How is the triple glazing market doing this year? I would still class it as an emerging market in our industry, and one that has far to go before the double glazing part of our world starts to even feel worried. Year after year, we look at triple glazing and wonder when, rather than if, it will take off in a big way.
But I think that parts of our market have been looking at triple glazing in totally the wrong way. Including myself.
Triple glazing won’t overtake double glazing
We perhaps saw triple glazing as the future of the window industry. I think many of us thought that triple glazing would kill off double glazing, in a similar way double glazing killed off single glazing. Yes it took some time, but it happened.
I don’t think the same is going to happen to double glazing though. The difference between double and single glazing is that there was much more scope for improvement on double glazing. The product allowed for it. There is only so much you can do with a single piece of glass. There is much more you can do with two.
And we’re seeing it year after year. The WERs of windows, whether you believe in them or not get better. Manufacturing processes get better. More and more colour options come online. Hardware suites are plentiful. Acoustic properties get better all the time. A double glazed window has never been as advanced as it is right now.
It is because of this that triple glazing won’t be overtaking double glazing any time soon.
Double glazing just too good
There are some outstanding U-Values on certain double glazed windows right now. Many with the right configuration of glass can reach PassivHaus standards. And with what I’ve just mentioned in the previous section, the argument for upgrading to triple glazing from the perspective of the home owner becomes less convincing.
If a double glazed window has an energy rating of A+10 and the same product but triple glazed reaches A+15, and comes with a 10% price increase, will a home owner look at that and see it as good value? I would wager that most wouldn’t. They would be getting a highly energy efficient window in any case, and 5 notches up the A level probably won’t make that much difference.
More so if the double and triple glazing both come with the same security, reinforcing and hardware options. I do believe that there is a tangible acoustic benefit to triple glazing if the right specification of glass is used. But unless a home owner lives under a flight path, next to a busy main road or train station then that isn’t going to be much of a USP either.
The trouble is, whilst our industry has worked hard to develop triple glazing into what is still a very good product if made using 44mm sealed units, it hasn’t stopped updating double glazing either. So until the industry collectively decides that it’s time to stop improving double glazed windows, which it won’t, triple glazing will be constantly justifying itself against it’s older brother.
Will it ever replace double glazing?
In the short term, triple glazing will most certainly not replace double glazing. Nor in the medium term. To me even the long term trend looks a bit flat. The problem is that modern double glazing, be it in PVCu, timber or aluminium is just too good.
If triple glazing, and I mean proper 44mm triple glazing, landed in a period where the quality and range of options for double glazing was limited and uninspiring, then perhaps triple glazing would have had more of an impact.
It’s kind of like when tablets were hailed as the next mega-gadget. It could do all the things a smartphone could, but on a bigger screen. But the tech industry never stopped innovating smartphones, and in the end tablets have never taken off like smartphones have, and phones now only continue to become better and better with each new model. The glazing industry is pretty much the same right now.
The best way to see triple glazing is that it’s a product for the future, and that it will perhaps only be bought by those looking for extra prestige value, a bump up in acoustic reduction, and the mere fact that their windows have three panes instead of two.
So it’s not as if triple glazing isn’t good enough, it’s just that double glazing continues to improve and takes away some of the buzz around triple glazing.
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I think you are right about triple glazing. I have a life long friend who has lived in Winnipeg, Canada, for over thirty years where winter temperatures get down to minus thirty and below quite often. He recently replaced some windows and I asked if they were triple glazed. He told me there was no way that triple glazing would be needed out there or justified unless for prestige or noise reduction. He was surprised to hear the question.