When most people look at their windows, they just see some glass in a frame, but there is a lot of technology that goes into a modern window. From windows that are designed to prevent heat loss to glass designs that can resist extreme conditions, there have been some amazing developments in home windows. In this article, we are going to look at some of the most important innovations that have helped to change the windows that we put in our homes.
Insulated glass is a unit of two or more panes that have been sealed together and have a pocket of air or gas in between them. With this design, the window can resist heat flow because the pocket of air acts as an insulating layer between the two panes.
The idea of insulating glass has been around for a long time, but products that use this technology did not first reach the market until the 1950s. While some of the technologies may have changed, the majority of windows used today do have some form of insulating glass.
Before the introduction of float glass, it was difficult and expensive to manufacture a large piece of glass that was smooth and uniform. In the 1950s, the manufacturer Pilkington Brothers developed the process of making float glass, and this made it possible to produce high quantities of smooth glass that had fewer imperfections.
In the process of making float glass, the molten glass is fed onto a bath of molten metal. Generally, tin is seen as the ideal metal for this process because molten glass and molten tin will not easily mix. As the molten glass is poured onto the tin bath, gravity flattens the glass out to form a perfectly smooth and uniform ribbon. The glass is then gradually cooled, and once it reaches the correct temperature, it is removed from the tin.
This process not only revolutionized glass making in that it improved the quality of glass, but it is also one of the most important developments toward many of the future glass making technologies. In the modern day, just about every window is made from float glass.
Vinyl windows first came out as a good option for replacement windows in the 1960s. In the 1980s, this alternative became popular for use in new construction. When talking about vinyl windows, we are talking about windows that have vinyl frames.
The popularity of vinyl windows is due to several factors. One of the top reasons that these windows are preferable to older designs is that it lowers the cost of producing the windows. In addition to that, vinyl windows are also easy to maintain, durable and they are more resistant to heat flow than other materials that have been used to frame windows.
Low-emissivity or Low-E glass is another technology designed to make windows that are better for home heating and cooling. By its nature, glass is a material with a high level of thermal emissivity. To reduce the emissivity of the glass, manufacturers started putting special coatings on the glass. Originally, low-E glass was made by applying a thin film on the glass. Now, most low-E glass is made by applying a translucent coating that has small particles of metal.
With this low-emissivity coating, the glass reflects more of the heat from the sun. Instead of that heat coming in during the summer, it goes back out into the environment, and this reduces heat gain. The reduction in heat gain from the sun then makes it easier to cool the home, and this reduces the cost of air conditioning. Conversely, the low-E coating can also help in the winter. As heat from the indoor space goes to the window, more of it will be reflected back into the home, instead of being absorbed by the window, and eventually escaping outdoors.
Insulated Gas Units, or IGUs, are windows that have multiple panes, with a vacuum space that has a pocket of gas inside. This is a type of insulating glass, and it works on the same principles as the windows that we previously discussed, but instead of regular air, these windows go with specific gases to fill the vacuum.
A pocket of still air can be a great insulator, but there are some gases that are even more resistant to heat transfer than air. Argon is the most common gas used in IGU windows because it is inexpensive, and it has about a third less conductive than regular air. However, you can make even thinner window units when you use a gas like krypton because it is considerably less conductive than argon. Being less conductive, these gases allow for smaller vacuum spaces while offering better insulating properties.
Impact glass is also commonly known as hurricane glass. The idea behind this glass is to prevent the breakage that occurs in extreme weather events like hurricanes and tornadoes. To make impact-resistant glass, usually the manufacturer uses multiple panes that are bonded together with some type of lamination.
Generally, the impact resistant piece of glass will be comprised of two panes that are bonded together using an interior layer of lamination. To insulate the glass, the manufacturer may add a regular pane of glass with an air space in between the standard glass and the impact glass.
Modern impact glass is very strong and resistant to breaking. To meet the standards necessary to claim the impact resistance of a window, it must be tested for severe impacts, and hold up under tests that subject the glass to several cycles of negative and positive air pressure.
The windows that we use today are by no means an old technology. Manufacturers keep coming up with new ways to develop windows that are better at insulating the home and resisting heat gain, and finding ways to make windows that are tougher or framing materials that are more resistant to weathering. We are also starting to see windows that the user can automatically tint to block out the sun, and high-tech privacy windows that go dark when you want to obscure the view inside a room.