High altitude windows
Last Post 10 Feb 2013 08:22 PM by whirnot. 13 Replies.
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LarryTUser is Offline
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26 Oct 2012 09:23 PM
After several years of waiting to start building, we may be able to start spring of 2013. Architect is working on construction docs and the engineer is on a parallel path. Well he needsto be a little ahead. I'm back to researching products so I can begin getting quotes when the time comes. With regards to windows, I'm at 9000 ft, in northern NM. I understand I can't use gas filled windows because of the elevation, but do I need to look for a manufacturer that constructs their windows at a high elevation as well to prevent problems
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26 Oct 2012 11:55 PM
I don't think there is a window company that builds in high elevations. All you have to do is get the window company to install capillary tubes during transport. There shouldn't be any problems with the tubes as they equalize pressure. Intus just had a project that installed windows at 9,000 feet and they had no problems.

Just don't get a plasma TV because they will stop working above 7,500 feet. I believe LCD is fine.

You are doing the right thing by NOT starting to build in fall. So many people make the mistake with building in fall and then delays set in and freezes and snows can really cause problems. Building during fall you are on a race to beat old man winter. The best time to build is the spring, that way you are not pressed by time to finish the project as you would with fall.
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28 Oct 2012 03:22 PM
Alpen Windows makes windows in Boulder, Colorado, so they are at fairly high altitude. Because they are manufactured at high altitude, they developed some technology to allow the windows to be gas filled and transported and used at different altitudes. I believe they include a bellows that adjusts for pressure changes, and then the gas system is sealed once the windows are installed. However, the use of gas fill compared to air probably reduces the U-factor by a modest amount of 10% to 15% or so. I think one or two other manufacturers offer gas filled windows at high altitudes, but as Lbear said, the standard approach is to install capillary tubes.

I have high altitude, air-filled windows with capillary tubes and have not experienced any problems with them at 7100 ft. of elevation. At 9000 ft., you better take oxygen with you. :-)
Lee Dodge, Residential Energy Laboratory, in a net-zero source energy modified production house
LarryTUser is Offline
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29 Oct 2012 11:06 PM
Thanks Lbear and Lee. Both responses tell me what can be done. I had wondered whether they were such things as capillary tubes that could be used. I've appreciated both your posts over the time Ive been reading GBT. Lee aren't you somewhere close to 9000'? It'll take some time to get used to during the construction stage, I'm sure!
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31 Oct 2012 01:12 PM
Posted By LarryT on 29 Oct 2012 11:06 PM
...snip...
Lee aren't you somewhere close to 9000'?


I am at 7100' of elevation. I camped several summers in a row at Jack's Creek Campground in the Pecos Wilderness in northern NM, and I was surprised to get altitude sickness one time since it is only at 8400'. (I was living close to sea level at the time, not 7100'.)
Lee Dodge, Residential Energy Laboratory, in a net-zero source energy modified production house
Dana1User is Online
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31 Oct 2012 03:42 PM
(beware- thread drift ahead)

Getting at least some symptoms going from living at sea level to camping at 8400' is pretty common, but full-on acute mountain sickness would be a bit rare. I live at ~600' and when I take my customary summertime skiing runs on Mt. Rainier I usually start to feel it when crossing 8500-9000' on the ascent. If camp at altitude rather than day-tripping it I'd usually up with a headache. But if I stay at 5-6K' for a few days to a week ahead of time sleeping at 10-11k' is pretty much symptom-free. It gets more "interesting" at 13-14k' though, having never spent enough time above 10k' to fully acclimate. I s'pose if I lived in Leadville daytripping or even camping at 14K wouldn't be much of a stress though.

OK, back to the window discussion...
dave111User is Offline
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04 Nov 2012 12:29 AM
I got my windows out of Denver, and they came with the capillary tubes. You do give up a little performance as you can't do a gas fill, however my experience has been to not trust the seals to last forever anyway, and mine are starting at the long term performance point. I also went with the fiberglass as they come with a lifetime warranty (near to my heart after spending the last 27 years repairing wood frames). I will note that these are not the highest performance windows you can buy, however the difference in cost between them and a high performance window package was about the same as I put into my geothermal system.
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05 Nov 2012 10:59 PM
If a window comes with capillary tubes, could you use them to fill the window with gas once at the site and then seal off the tubes?
AltonUser is Offline
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06 Nov 2012 10:35 AM
Windows filled with Argon, etc. may not hold the heavy gas but for a few years unless the glass is welded.  Years ago, Andersen Windows used to have welded glass but I do not know of any company now that does not use flexible seals.  My point:  flexible seals will allow the heavy gas to leak.  Also, I do not know of any standards about how much gas is supposed to be in a sealed window or how long it will last.
Residential Designer & Construction Technology Consultant -- E-mail: Alton at Auburn dot Edu, 334 826-3979
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06 Nov 2012 11:19 AM
Windows in high alitude areas can't be completely sealed. Due to difference in air pressure any windows delivered from a low altitude area to a high one risks glass breakage if the windows are sealed. that is why no manufacturer that i know of sells a window being shipped to a high altitude area without breather tubes (capillary tubes)
Thank you, Matthew Burr Window & Door Buyer Village Home Center 4650 Hwy 7 North Hot Springs Village, AR 71909 Office: 1-501-984-6074 Fax: 1-501-984-6073 Email: mburr@cbmcci.com
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07 Nov 2012 11:12 AM
Has there been any commercial development of vacuum Swales glass units that were talked about a few years ago?
whirnotUser is Offline
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10 Feb 2013 09:45 AM
For those that are not familiar with them the gas filled windows have a capillary tube with a small bag at the end of it. the bag can expand and contarct with altitude. Then once they are on site, the tube is sealed off.
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10 Feb 2013 03:54 PM
Are the capillary tubes then removed at the jobs site?
whirnotUser is Offline
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10 Feb 2013 08:22 PM
I believe they are sealed off, and cut short. But that is an assumption. Prior to transport they are about a foot long.
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