I promise I am going to try and keep this review as concise as possible. A lot was said throughout the day, and if I include every little detail, this post will take about a day to read. So, I’m going to try and split it up into manageable sections to make it easier for us all!

The Event

As far as an event goes, this was very well organised. The team at the Triple Glazing Question did a very good job in just 5 months to put this all together, so a big well done to them!

I think a few things I would have changed would have been the layout of the day. The first part was very long. I think there were 10 speakers out of the 13 that were there that spoke in the morning. I think a few people, including myself that was a bit long to have in one full section. Personally I would have slipped in a 10 minute break, just to give our weary brains a bit of a rest.

Actually, that’s the only thing I would have changed. Other than that, it was very organised and well planned.

The Triple Glazing Question Itself

What was it to you? This debate wasn’t created to answer a specific question, rather than to ask yourself what triple glazing meant to you. For me, my triple glazing question was: is triple glazing a product worth selling? To find the answer to that, I came looking for hard facts and figures about triple glazing to see if it really was better than double glazing. I think a lot of those attending were in the same position as me, so were looking for those same facts and figures. Unfortunately, what was to follow was going to be very negative…

Poor Facts and Figures

I think one of the points that stuck in most people’s minds is that a 24mm unit with a 16mm cavity and argon gas actually performs BETTER than a 28mm unit with a 20mm cavity and argon gas! I don’t have the figure to hand, but I am sure someone else who was there would be able to submit the U-Values for this in the comments section below. But trust me, that took people by surprise. Basically, we have been making windows wrong for a long time!

On to some more concerning statements. Mark Barsby (one of the first speakers) explained that 36mm and 40mm triple glazed units are not that much better than double glazed units in reality. You have to go all the way to 44mm before any tangible improvements can be recorded. So, if you’re a manufacturer of 36mm triple glazed units, today was not a good day for you at all. The general consensus of the speakers and the audience was that 36mm units were pretty pointless!

Once we had all got over the fact that 44mm units were the only practical way to do triple glazing, we were all hit with yet another problem. The current crop of 70mm deep profiles are not cut out to house units that wide. Some can push 36mm and 40mm units, but what’s the point if they’re not much better than double glazing anyway? A few can actually house a 44mm deep unit, with the help of a bit of a bodged glazing bead, which doesn’t look great and our customers would probably agree. So, the argument the switched over to then producing deeper frames. The speakers suggested that existing depths of frames would have to increase by 20% to cope. So, hypothetically, we would need 84mm deep frames from here on in. But wait, yet another problem: most UK homes are not built to host 84mm deep frames. Bang goes most of the retro-fit market, and good luck trying to make house builders change their specs just because we want to install 14mm deeper frames!

Moving on to yet more depressing figures from the speakers, due to massive weight issues, there are clear and very restrictive limitations on designs and sizes of windows. Say goodbye to slightly higher or wider than average side openers. However, I think most in the room and most reading the live page already knew of the weight issues facing hardware.

Right, best sum this bit up. Overall, from that very long first session, the message was that if you really want to do triple glazing, do it in 44mm units or not at all. User a deeper frame or not at all. Every speaker was reeling off list after list of problems facing triple glazing. Sounded to me that they can’t see triple glazing working at all right now. Most agreed.

One of the best speakers of the day was Gaby Mendham. The only woman speaker on the day and Queen of Ecoglass, she spoke straight to the point. She explained that to make a triple glazed unit it would take an extra 90% in materials! She also explained that because of that extra material, it would have an impact on deliveries, production lines, stocking, breakages, service calls etc. Out of all the niceties, she was one of very few who was downright honest. Refreshing.

Second Session…Slightly More Positive

After a decent lunch, it was time for Mark Warren, Mike Crewsden and Chris Carter (Everest) to try and end the day on a positive note. That was a hard task.

By this time, I think most of the main information and stats had been released in the first session. There was a lot of going over the same ground. But credit to both Mark and Mike who both tried to try and demonstrate that despite A LOT of challenges to triple glazing, there could be a few opportunities. Mark Warren also though that triple glazing brought a chance to increase profit margins. This is something I don’t agree with. The costs of triple glazing are almost completely prohibitive right now for most homeowners, it’s going to be almost impossible to squeeze out any more profit.

Both Mike and Mark spoke well and tried to demonstrate the very remote possibilities of triple glazing. However I think it was a case of trying to persuade themselves as well as us. However, what we were hoping was going to be the most entertaining was about to start.

Chris Carter from Everest was the last speaker. He had only been with the business 6 months and he had the responsibility of standing up in front of 600 people, giving Everest’s point of view. There had been a few references to their TV ad throughout the day, so everyone was waiting with baited breath as to what his take would be.

What an anti-climax! Nothing of any significance was said, even more frustratingly, nothing was said about THAT TV advert. Very disappointing. However, I do wish to give him credit for standing up there after only 6 months in the job. His background apparently was in toasters and tea, so a bit of a career change!

Q & A

The event concluded with a question and answer session. The speakers took questions which had been emailed and tweeted in throughout the day. Plenty of questions answered, but nothing of any real significance there I thought. I had a quick look round the room at that point and I could see heads had dropped and facial expressions becoming ever more blank. This part dragged just a little I thought.

Once the Q&A session ended, we were then left to have a second go in the experts arena before some headed off to Birmingham for the PIGS evening drinks session. Just to clarify, the expert arena was two small halls where sponsors of TGQ has small stands showing off their triple glazing options. Nothing spectacular, but worth a good look round!

My Overall Conclusion

Yes the event was good. No complaints there. It was well organised and well attended. But that wasn’t the point of this. The point was to become more educated about triple glazing, and I think we can all say that was achieved. Unfortunately, all that education points us towards the conclusion that triple glazing has a VERY long way to go before it becomes a viable option. Manufacturers seem reluctant, especially after today, to get heavily involved. Tangible U-Value improvements aren’t seen until you get to 44mm units, which won’t fit in the current crop of frames – at least not properly. UK homes won’t allow for a deeper frame to be fit in most cases. Cost is prohibitive. I could go on.

If this is to work in England and Wales, this is going to be an extremely slow burner. There just seems no appetite from anyone right now to get into triple glazing properly. One telling poll, of the many polls that day, was that of 200 installers surveyed, of the 110 that replied, only 7% of them had installed triple glazing in the last year. Not a massive survey, but enough to give a fairly accurate picture that we have a long way to go.

However, to continue this debate and get some balance, a friend of mine, Mark McClean is hopefully going to write a guest post on here about his perspective of triple glazing. Triple glazing is his bread and butter business up in Scotland for him, and I really would like to get his counter arguments on here!

That Live Page!

One experiment I decided to try out on Thursday was to attempt to do a live blog throughout the day on a live and constantly updated page – sort of like the BBC do when a big news story is unfolding. Well it worked brilliantly and the amount of great feedback about it has been amazing. So, I am going to give it another go at the FiT Show in June. I really enjoyed doing it. It’s different from a simple blog post and I found it a great way to keep those not attending updated with all the best bits as the day went on. If you read it, I hope you found it useful.

Right, I’m leaving it there now. I’ve tried to get the main bits down. If you were there and you wish to add to this, please leave a comment below and I’ll make sure it is published ASAP! Today has been a big day in the evolution of triple glazing. It’s a step back rather than a step forward. But it’s an educated step back. I feel our industry has now widely identified the problems, it’s now time to work on some solutions.