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What are Insulated Glass Units and why Should you Want them in your Windows?

Insulated Double & Triple Glazing

What are insulated glass units?

The glass units consist of two or more panes of glass, joined together, separated by a spacer all around. Their advantageous properties are due to two factors – a hermetically sealed space between the panes filled with noble gas, and a special, high-quality "thermofloat" coating, transparent and invisible to the naked eye, but covering the whole surface of the glass panes. 

As a result, we get units that:

  • provide effective thermal insulation,
  • prevent heat from escaping,  thus ensuring high thermal comfort and saving money on heating bills;
  • let in a lot of light;
  • have a perfectly flat surface;
  • are above-average strength, especially after reinforcing them with laminate;
  • block the penetration of solar heat in summer and prevent its loss in winter;
  • effectively limit external sounds;
  • they can be part of an anti-burglary system;
  • look stylish and modern, fitting suitably into many interior design schemes.

The modern design of insulated glass units are made of glass panes, which are separated by spacer frames that guarantee the unit is sealed air-tight. The spaces between the panes are filled with noble gasses such as argon or krypton. Multi-glazing glass units currently come as a standard in new windows and are not just used in specifically environmentally friendly designs. Triple-glazed windows are recommended for apartments, family homes, office buildings and wherever comfort, safety and aesthetics are important.

Remember! Although glass units are often referred to as “double glazing”, in fact, the units can consist of up to four glass panes, making them even more effective at their intended job. 

Types of glass units

Until recently, single chamber double-glazed units were the standard. Nowadays, two-chamber units are common, and three or four panes of glass are seen more and more often. Thanks to the use of different glass thicknesses and different coatings or a higher number of glass panes, the resulting units can perform different functions.

It is thus worth checking what types of glass units are available and choose a solution best suited for your property and tailored to your needs and those of your household members. 

Insulated glass units

These include popular solutions, used, for example, in energy-efficient homes and in other buildings where reducing heat loss is crucial. Insulated glass units are made of special multi-layer glass that provides excellent thermal insulation. 

This means they not only make for comfortable, warm homes even on cold and frosty winter days, but also help to keep the heating bills low. 

Fire rated glass units

Ordinary glazing can get damaged very quickly in a fire, posing an additional threat to people in the building. Therefore, in order to provide adequate protection, fire-rated insulating glass units are used in areas particularly vulnerable to the spread of fire.

These units can be used both indoors and outdoors, and are available in several versions, offering different levels of protection. The solutions vary in terms of the integrity of the glass (the length of time the glass will remain undamaged in a fire) and the level of insulation (the limitation of temperature rise by the glass on the fire side). With integrity-only fire glass, burning could occur if touched. Insulation glass, on the other hand, will not get as hot.

Safety and security glazing

Safety glass refers to glazing that reduces the risk of accident by impact or breakage, while security glass is engineered to resist various types of intentional damage, such as manual, ballistic or blast.These units provide a higher level of protection against burglars, which is why they are chosen both by private individuals who want to secure their valuable assets, as well as by institutions, banks, etc. They are also fitted in escort vehicles, as they are not only resistant to impact, but also to bullet penetration.

For the production of this type of glass units, a larger number of panes, thicker glass, as well as special reinforcing solutions, such as laminate, are used. Thanks to this, the units can be several times stronger than standard glass.

Remember! Safety glazing – tempered glass which is very difficult to damage, and when this happens, it breaks into many small pieces, which significantly reduces the risk of injury that could be suffered by people nearby.

Noise reduction glass units

These are glazing units for exterior doors and windows, which significantly reduce the noise level reaching the building from the outside. As a result, they are a popular choice for both flat and home owners and offices who want to ensure maximum comfort for their employees.

Protection against noise and at the same time high light transmission is achieved through the use of different glass thicknesses within the unit and the use of special acoustic films.

Solar control glass units

As the name suggests, glass units of this type are more effective than others in limiting the amount of solar energy entering the interior. In this way, they reduce the heating of rooms and provide a high level of comfort for home and flat owners, as well as for retail employees whose interiors are subjected to excessive solar exposure.

It is worth adding that such solutions not only increase the comfort of life or work, but also reduce the costs of potential air conditioning. 

Types of glass in glass units

Low-emission glass is an important factor contributing to the high quality of glass units. The use of special metal oxide coatings on its surface provides numerous benefits.

Low-emission glass helps to stabilise temperature and reduce energy consumption by reducing heat loss as well as reduces the ultraviolet and infrared light that can pass through the window.

However, this is not the only solution used in glass units. They also use toughened or laminated glass, which is extremely strong and thus increases the durability of the windows on the one hand and the safety of the building's users on the other.

It is worth noting that the glass in double or triple glazed units can be of varying thicknesses - making it easy to adapt their functions and properties to the needs of homeowners. 

Installation of glass units step by step

The assembly of glass units is carried out in the production process following appropriate procedures. This makes it possible to position and secure them safely in the complete window.

Therefore, in a domestic setting, self-assembly can only take place if a damaged unit needs to be replaced. However, in order to avoid potential problems and to be sure that the glass is properly positioned, it is worth entrusting this task to professionals.

If you nevertheless want to embark on the fitting of a replacement unit yourself, there are a few important points to bear in mind. The most important of them are:

1) carefully take apart the window and remove the glass unit;

2) place the frame on a stable, level surface (with the indoor-facing side upwards) and place the glass unit in the frame;

3) make sure to use suitable spacers and fillers so the unit is stable and doesn't move;

4) fit the correct glazing bead, suitable for the specific type of window.

Separation of glass units

It is not possible to separate the units without losing their main features, because the spaces in between are filled with noble gas and not air. Unsealing or taking apart a unit would mean losing the insulation effect. 

Pricing of glass units

How much do glass units cost? The price depends primarily on the selected type of glass, as well as its parameters. Single-chamber (double-glazed) solutions are the cheapest. Two- or three-chamber units will cost more – additional costs are also associated with extra features in the unit.

Some suppliers offer glass units in direct online sales, which allows for full customisation. 

Remember! The price is directly related to features, and generally, paying more will result in better performance, whether thermal, acoustic or other. It is often worth paying more for good quality windows, but the right solution will depend on your specific needs. It's worth noting that more expensive windows will be also more durable. Insulated multi-glazing glass units are rapidly becoming a standard in new developments and for window-replacing projects. 

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