Why has triple glazing failed to gain market share?

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Nick Dardalis

Why hasn’t triple glazing won the hearts of the window buying public? It’s an issue often talked about within the door and window sector.

Understandably the glass manufacturers, spacer bar makers and others involved in the glass supply chain are all extolling the virtues of triple glazing. Many window and door websites will all largely state that their products are available triple glazed but rarely do you see a really concentrated approach to market triple glazing at the forefront of a website and as the must have latest generation window of today.

Look at any new product launch in aluminium or PVCu windows. It is virtually the case with every new product that the glazing range will state that it can accept triple glazing.  But installers and the wider window trade have not embraced triple glazing in the way it was originally marketed.

Is the window industry or the consumer to blame?

even in the finest homes, triple glazing is not making an impact? why have we not fallen in love with triple glazing?
Even in the finest homes, triple glazing is not making an impact.  Why have we not fallen in love with triple glazing?

A survey carried out by one of the established trade fabricators, Emplas, in 2015 reported a slow general uptake on triple glazing. They said:

Of those polled, 92 per cent said triple-glazing sales had accounted for less than five per cent of their turnover in 2014. Seven per cent said that it had made up five to 10 per cent of sales, while only three per cent said that it had accounted for a tenth or more of their turnover.

This carried through to installers’ analysis of future triple-glazed sales with 67 per cent of respondents predicting that they would never exceed those of double-glazed products.

So why has the take up of triple glazing been so slow by the buying public? Here we give some possible scenarios.

Lack of Education about Triple Glazing

Perhaps the grass roots of the double glazing industry has simply not had the education and training about triple glazing. Whether this is the fault of the glass industry or the systems companies is open to debate.

In the work we do it is rare for clients to want to promote their triple glazed products. It simply does not get mentioned.

There is also a thought amongst some salespeople that adding extras to windows can often detract from the real buying process. Some want the sales process to be kept simple so why complicate it talking about triple glazing?

We are over-marketing A rated double glazed windows

Look on any double glazing website and one of the most prominent messages will be about the energy efficiency of their windows. The A rated window is pretty much to be expected nowadays with all types of windows.  Indeed many window companies regard the energy efficiency of their windows as one of their key drivers of sales. Therefore, does it not go hand in hand that for a customer wanting to save the most money on their heating bills, triple glazing is surely the way to go?

Well no. Whilst triple glazing is a better insulated glass than double glazing it is not substantially better. Therefore the cost of the glass versus the savings to be made simply don’t make it viable. The case for triple glazing is not helped with window systems marking their already very good double glazed windows as very highly energy efficient with only two panes of glass, argon gas fill, low e coatings and warm edge spacer bars.

So perhaps the message for window industry marketers is to work towards creating a clear, tangible and obvious benefit in having triple glazing. Presently the homeowner is arguably getting a confusing message?

Cost is still an issue for homeowners

Despite a seismic shift to the window industry creating and marketing latest generation products at the ‘high end’ market, the reality is many homeowners remain on a budget.

For many they simply want new windows in their home because they’re needed. Cost is an issue. This is a different kind of consumer to the one that is building the dream home with no expense spared.

Triple Glazing is simply not worth it.

The Green Age website is a very well known energy saving website. Even they don’t consider triple glazing to be worth it. And we have to agree.

Window companies may market the energy saving properties of double glazing but the reality is that double glazing doesn’t pay for itself. The payback time for standard double glazing is way too long already so why extend the payback period still further with triple glazing?

The Energy Saving Trust gives their estimates on money saved by installing double glazing in a property previously fitted with single glazed windows.

Not taking into consideration regional variations, the average price of replacing all the windows and doors with PVCu in a typical home is approximately £9500. With aluminium windows the price would be nearer £13000. With an average saving of £85-£110 pounds on heating bills, it would take many decades to get the payback in energy savings based on these figures.

The long payback time on double glazing is rarely a consideration with today’s consumer. This is because windows do much more than save you money on heating bills.

New windows, bifolding doors, a lantern roof and a contemporary glazed extension add value to a home, not just in the monetary value of the property but value to how we use our homes. This value far outweighs the cost versus money saved on bills issue.

Anyone looking to buy a house will have double glazing fairly high on their wish list. However it’s unlikely triple glazing will ever have that same appeal.

The British Climate does not need triple glazing.

In recent years we have enjoyed much milder winters and this is reinforced by the Met Office’s assessment of winter 2014/2015.

As our weather becomes even more unpredictable is the case for not needing triple glazing stronger if homeowners are generally adopting the new that the UK is simply not cold enough to warrant triple glazing. Triple Glazing is the norm in Scandinavian and other much colder counties.

Triple Glazing had disadvantages.

Despite the obvious benefit of three panes of glass compared to two, there are disadvantages to double glazing. These include:

  • It is more expensive
  • The more panes of glass the more obscured the view.
  • Opening windows are heavier
  • Window components often need upgrading to accommodate triple glass
  • A home with already good double glazing won’t see the benefit with triple.
  • Whilst triple glazing will reduce noise so will acoustic double glazing and secondary glazing.

In the same way that ‘upgrades’ are available in all sorts of consumer products so triple glazing is a current upgrade on windows and doors. The choice to have it is very much there but it is up to the consumer to decide, with the right facts to hand, whether it would benefit them.

The window industry itself adapts quickly enough to changing trends and customer expectations. It’s accepted that any new window or door today must have the facility for triple glass. The decision to have it remains with the consumer.  However what we do see is the window industry itself failing to promote triple glazing opting instead for the already excellent credentials of modern aluminium windows and PVCu.

Triple glazing does have advantages for the right consumer and the right property.

  • In exposed locations and for passivhaus projects its ideal.
  • Specified correctly it can provide sound insulation for properties near airports or other sources of noise
  • With the right outer frame it can create highly energy efficient windows

Have your say.

If you’re a window installer, what is your experience of triple glazing? Are you actively promoting it to your customers or are you making no mention of its availability? If you’re a consumer, are you aware of triple glazing and would you consider it? We would love to hear your views.