Navigating a jargon filled industry
June 8, 2023
Thermally broken, Low E coated, Argon filled, triple glazed, upstand mounted roof window... and that doesn't include opening, fixed, vented, low pitch or high pitch. This industry, like many, is filled with jargon and technical terms that in some instances help 'professionals' communicate clearly when specifying products but can leave the rest of us confused and bewildered. I myself am by no means an industry expert and rely often on the professional advice of colleagues and peers to help out when relaying relevant information to clients and contractors.
Through this, I have learnt (and continue to learn) a lot about the products we sell and install, so thought our monthly blog would be a useful place to help explain in normal human words what some of these terms mean.
Thermally Broken - this is a form of construction where two components (in our case, predominantly aluminium) are combined with a third material (usually a polymer) sandwiched in between to separate them thermally. Most metals as used for window and skylight frames are very strong but also transfer heat and cold very well which isn't great for trying to control the temperature inside a home. Aluminium is generally the worst but is also the most readily available and affordable material for the construction of windows.
When the third material (thermal break) is used this helps greatly to reduce the transfer of heat and cold from outside to inside (and vice versa) of your home. This means your home will be cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter when combined with a suitable glass and of course proper insulation in your walls and ceilings.
Single, Double and Triple Glazing - this is is a bit easer to understand as it simply means one, two or three sheets of glass arranged together to form a pane. Double and Triple Glazed panes have an air gap between each sheet to form a thermal barrier so that, as above, the transfer of heat and cold from outside to the inside is limited. An example of a Triple Glazed unit would be 4mm glass sheet, 10mm air gap, another 4mm sheet of glass, another 10mm air gap then another 4mm sheet of glass to form a sort of glass and air sandwich.
A spacer bar is used around the entire perimeter of the glass to maintain its structure and also create the seal for the air gap.
Argon Filled - things get a bit more technical here. In Double and Triple Glazed units the air can be replaced with an inert gas (usually Argon). The reason this is done is that Argon is denser that air and slows down the movement of air in the cavity between the panes of glass. The faster the air moves around in the cavity, the faster heat and cold is transferred between the two (or three) panes of glass so slowing this down using Argon means again a warmer home in winter and cooler home in summer.
Well, to be honest, that's probably enough information to digest in a single blog article (and also enough for me to write...). What is written above is certainly not an exhaustive essay on the terms listed andI am sure entire university papers have been written on each. What I have tried to do here is a brief overview of some of the more common terms. Having surrounded ourselves with the right industry professionals here at Unique Skylights means that even if we don't know the answer straight away, we can answer it pretty quickly by asking the right people.