July 5, 2010

A Question from the West Side

By Paul Bieber

Brad Cook, the president and co-owner of ARC Glass in Brook Park, Ohio, sent in a great question. Before I answer Brad’s question, a little geography and history lesson is in order. I was born and raised in Cleveland, which is probably the least appreciated city in the US. I lived for baseball season as a kid and followed the Cleveland Indians, as they became the Gods of my youth. Rocky Colavito was my hero. Herb Score was a Cleveland pitcher until he got hit in the face by a line drive, breaking his eye socket and cutting his career short. I remember crying that night like no other night up to then in my life.

On the other hand, when I went to college in Boston, I never went back to Cleveland. I found out that Cleveland was in a different time zone than Boston, about three years behind.

The geography lesson is this. Brook Park is on the west side of Cleveland, near Hopkins Airport. I grew up on the east side. Crossing from one to the other was like going to another world. The Cleveland Zoo was on the West Side, like the Airport, and those were the only two places I ever went on the west side. So, when I received Brad’s note, from a west sider, it proved that times have improved. Although, Brad probably didn’t know I am an east sider.

So, thanks Brad for this question and thanks for triggering some memories of growing up. Here’s Brad’s question:

“Initially we were told by our IG supplier that they could not obtain low-e stock that met the government’s requirements for the tax credit. At a later date, they expanded on their incapacity saying the low-e coating that met the aforementioned requirements was too soft be produced on their equipment.

“Can you offer any insight? Thank you for your time.

Here we go Brad. Your supplier needs to update his equipment, or you need to get a different supplier for these type of jobs.

There are two broad categories of low-e glass: hard coat and soft coat. Hard coat has the low-e manufactured into the glass as it comes out of melting furnace at 2300 degrees. After cooling it is easy to handle. You can temper, drill, laminate or anything else you can do with regular float. The downside is that it is not the most efficient product. Soft coat is more efficient, and meets the criteria for energy star windows for the tax credit (see the website at: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfmc=windows_doors.pr_anat_window for technical info), but it needs specialized manufacturing equipment to make IG units correctly. Without the right equipment the coating will scratch and blotch in the washing machine. Also, finger prints are in the coating forever. Cutting oil leaves a residue. All said, it is tougher to manufacture the units with soft coat.

If your vendor doesn’t have the right equipment, they are smart not to attempt to use the soft coat products. Nonetheless, this is the future of our industry. Hard coat has many good uses in commercial, large size units. For residential, though, soft coat will rule the roost.

As for you, Brad, you do need to have another source of IG. Ask local fabricators if they do soft coat. Any soft coat will meet the energy-star standards and you will be able to fill your customer’s needs. Soft coat units are more expensive. Usually 20-30% more. You will have no handling problems. The coating is to the inside of the unit, you’ll install just like any other unit. Also, there are many different soft coats out there. Unless you know the exact product used in the initial install, you will have a tough time matching on any replacement job. If you are building from scratch, make sure you and your customer keep a record of the products being used.

Brad, give my regards to Cleveland…go Indians.