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 Post subject: Re: Simonton 5500 vs. Softlite Imperial LS
PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 7:03 am 

Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2011 8:53 pm
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Hi guys!

Well, I am pleasantly surprised at how quickly you all responded to MY needs! Thank you so much!

Guys, the difference in width between the bricks versus the sheet rock is 2 inches, which gives us a 1 inch gap on both sides. on the inside.
I personally was horrified to find this out but the dealer rep who has 35 years of experience said it is common, not to be alarmed.

While he was saying that, I was thinking, "yeah, but why me?" They assured me that they do this all the time and that the exterior fit will be good and snug while the interior will have a gap on each side.

The thing is, how are we going to seal around that window, which is what I asked and you guys both said minimal expanding closed sell foam.

I am going to insist on it. The Simonton dealer is the largest in our area. They also install ALL the windows on Fischer Homes, which are upper end quality new houses. The Softlite dealer is very experienced as well and been around a long time. They didn't always carry Softlite and have added them as their premier window. They also sell Alside and ProVia.

I have two five year old Integra windows in a small kitchen window and same size small side of the house window. They were not low E or argon gas but have performed rather well so I will leave them alone for now. We do not get ANY condensation around these or any fogging between the two panes of glass in summer or winter so I am very happy with those two windows. It's all the ones in front that face due west that are getting replaced so a good tight, well insulated install is exactly what I am looking for along with a good quality, triple pane, LowE, Argon filled with Super Spacer window. I have quotes on those except the Impressions 9800 from Simonton which I should have today or tomorrow.

You guys rock! Thanks all for your helpful suggestions and steering me and many many more in the right direction. Disappointment is NOT what I am looking for in this home improvement. I expect this window to last till my wife and I are no longer here on earth.

Thanks so much,

micro...


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 Post subject: Re: Simonton 5500 vs. Softlite Imperial LS
PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 9:00 am 

Joined: Tue Dec 20, 2005 11:27 am
Posts: 805
Location: Texas - Houston & Austin
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This is where recommending insulating foam gets sticky (no pun intended).

Expanding foam is the very best way to insulate around a replacement window. Having said that, putting spray foam in the hands of an installer who has never applied it before, can be risky. First of all, they must use a foam that is AAMA 812 certified, for use with vinyl windows.

As to the difference on the interior vs exterior, that is a big gap. If your interior surface is sheetrock, and you don't have blinds that are fitted within the inside returns, I'd consider trimming out the interior of your window returns with wood and casing. Using 3/4" plywood, that would leave a 1/4" gap that could be taken care of with the quarter round. It would raise the cost of doing the windows obviously, but when finished out and painted, gives you a much more upscale appearance, while solving the problem of the gap.

The contractor could also rip some 3/4" stock and butt it up against the window with quarter round on top and at the inside edge. This option would be less expensive. If they use composite materials, and your getting white windows, you wouldn't have to paint as quickly.

The worst option, IMO, is using vinyl snap-in sill angle. This is a bad approach for at least two reasons. First, it makes the vinyl window frames appear to be even wider than they are already. Second, the vinyl may flex and move enough to break the caulk line on a regular basis.


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 Post subject: Re: Simonton 5500 vs. Softlite Imperial LS
PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2011 6:03 pm 

Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2011 8:53 pm
Posts: 10
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Pros,

I just saw the Impressions 9800 window from the local window dealer. It has a more refined look than the 5500 and the hand lifts are two separate lifts on the right and left side instead of a single bar that runs across the window sash.

It is sealed better on the tops of the windows, one more seal than the 5500 plus they are larger. The side seals are better as well. We like the looks of this window better and we saw it with the balance covers on, which hides the balance track from being so obvious. More like the SoftLite window does.

The additional cost is only $8.00 more per window which I think is a good deal.
The specs are triple pane, Low E, SuperSpacer, Argon gas with double strength glass. The optional balance covers are in the spec as well. Just under $500. per window for 6 double hungs that are about 49 inches high by 34 inches wide.

The SoftLite was almost $500. more for the six windows and is definitely a nice window as well. We just do not know if spending another $500. is worth it and the SoftLite Imperial LS is that much better a window or whether we would in our lifetimes get back the additional money in savings.

I tend to doubt that aspect, but again, it is a very well made window from what I looked at and it has a very nice look as well. Both companies are very professional and I trust them both. The Softlite dealer has installed two windows in my home five years ago which were Sugarcreek Industries Integra windows and they have worked out very nicely for the tiny windows that they are. Good job of installing them.

So now comes the mulling it over in my mind........ Any additional comments are welcomed.

Thanks for all your help,

micro... :D


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 Post subject: Re: Simonton 5500 vs. Softlite Imperial LS
PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2011 6:52 pm 

Joined: Sat Feb 10, 2007 11:51 pm
Posts: 1579
Location: Northern,Virginia
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I don't think the Softlites are worth the extra money. Sounds like you really like the Simonton and that's a really good price.


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 Post subject: Re: Simonton 5500 vs. Softlite Imperial LS
PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2011 9:11 pm 
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Joined: Tue Feb 16, 2010 6:14 pm
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Location: Milwaukee, Madison areas
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I agree with Eco, that the Softlites are very good, but not worth the extra money... However, that fact that you've already had a good experience with that contractor very well could be. If nothing else, you might approach that dealer and let him know where you stand. He might be willing to match the price, and you'd have the peace of mind that you are working with a contractor that you KNOW you can trust... Just my $.02.


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 Post subject: Re: Simonton 5500 vs. Softlite Imperial LS
PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2011 7:43 am 

Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2009 5:52 pm
Posts: 1343
Location: SE PA & NJ; CT
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You will be happy with either.
I would do the LS for the performance or the 9800 because of the handles.
Yeh I know that does not help alot.


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 Post subject: Re: Simonton 5500 vs. Softlite Imperial LS
PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2011 10:40 am 
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Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2007 11:21 pm
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Location: DC Metropolitan Area-Maryland/Virginia/DC
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As an energy auditor, I prefer the LS.

As a visual impact, I prefer the 9800.


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 Post subject: Re: Simonton 5500 vs. Softlite Imperial LS
PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2011 11:19 am 
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Joined: Tue Feb 16, 2010 6:14 pm
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Location: Milwaukee, Madison areas
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Wow, as an auditor, have you observed differences between the performance of these windows (or similarly rated products)? I realize every home has different circumstances so that would be difficult to measure, I'm just wondering what your actual observations have shown when comparing windows that have small differences in u-value, ai, etc., and if any differences have been observed, how they fit into the scope of overall home performance(ie:cfm 50)... BTW, it is hard to convey emotion through text, so let me say that I'm not trying to start a debate or anything, just wondering what your observations are with no regard to published performance numbers.


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 Post subject: Re: Simonton 5500 vs. Softlite Imperial LS
PostPosted: Sat Mar 12, 2011 12:02 pm 
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Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2007 11:21 pm
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Location: DC Metropolitan Area-Maryland/Virginia/DC
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HS,

First off, I do not take your comments as being a fire-starter so don't worry about that in the least.

The Soft-Lite does have a more aggressive weatherstripping profile, air dam leg, jamb liners standard, and tighter tolerances. These things should translate to a more airtight window over its lifetime. I realize that air infiltration is a hotly contested "idea" and its importance is either marginalized or over emphasized by some.

As an energy auditor (in theory), tested and verified air infiltration data is important to me. Obviously to the auditor, the lower the better.

I was originally contacted by a woman that had 5500s (triple pane and in this case, totally improper for that side of the home's elevation) installed in her home with complaints of colder than normal conditions prior to the replacement of her windows. The windows were installed correctly from a functional standpoint (square, plumb, level, jamb jacks adjusted, etc). During blower door testing, I observed copious amounts of air streaming through them and even more than in comparison to her original windows on remainder parts of the home. There was some air coming from between the pocket and the window around the casing as well but the majority of observed leakage as around the operable components of the window.

There did not appear to be out of tolerance play in the sashes and we confirmed that the weatherstripping was intact and proper. The prescribed repair in this case was installation of chimney blocks which had been mailed to the customer via USPS. I installed them and re-tested with little to no observed difference.

I have tested a few other homes with 5500s and found them to be tighter than these units described above so I recommended that the client confirm that the sashes were cut to the correct sizes and not improper for the master frame.

It is impossible to have comparative numbers between the two numbers because I have an opportunity to test the same home with window X in it and re-test with window Y. This customer listed above might be the first if she does not get a suitable answer from her installer and resolution.

I have observed significant drops in air numbers out of the blower door with just a window replacement. One home was nearly 600 cfm with a window replacement of some wood windows that were due for replacement but they were not nearly as bad as many I have seen. That is huge as is the equivalent of closing up a 60 square inch hole in the home. They used a very tight window in this replacement scenario.

I am still awaiting that customer that will let me replace some replacement windows and get before and after data.


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 Post subject: Re: Simonton 5500 vs. Softlite Imperial LS
PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 2:48 pm 
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Location: Milwaukee, Madison areas
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Thanks for sharing. It sounds as though that client got a bad batch of 5500's... I realize that the scenario I proposed would be difficult because as you said, there are not many homes that have mixed window models, or that replace one with the other unless there are some major problems. My reason for asking, is that in my experience, most energy audits/auditors that I have worked with seem to place minimal emphasis on windows compared to other areas, and when windows have been recommended, the AI rating was not brought up at all. Obviously, all things being equal, a lower number is better, it just struck me that from what I've seen it was not given much consideration-- as though it wouldn't have any substantial effect. All that being said, I am not an auditor, nor do we work on audited projects on a daily basis, so that's why I asked for your insight... The 600 number is impressive, do you see that with any regularity?


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 Post subject: Re: Simonton 5500 vs. Softlite Imperial LS
PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 3:21 pm 
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Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2007 11:21 pm
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Location: DC Metropolitan Area-Maryland/Virginia/DC
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HomeSealed wrote:
Thanks for sharing. It sounds as though that client got a bad batch of 5500's... I realize that the scenario I proposed would be difficult because as you said, there are not many homes that have mixed window models, or that replace one with the other unless there are some major problems. My reason for asking, is that in my experience, most energy audits/auditors that I have worked with seem to place minimal emphasis on windows compared to other areas, and when windows have been recommended, the AI rating was not brought up at all. Obviously, all things being equal, a lower number is better, it just struck me that from what I've seen it was not given much consideration-- as though it wouldn't have any substantial effect. All that being said, I am not an auditor, nor do we work on audited projects on a daily basis, so that's why I asked for your insight... The 600 number is impressive, do you see that with any regularity?


I suspect that the 5500 were cut short, however, the fitment on them was fine and there was no observable slop in the window.

Energy auditors typically stress windows but only to the extent that they are sold by charlatans and snake oil salesman. You should go to some of the meetings that I go to when they start to talk about windows. It is almost an unofficial policy amongst auditors that Window Salespeople/organizations are to be unilaterally dismissed. Needless to say, I have fought the good fight on more than one occassion when talking to these folks. Obviously I am not defending the "Save 40% on your Bills" people but the good contractors like the ones on here.

We have seen 600 cfm reduction type numbers in several homes that we have done. Some numbers have actually gone higher than that but they had more windows. The house I referenced only had about 20 windows and they were of modest size.

I am excited to see some numbers out of a home where we do some Sliding Glass doors in addition to windows.


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 Post subject: Re: Simonton 5500 vs. Softlite Imperial LS
PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2011 4:49 pm 
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Joined: Tue Feb 16, 2010 6:14 pm
Posts: 1788
Location: Milwaukee, Madison areas
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Here is an interesting link that I stumbled across: http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/sup ... ndows-leak ... Dr. Joe Lstiburek, one of the brightest minds in building science has installed Marvin Dh's, 35 of them, (AI of .2x?) in this home... 1.37ach/50 and the drywall isn't even up yet! ... I do realize that this home is not reflective of most, however I thought it was an interesting window choice nonetheless. :mrgreen:


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 Post subject: Re: Simonton 5500 vs. Softlite Imperial LS
PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2011 5:02 pm 
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Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2007 11:21 pm
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Location: DC Metropolitan Area-Maryland/Virginia/DC
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I am surprised he didn't cuss in the video.

Joe is hilarious and a real character in addition to be a building science savant.


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 Post subject: Re: Simonton 5500 vs. Softlite Imperial LS
PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2011 5:12 pm 
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Location: Milwaukee, Madison areas
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You didn't take the bait! :lol: ... I couldn't resist... I thought some of the comments down the page were amusing. Several people criticized him as though he is some kind of amateur.


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 Post subject: Re: Simonton 5500 vs. Softlite Imperial LS
PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2011 5:27 pm 
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Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2007 11:21 pm
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Location: DC Metropolitan Area-Maryland/Virginia/DC
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I read the comments. :lol: He speaks in a much less technical capacity that his mind operates to make the message consumable and marketable for the masses.

The second comment down about the home and materials used (i.e. air quality and other things) was spot on.


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