Double vs Triple Pane Windows: What’s the Difference?

When you begin to window shop (literally) it won’t take long for even the most novice consumer to discover that terms like “double pane windows” and “triple pane windows” are a really big deal. These two types of windows are all the rage right now and for good reason.

There are many benefits to both which neither option being a poor decision, yet depending on your personal needs it may help make the decision easier on you. If it is time to invest in replacement windows now is the time to do the research between double vs triple pane windows.

What’s the difference, and which one is better for your needs?

double vs triple pane windows

Glazing for Windows

Glazing derives from the Middle English term for glass. It is also a type of compound that goes around the glass of a window and it serves a couple of primary purposes. A) It helps hold the glass in place. B) It seals out the elements meaning it blocks drafts and unwanted heat.

In the past, single-pane windows were the primary type and glazing consisted of nothing more than using putty to serve this purpose. The problem was that over the years the glaze would transform from soft to rock-hard, crack, and even completely fall off the glass.

Of course, this made the windowless effective overtime at keeping out drafts, losing controlled heating from the interior of the home, allowing insects to enter, and a number of other issues.

Double and Triple Pane Windows: The Primary Difference

The biggest difference between a double pane window and a triple pane window is glazing. When you hear of terms like tempered glass, tinted float glass, or laminated glass what you are hearing is the type of glazing used. It is also referring to how many panes of glass were used in the window.

Any of these specialized types of windows can get glazed in double or triple units. The theory is that the more the glass is glazed the stronger it is against the elements, making it more durable and long-lasting.

While true to a degree, there are pros and cons to each type of window not necessarily making triple-pane windows better than double pane windows.

It is also worth noting that there are different ways to glaze a double or triple pane window. The glazing can get mounted on the surface of the window sash and then fixed in a number of ways from creating triangular glazing points to using putty. Furthermore, types of glass like laminated can get glazed by bolting panes directly to the metal framework.

What is most certainly true is that double and triple pane windows are quickly phasing out single pane windows as the de facto type of glazing. Almost every new home is produced with one or the other, and older homes are upgrading to double pane windows for this very same reason.

Double Pane Windows

Double pane windows have two glass panels that are glazed. There is a spacer between the two panes which separates them. The spacer has proven energy efficiency benefits too.

types of window shutters

Some of the biggest pros to double pane windows:

Double pane windows work extremely well when produced in fiberglass or vinyl. The combination of the glazing with one of the two building materials is really optimal at preventing heat loss which subsequently lowers a monthly bill.

Still, double pane windows are truly only as effective as their spacer. It must be very precise and installed correctly in order to really give you the advantages the product sells. And since homeowners spend a lot on replacement windows that’s very important.

If you feel like double pane windows are the most appropriate option you should check to see if there is a gas-filled between the panes of glass. The gas fill is produced to provide an extra thermal layer. Argon and krypton are the two most popular types of gasses utilized. The gas consequently makes the windows, even more, energy-efficient.

Finally, if the glazing and gas fill isn’t enough, you can invest in further energy efficiency qualities such as using a Low-E glass coating on the glass. The low-emissivity glass keeps infrared light from penetrating the interior of your home while still omitting visible light.

Triple Pane Windows

The theory is that triple pane windows would always be better than double pane windows due to the added layer of protection yet that is not always the case.

Yes, the extra layer of glass, as well as two spacers (not just one), make triple pane a popular choice albeit very expensive. Triple pane windows are also extremely heavy which is primarily just an issue regarding installation though it ultimately impacts your final bill.

Fiberglass and vinyl work really well with triple-pane, comparable to double pane. You must pick a strong window frame material due to the extreme weight of the glass.

The added spacer provided in triple pane is a really nice feature though there is once again a margin for error if the spaces left between are not precise and the installation was of poor quality. If that is the case, you essentially just wasted your money because triple-pane windows aren’t going to do close to what they promise.

Triple pane windows do have a gas fill between the spacers. It is excellent for energy efficiency. If you are looking to save a little money with this feature choose argon over krypton which is far more costly.

Due to the added layer of glass and spacer expect triple pane windows to be quieter and better options for extreme temperature climates that demand excellent thermal protection.

The Final Verdict: Double vs Triple Pane Windows

Triple pane windows will argue that they are better in just about every regard which is partly true yet double pane windows are still amazingly energy efficient. Plus they are better at allowing in natural light which is important to some homeowners.

The biggest difference is cost. Not everyone can afford triple pane. New double-pane windows are fairly costly in their own right. So at the end of the day, it comes down to a personal budget. However, you really can’t go wrong with either one.

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Your Resource for Windows

Window Resource started with one goal in mind - to help people become up-to-date on all things windows. Windows play a major role in your home's looks, value and energy efficiency so it's important to make the right decision when getting new ones installed. We'll cover just about every topic there is so you can make the best decision. Still don't see what you're looking for? Contact us and we'll answer any questions you may have.