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Windows to use in a north-facing Northern California home?

tomgopher | Posted in General Questions on

We are in the process on planning a remodel for our home. As part of the remodel we would like to have a “view” wall on the northern side of our house, where the deck entrance is(so we’d have doors too).

What kind of windows/doors would gba members recommend? My current thinking is to use some PVC tilt&turn door-sized european windows(eg imported from Poland) + some fixed windows. However I have not narrowed down any potential windows suppliers yet.

Where should I look for large, efficient, yet cost-effective window options for a cooling climate?

Ideally we’d end up with something like attached home, but I don’t think steel-framed walls + floor to ceiling windows are affordable or efficient. We are not looking for passive-house level performance, just above-average thermal insulation. Sorry for this is so open-ended, but I haven’t come across many resources on building walls with large window area.

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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    With north-facing windows, you don't have to worry too much about solar gain, so there is no need to seek out windows with a particularly low SHGC. If you care about thermal performance, you want windows with a low U-factor -- the lower the better.

    If you lived in a cold climate, I would tell you that such a very large glazing area doesn't make any sense for a north wall. In a mild climate like yours, however, you can probably get away with it -- as long as your heating season isn't very long. If the weather ever turns cold, this type of glazed wall can feel quite chilly.

    In a very cold climate, triple glazing would be a must, but you can probably get away with double glazing in your mild climate. It's a good idea to make most of these windows fixed rather than operable.

  2. STEPHEN SHEEHY | | #2

    Tom- make sure you account for wind loading. Even if the individual windows are rated for wind loads, the method by which several windows are connected to make a wall of glass can create problems. We have a section of south facing glass. Six Intus windows, two of which open, cover a total area of about 11' x 11.' When initially installed, there was way too much flexing. We installed LVLs between each panel and steel angle irons inside and out, running both vertically and horizontally, were bolted through the frame and then covered with tape and trim.
    We are happy with the windows, but didn't rely on the manufacturer's suggested method of ganging them together. here's a photo:

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