Impact Resistant Low-E Glass for Hurricane Windows

Key Takeaways

  • Impact-resistant Low-E glass is crucial for energy efficiency and safety in hurricane-prone areas.

  • Low-E stands for low emissivity, which reflects heat while allowing light to pass through.

  • Compared to traditional glass, Low-E glass provides better insulation and UV protection.

  • Installation of impact-resistant Low-E glass can be an upgrade to existing windows or part of new construction.

  • Investing in Low-E glass has long-term benefits including cost savings on energy bills and potential insurance incentives.

Why Low-E Glass Is a Game-Changer

When it comes to constructing or retrofitting buildings in areas susceptible to severe weather, choosing the right materials is not just about aesthetics or cost—it's about resilience and efficiency. Here's where impact-resistant Low-E glass comes into play, a material that's revolutionizing the way we approach window design in hurricane windows. But what makes it a game-changer? Simply put, it combines two critical properties: it's tough enough to withstand the brute force of flying debris during a storm, and it's smart enough to keep your building cool and your energy costs down.

Understanding Low-E Glass Technology

Let's break it down. The 'Low-E' in Low-E glass refers to 'low emissivity', which is a measure of a material's ability to radiate absorbed energy. Think of it as a thin shield that reflects heat back to its source, whether that's the sun on a scorching summer day or your heater during a chilly winter evening. This reflective capability is due to a microscopically thin layer of metallic oxides, invisible to the naked eye, that coats the glass surface. Because of this, Low-E glass is a significant upgrade over traditional clear glass, especially when it comes to energy efficiency.

The Role of Impact Resistance in Home Safety

But efficiency is just one piece of the puzzle. In hurricane zones, the integrity of a building's envelope—its windows and doors—is critical. That's where impact resistance comes in. This type of glass is designed to stand up to the kinds of pressures and impacts that a hurricane can bring. It's not just about the immediate aftermath of a storm, either. Intact windows mean less water damage, fewer repairs, and a quicker return to normalcy after the storm has passed. Combine that with Low-E properties, and you've got a material that's not just tough, but also smart.

The Science Behind Low-E Glass

So, what's the science that makes Low-E glass so effective? It all comes down to the sun's spectrum of light, which includes visible light, UV light, and infrared light (heat). The Low-E coating reflects the infrared part of the spectrum while allowing the visible light to pass through. This selective reflection is key to maintaining a comfortable indoor climate without sacrificing natural light.

What Does Low-E Stand For?

Low-E stands for low emissivity, and emissivity is a measure of how much heat or light a surface will radiate. A Low-E coating on glass reduces the amount of heat that can pass through it without affecting the amount of natural light that enters. This technology has become a cornerstone in energy-efficient building design.

How Low-E Glass Minimizes Energy Loss

Energy loss through windows is a major concern for any building, especially in extreme climates. The genius of Low-E glass is that it targets this weakness head-on. By reflecting heat back to its source, it keeps interiors cool in summer by bouncing back the sun's heat, and warm in winter by reflecting interior heat back inside. This dual action makes it a year-round ally against energy loss.

Comparing Glass Types: Low-E vs. Traditional

When we put Low-E glass side by side with traditional glass, the differences become clear:


Low-E Glass

Traditional Glass

Energy Efficiency



UV Protection

Blocks up to 99%


Impact Resistance

High with proper treatment


Heat Reflection



Light Transmission



Energy Efficiency of Low-E Glass

The energy efficiency of Low-E glass is not just about comfort; it's about cost. By reducing the need for artificial heating and cooling, buildings with Low-E windows can see a significant decrease in energy bills. Over time, these savings can offset the initial investment in higher-quality windows.

Impact Resistance Comparisons

When it comes to withstanding the forces of nature, Low-E glass that is designed to be impact-resistant is a clear winner. Traditional glass may shatter upon impact, posing a risk to inhabitants and leaving the building exposed to the elements. Impact-resistant Low-E glass, on the other hand, holds together even when cracked, maintaining the building's envelope.

Installation and Upgrading

Let's talk about getting these windows into your building. If you're working on new construction, the choice is straightforward: opt for impact-resistant Low-E glass from the start. But if you're looking to retrofit an existing building, the process involves removing the old windows and ensuring that the new ones fit perfectly into the existing structure. This is a job for professionals who can guarantee a secure and precise installation.

Steps to Retrofit Existing Windows

  • Assess the current window frames for compatibility and structural integrity.

  • Choose the appropriate impact-resistant Low-E glass that meets local building codes.

  • Ensure a proper seal to maintain the insulative properties of the glass.

  • Work with experienced installers who can handle the specific challenges of retrofitting.

Remember, while the initial cost may be higher for impact-resistant Low-E glass, the benefits far outweigh the investment. Not only are you upping the safety ante, but you're also dialing down on energy costs, making it a smart choice for the long haul.

Choosing the Right Low-E Glass for Your Home

When selecting Low-E glass, consider factors such as the climate you live in, the direction your windows face, and the level of impact resistance needed. In warmer climates, you'll want glass that reflects more solar heat, while in cooler climates, you might prioritize a higher solar gain. Additionally, windows facing the sun at peak hours will benefit from stronger Low-E coatings. Always consult with a glass specialist who can recommend the best option for your specific situation.

Protective Benefits Against Extreme Weather

Extreme weather demands robust building materials. Low-E impact glass is engineered to provide protection not just from the sun's rays but also from high winds and flying debris. During hurricanes, tornadoes, or severe storms, windows are often the weakest link in a building's defense system. Low-E impact glass is designed to resist breaking, and even if it does crack, it holds its pieces together, preventing dangerous shards from causing injury or allowing the elements to penetrate indoors.

For example, during Hurricane Irma in 2017, buildings outfitted with impact resistant Low-E glass reported significantly less damage compared to those with standard windows. This is a testament to the protective benefits of this advanced glass technology.

Moreover, beyond the immediate protection during a storm, the durability of Low-E glass means a longer lifespan for your windows and fewer replacements over time. This translates to both cost savings and a reduced environmental impact.

Low-E Glass in Hurricane-Prone Regions

In areas frequently hit by hurricanes, Low-E impact glass isn't just a smart choice—it's often a part of building codes. The combination of energy savings and protective properties makes it an essential element for any construction or renovation project. By installing Low-E impact glass, you're not only adhering to safety standards but also investing in the longevity and resilience of your property.

Long-Term Durability and Cost Savings

The strength of Low-E impact glass means it's built to last. Its resistance to thermal stress, impact, and UV radiation ensures that windows maintain their integrity and performance over many years. This durability means fewer replacements and repairs, which can add up to significant cost savings over the lifespan of a building. In addition, the energy efficiency of Low-E glass can lead to reduced utility bills, making it a financially savvy investment for homeowners and commercial property owners alike.

Cost Analysis: Investing in Low-E Impact Glass

While low-impact glass may come with a higher upfront cost compared to standard glass, it's important to consider the long-term financial benefits. The energy savings alone can be substantial, but when combined with the reduced need for storm shutters and potential insurance discounts, the cost becomes even more justified. It's an investment in the safety, efficiency, and value of your property.

Typically, you might expect to pay about 10-15% more for low-impact glass compared to standard panes. However, when you factor in the energy cost savings, which can be around 30-50% of your heating and cooling expenses, the payback period becomes quite attractive.

Upfront Costs vs. Long-Term Benefits

When evaluating the cost of Low-E impact glass, consider the following long-term benefits:

  • Energy bill reductions due to improved insulation.

  • Increased property value and marketability.

  • Reduced noise pollution and enhanced UV protection.

  • Eligibility for tax credits and insurance discounts in some regions.

  • Peace of mind during extreme weather events.

These factors often tip the scales in favor of the initial investment, as the benefits extend well beyond mere cost savings.

Understanding Warranties and Insurance Incentives

When purchasing Low-E impact glass, it's crucial to understand the warranty offered by the manufacturer. A good warranty will cover defects and performance issues, providing additional security for your investment. Moreover, some insurance companies offer incentives or discounts for homes with impact-resistant features, recognizing the reduced risk of damage and claims. Be sure to check with your insurance provider to take full advantage of any potential savings.

Real-Life Scenarios

Real-world experiences often speak louder than specifications and lab results. Homeowners who have invested in Low-E impact glass frequently report not only a noticeable difference in their comfort levels and energy bills but also a sense of security when faced with severe weather conditions.

Performance During Recent Weather Events

Low-E impact glass has proven its worth time and again during recent weather events. In the wake of hurricanes and other natural disasters, buildings with low-impact glass have consistently fared better than those without. Not only do they stand up to the force of the storm, but they also contribute to quicker recovery times by minimizing damage to the interior of the building.

Ultimately, the combination of energy efficiency, impact resistance, and long-term cost savings make Low-E glass an intelligent choice for any construction or renovation project, particularly in regions prone to extreme weather. It's an investment that pays dividends in safety, comfort, and financial savings.

Maintaining Your Low-E Impact Glass

Maintenance is key to ensuring the longevity and performance of your Low-E impact glass. Fortunately, the care involved is not much different from that of regular glass. Regular cleaning with appropriate glass cleaners and soft cloths will keep the windows clear and functional. However, avoid abrasive tools or harsh chemicals that can damage the Low-E coating.

Inspect the seals and frames periodically to ensure they remain airtight and watertight. Proper maintenance not only extends the life of the windows but also ensures they can perform effectively when you need them most—during extreme weather events.

Cleaning and Care Best Practices

For optimal results, here are a few cleaning and care tips for Low-E impact glass:

  • Use a mixture of vinegar and water or a non-abrasive glass cleaner.

  • Clean the glass with a soft, lint-free cloth or sponge.

  • Avoid using metal scrapers or blades that can scratch the surface.

  • Check the manufacturer's guidelines for any specific care instructions.

  • Inspect the edges and seals for any signs of wear or damage and address them promptly.

Common Issues and Troubleshooting

Even the best materials can encounter problems. Sometimes, you might notice a milky appearance or fogging between panes—this could indicate a seal failure, which requires professional repair. If you find scratches on the coating, assess whether they're on the exterior or the interior. While exterior scratches might be cosmetic, interior ones could affect the glass's performance and might need a professional's attention.


Can Low-E Glass Be Broken Easily?

Impact-resistant Low-E glass is designed to withstand significant force, making it much harder to break than standard glass. Its construction typically involves laminated layers that hold together even when shattered, preventing easy breakage and entry.

Will Low-E Glass Prevent UV Damage Inside the Home?

Yes, one of the primary benefits of Low-E glass is its ability to block out harmful UV rays, protecting your skin and preventing your furniture, carpets, and artwork from fading over time.

Is Low-E Glass Noticeably Different from Regular Glass?

Visually, Low-E glass is not much different from regular glass. However, you might notice a slight tint or reflection due to the metallic coating, which is a small trade-off for the energy savings and protection it provides.

When you stand near a window on a sunny day, you'll feel less heat coming through a Low-E-coated window compared to a regular one. That's the invisible Low-E magic at work.

How Does Low-E Glass Impact Indoor Temperature?

Low-E glass significantly improves a window's insulative properties, meaning it keeps your indoor temperature more stable. In the summer, it reflects heat away, and in the winter, it keeps heat in. This results in less reliance on heating and cooling systems, maintaining a comfortable indoor climate more efficiently.

Because of its insulating capabilities, you might even find that rooms with Low-E glass feel more comfortable year-round, without the need for temperature adjustments.

Are There Any Downsides to Installing Low-E Glass?

While the benefits of Low-E glass are numerous, there are considerations to keep in mind:

  • The initial cost is higher than that of standard glass, but this is often offset by energy savings and potential insurance discounts.

  • In some cases, the tinting effect of Low-E coatings can alter the color perception of the natural light entering the home.

  • It requires proper installation and occasional maintenance to ensure the integrity of the Low-E coating and seals.

In conclusion, Low-E impact glass represents a smart investment for those in hurricane-prone regions, offering both immediate and long-term benefits. Its ability to withstand severe weather while reducing energy costs and protecting against UV damage makes it an invaluable addition to any construction project. As with any building material, proper installation and maintenance are key to maximizing its advantages. Considering the safety, comfort, and financial benefits, Low-E impact glass is an excellent choice for homeowners and construction professionals alike.