Shopping around for new windows? You will probably end up hearing many terms that you don’t understand and need to research. One of those will be “argon glass replacement windows.” Argon gas is not a new technology, but it has been popping up a lot more often now that the construction industry is shifting its focus towards more energy-efficient plans.
Argon gas has a number of uses and offers a lot of benefits to windows. Learning what the advantages are can help you figure out whether argon gas-filled windows are right for your home.
Let’s dive a little deeper.
What Is Argon Gas?
Argon is a clear, non-toxic, and odorless gas that is chemically inert. It can also be used in fluorescent lighting. Next to oxygen and hydrogen, argon is one of the most abundant gases in our atmosphere, running around 0.93%.
Why Argon Gas Is Used In Windows
So, if argon is colorless and scentless, why is it used in windows? The gas is used in double or triple pane thermal windows, also known as insulated glass units (IGU). Between the panes of glass are spaces that are filled with argon gas (and sometimes krypton gas or a blend) to reduce heat transference. Used together with a low emissivity (low-E) glass coating, argon also insulates better than air by keeping the temperature of the windows close to the temperature within your house.
Benefits of Argon Gas In Windows
If you are looking for thermal windows, you should know that almost every model is going to be filled with some kind of gas. Here are the benefits of argon gas-filled windows:
- Improved U-value – argon gas-filled units have better thermal performance than single pane windows.
- Better R-value – the higher the R-value, the more resistance to heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer.
- Increased insulation – the density of argon gas helps with heat transference.
- Enhanced soundproofing – double- and triple-pane windows are better at soundproofing than single pane. Argon gas adds to softening noise from outside the house.
- Minimized heat exchange
- Reduces frost and condensation on windows throughout the year – because argon molecules are dehydrated and move around less, there is less heat transfer and less places for moisture to collect
- Available for all climates
- Available in a number of shapes and sizes
- Does not corrode the window materials like oxygen will
- Helps block out harmful UV rays which can damage your household furnishings and your health
Overall, argon gas windows are a wonderful investment. Although the gas will add around $30-$40 to the price tag, making them initially more expensive than other kinds of windows, the added insulation and higher R-value and U-value will save you hundreds on your electrical and heating bills throughout the year. You will recoup the cost of your investment in a couple of months.
Drawbacks of Argon Gas Windows
While there are plenty of reasons to choose windows with argon gas, there are some drawbacks too. If you are comparing argon gas-filled units to other kinds of gas-filled windows, you may realize that argon gas is not the most energy efficient kind available.
Other drawbacks or disadvantages include:
- Although argon gas itself does not expand and contract, the glass panes will. This has been found to break the seals that exist between the panes and the gas, allowing it to leak out.
- Additionally, since glass expands in heat but argon won’t, anticipate the effectiveness of argon gas-filled windows to be slightly weaker in the summer months.
- Gas leaks from the windows even if seals are intact. The rate of leakage is around 1% per year, resulting in about a 10% loss of gas over 20 years. That said, even with a 10% decrease in argon gas, the efficiency of the window will be largely unaffected.
- If there is even a tiny crack or a gap in the sealant around or in the window, the argon gas will leak out and be replaced with air. Condensation may begin to build up in between the window panes, affecting the U-value and R-value.
When comparing the pros and cons of argon gas windows, be sure to factor in the cost and how much you can potentially save on your utilities. Even if you have to repair or replace your argon gas windows within 20 years or so due to leaking gas, you still have saved a decent amount of money over that period.
Are Argon Gas Windows Right For My Home?
Despite being more expensive than single pane windows, thermal windows with argon gas are an incredible deal. Argon gas windows have a number of benefits that will help keep the internal temperature of your home much more stable and comfortable while saving you money for many years. If you are trying to increase the energy efficiency of your home or simply want to reduce the cost of your utility bill, IGU windows with argon gas are worth your consideration.
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