Commercial vs. Residential Insulated Glass Units (IGU’s)
By: Heather Pavlas
Did you know Northwestern Glass Fab specializes in the fabrication of commercial and residential insulated glass units (IGUs)? Have you ever wondered about the key differences between them?
Difference #1 – Glass Thickness & Design
Commercial insulated units consist of thicker glass panes, with the most common thickness being ¼”. However, 3/16” and 5/16” panes can also be utilized. The demand for natural light and open spaces in commercial building necessitates larger framing and overall glass sizes. These insulated glass units are designed to withstand diverse air currents and harsh weather conditions, even in buildings that span over 50 floors. Typically, commercial IGs are intended for installation in aluminum storefronts or commercial applications. Such installations may involve high-altitude constraints and/or structural components and requirements.
Residential glass units typically consist of thinner glass panes, such as single strength glass (3/32”) or double strength (1/8”). In cases where residential windows are larger in size, 5/32” panes can be used to enhance the units strength. Unlike commercial applications, residential windows do not require heavier and thicker glass due to the absence of pressure from structure loads. These units are commonly installed in vinyl or wood applications and are generally smaller in scale.
However, rest assured that you can achieve the desired thermal performance regardless of glass thickness!
Difference #2 – Thermal Performance
Commercial IGs are designed with a focus on functionality rather than aesthetics. To optimize energy efficiency and reduce building expense, various Low E coatings and/or tints are utilized to minimize Solar Heat Gain Coefficients (SHGC) levels.
Conversely, in residential applications, there is often a preference for lower U-factor ratings. Northwestern Glass Fab provides a range of Low E products to address lower U-factor requirements for residential IGUs and to target specific SHGC levels for commercial IGUs.
So, what exactly is the distinctions between SHGC and U-Factor? SHGC quantifies the amount of solar heat that enters through a window, representing the outdoor hear. A lower SHGC rating indicates reduced cooling expenses, making it particularly beneficial for commercial buildings.
On the other hand, U-factor measures the insulation efficiency of a window, assessing the heat transfer from the inside of a home. A lower U-factor rating translates to decreased heating expenses, making it ideal for residential homes.
What types of Low E Glass does Northwestern Glass Fab offer for Commercial and Residential applications?
Don’t find the desired Low E option on these charts? No problem! Feel free to give us a call to explore whether any of our Low E products are comparable to your specific requirements. Alternatively, we can collaborate with our trusted vendor partners to fulfill your specified Low E needs. We offer competitive pricing and are committed to assisting you with your upcoming window project, regardless of its location!