Who makes ***GREAT*** replacement windows?

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M Q wrote:

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In addition to that particular mistaken thought, I'd wager the actual standards against which they test are the same as for the aforementioned manufacturers are also the same and that each will have a class that meets any particular level of test...a manufacturer's name means something, but each of these makes a range of products. One has to compare like _products_ not generic brands to make any rational comparison.
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The Loewren of Canada have a triple pane of R7. 2 that might be the best you can get.
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I live in the cold Northeast as well, and have replaced 14 windows over the past 2 years in our 1923 Colonial Revival house.
10 are Pella wood, 4 are "Pella" Thermastar vinyl.
In addition, we also had two Andersen windows installed by the previous owner a couple years before we bought - one was among the 14 we replaced ourselves. The inner pane broke, according to the previous owners without any prodding by them (I don't necessarily believe them, but it was in the bathroom with extreme temperature and humidity swings and for all I know was defective from the start).
The Andersen window that remains is a three-paned casement window in the kitchen (the two outer panes open, middle pane is stationary). It is easily the coldest window in the house, both in terms of air leaks and in terms of radiating cold from the glass. I would replace it too if it wasn't so large - it'd probably cost $1,000 to replace, and it works fine, it's just wasting energy. I'm not happy with it, but can't justify replacing it.
I would not personally buy Andersen windows based on this experience, though I guess their wood windows could be better.
I'm pretty happy with the Pella wood windows we have - they work great, they look great, they're easy to clean inside and out. Never any condensation here, and we get down to 0 degrees where I am occasionally. The inner pane always stays warm to the touch. I feel like the weatherstripping where the two sashes meet could be better - it's just a thin piece of vinyl, and when it's really cold I do feel a little air coming through there - but it's not bad, and it could probably be added on to pretty easily. I just haven't bothered. Only other criticism I have is that the locks are proprietary (even generic locks made for "thin" sashes won't fit), and the ones they sell in the nicer finishes are really expensive. That might factor in to your concern about getting parts if the company goes belly up, though I think they've been around long enough that that's probably not going to be an issue.
The Thermastar windows aren't nearly as good, but they're not "real" Pella (they were another company that got bought by Pella). Anyway, vinyl windows are vinyl windows as far as I'm concerned as long as they keep the energy in, which they do well enough. I really wouldn't buy any vinyl window for any room you care about the looks of - I've never seen a vinyl window that didn't look like a cheap hunk of plastic. (We put ours in the attic, mud room and bathroom). We looked at several others before just going with these; even the really expensive ones looked like cheap junk to us. Some vinyl windows are more expensive than wood!
Pella and maybe other manufacturers have recently come out with fiberglass windows - I would consider those, because they're supposed to be low-maintenance like vinyl but look as warm and "chunky" as wood. I haven't seen them myself, but that's the sales pitch. They do cost a bit more than even wood, though.
Jeff
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we use window world, get them out to show you their product.
http://www.minibite.com/america/malone.htm
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