Argon Gas-Filled Windows: Are They Worth It?

It’s that time of the decade again (has it already been that long?) to replace your windows.

You have probably heard a bunch of words being thrown around like: Low E, Argon gas, double-pane.

These are all different ways that new windows have been upgraded to have better insulation. Argon gas is one of those ways.

It may sound strange that you’re putting gas into your windows to help it insulate your home better, but alas, we are in weird times. We’ll be discussing what argon is, why it’s effective, its advantages and disadvantages, and then answer commonly asked questions regarding argon gas-filled windows.

What Are Argon Gas-Filled Windows?

window panes and space in between

Argon gas-filled windows are windows that have argon gas inside them.

The argon gas is inserted in-between your window panes and held in place with an air tight seal.

For this reason, argon gas-filled windows only work with double-pane or triple-pane windows. This means that your window has two or three pieces of glass inside each sash instead of one. One piece of glass makes your window a single-pane window.

  • Single-paned = not able to have argon gas.
  • Double-paned = possible to have argon gas.
  • Triple-paned = possible to have argon gas.

The reason for this is simple. With a single-pane window, there’s no space to fill with gas.

In a double-pane or triple-pane window, the gas exists in between the two pieces of glass. It’s completely airtight, and the gas cannot escape.

A double-pane window has one spacer which contains the argon gas, whereas a triple-pane window has two spacers that have it giving you that extra bit of insulation for hot climates or a specific window that gets blasted with sunlight.

Advantages of Argon Gas-Filled Windows

Argon gas-filled windows have many advantages and are commonly used in high quality double-paned windows.

These advantages include:

  • Better insulation
  • Better soundproofing
  • Lower energy bills
  • Helps in hot and cold weather
  • Better UV protection
  • Less chance of condensation and frost
  • Not too expensive of an additional cost
  • Does not damage your windows or the glass
  • Safe to breathe in if there is an air leak

Argon gas is much denser than air. It also doesn’t moisture content, so there’s less chances of condensation inside of your windows.

Its density is why it’s so resistant to temperature changes when it gets hit with sunlight or chilly weather.

Disadvantages of Argon Gas-Filled Windows

Argon gas-filled windows sound too good to be true, but there are some downsides to consider before saying yes.

These disadvantages include:

  • Argon leaks are common
  • Difficult to determine leaks
  • Higher cost associated with argon-filled windows

The primary concern for argon gas-filled windows is that they leak up to 1% per year. It’s also difficult to determine if you have a leak because the gas is colorless and odorless.

As the argon leaks, the gas slowly looses it’s insulating effect over time. That means your windows 10 years from now won’t be as effective as they are brand new.

Despite this, however, your argon-filled windows are still expected to last up to 20 years.

What is Argon?

period table of elements

Argon gas = 100% non-toxic and safe

Argon is an inert gas that is inserted inside the windows. It acts as another form of insulation.

The gas stable and doesn’t undergo any chemical reactions with other elements. Why? Well, that’s quite a nerdy answer that we’ll get into later.

It is odorless, colorless, and tasteless. Argon is also non-toxic and exists in the atmosphere you’re breathing in right now. It’s not a large percentage of the atmosphere. Only 1% of the air is comprised of Argon. It’s classified as a noble gas.

Other examples of noble gasses include helium, argon, krypton, xenon, and radon. If you remember chemistry from school, these elements exist on the rightmost column of the periodic table.

These elements don’t react with other elements because their outermost shell is full of electrons. In other words, their valency is 0.

This is what makes it safe to use inside your windows. When they touch other elements in the air, nothing happens.

Okay, enough nerdy talk. We now know that argon is clear and is safe and exists naturally in the world.

How Long Does Argon Gas in Windows Last?

Argon gas is expected to last about 20 years. This is a typical lifespan of a window. At around 20 years, you’ll start to see seals leaking more in windows, or the insulation properties just aren’t working as well.

Each year, due to the contraction and expansion of the glass due to heat and temperature changes, you can expect up to 1% loss of argon gas.

This doesn’t mean your windows get less effective though. Even a small amount of argon gas is effective as a temperature insulator. It would take a significant loss of argon for your to feel the difference.

What Does Argon Gas Look Like?

Argon gas is completely colorless, so you won’t see them inside of your window. If your window has a tint, it’s from the material of the glass or from any coatings or tints that may be on it such as Low E glass.

picture of a window with low E glass green tint and reflection

Do You Need to Refill Argon Gas?

If your windows were installed correctly, then there’s no need to refill the argon gas.

If you notice that your argon gas is leaking at a fast rate, then it could be that whoever installed your windows did a poor job. In this case, replacing the argon gas would not fix the issue. You would have to contact a professional to replace your window or fix the cause of the air leak.

Does Argon Gas in Windows Reduce Noise?

Argon reduces sound waves from traveling inside of your home because it is much denser than air. Homeowners will enjoy the extra benefit of sound reduction if they purchase windows with Argon gas. However, it is not the only contributor to noise reduction.

If you go from single-pane to double-pane windows, the added insulation and glass barrier between the outside and inside of your home reduces noise significantly.

Argon vs Krypton Gas Windows: Which is Better?

Another gas that is commonly used to fill windows is krypton. Krypton, yep like that rock that’s Superman’s weakness, is also an inert noble gas. It’s colorless, odorless, and tasteless.

Krypton has better insulation properties than argon, but it’s also much more expensive.

Argon is 6 times denser than air, whereas Krypton is 12 times denser. Krypton is harder to acquire than argon, since it is much less common.

On average, windows filled with krypton may be 40% more expensive than windows filled with argon.

In most windows nowadays, it’s already a standard to come with argon gas. You would have to ask your local window contractors specifically if you want krypton-filled windows.

Does Argon Gas in Windows Cost More?

Argon gas does cost more in windows, but there are not really other options if you want to get double-pane windows or triple-pane windows.

This is the standard for most large window manufacturers in the United States. If is possible to get double-pane windows without gas inserted already, but this is much more rare to find.

Is Argon Gas Safe?

Argon is a completely safe gas to fill your windows with. It’s inert which means that it doesn’t react with other elements.

Argon also exists naturally in our atmosphere and the air we breathe in already. It’s odorless, colorless, and tasteless.

All of these properties makes argon safe in case your windows do break or leak argon.

Low E Vs Argon Gas Windows

cross sectional view of a double-pane window
Low EArgon gas
Reduces UVInsulates windows reduce heat and cold
Reduces IR radiationReduces condensation
Reflects heatImproved sound reduction
Lower energy billsLower energy bills

Argon gas does nothing to reduce UV and IR radiation that comes through your windows.

Low E coats on your windows significantly will reduce UV and IR radiation as well as reflect heat.

Ideally, you would want your windows to have both to maximize its insulator properties.

These are both decisions that have to be made before getting your replacement windows, since you cannot add a Low E coat afterwards or fill your windows with argon gas afterwards.

If we look at Simonton Windows, a popular window manufacturer, you’ll see that they offer Low E and gas fill as a base option. After that, you have upgrade options such as triple-pane glass, krypton instead of argon, glass strength, glass tint, and sound and security.

There are no options to remove Low E coats or remove the gas fills.

If you are looking to have neither done or only one, you’ll need to get special custom-order windows for your project.

Is Argon Gas in Windows Worth It?

If you are looking to get double-pane or triple-pane windows for your window replacement project, there is a high likelihood that these windows will already have argon gas inserted into them if you are going with a company that uses windows from large manufacturers.

You do get a choice between having Low E coats or not, sometimes.

If you live in an area with really hot summers or very hot winters, it is worth it to get both argon gas-filled windows and Low E coating to reduce the amount of work that your AC and heating units have to do in summer and winter.

Depending on where you live, your local contractors and window experts may only offer windows that meet the standard of already having argon and Low E coatings on them, since this is what most people in your area use. It makes it possible for them to lower the cost per window because they can manufacturer in bulk, and the contractors can buy these windows in bulk as well.

Both of these are long-term investments, but they will make up their cost in improvement of your quality of life as well as energy savings over time.

Be sure to talk to your local contractor or window professional to discuss all of your options and how replacement windows can benefit you and your home.

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