gases used for this purpose. Gas fills addonly a few dollars to the prices of mostwindows and skylights. They are mosteffective when used in conjunction withlow-E coatings. For these reasons, somemanufacturers have made gas fills stan-dard in their low-E windows and sky-lights.The insulating value of an entire win-dow can be very different from that of theglazing alone. The whole-window U-fac-tor includes the effects of the glazing, theframe, and, if present, the insulating glassspacer. (The spacer is the component in awindow that separates glazing panes. Itoften reduces the insulating value at theglazing edges.)Since a single-pane window with ametal frame has about the same overall U-factor as a single glass pane alone, frameand glazing edge effects were not of greatconcern before multiple-pane, low-E, andgas-filled windows and skylights werewidely used. With the recent expansion of thermally improved glazing optionsoffered by manufacturers, frame and spac-er properties now can have a more pro-nounced influence on the U-factors of windows and skylights. As a result, frameand spacer options have also multiplied asmanufacturers offer improved designs.Window frames can be made of alu-minum, steel, wood, vinyl, fiberglass, orcomposites of these materials. Wood,fiberglass, and vinyl frames are betterinsulators than metal. Some aluminumframes are designed with internal thermalbreaks, non-metal components that reduceheat flow through the frame. These ther-mally broken aluminum frames can resistheat flow considerably better than alu-minum frames without thermal breaks.Composite frames may use two or morematerials (e.g. aluminum-clad wood,vinyl-clad wood) to optimize their designand performance, and typically have insu-lating values intermediate between thoseof the materials comprising them. Framegeometry, as well as material type, alsostrongly influences thermal performanceproperties.Spacers can be made of aluminum,steel, fiberglass, foam, or combinations of these materials. Spacer thermal perfor-
e is the emittance of thelow-E coated surface.Values are for 3-foot-by-5- foot windows. U-factors varysomewhat with window size.
American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc., Atlanta,GA, 1993.
Aluminum Frame without thermal break (with conventional spacer)Alum. Frame with thermal break (with conventional spacer)Wood or Vinyl Frame (with insulated spacer)
GLAZING TYPEU-FACTOR (Btu/hr-ft
Single glass-----1.071.30Double glass,1/2-inch air space0.480.620.81Double glass, e = 0.20*,1/2-inch air space0.390.520.70Double glass, e = 0.10*,1/2-inch air space0.370.490.67Double glass, e = 0.10*,1/2-inch argon space0.340.460.64Triple glass, e = 0.10 on twopanes*, 1/2-inch argon spaces0.230.360.53Quadruple glass,e = 0.10 on two panes*,1/4-inch krypton spaces0.22----------