Argon Gas Windows: The Pros and Cons
As a kid you always drew windows as a rectangle and a plus sign – it didn’t seem like there was much more to them than that! However, there’s more going on with windows than just the glass. Argon is a gas commonly used an insulator in double-glazed windows.
In the market for new windows? We weigh the pros and cons of argon gas so you can make an informed choice before you buy.
How Argon Gas Windows Work
Double-glazed windows, also known as thermopane or insulated windows, provide superior insulation. Like the little waiting area between the double-doors at school, the gap between their two panes minimizes the transmission of heat. This resistance to heat is also known as R-value.
But glass alone makes a poor insulator – that’s why that space gets filled with argon gas. The gas is denser than oxygen, so it acts as a barrier between your home and the outside. Together this system forms a dependable seal.
It may seem random to fill windows with gas, but it makes sense: air can only do so much, and we need something in the middle to insulate the window as best as possible. And being colorless and odorless, it’s the next best thing to air.
Pro: Argon Gas is Safe
If the idea of gas makes you nervous, you’ll be pleased to know that argon is completely safe. Argon is inert, meaning it’s chemically inactive. You may remember it from chemistry class as one of the noble gases, ones that are stable and don’t bond with anything else to form compounds.
That’s all to say it’s not harmful if it leaks, such as in the case of a crack, seal failure, or just regular depletion. In fact, it’s one of the many gases we breathe every day as part of our atmosphere.
Con: Argon Gas Doesn’t Expand
You know how sometimes your key won’t work in the winter? This is the result of the lock freezing. Similarly, parts of your house will freeze and unfreeze as temperatures change, resulting in expansion, contraction and things not fitting as they did before.
The flipside of argon being inert is that it doesn’t move. That means it won’t expand and contract along with your window pane. A consequence is this could create a gap in the seal, meaning the gas would escape.
Pro: Preventing Condensation
A constant thorn in your side at winter time is the frost, fog, and condensation that forms on all your glass surfaces. Defrosting the car in the morning is a drag, and the windows in your house are no better off. This annoyance can prove insidious if it gets inside the window, between the panes where you can’t clear it off.
Typically double-pane windows come with a desiccant inside the spacer. This is a material, like silica, that absorbs water. When the desiccant has soaked up all it can, it can lead to window seal failure.
Moreover, excess moisture can become mold and grime. This will decay the window pane and make the window effectively useless. Thankfully, argon’s immobility makes it unfriendly to condensation.
Summer’s the season of crickets, firecrackers, and cannonballs. It’s also the season of loud parties, lawn mowers and motorcycles growling in the distance. These intermittent sounds can get under your skin and make for a sleepless night.
Luckily argon even insulates against noise, so you won’t be disturbed by rowdy neighbors or general noise.
Con: It Dissipates
Just like your tires lose air, windows may lose argon gas over time. The difference is you can’t top them back up like a trusty tire. Some manufacturers offer certification that they won’t leak. Regardless, windows are able to tolerate small leaks and should continue to perform normally throughout the lifespan of your windows.
Pro: It Saves Money
On the face of it, double-pane windows cost more. This is the simple fact of paying for quality. What you’ll find, however, is they save you in the long-run by lowering energy costs.
As we touched on earlier, argon is a proven insulator that defends your home against the elements. This weather-proofs your home and keeps it up-to-date for long-term enjoyment and even higher resale value.
The Bottom Line with Windows with Argon Gas
It doesn’t take a chemist to see that argon is the clear winner when it comes to windows. Bottom line, it’s safe, reliable, practical and cost-effective. Choosing windows that have these properties can drastically improve energy efficiency inside your home. As a result, homeowners typically go with argon gas windows to keep their home insulated from humidity during the summer.