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The Skylight Place

Is Low-E Glass Right for you?

Written by Paul Eastman of The Skylight Place


          Dual pane glass has come a long way since it introduction in the late 1970’s. You now have the choice of not only tinted glass but various different versions of energy efficient glass, most commonly referred to as Low-E glass.

          Low Emissivity (Low-E) glass is glass that has been coated in microscopic layers of metallic oxides. The original purpose of Low-E glass when it was invented in the 1980’s was to control infrared light. This helped to keep your house warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. 

Since we have become more energy conscious consumers since the 80’s there are now many different types of Low-E glass available. These coatings help with solar gain, heat loss, and also provide UV protection. Now that Low-E glass has been perfected it has basically eliminated the need for grey and bronze glass. The only function of grey or bronze glass was to stop heat from coming in your house. They provided no other benefits like Low-E glass does. Since it is a coating applied to the glass, it does slightly change the appearance of the glass. Depending on the glass manufacturer and type of Low-E, the glass may have a slight green or purple tint. The glass will also become more reflective from the exterior. In my professional opinion most consumers cannot tell the difference between Low-E and clear glass. The stronger the coating, the darker the tint.

          Low-E 366, which is a triple coat of the Low-E is the strongest on the market. If you live in a mild climate I do not recommend it. We live in Santa Cruz, CA and don’t recommend it to our customers because it blocks out too much natural sunlight from coming in. The standard Low-E coating works perfectly for our windows in Santa Cruz, CA. but we do not see harsh weather conditions where we live. The coldest day of the year is 35 and the warmest is 85. You should talk to a window professional about your climate before deciding what type of Low-E is right for you. At the very least, I would go with the standard. It only adds a couple of dollars to each window and gives you a much better energy rating. If you want the highest SHGC as possible Low-E is not right for you, you want standard clear glass.