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The Argument for Triple Glazing

The use of triple glazing in the UK is increasing but not without scepticism as Thomas Hagen, Product and Technical Manager, Internorm discusses.


In the UK, double glazed windows have been installed as standard for many years now with installers and their customers having a clear understanding of their benefits. In fact, it is very rare to now see single glazed systems still in place.


Using two panes of glass separated by an air or a gas filled space, double glazing provides significant energy saving benefits by reducing heat transfer across the window/door element of the building envelope. However, as time has moved on, we are now increasingly seeing the use of triple glazing. In fact, 80% of all windows sold in Europe now have triple glazing; very few of these are in the UK.


Many may think that, by using three panes of glass, energy efficiency in the building is further improved, allowing customers to save even more in terms of energy bills, which of course, with the cost of energy being so high, is a significant factor. This is 100% correct with a Ug value of as little as 0.5 being achieved. Despite this, there is still some negativity towards the use of triple glazing for a number of reasons.


Firstly, along with reducing heat loss, achieving solar gain is also an important factor, particularly during the winter months. When considering low energy buildings and even Passivhaus, this solar gain is paramount in their success. Without it, the possibility of using no, or very little heating, is impossible. The issue with triple glazing is that it achieves less solar gain than double glazing and therefore, many may think it is better to stick with a double glazed option. However, with the use of a coating such as Solar+ offered by Internorm, it is possible bring the solar gain of a triple glazed system up to 62%; the same as that offered by a double glazed system.


In addition, the use of large glass areas is becoming increasingly popular as it helps to bring the outside in, providing a real feature on the property. Yet, the issue with large glass areas is too much solar gain. This can be avoided through the use of triple glazing without a special coating and this is a good example of how a system such as this can make design aspirations become reality.


The other concern with triple glazing is it is considered more expensive and although this is true, it should be understood that the cost increase is only slight. If you take Internorm, for example, triple glazing is provided as standard, so everything is designed for triple glazing. The extra cost is really only for the extra pane of glass. Let us not forget, when upgrading the windows on any building, it is a long term investment. Selecting a system that will not just meet today’s needs by the long term needs of the property, should be paramount. This, combined with the energy saving costs achieved through the use of triple glazing, makes the extra cost worthwhile if one considers the costs of the system for its lifetime.

Another important consideration is that with triple glazing, more space in the sash profiles is required. For a manufacturer, this could be considered a bigger challenge and increases the cost further. As a result, it is important to work with a manufacturer that has significant experience in the manufacture of these systems. An experienced company will be able to ensure that the system created is of the highest standard, while being cost efficient.


It is also important to remember that triple glazed systems also provide a number of additional benefits that double glazed simply do not. Security is a good example of this – the use of three panes provides higher security for the building owner due to the fact that breaking three panes of glass is harder than two or one. This attribute should be recognised since selection of a system should not just be down to its aesthetics and energy efficiency performance; security should also be a key deciding factor. In addition to this, triple glazed systems also perform better against wind pressure because they are structurally stronger.


In terms of soundproofing, this is also further improved and again, is a key selling point of triple glazing. Sound is an important factor when selecting a window/door system and by doing so, the environment of the building will also be improved as unwanted sounds, e.g. noise of cars and neighbours will be reduced to a minimum.


Triple glazing in the UK is not yet widely used but this is largely the result of the benefits not being fully understood. All to often, the negatives of such a system are focused on, despite the fact these can be easily overcome. And, let us not forget, triple glazed systems also provide additional benefits that double glazed systems cannot. The upgrade of windows and doors is an investment and therefore, should be carefully considered and with this, it is important to understand all the options available including triple glazed.


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