Simonton 5500 vs. Softlite Imperial LS

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micro
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Simonton 5500 vs. Softlite Imperial LS

#1 Post by micro » Thu Mar 03, 2011 9:26 pm

First, thanks to all the pros here who help us all out with great knowledge and info!

I live in the cincinnati area. My house faces due west. I am looking at replacing all six double hung vinyl windows in the front of my brick ranch home.
4 of those six are twins that are installed side by side with a mullion.
The other two are individual.

ALL are about 49 inches high and 34 inches wide.

I am looking at Simonton 5500 triple pane, sash reinforcement, lowE, Argon , Super spacer at 1 inch glass width.

IN the SoftLite I am looking at Imperial LS, triple pane with Argon and low E glass.

The quotes I have for the six windows are as follows.
Simonton: $2,681 installed
SofLite: $3,156.

Both windows also have colonial flat grids inside. Windows are both white exterior and interior.

I guess I am wondering if the SoftLite is worth the extra money. Their U value is a little better .21 vs. .24 and of course we know the highly touted air infiltration numbers SoftLite promotes. But are they really worth the price differential?

I liked both equally well in appearance.
We are replacing 23 year old Vinylmax windows.

Thank you for your comments in advance.

micro, east of cincy

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Delaware Mike
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Re: Simonton 5500 vs. Softlite Imperial LS

#2 Post by Delaware Mike » Fri Mar 04, 2011 12:34 am

I think that Soft-Lite offers a low-profile contour grid that can be installed in a triple-glazed IG. Might be worth looking into as I don't like flat grids compared to sculptured or contoured grids. I would spend the extra money myself, but I'm basing it on appearance as I think the LS looks nicer with the cleaner look of the locks and detail of the sash profile. You mentioned that you liked both the same as far as looks so it might not be a big deal to you. You shouldn't be disappointed with either choice.

micro
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Re: Simonton 5500 vs. Softlite Imperial LS

#3 Post by micro » Fri Mar 04, 2011 7:00 am

Thanks Mike.

A further question to the pros would be is the Softlite window structurally superior to the Simonton, or is that Air infiltration stuff really that significant when comparing them?

In Cincinnati area we do not get 25 mph winds very often, in fact, very infrequently and that is what that AI rating is measured with, a constant velocity of 25 mph air blowing against it.

What happens if there isn't but maybe a 2 - 5 mph air movement? DO we have as much air infiltration then?

I have to call the window dealer back this morning that showed my wife and I the Softlite to get the "U" value on this glass arrangement we talked about.

IF it is .04 or more BELOW the Simonton, which was a .24 rating, is that significant?

This is a tad confusing to amateurs so your opinions and experience are truly appreciated.

Thank you,

micro :D

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Re: Simonton 5500 vs. Softlite Imperial LS

#4 Post by TheWindowNerd » Fri Mar 04, 2011 8:26 am

I install both and have had no air leak calls with the soft-lite. Where as with the 5500 i have had air leak calls.
So if you do not mind a little air leakage and a whistle or howl once a year pick the 5500.

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Delaware Mike
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Re: Simonton 5500 vs. Softlite Imperial LS

#5 Post by Delaware Mike » Fri Mar 04, 2011 9:39 am

The LS has a lot of weatherstripping on it married with very tight manufacturing tolerances which might be reason to spend the extra money. Also I prefer a sill that is engineered without the need for an irrigation system and exterior weep holes. The Sunrise and Soft-Lite products don't have these weep holes, while the Simonton and Vista products do. I'm not trying to knock on Simonton as I still think it's a decent product.

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Re: Simonton 5500 vs. Softlite Imperial LS

#6 Post by randy » Fri Mar 04, 2011 9:58 am

I would also add that the 25mph wind is only the reference point at which the rating is established. In other words, a window that leaks more air at 25 mph will almost certainly leak more air at 10mph or 5 mph as well.

micro
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Re: Simonton 5500 vs. Softlite Imperial LS

#7 Post by micro » Fri Mar 04, 2011 11:40 am

The air leakage points were well made.

I contacted the Simonton dealer this morning and asked him for the AI numbers on the particular window config we have quotes on.

It is .07 cu. ft./min as opposed to Softlite's .02 cu. ft./min

As an added thought, we are going to look at the Simonton 9800 window also configured with 1 inch spacing, triple pane, Argon and Low E, using Superspacer.

I understand it has some appearance/profile differences from the 5500 and is similarly priced. I also asked for the optional tensioner rail covers so those slots in the side of the window would not be so obvious. They would be hidden from view.

The overall U value for the Softlite is .21 versus .24 for the Simonton.

With the values close to each other, I believe the two brands to be similar in performance. An edge to Softlite on the U factor.

Question pros.

Is the .03 difference in the U factor meaningful or significant? In other words, for spending another $500.00 for SIX windows, am I going to see a return for that $500.00 in energy savings before I die? I am around 60 years old.

Our home has 16 inches of insulation in the attic, 6 under the floor, an insulted crawl space, and fiberglass in between the walls all around.
We use a Seer 13 heat pump for heating and cooling.

Your opinions are valuable and I do thank you for them!

My best,

micro...

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Re: Simonton 5500 vs. Softlite Imperial LS

#8 Post by Sweet Lew » Fri Mar 04, 2011 11:59 am

I'm glad you started this thread because I am looking at the same two casement windows and have the same questions. :D
Last edited by Sweet Lew on Fri Mar 04, 2011 12:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Simonton 5500 vs. Softlite Imperial LS

#9 Post by Skydawggy » Fri Mar 04, 2011 12:23 pm

The very small differences in air infiltration and U-factors are not significant enough to spend that much more IMO. Keep in mind they are quoting you the "Center of the Glass" U-factor (COG). Ask for the "overall" U-factor. I would also ask what glass package they are quoting you on and what spacer you are getting.

You also need to start inquiring as to installation specifics. The best window in the world can become your worst nightmare if it isn't installed correctly.

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Re: Simonton 5500 vs. Softlite Imperial LS

#10 Post by randy » Fri Mar 04, 2011 12:49 pm

I agree, the differences are slight and your time would be best spent now scrutinizing the installation. Check out some prior jobs and speak with the homeowners. Ask the companies to explain, step-by-step, the installation method which will be used on your particular home. The extent to which they go to ensure an airtight and watertight seal around the perimeter is a critical factor, IMO.

On Simonton, I think the upgrade to 1" IG with Super Spacer is a great choice.

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Re: Simonton 5500 vs. Softlite Imperial LS

#11 Post by micro » Fri Mar 04, 2011 7:27 pm

Thanks Eco and Randy!

Yes sir, the Simonton dealer company is local to me and been in business for over 45 years. They should have some references available around here I would think.
The install is absolutely critical and you guys have hammered that point home on several different threads. Since you well know that a sloppy install is the number one reason for an unhappy purchaser of new windows.

The glass package is the LowE 366, Argon fill, 1inch width and SuperSpacer. The U values of ,21 and .24 ARE the overall values. The Center of glass values were less than these but as you well point out, virtually meaningless.

I am looking forward to seeing the 9800 window from Simonton tomorrow. If it has some more styling and appeal than the 5500 we may go with that, pricing being relatively the same with the 5500's quoted.

I like the Softlite Imperial LS window as well but just cannot get past spending the additional money on something that just isn't going to benefit us $500.00 worth. If they were both priced the same I would probably go with the Softlite but almost $100.00 per window difference is money I can use to apply toward something else.

Thank you guys again for your time and your professional opinions and comments. They are much appreciated!

micro...

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Re: Simonton 5500 vs. Softlite Imperial LS

#12 Post by Skydawggy » Fri Mar 04, 2011 8:24 pm

I can assure you those are COG numbers. Let us know your impression of the Impressions. (I know). :shock:

micro
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Re: Simonton 5500 vs. Softlite Imperial LS

#13 Post by micro » Sun Mar 06, 2011 6:30 pm

RANDY,

You made a great point about finding about the installation procedures for making a weather and airtite install around the perimeter.

Could you elaborate please on what a quality procedure would be so I can ask them if they will do it that way?

I also have a minor problem that both companies said was fairly common.

My interior width dimension between the drywall is wider than the width dimension between the bricks. They have told me that they run into this regularly and that they fill the gaps on the inside with lots of fiberglass insulation and the trim it off with a matching piece of vinyl.

Is that good or not?

Thank you very much!

micro...

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Re: Simonton 5500 vs. Softlite Imperial LS

#14 Post by randy » Sun Mar 06, 2011 6:56 pm

Sure. You need an air & moisture barrier around the perimeter of the windows as well as insulation. The best way to accomplish this, IMO, is with minimal expanding closed cell foam. Some installers prefer to use fiberglass insulation around the window and caulk the inside and outside edge of the window. While I certainly believe expanding foam to be far superior, fiberglass insulation is better than nothing as long as the cavity that the insulation is in is COMPLETELY air sealed. Otherwise air will pass right through the fiberglass, since it is not a barrier at all.

In your case, we would install quarter-round trim around the interior so that the window would have something to butt up against, since your sheetrock opening is wider than the brick opening (assuming the difference is minimal).

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Re: Simonton 5500 vs. Softlite Imperial LS

#15 Post by HomeSealed » Sun Mar 06, 2011 11:12 pm

I agree with the above comments... Installation will be the determining factor of which of those two products would serve you better. They are both good... I would also second Randy's comments in reference to using a closed cell foam to insulate around the opening. This is superior to other methods, and can be indicative of a company's dedication to using the best products/methods available.

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