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  • Writer's pictureRydePassiveHouse

Choosing Passive House Windows and Doors

Updated: Jun 2, 2023

As you probably already know, there are 3 options for window and glass door frames; timber, UPVC and thermally-broken aluminium. The U-value of the frame will impact the U-value of the unit as a whole, and will in turn have implications for the performance and design of the house.

We selected our windows and doors before we found the passive house consultant. This was for a number of reasons. The industry was quite young and there weren’t many consultants around. Glazing is quite a technical and specialist area and if I were starting again today, I would do it the other way around.

I wanted get an understanding of the cost and performance differences of the frame options. Performance came down to 2 things; U-value and air-tightness. The U-value may not be as important today as I thought it was back then. A passive house consultant can make adjustments in the PHPP to other materials to compensate for lower performing frames.

There are different passive house standards today and it would have been possible for us to meet the PHI Low Energy Building standard with lower performing (higher U-value) windows. However, I don’t believe there is any compensation for poor air-tightness.

In a nutshell, a thermally-broken aluminium frame with double glazing and low-E coating could achieve U value of about 2.4, but there were no guarantees of air-tightness. UPVC double glazed windows and doors that are fabricated on-shore from imported frames had a U-value of about 1.3 and most of them had no guarantee of air-tightness. There was one exception. Ultimate Windows guaranteed airtightness for their Deceuninck Legend product, which was passive house certified. I believe other fabricators have since started offering the same. There was also an imported UPVC option and it was passive house certified.

The third option was timber. A good double-glazed timber window or door will also achieve a U-value of about 1.3. There are locally-made and imported options. The locally-made options are a premium product and therefore out of our reach. One criticism that I often heard about timber is that it needs regular maintenance. High specification timber windows and doors for use in a passive house usually come with an aluminium veneer on the outside. Which makes them as low maintenance as the other options.

Although windows and doors are a technical aspect of the fabric of the house, they are also a major aesthetic component. I wanted to sort out the look of the frames before we got too technical.

In the end, we opted for imported timber double-glazed units with powder coated aluminium veneers from Harley and Jason at Logikhaus. They are passive house certified components and were manufactured in Poland. We did not consider triple-glazing because our climate zone is rated as warm.

Imported timber aluclad passive house windows and doors being delivered to Ryde Passive House
Logikhaus windows and doors being delivered to site

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