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About Glass


IGU made of glass is called insulated glass (which refers to heat insulation, not sound). A more technically correct term, though, is insulating glass, since the glass itself has no insulated properties. It is actually the air space between the glass layers (lites) that provides the insulated qualities.

The air space between the lites may be filled with air or an inert gas like argon or krypton which would provide better insulating performance. Argon (Ar) has an atomic mass of 39.9, which is much more than nitrogen (N2) and oxygen (O2) molecules, which have a molecular mass of 28.0 and 32.0 respectively. As a result, argon atoms move significantly slower than nitrogen and oxygen molecules at the same temperature. This reduces convection and decreases the energy transfer between one side of the glass and the other. Typically the spacer is filled with desiccant to prevent condensation and improve insulating performance. Less commonly, most of the air is removed, leaving a partial vacuum, which drastically reduces heat transfer through convection and conduction. This is called evacuated glazing.

Often the insulating quality is used in reference to heat flow where the gap between glazed sheets is optimum at about one centimeter. A larger gap allows for convection currents and negates the dead air space. However, in some situations the insulation is in reference to noise mitigation. In these circumstances a large gap improves the noise insulation quality or Sound Transmission class.

Insulated glass may not be cut to size in the field like plate glass but must be manufactured to the proper size in a shop equipped with special equipment.



The heat and sound insulation of glazing may also be improved through the use of a film or coating applied to its surface. This film is typically made of polyester or metal, and may give a reflective appearance and one-way mirror effect to the window, and may improve both heat and sound insulation. This may be used on single-glazed windows as an alternative to insulated glazing, or on the outside layer of insulated glazing to further improve its effectiveness. Such coatings may reduce fading of fabric and improve safety in the case of breakage.

"Secondary glazing" is sometimes used as a cheaper alternative. This consists of a layer of glazing placed retrofitted inside the window, to provide sound and heat insulation. Plastic sheet may be used for heat insulation, but may only last for one season.


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Independent Window Repair, Inc.

30035 Commerce Blvd.
Chesterfield, MI 48051