Single vs Double vs Triple Pane Windows: Which One Should You Choose?

Choosing between single-pane, double-pane, and triple-pane windows can be a tough decision.

You want to have the best energy savings, but not overspend either.

For the majority of homeowners, double-pane windows are the general recommendation. They offer good energy efficiency, good noise reduction, security, and durability while not being overkill. They’re also a reasonable price too. If you have a window that gets a lot of direct sunlight or is in a noisy area, you could opt for triple-pane to save on energy costs and lower the sound entering your home.

For some others, it may make sense to continue using single-pane or upgrading to triple-pane windows.

We’ll compare each window type in 8 different categories, look at their pros and cons, and help you choose.

Single vs Double vs Triple Pane: The Basics

When shopping for new windows or planning a window replacement, there are so many options.

One thing to consider is how many window panes to go with. There are three options out there: single pane, double pane, and triple pane.

The main difference between single pane, double pane, and triple pane windows is the number of glass sheets that each one has.

Single pane has a single piece of glass. Double pane has two. Triple pane has three.

single vs double vs triple pane windows graphic

This table is a quick overview of the different aspects of these window types.

FeatureSingle-Pane WindowsDouble-Pane WindowsTriple-Pane Windows
Number of panes of glass123
Energy efficiencyLeast energy-efficientMore energy-efficientMost energy-efficient
CostLeast expensiveMore expensiveMost expensive
SoundproofingLeast soundproofingMore soundproofingMost soundproofing
SecurityLeast secureMore secureMost secure
DurabilityLeast durableMore durableMost durable

Appearance

Windows play a large part in curb appeal. It’s nice when you get a compliment from your neighbors asking if you got new windows recently or not.

Single-pane windows are very easy to recognize. They have a single piece of glass inside a thin frame. If your home is very old, you likely have single-pane windows.

If the single-pane window has grids or grilles on them, you’ll notice that the grids exist on the outside. This makes the grids stand out more.

Double-pane windows are very commonly used for window replacements. They are two pieces of glass inside a slightly thicker frame.

If you have grids with double-pane windows, the grids exist between the two pieces of glass. The grids do not stand out when looking at your home. They appear darker in appearance.

Triple-pane windows are like double-pane, except they have three pieces of glass. You might notice that triple-pane windows have a darker tint to them. This is because there are more layers of low E coatings.

The extra piece of glass decreases the amount of light going through it. Your home may not be as bright as before, but this depends on other factors as well.

Triple-pane and double-pane end up looking very similar from an untrained eye. Choosing between them requires us to look at other factors such as insulation and cost.

Durability

If you’re spending thousands of dollars on new windows, you want to know that they’ll last a long time. The durability of each type of window vary.

Single-pane windows have the least durability because it is a single layer of glass. When pressing against it with your hand, you’ll notice that the glass tends to wobble or shake.

These windows are much more likely to develop condensation or get foggy in the winter time. They also are easily damaged by weather conditions such as hail or strong storms. Or even your neighbor’s kid playing baseball or golf.

Double-pane windows have higher durability. If one piece of glass takes damage, there is still another one that protects your home.

Triple-pane windows have the most durability. Three layers of glass is tougher to break than two.

Imagine having to break a thin piece of wood. One piece is easy to break with a kick or a knee. Placing two on top of each other makes it more difficult, but it’s still possible. Having three is very difficult without more leverage or tools.

As you can see, the durability of the window is linearly correlated to the number of panes. More panes equals higher durability.

FeatureSingle-Pane WindowsDouble-Pane WindowsTriple-Pane Windows
Number of panes of glass123
DurabilityLeast durableMore durableMost durable
Resistance to damageLeast resistantMore resistantMost resistant
Resistance to condensationLeast resistantMore resistantMost resistant

Cost

Cost is always an important aspect to consider when purchasing new windows or replacing old ones.

Single-pane windows are the least expensive window. However, they are not common anymore in homes. Whenever, people get new windows, they are primarily deciding between double-pane and triple-pane.

It’s still possible to buy single-pane windows, although it’s not recommended. There are still good locations for single-pane windows such as such as sheds or garages. They don’t offer much insulation, but they can used for decorative windows.

Single-pane windows at the local home improvement store cost between $70-$200 per window.

Double-pane windows are more expensive than single-pane windows. However, because they’re more common, you can get good discounts for buying in bulk.

Double-pane windows at the local home improvement store cost between $150-$600 per window. It also depends on the window brand, the size, and extra features.

Triple-pane windows are the most expensive due to using more materials.

Installation

Ease of installation plays a big role in deciding whether to install windows yourself or to go with a contractor.

If your project is more complicated, it makes sense to go with an experienced large company instead of your local handyman.

Single-pane, double-pane, and triple-pane windows all need a similar installation process.

The windows show up to your house already in their frames with the glass installed with argon gas and low E coats. This is the same no matter the number of glass sheets.

The process involves:

  • Measuring and purchasing new windows.
  • Removing the current windows in your home.
  • Disposing of the current windows.
  • Placing in the new windows.
  • Caulking any gaps.
  • Repainting any scratched areas on your walls.
  • Checking for air leaks.

Double-pane and triple-pane windows tend to be heavier. This means they’ll take more time and difficulty to install.

The biggest reason to go with an experienced contractor is to lower the risk of doing it wrong.

Windows make a large difference in energy savings and noise reduction. However, they have to be installed properly.

Energy Savings

The biggest reason for getting new windows is probably because your energy bill is rising quickly in the summer or winter time. If you’re paying thousands for new windows, you want them to pay for themselves in the long run.

Energy savings plays a large part in deciding which window type you want.

Single-pane windows provide the least energy savings. They tend to transfer heat quickly and condensate often.

These windows don’t have extra features like argon gas or low E coating. Double-pane windows are the standard for balancing energy savings versus the window cost.

They are more energy-efficient and rated higher than single-pane windows.

The two layers of glass allow a gas fill that improves insulation by keeping heat in during the winter and out during the summer.

Triple-pane windows are every better, since there are two spaces of gas fills instead of one.

A window’s insulation power is measured by R-values. A higher R-value means better insulation, which means better energy savings.

Triple-pane windows have higher R-values than double-pane.

If you want the most energy savings, then triple-pane windows will be the best. However, the best balance between cost and energy savings belongs to double-pane windows.

FeatureSingle-pane windowsDouble-pane windowsTriple-pane windows
R-value0.9-13-3.87-8
Energy efficiencyLeast energy-efficientMore energy-efficientMost energy-efficient

Noise Reduction

Loud noises tend to travel through windows more than walls. If you live in a loud neighborhood street with many cars, you’ll want your windows to reduce as much noise as possible.

Depending on where you live and what you do, noise reduction in windows may be very important for you. Working from home requires a quieter space. Windows with good noise reduction matter.

Single-pane windows have the lowest noise reduction. When they’re over 15 years old, they barely do anything.

Noise reduction is measured by STC ratings, which stands for Sound Transmission Class.

A lower STC rating means less noise reduction.

Single-pane windows have an STC of 26-28. Double-pane is 26-35. And triple pane is 29. It depends on other factors as well such as soundproof inserts, glass type, and glass thickness.

If sound reduction is your goal, the best bang-for-buck window is double-pane.

Security

Windows are made of glass and are easily breakable. They are a vulnerable part of your house.

The type of window you choose can affect the security of your home.

All windows have security features such as window locks. The biggest factor when it comes to window security is the frame material.

Materials such as aluminum are very secure because of the rigid frame. Vinyl is more fragile and can get broken.

The more glass panes you have, the more secure your windows are. It’s hard to break through 2-3 thick layers of glass.

Adding grids or grilles to your windows also makes it more difficult for burglars to enter.

Making sure that you have trimmed hedges, security cameras, and locked windows will deter burglars.

Lifespan

When paying for expensive replacement windows, you want them to last a long time. Lifespan plays an important role when choosing between single, double, and triple pane windows.

Single-pane windows typically last for 10-15 years. They are the least durable. Because there is only one piece of glass, a single seal break will cause an air leak.

Having one piece of glass also makes them susceptible to breakage in case there’s strong weather such as hail or heavy storms.

Double-pane windows typically last for 15-20 years. They’re more durable but they can still suffer from seal breaks too.

Triple-pane windows last for 20-25 years, although it’s recommended they get replaced around 15-20 years too. This is because one seal might break, but there’s another two layers of glass.

If one piece of glass breaks, the other 1-2 pieces continue to work properly.

Single Pane Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Low costNot energy efficient
Easy installationPoor noise reduction
DurableCondensation

Double Pane Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Energy efficientMore expensive
Great noise reductionMore difficult to install
Extremely durablePossible condensation in humid weather

Triple Pane Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Very energy efficientHighest cost
Great noise reductionMore difficult to install
Extremely durablePossible condensation in humid weather

When To Use Single Pane Windows?

There are still situations where it makes sense to have single pane windows.

Some people use single-pane windows as decorative windows. This includes sheds and garages. It also includes other parts of your home where insulation, energy efficiency, and noise reduction isn’t important.

Single Pane vs Double Pane vs Triple Pane: Which is Better For Your Home?

Deciding between single-pane, double-pane, and triple-pane depends on your home, location, and budget.

Having double-pane or triple-pane windows on only some of your windows but not the others doesn’t give you all of the benefits, including energy savings and noise reduction.

Single-pane windows are only recommended for sheds and garages. They offer very few benefits, but they are very affordable.

Triple-pane windows are the most expensive, but they also offer the best noise reduction, insulation, security, and more.

Double-pane windows are the general recommendation from most contractors for home owners looking for replacement windows.

They are energy efficient while having a reasonable cost too.

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