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How to Choose Impact Windows

The threat of hurricanes is very real for Florida during the six-month long Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 until November 30. The peak of hurricane season occurs between mid-August and late October, when the waters in the equatorial Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico have warmed enough to help support the development of tropical waves.

Since 1850, all of Florida’s coastline has been impacted by at least one hurricane.  With its long coastline and location, Florida frequently finds itself in the path of these intense storms. The southeast coastline is extremely susceptible to a land-falling hurricane, followed by the panhandle.

Installing hurricane impact windows can be a permanent solution to the ever-present problem of hurricane and tornadoes in Florida.

What are Impact Windows?

Impact windows are windows made with heavy-duty frames and laminated glass. Impact glass is created from two outer sheets bonded to a strong inner core. Combined with a special glazing that prevents the glass from breaking away from the frame, impact-resistant glass is designed to withstand winds up to 200 mph. 

Though impact-resistant glass may crack when impacted by a blunt force during a hurricane, the strength of the glass combined with the clear inner layer of polyvinyl butyral enables the windows to hold up without actually breaking.

How do hurricane windows work?

Impact windows are designed to resist the penetration of flying debris during a storm, thereby protecting a home or commercial structure from wind infiltration and resulting damages. Once a structure is compromised and penetrated by flying debris, internal pressure builds up, leading to serious structural damage.

To be qualified as an impact product, the window must meet hurricane or wind-borne debris codes from an approved body such as Miami-Dade, Florida Building or the International Building Code.

Are High Impact Windows Worth the Cost?

Knowing the safety, efficiency, and comfort benefits, is installing impact windows worth the cost? The price of installing high impact windows can range anywhere from $4,000 to $10,000, depending on how many windows your home requires. These upfront costs can be a high price tag for the peace of mind that high impact windows deliver. 

Energy Saver

Impact doors and windows are designed to be thermal absorbers during summer seasons and to retain heat in cool seasons. Energy-friendly features such as ENERGY STAR-ratings, low-emissivity properties and customizable solar ratings make impact doors and windows the best choice for energy savings.

Security and Protection

Anti-hurricane approved impact windows and doors are shatter and penetration resistant. Constructed with several layers of glass, anti-hurricane approved impact windows and doors provide top-notch, year-round home security and protection.

Reduce Noise

Enjoy the anti-noise reduction features of impact doors. Super-thick, multi-layered glass and hard-sealed framing prevent air and sound leakage.

Sunlight’s UV Ray Protection

Protect yourself and your precious items from the sun’s UV rays by installing impact windows and doors.

Insurance Discounts

Most insurance companies offer premium discounts for windstorm protective systems. Another estimate by Florida real estate agents is that homeowners have seen up to a 50% discount on their premiums because the risk is reduced for the insurance provider, not just from hurricanes but also from burglaries.

Increase Curb Appeal

There are variety of impact windows to enhance your home’s curb appeal for potential buyers or to match your home structural style.

Resale value

Better windows = better home envelope = better resale value.

How to choose the right impact windows for your home?

If you’re ready to improve the safety and security of your property by adding impact windows, you’ll need the following questions.

1. What are the types of impact windows do you need?

Discuss with your architect or engineer your window style for every room and section of your home.

Here are the types of impact windows:

2. Which frame materials and qualities are available?

There are three main options for impact windows: Aluminum, vinyl, and wood. But how do these hurricane windows compare and contrast with each other? Let’s take a deeper look.

Material

Pros

Cons

AluminumStronger. Weather resistant. Light weight. Aesthetically pleasing. Low maintenance. Recyclable.Needs to be painted.
VinylExcellent insulator. High energy performance. Low maintenance. Low cost.Recyclability is still being fully researched.
WoodExcellent insulator. High energy performance. Recyclable.Rots and warps. High maintenance.

3. What is the Impact Window Glass Options?

How to decipher the many kinds of hurricane windows glass options from which to choose?

Laminated: Two sheets of glass bonded together with a plastic film.

Insulated Laminated: An additional pane of glass is added to a laminated unit with hermetically sealed air space in between. Commonly used in colder climates where the temperature difference is greater than 50 degrees between inside and outside during the winter.

4. What is your city code?

Cities and towns have different codes that must be followed when installing new impact-resistant windows. Both Federal and state governments have various codes that should be met when it comes to glass windows. Although the Federal building codes might be very generic, Florida building codes pay huge attention to hurricane and other storms. Most of the window manufacturers in Florida understand the local building codes and it would be better to buy from them.

5. What is hurricane-resistant levels?

Ask if the impact resistant hurricane windows and doors can withstand category five hurricanes, which are the strongest.

6. What is a Low-E impact window?

Low-E glass coatings are the next step up from tinted windows and doors. The coating is applied to the internal glass to separate both heat and light energy.

Low-E glass coatings reflect the heat back to the source allowing the short wave light to pass through for natural illumination.

7. What are R-values and U-values?

R-Value is a measure of thermal resistance, or the ability of an object or material to resist the flow of heat. U-Value is a thermal transmittance, or the heat loss through a structural element.

The higher the R-value of your impact window, the greater the resistance to heat. The lower the U-value, the better the insulating quality.

8. What is Solar Heat Gain Coefficient?

Solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) is the fraction of solar radiation admitted through a window, door, or skylight — either transmitted directly and/or absorbed, and subsequently released as heat inside a home. The lower the SHGC, the less solar heat it transmits and the greater its shading ability.

9. What is an ENERGY STAR qualified impact window?

ENERGY STAR qualified windows:

  1. Are manufactured by an ENERGY STAR partner,
  2. Are independently tested, certified, and verified by the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC), and
  3. Have NFRC ratings that meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

10. What do I need to know about impact window brands & manufacturers?

Quality and performance are the two main factors when choosing impact windows. Quality products have been tested extensively and no reported failures. In Florida, look for a manufacturer with documented NOAs (Notice of Acceptance by Miami-Dade County) for impact resistant windows and doors.

Most Trusted Impact Windows Installer in Southwest Florida

Guardian Hurricane Protection offers CGI, PGT and WinDoor Impact Windows with aluminum or vinyl frame options.

We are fully licensed and Insured State of Florida Certified General Contractor. We are OSHA Certified, have an outstanding safety record and conduct regular on-site safety meetings. Our goal is zero time lost on the job. We are a Nami Certified ManufacturerPGT Glazing CertifiedEuroWall Installation Certified, an ASSA Member and a Solar Energy Contractor.

Call Guardian Hurricane Protection today at  (239) 438-4732 (239) 237-1448 for more information about impact windows.