03.31.14 - Solar Matters

We’ve been on a meandering path recently, looking at everything from screens to shade screens and sun screens. Today we are going to take the next step in this vague progression and look at the shading coefficient. If you’re starting to pick up a theme, you might be on to something. As we approach spring and summer, it is high time to start talking about sun, heat, and all things good and wonderful. So, let’s cut to the chase, what is a shading coefficient and why are we talking about it? Shading coefficient is basically a measure of the ability of a window or skylight to transmit solar heat. This is relative the ability of a standardized piece of glass. This is actually an older measure and is being phased out by the solar heat gain coefficient, which more accurately describes a window’s ability to transmit or block heat. As to why we are looking at these measures, it is actually pretty simple. Energy efficiency is the name of the game these days. The cost of heating and cooling a home is on a constant skyward spike and now, more than ever, maintaining an energy efficient home is one of the most critical things you can do to impact your overall utility burden. This, obviously, has always been an important thing for homeowners, but in our current times, the need for energy efficiency can't be overemphasized. Quality aluminum windows and vinyl windows are one major component in maintaining energy efficiency in any building. Solar heat gain is a great measure by which to determine the efficiency of a given window and to analyze the overall impact new replacement windows could have on your home.


03.24.14 - Filling in the Gaps: Sealants and Screens

We’re on a veritable marathon of glossary terms this month, and the train is set to keep on rolling. Today we are going to cover new ground with the term sealant. The term is pretty basic in the world of construction but it merits some additional attention as it influences the energy efficiency of a home in a pretty substantial way. The general definition of sealant is a compressible plastic material used to seal any opening or junction of two distinct parts (for example the space between glass and a metal sash). The material is often composed of silicone, polysulfide, or butyl tape. In case you are wondering why we’re talking about sealants on a window manufacturer blog, the answer is simple, without sealant, we’d be in a world of hurt. You would be amazed (I don’t know, maybe you wouldn’t) by the impact that unsealed gaps and cracks in the exterior of a home can have on the overall energy efficiency of a building. This is no over-exaggeration or overemphasis; the impact is huge, and well worth some serious attention. With that said, that’s all the attention we are going to give the topic today.

In a previous installment, we touched on screens and reflected on the incredible gift these items are to the home dweller or building goer, allowing fresh air without bugs and pests. Today we are going to take it up a notch and look at a shade screen. Now, a shade screen, although containing the word screen, actually has nothing to do with the traditional screen, which we addressed previously. Instead, a shade screen is a sheet like material formed to intercept solar radiation that might otherwise strike a window. It is really just a fancy way of saying a flexible shade, or sun screen.

03.17.14 - Sashes and Screens

Let’s have a show of hands, how many of you, when you were young, puzzled over the line in the Night Before Christmas that says, “I rushed to the window and threw up the sash?” I for one have my hand raised high at the moment. I always wondered if maybe he had eaten something bad called “sash” and just couldn’t keep it down, or any number of other mostly implausible explanations. Well, if I had had this little nugget of a blog, I wouldn’t have had to wonder for so long. It turns out that a sash is really just a part of a window. We’ve talked about them before, but the reality is that our inspired poet was really just talking about opening a window. So, what exactly is a sash? Well, it’s actually a pretty fundamental part of many types of aluminum windows and vinyl windows. A formal definition states that a sash is the portion of a window that includes the glass and the framing sections directly attached to the glass. So a sash holds the glass, on certain types of windows. Good.

With all that business about sashes cleared up, let’s move forward and take a look at screens. Screens are probably one of the most important inventions of our age… aside from the motorized scooter of course. If you don’t know what a screen is, I don’t know what to tell you. I guess I’d have to ask how you made it so far in life without ever hearing about the incredible window accessory. Simply put, a screen is a woven plastic, metal, or fiberglass mesh stretched over a window opening with the express intent of allowing air to pass through the window all while simultaneously keeping out insects, birds, cats, deer, fish, flying squirrels, etc. Of course, should a flying squirrel or cat decide they really wanted to get through the screen, they could claw, gnaw, or force their way through, but the beauty is that, in general, it effectively keeps out pests.

03.10.14 - A Look Back at Safety Glass

Over the course of the last several weeks, we’ve been pulling back the lid on safety and looking at some of what goes into safety glass. We actually really only just introduced the topic (although we’ve explored the topic in greater depth on other occasions). Today we are going to re-embark on the important work of distilling and sharing with the world the wonders of safety glass. We aren’t going to go extremely in-depth since, again, we have already wrestled that mammoth - but we are going to reiterate the importance of the breakthrough in safety technology and the impact it has had on our present world. It would be an understatement to say that safety glass saves lives. It does so every day thanks to a simple technology which prevents glass from shattering into incredibly jagged and sharp shards. Don’t be mistaken, not every window is fitted with safety glass, but aluminum windows and vinyl windows in places that are more likely to see damage from flying debris or other projectiles (i.e. golf balls), or in places where there is just on overall higher risk of activity that could break windows you are likely to find safety glass in action, head raised high, protecting the world from the dangers of lesser glass types. Again, not every window or door situation merits safety glass, but for those who have had close encounters with glass, you know just how dangerous it can be. If you’ve got a hankering to learn more about safety glass, the different ways it is made, and the different classifications and types of glass at our disposal, be sure to have a look around the pages Croftllc.com for an eye opening experience.

02.26.14 - Safety Glass: Staying Safe

If you are anything like us, then you’re probably still recovering from last week’s expedition into the world of fenestration and the glossary term rough opening. We might’ve stumbled upon one of the most profound foundational elements of the entire industry, so if you missed it, be sure to go back and read up… just be sure to leave yourself some time to come back to earth and readjust to reality as you now will know it before trying to operate any heavy machinery, or engage in any dangerous or complex tasks like brain surgery or something of the sort. As we move forward, we are going to say hello to a new chapter on our trek through the glossary of window manufacturing terms with a new letter. We’ve conclude our look at the R’s and will be moving right along to the next letter in the alphabet, S (we understand that you all know the alphabet quite well, but for dramatic effect, we had to spell it out)!  So, our next term, as we swiftly go on our way, is Safety Glass. Safety glass is a very important thing in our modern world, and has saved countless lives since its advent. Safety glass is basically strengthened or reinforced glass that is less likely to break, shatter, or splinter. It uses space age technology (a thin plastic-like film adhered to the glass) to prevent dangerous breakage. In the coming installment we are going to go a little further in depth into some of the different kinds of safety glass and what their respective advantages and disadvantages are. It will be an informative post, so be sure to dial in at the same time and same place next week! In the meantime, see if you can spot safety glass (hint: most likely you can't).

02.19.14 - Rough Openings and Vinyl Windows

We left off with a bit of a cliffhanger as we set the stage for our discussion of rough openings, but then swiftly proceeded to cut the discussion short. Today we are going to get our hands dirty and look at the concept and glossary term with a magnifying glass. We will leave no stone unturned, unless of course that stone is better left unturned. So, what is a rough opening? Well, a rough opening is so simple you might just fall asleep as we tell you. It is merely an opening in a wall into which a window or door will be installed. I know, this is earthshattering, groundbreaking, mind blowing, life changing information, so try to take it in stride. This is the very core of fenestration. Fellow readers, we have just touched beating heart of the entire window manufacturing industry. This profoundly simple thing, this thing so elementary that we should all question whether it should even have its own name, is the very fundamental root of the industry where we exist. The rough opening is, in fact, the least common denominator, the one inextricable element of the industry upon which all further business is founded. Without the rough openings, there would be no need for aluminum windows, vinyl windows, storm doors, patio doors, sliding doors, or any other kind of window or door that you can possibly imagine.  You might feel that we’re making a lot of clamor over nothing, but to you we say, we couldn’t clamor enough over this monumental and simple foundation of our industry. So, may your day be filled with wonder as you contemplate how something so simple can be so boundlessly important. This might just be an important life lesson too, so let it simmer for a bit and see how it sits.

02.12.14 - The Fenestration Foundation

As you might expect, when you cover vast expanses of material on a routine basis, certain themes are going push to the top and become regular faces, while others are going to slip off to the background like they never even happened. Well, as much as we try to fight this tendency and avoid overdoing some topics and underdoing others, we just can help ourselves sometimes. You see, we are in the business of window manufacturing, so with that there are going to be certain points of interest, like the Great Mystery Spot on I-70 as you drive through Nebraska, where we are just going to stop at every time we pass though. So, what’s our Great Mystery Spot? Well, one of them is certainly the idea of energy efficiency. Another prime destination is the idea that our entire industry revolves around the concept of fenestration. Fenestration is going to be the topic of our post today, so hold on tight.

Most of us don’t need a recap regarding what fenestration means or why we should care around here, but you know us, and we’re going to give it anyway. Fenestration is the business of openings or entries into a home or building. This might take the form of a window or a door, but if it involves an intentional hole in a building, it involves fenestration. Today we are looking at the window manufacturing term rough opening and will be exploring what this means in the context of the replacement window manufacturers industry.  With that short but sweet introduction, let’s roll right into a discussion of rough openings… in our next installment! In the meantime, ponder the significance this term might have on the entire industry, then get ready for what is in store.

02.03.14 - Roof Windows and the Finer Things in Life

A quick glimpse into the past reveals some pretty interesting strains of thought here in our pursuit of all things related to windows and doors. Over the last couple of weeks we’ve basically managed to somehow dig even deeper into our exploration of aluminum windows and vinyl windows by peering into the heart of the industry and the core of what makes the window manufacturing industry the incredible thing it is. We briefly touched on the term ”fenestration” and rehashed what exactly fenestration is and why we care here in the window manufacturing industry. If you need a recap, we care because the word fenestration deals with the openings of our homes and buildings. These are they places where windows so diligently sit. The voids so perfectly filled by doors and windows of every shape and size. So, in essence, fenestration is everything to world of windows and doors. We also briefly touched on some emerging technologies in the industry, and some tired and true technologies that aren’t going anywhere any time soon. Today we are going to break new ground as we look at roof windows and all that they entail. To make a culturally relevant aside, how about those Olympics? With that obligatory nod to the winter games out of the way, let’s move on with our life and look at these roof windows we’re all itching to learn about. So, to start, what is a roof window? Seems like a good launch point, so let’s dig in! A roof window is exactly what you are probably thinking it is. There’s no fancy footwork or crafty wordsmithing going on with this one today. Roof windows are simply window that are in roofs. Period. Some say roof window, some say skylights; to each his own. So next time you find yourself basking indoors in the glowing yellow sunlight pouring in from above, you might just be experiencing the rapturous joys of roof windows. Soak it in and smile knowingly to yourself, assured of the fact that you, my friend, are quite the efficiando!

01.31.14 - Tech Buzz and Energy Efficiency

In recent weeks we set out on a new and uncharted path to gain further understanding of the window manufacturing industry. To start this voyage of unmatched and unequalled scope, we started with a few definitions. Namely, we looked at the word fenestration which deals with all things concerning windows and doors of all shapes and sizes. Next we looked at the word technology. We all know what technology is, so I don’t think a recap is necessary there.  Basically, we looked at the intersection of these two things for an understanding of where window manufacturing is, the ground it has covered, and where it’s headed in the future. One embodiment of this intersection is RESFEN. What is RESFEN you might be asking? Well, I’m glad you asked, because we were just about to dive into that!  RESFEN is a computer program that is used to compute the amount of energy used in a home based on the selection and choice of windows in a residential home. This is basically a tool for computing the effect that window choices will have on energy efficiency in your home. This is very important information to have in our day and age given the climate of energy efficiency and the information available at our disposal when it comes to buying a home and making home improvement decisions. Technology like this helps us reduce the carbon footprint of our homes and optimize our decisions based on an informed perspective and an educated position. Ah the benefits of modern technology. Certainly this kind of ability comes with certain responsibilities previously not afforded us, but this is to be expected with the progression of technology and the impact it has on our world. So, next time you’re sizing up a window project or thinking about the energy efficiency of your home, consider some of the tools out there to help you make wise and informed decisions.

01.22.14 - Fenestration and Technology

For the purposes of our forthcoming discussion on fenestration and technology, it might be a good idea to dig into the terminology we’re about to build a conversation on top of. To start, we’re going to recap a word that most people don’t throw around every day, although if you’ve spent any time on the pages of our blog, you’ll know it by heart and chances are you’ll give it to your first child for their middle name. Fenestration is a broadly reaching term that basically deals with all things window and doors. Fenestration (according to trusty ol’ Webster) has a few closely linked meanings: 1) the arrangement, proportioning, and design of windows and doors in a building; 2) an opening in a surface (as a wall or membrane); 3) the operation of cutting an opening in the bony labyrinth between the inner ear and tympanum to replace natural fenestrae that are not functional. So, dropping the bit about cutting holes in ears… since obviously that is quite a different business than what we do around here, we are left with a pretty simple concept – holes. Fenestration deals with holes and the things you put in the newly formed absence of material. So, in our case, and in most cases when talking about fenestration, we are referring to windows, doors and anything else serving as a barrier to the outside world in your home, or rather in the holes in your home. So, with that out of the way, let’s look at technology. Back at the dictionary we find that technology is: 1) the practical application of knowledge especially in a particular area; 2) a capability given by the practical application of knowledge. Basically, technology is technology! So, with that let’s look at the intersection of the two.  In the next installment we are going to do just that!

01.15.14 - Don’t Quit, Retrofit!

Today we’re going to talk about something very near and dear to the replacement window manufacturing community’s heart; that is the topic of retrofitting. Retrofitting is simply the replacement or addition of items to existing things. If that was a little too vague, we can bring it back down to earth and say that in relation to the replacement window manufacturing industry, retrofitting involves the addition or replacement of windows or doors to an existing building. We can broaden the definition slightly to include insulation, storm windows, weather stripping, and caulking.
So, the question now stands, why would anyone go through such pains, replacing key parts of the home’s outer layer of protection against the elements. Well, if you’ve ever looked at (or lived in) a 30 year old house, you know that although a builder or contractor might take great pains to build a quality home, there are certain things that time and weather just aren’t so friendly to. Caulking and weather stripping often degrade or age with weather and time. Drying, cracking, and separating are all part of the equation when it comes to aging parts on a house… especially if those parts are more prone to degradation with the elements. This would include certain kinds of plastic and rubber primarily. You’ll also run into situations where a homebuilder was not so conscious in their effort to build a quality product, or even some situations where the previous contractor seemed to have taken much effort to build as poor a home as possible. In these cases, upgrading key components like windows, doors, etc. can greatly improve a home’s livability and value.

So, what’s a guy to do with an aging house? Retrofit it, that’s what! In the world of fenestration, retrofitting means a need for quality replacement windows (both aluminum windows and vinyl windows) in order to get the job done right and ensure a lasting product for years to come.

01.08.14 - Windows and Humidity

Relative Humidity: what is it and why should any of us care? Well, chances are if you’re reading this around the same general time of year that I’m writing it, you are probably smack dab in the middle of a complete lack of relative humidity, and I’m sure you’re feeling it. The dry face and hands, chapped lips, parched throat - all these are signs that you may be experiencing low relative humidity. To get technical on you, relative humidity is the percentage of moisture contained in the air in relationship to the total amount of moisture the air is capable of holding at a given temperature. If you are experiencing 100% humidity, the air is no longer capable of holding all that moisture and will begin to release it in the form of rain. So what does all this fancy meteorological mumbo jumbo have to do with aluminum windows or replacement windows. Well, to be frank with you, it has a lot to do with all of it. Now, the creation and manufacturing of storm windows, storm doors, vinyl windows, and any other window you want to throw in the list doesn’t really have a lot riding on relative humidity, although curing times for glass and vinyl can be slightly affected by high humidity (although factories these days are generally climate controlled and carefully regulated). Now, where you will find windows and relative humidity meeting in full display is surrounding the issue of climate control. This is a very simple concept, and one we come back to over and over, but it is central to the idea and need for fenestration and all things windows and doors. The idea that our homes are essentially sealed spaces where we control the climate and temperature is a pretty simple notion, but one that has impacted the arc of human achievement. We like our homes comfortable; not muggy or stiflingly dry, but instead just right. This means controlling relative humidity and temperature, and by keeping the outside out and the inside in, it’s a whole lot easier thanks to windows!

12.30.13 - In Light of Window Manufacturing

We’re going to jump ship here and break away from our ongoing discussion of light, the behavior of light, and it’s impact on aluminum windows, vinyl windows, and the window manufacturing industry in general. There are a lot of factors that influence the replacement window industry, and there are a lot of variables to consider when looking at window performance and efficiency. Despite the multifaceted and dynamic world that aluminum windows and vinyl windows find themselves in, most of these variables can be reduced to or in some way related back to light and or heat energy. The window manufacturing industry is one of heat management and energy efficiency. This is critical to understand if you plan on pursuing a career in window manufacturing philosophy… something no one ever has done, and probably never will. This is also helpful info if you simply want to better understand the industry and the products coming out of it. As we shift gears from directly talking about light and head radiation in the context of window manufacturing, you might think we are leaving the topic altogether. We are going to start talking about relative humidity in the context of the industry, but in reality, we are still very much dealing with light and its impact on the world of window production. It might seem reductive to make this statement, but the reality is that light as an effect on everything. Weather, and by extension, humidity are all in the realm of light’s reign. So, what is relative humidity and what does it have to do with the window manufacturing industry? Well let me tell you. Relative humidity is essentially the percentage of moisture in the atmosphere in relation to the amount of moisture it can actually hold at a given temperature. As you can imagine, 100 percent humidity would indicate rain, as the air could no longer hold any additional moisture. This is important for the aluminum window and vinyl window industry as it deals directly with heat, moisture, condensation, weather, and ultimately energy efficiency.

12.23.13 - Refraction and Advancements in Window Manufacturing

In recent months, we’ve spent some considerable time looking at radiation, and we’ve learned a lot. We also recently spent some time talking about reflection and reflectance. To sum things up, reflection and reflectance deal with, obviously, reflectivity - the ability of an object or material to redirect light back toward the source or at some vector of that source. Another definition states that reflectance is the ratio of reflected radiant energy to incident radiant energy. We’ve been dealing with light lately and we are going to keep going with the theme. Why? Because light and heat energy are pretty much a focal point of the window manufacturing industry. Heat management is the name of the game, especially in the winter and summer months, so we are going to explore the theme and see what there is to see. Now we’re going to take a gander at refraction. So, what exactly is refraction? Well, a basic definition says that refraction is the deflection of a light ray from its initial straight path. This occurs when the ray passes at an oblique angle from one material or medium to another. A simpler way of putting it is a change in the angle of travel as light passes from one medium to another. In the window manufacturing industry, the behavior of light, although seemingly disconnected from aluminum windows, vinyl windows and storm doors, is critical to understand for those responsible for refining and improving window design and functionality. The concept of a window itself is a pretty simple one. There aren’t a lot of moving parts, and by most appearances, there aren’t a lot of improvements to be made. This is true to some extent, but in reality, there are a lot of tiny modifications that have happened over the years and are continuing to be introduced to the window manufacturing industry; the standards evolving and aluminum windows advancing in efficiency and quality on a daily basis.

12.16.13 - Blinded By the Light – Window Manufacturing

We started getting into UV light last week and what turned into a brief overview actually morphed into a bit more of an exploration. We are going to continue and conclude that discussion today and see what else we can’t uncover.  UV light is found naturally in sunlight, and as most of us have heard, it is important to protect skin from this damaging form of radiation. Specialized lights and lamps can also emit UV, but we’re not really concerned with these at the moment. So why protect our skin from it? Why create windows that reduce the amount of it that enters our homes? What’s so bad about UV? Well, ultraviolet light actually has some very unique properties that make it especially destructive. Specifically, because of its short wavelength, it has the distinct and remarkable ability to cause chemical reactions and even alter chemical structures. This makes it especially harmful to skin and other organic materials. Skin cancer is the result of mutated cells from ultraviolet damage. Similarly in upholstery, carpet, and other materials, the effects of ultraviolet radiation can be evidenced by dramatic fading and washing out of color. So what is a guy or girl to do about it? Well, fortunately some very intelligent and observant folks realized that certain material structures were resistant or reflective of ultraviolet light. So, what did they do? They bundled it all up and put it in a window. Now we are the lucky inheritors of some clever innovations and developments that enable us to have our cake and eat it too, essentially. Rather than having to completely block light from entering our homes, those crafty engineer-magicians have selectively targeted harmful frequencies and created UV filtering glass that is commonly used in aluminum windows, vinyl windows, and many other variations and permutations of the classic window. So go ahead, look out that window with confidence that UV won’t be ruining your good time!

12.09.13 - Aluminum Windows and Ultraviolet Radiation

Over the last several weeks we’ve been looking at the concept of radiation, and my, what an adventure it’s been. There are a lot of different kinds of radiation, and we definitely aren’t talking about the Chernobyl variety. In the window manufacturing industry, we primarily deal with radiant heat and radiant light energy (such as ultraviolet radiation). Certain varieties of windows are actually specifically designed to help combat the effects of radiation on the internal temperature of a home or building in which they are used. The windows (specifically the glass within the windows) is designed to allow only a certain frequency of light radiation to pass through the window. All light is radiation, however certain frequencies of light energy are more damaging to skin and to organic materials such as carpet or upholstery than others. These specific frequencies are the ones targeted in certain aluminum windows and vinyl windows. 

Before we move past this subject, it would be good (in the interest of window manufacturing science, of course) to spend a little more time and dig a little deeper into ultraviolet radiation. So, what is UV, exactly? Ultraviolet light is a variety of electromagnetic radiation whose wavelength is actually shorten than the wavelength of visible light, but who’s wavelength is still longer than that of X-rays (another form of electromagnetic radiation). UV is named such because the frequency range is higher that the highest perceivable color frequency to humans: violet. Now, I should qualify that statement by saying ultraviolet frequencies are not perceivable by most humans. There are actually people who have either been born without the lens in their eye, or have had to have it removed, who report seeing ultraviolet light. These people are termed Aphakic and perceive light in the frequency of 300nm – 400nm (falling in the ultraviolet range) as being a whitish blue or whitish violet. So, if you were ever like me as a kid and found yourself trying to imagine colors that don’t exist, this should be a pretty fascinating little tidbit for you.  Who knows what light frequencies well outside of the visual spectrum could look like if we had receptors to perceive and process them! But, alas, we’ve strayed a bit from the reason we find ourselves here; we’re here to talk about windows, and window talk is what we’re going to do.

11.25.13 - Reflectivity and Aluminum Windows

Reflectivity is a pretty cool thing, so if you haven’t been following along, go back and read our last few posts where we started to talk about radiant energy and reflectivity. On a microscopic level, there are some profound things happening when it comes to reflectivity of radiant energy. For instance, did you know that everything you see, unless it is actually emitting light, is reflecting light. If you can see it, it is reflecting. Now, there are very different types of reflection; the kind we just mentioned being called diffuse reflection. Think about it, if there were no light shining, nothing could be seen, and if something can be seen, and light is shining, well, then you are actually seeing reflected light off of those objects. The other kind of reflection is probably more typically what you think of when you think of reflection. This type is called specular reflection and reflects light back in one direction in general. This is what happens with a mirror. As it turns out, all objects obey the law of reflection on a fundamental and microscopic level. It is when irregularities on the surface are introduced that light begins to refract in different directions and creates diffuse reflection. So, what does any of this have to do with window manufacturing? Well, it has a ton to do with window manufacturing, and that question actually brings us to our next term that will help shed (or reflect) some light on the issue. Reflective glass. This is a certain kind of coated glass, often used in windows, that reflects radiation striking the surface of the glass. This is useful both in terms of energy efficiency and climate control, and also for aesthetic purposes. You’ll probably notice that some larger buildings have ultra-reflective surfaces. This is probably to help control the energy efficiency of the building (as less radiant energy will pass into the building) and to enhance the look and feel of the building. Take some time to reflect on all of this, and let us know what you think. In the mean time, keep an eye peeled for reflective glass at work, and smile to yourself knowing that you have a slightly more educated understanding of what is going on there.

11.18.13 - What is Reflectivity?

Sometimes you get on a roll with something and you just can slow that roll no matter how much you wish you could. In this case, we’ve been exploring the idea of radiation and what it has to do with the window manufacturing… and we seem to be on quite the roll. Now, we have no desire to slow this roll, but even if we did, it’s hard to say if we could. It’s that much of a roll. So, rolling on, we want to jump ahead a little and look at the idea of reflectivity and reflectance. First we’re going to refresh ourselves with a quick recap definition of radiation. Radiation is essentially the transfer of heat in the form of electromagnetic waves, moving from one distinctly separate surface to another distinctly separate surface. This a pretty basic definition, and there are all kinds of details that we’re just glossing over, but sometimes you just need a glossing, and not a full on shellacking. So, back to reflectivity. Reflectivity is essentially a material’s ability to reflect energy or light back toward its source (or some vector of that source). More specifically, it describes the ratio of reflected radiant energy to incident radiant energy. A more reflective surface has a higher ratio of reflected radiant energy to incident radiant energy. You might be wondering, what is the difference between reflectivity and reflectance. I asked myself the same question, and after looking around, discovered that reflectivity is a value that applies specifically to thick reflecting objects, reflectance deals with the reflection at the actual surface of the object. This distinction is important because some objects change reflectivity as light or radiation passes thought their thickness. This is an interesting side note, but not something you’ll probably run into out in the real world. Stay tuned because we’re going to get into what this all has to do with the window manufacturing industry.

11.11.13 - Energy Efficiency and Radiant Heat

We’ve been looking at the idea of radiation and how it is pretty much responsible for life as we know it. The sun is really a giant motor powering organic life on earth, and as such, radiation (the messenger of that energy, if you will) is a pretty big deal. So, it is only fitting that we dig into that idea here and explore what radiation means for aluminum windows, vinyl windows, storm windows, and the window manufacturing industry in general. To be fair, since all of life as we know it is pretty dependent on the sun, sunlight, and the radiant energy therein, it is a logical next step to conclude that without the sun, aluminum windows just wouldn’t exist. I mean, we wouldn’t exist either, but windows, doors, and fenestration of all shapes and sizes definitely wouldn’t exist. Radiant heat is the very thing that windows exist to control. The whole premise of a window is that the environment within the home is one that should be controlled from the elements of nature, harnessing what we want and keeping the rest out. So, when it comes to solar radiation, we want a certain level of warmth in our homes, but as is the case in the summer or in warmer climates, that solar radiation is often something we do our best to keep out of the home environment. We want to have our cake and eat it too. Thanks to an understanding of the nature of radiant heat and a firm grasp and command on material science, scientists and window manufacturers have been able to engineer windows that effectively allow light to pass through while limiting the amount of radiant solar heat gain that can pass into the home or building. This is a pretty astonishing feat when you really think about it. We’ve been able to tease apart light and heat, all with a simple looking window. Now, windows are anything but simple when you really get down to the nuts and bolts of them (there aren’t really many nuts or bolts involved in windows, but the phrase still stands). So ponder that little nugget, and get ready for more coming soon.

11.04.13 - Window Manufacturing and Radiation

Don’t let the title scare you, we’re not headed for nuclear fallout or apocalyptic radiation (as far as I know). We are, however, headed for a day of delight as we learn more about the role of aluminum windows and vinyl windows in our world. Today we are going to look at radiation and what it has to do with windows and the window manufacturing industry at large. So, what is radiation? Well a cursory definition would probably be good right about now, so here it is. Radiation is, simply, the transfer of heat in the form of radiant energy (electromagnetic waves) moving between one distinct surface and another. A prime example of radiation in action is the sun. It is millions of miles away, yet somehow we are impacted by it. In fact, all of life as we know it is dependent on it. But still, it is millions of miles away. How can something millions of miles away have so huge an impact? It is responsible for drought, famine, rain, weather, plant life, animal life, and the list goes on and on - and it is able to sustain all this life and activity due to our new friend, radiation. Now, radiation isn’t a separate or distinct force apart from the sun, but rather it is the outreaching of the sun’s massive energy and the physical dispersion of that heat and light. The sun is too powerful to be contained by limitations of distance, and it’s expression or impact is experienced in the form of radiation. Now, this is a pretty basic concept, and it isn’t like we’re presenting anything new here, but if you stop to think about basic concept, it becomes even more profound and incredible. All of life as we know it depends on that radiation from the sun. Mind, blown! Now, radiation isn’t confined to the sun. Our bodies emit radiation. In fact, anything that holds or conveys generally uses radiation in some form or another. And this is why aluminum windows and vinyl windows are so inextricably tied to the concept of radiation. We’ll flesh this out in our next installment.
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