Does 'Low-E' have to = tinted glass?

sarahandbrayJuly 27, 2012

Contemplating new windows on this big old house and several companies have showed me their "low-e" windows--but I never realized how "tinted" they look. I just want windows that are as clear as possible--are there any out there or do low-e windows have to look tinted?


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LoE glass is treated with coatings of metallic oxide. Anytime you put a coating on glass, it will affect the visible light to some degree. Depending on where you live and the geography of your elevations, there are glass offerings with 1,2, or 3 layers of LoE. The fewer the coatings the more visible light comes through but it also increases the solar gain. Most people have a greater objection when viewed during the selection process than they do once the glass is installed. Most also feel the trade off for energy efficiency is worth the slighly darker glass. I really doubt it will bother you once it's installed.

I would also ask which glass package the dealers are showing you. If it's glass with 3 coatings, ask to see it with 2 coatings. i would also open a window or door and place the glass sample in the opening. Quite often, viewed this way, most consumer find the coatings less objectionable.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 11:00AM
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There is more than one way to coat glass to make it Low E. Try checking consumer reports for windows with visible light transmission or similar ratings.
But remember. Low E is a very good option in windows and as with so many things carries a slight disadvantage in that slight tint. You almost never get something for nothing.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 2:31PM
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Thanks for the post! I guess I was just a little surprised when the window salesman got out the sample and lifted the window--the effect of the two windows over each other just looked like sunglasses!! I was having a hard enough time visualizing vinyl windows in a 150+ year old house, and this just made it worse!
We have actually switched course at this point, in favor of keeping our original windows. We will be replacing with white vinyl storms, and may or may not get the Low-E coating...
Thanks so much for letting me know--we learn something new with every project in this old house!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 10:17AM
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Different low-e coatings have different optical effects. Off angle reflective color are worse with some, visible transmittence or haze is worse on others.

A single silver coating like Cardinal's LoE 180 is very unobtrusive. A triple silver coating like Cardinal's LoE 366 has more striking visual effects (it is better performing from a u-value standpoint). Some hardcoats are very unobtrusive as well (Cardinal's i89, for example; Pilkington's new and improved Energy Advantage). With respect to storm windows, I would definately take a look at i89 and Energy Advantage.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 9:39AM
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