European windows are making their way to the US. Depending on the project, architects are selecting windows and doors that are either European quality, European- style, or European made. What’s behind the growing appeal of European windows in the US and what’s the difference between European and American windows?
The appeal of European windows often comes down to elements such as function, technology, operability and appearance. European building standards have been on the leading edge of innovation and energy efficiency for over a decade, so it’s no surprise that European code-inspired products are gaining popularity stateside.
There’s a difference between windows that are manufactured in Europe and windows that are made in the US (or elsewhere) with European-inspired appearance, functionality, quality, or components.
- European-style windows: Lift slide and folding doors, tilt-and-turn windows, inswing windows, and similar products emulate European opening types.
- European-quality windows: Windows and doors manufactured using technology and elements commonly used in European products, such as deep frame profiles, warm spacers, and airtight compression gaskets.
- European-made windows: Manufactured in shops and factories in Europe.
European vs American Windows: A Difficult Comparison
When deciding on European-made vs American-made windows, navigating through energy standards can be tricky business. European and American windows have different product performance standards and comparing them can be difficult; more “apples to oranges” than “apples to apples.”
North American windows are certified using NFRC standards. European windows are certified using ISO and EN standards. Voluntary passive house certification (PHI) also follows ISO standards, but with one key difference: PHI exterior temperature is simulated at climate specific outdoor temperatures, while ISO standards use 0-degree C.
There are many differences between the standards, primarily different temperatures, surface films, and solar heat gain calculations.
For example, in the United States solar energy transmittance is measured with NFRC Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC). SHGC is evaluated for the whole window product and expressed as a number between 0 and 1. European ISO and PHI standards measure total solar transmittance as “g-value” which ISO standards allow to be determined for the whole window or center of glass. This is an important difference. Center of glass values are higher than whole window calculations.
Because North American, European ISO, and Passive House thermal performance rating systems are so different, it can be easy to run into misunderstandings and miscalculations when comparing the two. The same window will have different U-value and solar heat gain ratings under each of these systems, and there is no straightforward way to compare North American and European product performance.
How to Get European Quality Windows in the US
Architects, builders, or homeowners who desire “European” windows for a project have two options: import European made windows to the US, or choose European inspired products from American manufacturers.
There are certainly times when importing European building materials is the right choice for a project. Perhaps it’s a Swiss Minergie or German Passive House certified project with an emphasis on ultra-high performance products, or a project where authentically sourced materials are the architect's top priority.
Importing building materials, particularly windows and doors, can bring its own subset of problems, including:
- Increased transportation costs
- Possibility of damage during transport
- Loss of fill gas during transport or due to change in elevation
- Possible product inaccuracies requiring timely replacements
- Possible installation errors
- Maintenance, repair, and warranty uncertainties
Many of these issues can be avoided by selecting European-inspired windows, rather than European-made.
In many instances, a European quality window can deliver the desired appearance, functionality, and technology of a European-made window -- with added benefits and without the drawbacks of importing.
Inspired by Europe. Made in America.
European form and function is a big inspiration for the fenestration products that Jada Windows manufactures in the US. Here are some of the ways we incorporate the spirit and inspiration of European windows into our products.
Thermally Broken Frames
We produce an all metal product line using the unique, thermally broken profiles supplied to us by our partner and industry leader, Secco Sistemi of Italy. Our high-quality steel frames combine the innovative Secco thermal break technology with double pane glass and specialized gas fills. With Secco profiles at our side, our thermally broken steel windows and doors always meet current US energy code requirements.
European Style and Operation
While the double-hung sash window is most commonly found in American homes, European residences prefer a different look and feel, such as tilt-turn windows and lift-slide doors. Our product line includes steel inswing and hopper windows that evoke the operation of European made windows. Our steel folding doors and lift and slide doors are direct descendents of European opening types and technology.
Our unique hardware marries the best European mechanisms with the style and design of the most luxurious domestic handle sets. We offer, as a standard, levers and knobs from the Rocky Mountain Hardware or Sun Valley Bronze. For the most discerning client, top-of-the-line Nanz hardware is specified with our window and door systems.
In addition to handle sets, innovative opening systems ensure the best window and door performance. One example is our lift-slide doors are the most air and watertight sliding door system we offer. They achieve this with the use of a compression weatherstrip on the bottom of each door sash. The Lift-Slide hardware literally lifts the door off the compression bulb to slide it open. When the door is closed, the door is lowered back down onto the bulb for an air and water tight seal. The lift and lower function is performed with a large handle which gives you the leverage required for ease of operation.
European Multi-point Locking System
Multi-point locking systems have been included in European fenestration products for a long-time. The benefits of added security and energy efficiency these locking systems bring aren’t relegated solely to European-made windows, however. We’ve turned to Europe’s multi-point locking systems to provide the highest quality in security and weathertightness for our steel fenestration products.
Warm Edge Spacers
Insulated Glass Units (IGUs) consist of two or three panes of glass, a gas fill, sealants, and a spacer. Warm edge spacers are a component in European and Passive windows, preferred for their ability to insulate more effectively. The spacer separates the panes of glass in the window and prevents gas fill from leaking. Warm-edge technology results in low energy loss between the inside and outside of the window. These spacers not only result in more comfort near the windows, higher insulating properties, and increased life of the window, they also maintain a clean aesthetic of window or door.
Added Benefits of Buying European Quality Windows from Jada Windows
At Jada Windows, we manufacture the highest-quality steel windows and doors in Northern California. From design consultation to production and installation, there are numerous benefits of getting European quality products that are manufactured by us in the United States, including:
- Shorter lead times
- Staged deliveries
- Quick and efficient replacement of products not to spec
- 35+ years of design experience and a local development team
- Consultative approach to your project
We understand the appeal of European windows. The aesthetic appeal, the innovation, the operation, and the performance can be highly desired for many projects. You can get European quality windows in the US without diving into complicated energy standards comparisons, or worrying about the multiple problems that can arise from importing windows over from Europe. When you choose a European quality window that’s manufactured in the United States, you get the best of both worlds: European functionality and technology, plus the hands-on expertise and craftsmanship from a dedicated local manufacturer who is here for you from project design to completion.