You may have heard the devil is in the details, but when it comes to ice buildup on a cold window, we know it’s probably more fitting for the abominable snowman. Have you ever wondered why ice forms around the edges of your windows on a cold day first? You may look at a window and not even realize the spacer inside of the window is playing such a large role. The spacer is the thermal bridge in the insulated glazing unit (IGU) and overall window, and therefore, the material choice for this often overlooked part is extremely important.
What Role Does a Window Spacer Play?
A spacer is the piece within the IGU that holds the panes of glass apart from each other. A double-pane window will have just one spacer between the two panes of glass, while a triple-pane window has two spacers. There are even quad-pane windows that will have three spacers with four panes of glass. The window spacer should be analyzed in order to prevent condensation (or ice) from forming on the edge of the glass, as well as decrease in performance of the window or door.
The Weak Link: Window Spacer
Window spacers are the thermal bridge between the glazing and the rest of the window. While it may seem like a small, insignificant part, it can be a weak link in the overall window design. In the past, lower-cost windows have used aluminum or galvanized steel spacers as these are relatively inexpensive, but if you think about how metal feels in the cold temperatures, you can easily see how these materials aren’t helping with insulation! Surprisingly, these materials are still very prevalent in low-cost window brands today. So, while you may get a better deal upfront, you end up paying more in the long run with higher energy bills.
A Stronger Option: Warm Edge Spacer
A smarter window choice will utilize a better insulating material for window spacers. Thermally-broken spacers are often referred to as “warm edge spacers.” Our friends at Alpen use a product referred to as a “super spacer,” which is a composite material with enhanced condensation resistance compared to the more traditional metal spacer. These include edge-seal durability, superior argon gas retention, and low conductivity. They use high-quality silicone and a highly breathable flexible foam matrix to improve performance. We’ve done a quick demo showing the difference between a metal spacer and these composite options that explains the difference in a simple manner.
If you’re looking for an energy-efficient window choice, you can be as educated as possible on the various spots where thermal bridging can occur within your window. It pays to get some broad information about the products you are considering so you can compare what one brand says compared to others. Pay attention to what brands aren’t talking about too! The best way to know what they’re not telling you about is to talk to a few different competitors, or talk to energy nerds like us at AE Building Systems who can break down all the various things to be watching out for if your goal is to get an energy-efficient window option.
When it comes to energy-efficiency, sometimes the smallest part of a design can have a BIG impact. That’s the case when it comes to window spacers and why we’re so passionate about the tiny details in the products we carry at AE Building Systems. We’re all about providing products that have the same passion for quality and energy-efficiency. It’s core to who we are and how we do business!