The Low-Down on Low-E Windows

The name “Low E” doesn’t stand for “Low Excitement!”

For the past 10-15 years, many newer homes have been built with Low-E glass windows.  The advantage of this newer technology is that the home is kept cooler because more of the sun’s hot rays are reflected back out of the window before entering the home…. But the unintended consequences might surprise you!

Mike & Yvonne Schenck - Lincoln CA - A to Z Screens

On Friday August 30th Mike and Yvonne Schenck of Sun City Lincoln found out just how “E-xciting” Low-E glass can be!

Just as they were settling down to dinner, Mike and Yvonne heard a loud roaring sound coming from outside their home!  Mike said he thought it was a jet fighter making an exceptionally low pass, but became more concerned when the sound didn’t fade away but got louder.  To their horror, the Schencks discovered that their side yard fence was fully engulfed in flames with the fire spreading rapidly.  Yvonne grabbed their household fire extinguisher and unloaded with everything it had, but still to no avail!  The fire was already too big!

A short time later, the Lincoln Fire Department arrived and handily extinguished the blaze before causing too much damage.  The final score:  a badly damaged fence, a ”wasted” green waste can, and a badly singed propane bottle…. which thank goodness happened to be empty at the time!

The cause of the fire?  LOW-E Glass Windows!

House Fire - Lincoln CA - A to Z Screens

Do you remember as a kid how you used to use your parents’ magnifying glass to wreak havoc on the local ant population?  When held in just the correct position, the sun’s rays can be focused into a very hot beam of energy able to burn and start fires…

Low E Glass windows have the ability to do pretty much the same thing!  Obviously for such a catastrophe to occur, all the stars have to be aligned just right; The Low E glass window has to be at just the right angle in conjunction with the sun, and a combustible object needs to be in the path of the reflected beam of energy, but this phenomena occurs more often than one might expect!   The Schencks stated that the Lincoln Fire Department responds to 6 or 7 fires each year that were caused by Low E Glass reflection!  In their case, the Low-E glass had been melting the top of their plastic garbage can for a while, but they didn’t think much of it… until the reflected sunlight finally caught the flowerbed bark on fire which spread to the fence!

Low-E Glass Windows Cause Fire - Lincoln CA - A to Z Screens

Our Company, AtoZ Window Screens, is hired to install sunscreens on Low-E windows at least 2 or 3 homes per year because of fire related problems!  In years past, we’ve seen Low-E windows melt and burn lawn furniture, grass, bark chips, tall weeds, plastic garbage cans and other plastic storage containers!

The simplest solution is to keep the sun from shining on risk-prone Low-E glass windows in the first place!  Solar Screens or awnings are an ideal, long term solution to this very real danger.

If you notice permanent dead spots in your lawn, singed lawn furniture or melted plastic objects (usually always located on the West side of your home), your Low-E windows might be getting ready to provide you with some High-E excitement of combustible proportions!  Consider covering your windows with solar screens or awnings and then go get your excitement from something a little less dangerous than playing with fire!

By Aaron Zambrana | Tagged with: Tags: , ,