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Trying to get quotes on windows for our renovation project in North Vancouver, BC.

nvman | Posted in Green Products and Materials on

I am trying to get quotes on windows for our renovation project in North Vancouver, BC. What a headache. Where do I start?

I would like to have an energy efficient window so my options are double pane or triple pane with 1 low-e coating or 2 low-e coatings. And then you determine which low-e glass you need; 180,270, or 366 Cardinal is the most common.

Some salesman say that a double pane with 2 low-e coatings is more efficient than a triple pane with 1 low-e coating. However, it is more expensive. One quick quote on a window and the 2 coatings on double pane is more expensive than 1 coat on triple pane.

Other salesman suggest that why bother with the different glass type. They say we are in a heating climate so all default to “Cardinal 180”. Even for south facing windows.

And of course, since we are in the lower mainland, every single one has tried to dissuade me from triple pane. They say, “You are in Vancouver so why bother?”
Except of course Vancouver now requires triple pane but North Vancouver does not so I could get away with double pane.

Windows are not like buying a car where you know how much each option costs.
In fact, no one can even tell you what is the percent cost differential between each option. They have to do an actual quote.
And I have talked to all kinds of window companies from retail to the manufacturer. From low end to a local european style tilt and turn.
And not a single salesman knows anything about any energy ratings. Only a couple knew about U factor.

So my questions are:
– double or triple pane?
– with 1 or 2 low-e coatings?
– type of glass? A high SHGC unit or dependent upon direction and shading?
– anyone have any experience in this area?
(climate zone 4c, 2500 mm rain per year on the north shore)

My budget is flexible but not unlimited. I am interested in all opinions.


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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    I sympathize with your quandary. You're right -- most window sales personnel are ignorant about glazing options, and window pricing is opaque. A window manufacturer willing to tackle these problems would probably attract more business.

    Only you can decide which type of glazing to specify. The upcharge for triple glazing may be worth it to you, or not, depending on how long you expect to live in the house and your assumptions about future energy costs.

    Here is a link to an article that may be useful: All About Glazing Options.

  2. charlie_sullivan | | #2

    My quick opinion on a few of the different ideas salespeople have been throwing at you:
    1) If your air conditioning needs are zero or minimal, high solar heat gain such as 180 is the way to go. On the other hand, I've heard rumors that you don't get much winter sun there. Even if that's true, high solar heat gain is still the best option, but that does mean that you wouldn't lose much if you chose something else based on availability, so you don't need to worry about it too much.
    2) Additional low-e coatings on a 2-pane unit don't do much. Once you put on one, you have essentially eliminated radiation heat transfer between panes. The remaining heat transfer between panes is by convection--the gains at that point are in going from air to argon (almost always used) and from argon to krypton (very expensive).
    3) Rather than needing to sort out who to trust about glazing types, go by U-value and SHGC (solar heat gain coefficient). You can get center-of-glass values to pick a glazing type, and then get values for the window units from different manufacturers to see the influence of the construction.
    4) You may eventually find a dealer who is helpful about explaining to you how the pricing works. It may take a few iterations of actual quotes anyway, but if you find someone willing to be helpful and somewhat transparent in working through those options, it can be worthwhile.

  3. propeller | | #3

    Hi Aaron,
    You may want to contact Cascadia Windows in Langley BC

    They understand energy efficient windows. Here's some of their specs.

  4. nvman | | #4

    Thank you to everyone for your suggestions and advice.
    I will also look up Cascadia Windows.

  5. Lars_Stuurop | | #5

    Hi Aaron,
    I recently had the same experience shopping for windows here in Victoria. Window sales people were not very helpful with the notable exception of the Euroline rep. They make high end tilt and turn windows. You may find a similarly knowledgeable sales rep at their Delta location.
    The windows I eventually chose were from All Weather Windows out of Edmonton through a local dealer. I think they have the best bang for the buck as far as energy performance. A 31" wide by 66" high triple glazed window with whole window U values of 0.17 Imperial/0.97 Metric and 0.44 SHGC was $216 CDN, for a fixed window, $340 for a casement of the same size. Upcharge for triple glazing was only about $30 per window. You can find their glazing performance chart with COG values for various glazing options here:

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