected]
    http://www.albaeuropeanwindows.com

    1. oberon | | #49

      I didn't see a listing for Alba in the NFRC database, are they listed under a different name?

  14. richmass62 | | #50

    When I researched this I found the prices at panes.com to be the most reasonable. They come from Canada with an 8 week lead time. The windows they offer include reasonable solar heat gain models for your south facing walls, which is something that may be difficult to replicate with other vendors. The windows have a coating on 2 of the 3 panes.

    Cost for what I wanted to buy came in at under $500 per window. Triple pane and white vinyl.

    There is a hefty shipping cost of around $700 to order from Quebec, but the cost can be minimized if you order many windows. I am in Massachusetts and would even be willing to collaborate with someone here in the same boat as me (I need just 3 windows) to save on the shipping cost.

    1. buildzilla | | #52

      700? that sounds low :)

  15. cylint | | #51

    I narrowed it down to Loewen (Canada) and kolbe (Wisconsin) for a mix of triple pane casements and fixed. Ended up going with kolbe and while they’re installed, I’m not in the house yet so can’t give a report.

  16. nynick | | #53

    I'm going with Alpen, I think.

    1. Arian_Doda | | #55

      nynick_let me know if you want to get a quote from us, you can reach me at 718 678-7401 or email us [email protected]

  17. Arian_Doda | | #54

    oberon _ we are authroized dealr for Dako & Eko-Okna, both manufactuere are from Poland and they have certified their windows & doors.
    Dako NFRC https://search.nfrc.org/search/cpd/cpd_search_productline.aspx
    Eko-Okna NFRC https://search.nfrc.org/search/cpd/cpd_search_productline.aspx

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