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 Post subject: Kensington Windows
PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2013 4:20 pm 

Joined: Wed Sep 18, 2013 3:47 pm
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First, I have read quite a few of the questions and responses here, particularly about tear-out vs. insert, and have found the responses to be extremely helpful. My question concerns Kensington Windows, which my installer, Norco/Norm Coon, is recommending. These would be the 501 level inserts with Southwall Heat Mirror glass, the project involves 50 plus windows and quite a few casements. I would prefer to get rid of the exterior maintenance of wood windows in the tough Colorado sun, but the cost of tear-outs in excess of $60,000 doesn't make economic sense (at least to me).

The ownership of Kensington has been checkered. The parent of several years ago, Jancor, went bankrupt and the Kensington plant was shut down for a bit. Then Serious Windows became the owner and they eventually got involved in a political scandal with the Obama Admin., and maybe had other troubles as well. Currently, the top management at the Kensington operation are the owners. Our installer, who has lots of glowing references and seems like a really good guy, said he has been using Kensington for the past decade and thinks very highly of them and their product. He can install several other brands including Sunrise, but feels that the Kensington product is as good or better and costs less. My major question is how is Kensington's product currently perceived in the market? Let me add that I live in an area of two-story homes, with 20 year-old wood windows and they seem to need some type of trim touch-up every 2-3 years. Thus far, very few owners have replaced their windows.


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 Post subject: Re: Kensington Windows
PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2013 5:59 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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The sunrise is a superior window IMO. On Kensington, the checkered past is enough for me to pass, even if I had a higher opinion of the product. I'm not crazy about heat mirror either. Too high a failure rate for my taste.


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 Post subject: Re: Kensington Windows
PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2013 6:09 pm 

Joined: Wed Sep 18, 2013 3:47 pm
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Thanks for the reply. As to the Heat Mirror what do you mean by "failure rate"? I've noticed that this technology has been around for awhile but some of the higher end window companies don't offer it.


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 Post subject: Re: Kensington Windows
PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2013 6:14 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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Google Southwall and you will come up with all the reading you can shake a stick at.

It is a great technology but there were some large class action suits. Most have moved away from it but the Sunrise is certainly a suitable alternative.


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 Post subject: Re: Kensington Windows
PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2013 6:33 pm 

Joined: Wed Sep 18, 2013 3:47 pm
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OK, thanks, I'll do some more checking, but it seems that there are two solid votes for the Sunrise product over Kensington; I'll get pricing on the Sunrise but he ballparked it at 20% higher than the Kensington.


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 Post subject: Re: Kensington Windows
PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2013 6:49 pm 

Joined: Wed Sep 18, 2013 3:47 pm
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I just started searching a bit on the Heat Mirror issue and stumbled across this:

http://www.replacement-windows.com/wind ... f=1&t=2164

It appears that the failures were due to sealant problems not created by Southwall but by other manufacturers. The stuff has been winning lots of awards lately. That still doesn't explain why more window companies don't offer the product.


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 Post subject: Re: Kensington Windows
PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2013 6:51 pm 
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Class action lawsuit.

There is plenty of finger pointing in the process and the glass manufactures blamed Southwall.

Unless the windows are supremely large, triple pane will do everything you need heat mirror to do.


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 Post subject: Re: Kensington Windows
PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2013 9:06 pm 
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Location: Milwaukee, Madison areas
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Owen wrote:
That still doesn't explain why more window companies don't offer the product.


Exactly. The technology sounds fantastic in theory: lighter weight, phenomenal thermal numbers, etc... So I'd say that you are on the right track in asking, " why isn't this technology taking over the industry"?

I sell it on rare occasion against my recommendations, but more often I'm replacing units where it has failed. I honestly don't know what it is about the technology at causes such a high failure rate, but that is simply my overwhelming experience.


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 Post subject: Re: Kensington Windows
PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2013 9:33 pm 

Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2012 9:14 pm
Posts: 356
Location: New Jersey Window Pro- Northern NJ and Central NJ
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Heat mirror is a good technology but all the stars need to be aligned during the manufacturing process; in other words, there is no margin for error.
Many manufacturers cut corners and that came back to haunt them.
Additionally, there were issues with the film yellowing and wrinkling. However, that has been ironed out( no pun intended) with the addition of UV protectors added to the film.
The kensington Quantum 2 is a solid window. Agree that the sunrise is worth a look.


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 Post subject: Re: Kensington Windows
PostPosted: Thu Sep 19, 2013 1:03 pm 

Joined: Tue Dec 20, 2005 11:27 am
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Location: Texas - Houston & Austin
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I would get a quote on the Sunrise windows just to compare. It's hard for me to believe that they would be higher than Kensington with Heat Mirror. Just to keep your contractor honest, you might get a quote from another Sunrise dealer as well.


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 Post subject: Re: Kensington Windows
PostPosted: Thu Sep 19, 2013 9:01 pm 
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Joined: Fri Mar 11, 2005 3:58 pm
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Location: Northern & Central Illinois, Chicago suburbs
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I sold for a company in the 80s that sold HeatMirror in the first 3 major company's products it was offerred in. NuSash vinyl windows, Hurd wood windows and 4 Season Sunrooms. We sold all three. When the Heat Mirror started failing en masse we hit the trifecta of pain for a few years. All the people who I sold trusted me about this new technology and when it horribly failed they came to me with their anger. And I completely understand their reason for doing so. So, no thanks to any more Heat Mirror for me. Once in a lifetime to go through something like that was enough for me.
Like the old saying goes, Fool me once..., don't speak to me ever again. Or something like that.


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 Post subject: Re: Kensington Windows
PostPosted: Fri Sep 20, 2013 2:00 pm 

Joined: Wed Sep 18, 2013 3:47 pm
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I met with my installer yesterday as he brought by samples of the PVC material he is going to use to do partial repairs to some of the damaged sills. I raised the issue with him about Heat Mirror, the comments here, failures, etc.. His response was that he had been dealing with the product for 11 years and had yet to have a single failure or complaint. Perhaps this is due to the fact that he has mostly been using Kensington, perhaps because he is a "one-man-shop", small volume operator, perhaps just luck of the draw, or some combination of these factors. In any event he is going to get me a quote on the Sunrise product.

The stats for Kensington 501 are U-.18 and SHGC-.23. There is only one Sunrise model, but it comes with three glass options: Ultra-U Plus, U-.27, SHGC-.26; Ultra-UPlus 12, U-.26, SHGC-.19; and the triple pane Apex, U-.21, SHGC-.21. I've just gone over the past 12 months of utility bills and found an average monthly electric bill of $126 and an average monthly heating bill (natural gas) of $82. I'm not sure the differences in these energy saving factors mean all that much in my case. These utility totals are for a 3,000 sf, two story home at 6,000 ft in the foothills of SW Denver. We probably only run our AC a total of 2-3 weeks cumulative per year. The highest combined bills are in the winter months, not the summer. We have a 2 story-high family room with lots of glass and a SE/SW exposure. There is so much sun that hits that room that we put a film coating on all the windows and later added an outside motorized screen for the upper triple window. The point of this description is that in the winter we get a "passive solar" effect from this area to the point where on a 35 degree sunny day the furnace doesn't even kick on much of the time. Keeping the solar heat out may be great during the summer but not so much during the winter.

Since I have seen Soft-Lite recommended here I inquired with them about a dealer; they aren't available in this part of the country. Their head of marketing sent me an e-mail and a rec for a local installer that he used to deal with when he was employed elsewhere. This installer is a larger operation and represents Armaclad Enhancement windows. At this point I'm not too enthused about trying to check out yet another window manufacturer unless responders here think that Armaclad would somehow represent a better alternative than, say, Sunrise.


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 Post subject: Re: Kensington Windows
PostPosted: Fri Sep 20, 2013 8:38 pm 
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I think you are probably fine with the two that you have.


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 Post subject: Re: Kensington Windows
PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 3:02 pm 

Joined: Wed Sep 18, 2013 3:47 pm
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I now have a Sunrise quote, which is 20% higher than the original Kensington quote. This difference is misleading though, because the the Kensington quote included 16 lower level 300 windows plus 36 501/Heat Mirror windows. The Sunrise quote is for 52 windows with the Plus 12 glass and totals $32,400 or $623 per window. An "apples-to-apples" comparison would be Sunrise versus all 501's, and that comparison shows that the Sunrise costs about 9% more than the Kensington's. My installer told me that the Kensington rep had given him a 5% discount off the regular price due to the size of this order. If true, the "normal" price difference between Kensington 501's and the Sunrise with Plus 12 is less than 5%.

The consensus opinion here would seem to be to go with the Sunrise, and I'm leaning that way. I'm pretty sure my installer Norm would say "Why are you choosing a window that has worse stats and costs 9% more, you doofus?" Oh, and when I asked Norm about the Apex/triple pane Sunrise option I got the following, probably controversial, response: "I stopped using triple pane 25 years ago! There's too much weight, it wears on the rollers and other parts, eventually you'll have trouble opening the windows, etc., etc." He doesn't like triple pane as some people here don't like Heat Mirror.


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 Post subject: Re: Kensington Windows
PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 3:37 pm 
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If triple pane created and issue for the window, I can assure you that the manufacturers would not allow it to be used.


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