Average Cost of Triple Pane Windows
Windows often represent a trade-off when it comes to building a home. The trend is increasingly to build larger windows in homes in order to maximize natural light. However, the limitation with this is that glass is a poor insulator; in the summer, heat is drawn into the home, and in the winter heat is released out of the home into the surrounding area.
This has two negative consequences:
you are wasting money on heating in the winter, and air conditioning in the summer. Since the majority of heat energy is lost through the windows, larger windows exacerbate this to a greater degree.
this wastage of energy means that your carbon footprint is higher and you are contributing to an overuse of fossil fuels.
Increasingly, however, technology is making this issue easier to deal with. Traditional windows are single-pane, meaning they consist of a single pane of glass held in place by a frame. The root of the problem when it comes to heat transfer is that glass is a good conductor of heat. If you’ve ever put your hand on a window on a very cold or very hot day, you’ll notice that it often feels closer to the outside temperature than the inside temperature. Increasingly, however, the standard is becoming for double pane windows in new-build homes.
Double pane windows consist of two panes of glass, with a sealed space in between. The sealed space can contain air, an insulating gas, or, in some cases, a vacuum.
All of these options help to prevent heat energy from moving between the two panes of gas, thereby ensuring that the window doesn’t conduct heat energy.
For pricing information, see our page on the Average Cost of Double Pane Windows.
A triple pane window operates on the same principle, albeit with one more pane of glass, and therefore one more heat-proof gap.
Triple pane windows are extremely energy efficient, even in comparison with other energy-efficient windows. A study in 2019 found that triple pane windows saved 16% more energy than low-e windows in residential buildings.
Although triple pane windows are effective, they are not always cheap. You can, of course, offset the cost of the windows against the savings in heat and AC bills. However, even then, you may find the initial capital outlay too high.
This guide will investigate the different prices involved, giving you some ballpark figures of what you may spend if you replace your windows with triple pane windows. Since they can represent a significant investment, you’ll need to have all the options and permutations available before you decide what is right for you and your home.
TRIPLE PANE WINDOW
THE OVERALL COST
Overall, for triple pane windows, you can expect to pay somewhere between $550 and $1,085 (the price is per triple pane window). The average cost for installation is around $38/hour.
A typical 2,000 square foot home with 18 average-sized double-hung vinyl framed windows (which would comprise roughly 20% of the floor area), would therefore spend somewhere around $10,000 to install double pane windows. For the same home to install triple-pane windows, you can expect to spend somewhere around $12,800.
As a rule of thumb,
if you are directly comparing double and triple pane windows, you can expect to pay 10% to 25% more for a triple pane window. This is due to the additional complexity involved in construction and installation.
In some cases – particularly in older homes – this 10-25% addition may be even higher due to the requirement to add extra support. Triple pane windows are heavier than double pane, so the frames (and sometimes even the walls) may need reinforcement.
While these overall figures provide a ballpark, there are a number of factors that influence the final cost. The most important of these are the type of frame you choose. The main options are as follows:
In addition to the materials used, the style of the windows will influence the cost. In some cases, you may be limited by the shape of the existing window space. However, double-hung windows are the cheapest (and the default). The different styles of windows usually include the following:
Naturally, the choice you make will be dependent on your own personal circumstances. However, this will affect the price. For more information on this, see the Additional Costs section below. There are ways to save money if the budget is tight – and ways to splurge if you are so inclined.
As mentioned above, the materials used in the windows will greatly affect the price. A breakdown of the costs involved is outlined below.
Minimum Cost of Upgrade
Maximum Cost of Upgrade
By far the most common material used in triple pane windows is vinyl, which usually works out as the cheapest per square foot. Vinyl is optimal because of the way it is able to maintain strength despite the additional weight of the third pane. The reason for the major price discrepancy in vinyl is because of its utilization in the vast majority of projects.
Wood and Steel
Wood and steel, by contrast, don’t tend to be suitable when it comes to some larger projects, and therefore the range tends to be smaller. The contractor will, in the vast majority of situations, use vinyl as the default option.
You’ll need to discuss potential alternatives with a professional, who will be able to advise on costs, as well as the feasibility of the material in your specific circumstances.
It may seem like a relatively trivial detail, but the type of gas you use in the gap between the panes can also greatly affect the price. In some instances, you can leave air in between the panes. This is naturally the cheapest option. However, to really create a seal, you can pump krypton or argon into the cavity. Both are inert, noble gases, meaning you’re not in danger of your windows exploding. However, both will stop heat from escaping your home.
ARGON VS. KRYPTON
However, the price difference between the two varies a great deal.
However, as is the case with triple pane windows in general, you’ll need to consider the savings from the additional efficiency.
Again, you’ll need to discuss options with your contractor, as availability may vary. It’s not even always possible to get your hands on Krypton because of the relative difficulty of producing it on a mass scale.
DOUBLE VS. TRIPLE PANE WINDOWS
Ultimately, there are a few factors you should consider to determine whether a triple or double pane is the right option for you (of course, this assumes that you need to upgrade your windows in the first place).
For a full breakdown comparing the two, see our page on Double vs. Triple Pane Windows.
THE PRIMARY FACTOR...
that should help make your decision is the climate you live in. For those in more mild or temperate climates (think places where snow in the winter is relatively rare, and 100+ days in the summer are not the norm), double pane windows will most likely suffice; you’re unlikely to see a major return on investment.
If, however, you live in a climate with extremely hot summers or extremely cold winters (or both), triple pane windows could be a winner. In particular, triple pane windows should be effective in cold climates, as heat energy is lost more readily in cold climates than in warm ones. You’ll also notice the energy savings more quickly in cold climates.
One alternative to triple pane windows is to simply ensure you have fully up-to-date and well-maintained double pane windows. Unless you live in an arctic climate and have an enormous home to keep warm, it’s unlikely you’ll notice too much of a difference. Make sure that your double pane windows have retained their insulating properties and aren’t showing signs of condensation and you’ll most likely be fine.
After all, triple pane windows are an investment and, as such, you’ll need to calculate the potential savings for your home, the length of time you plan to stay in your home, and the potential knock-on value for your home of upgrading. Each of these is very personalized.