Any feedback on Advanced Energy Panels (window insulation panels)?

Hi - Has anyone heard or or used Advanced Energy Panels (http://www.advancedenergypanels.com)?  I wanted to see what others thought of this kind of window insulation panel as an alternative to replacing windows to make them more energy efficient for either homes or commercial buildings.  They cost about $150 for an average size window so fairly inexpensive but provide a U factor of .31.  Any feedback is welcome.  Thanks!

Tags: weatherization, window

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Hi Kari,
Although additional layers of plastic will increase the insulating value of existing windows, their statement:
"This technology triples the insulation value of your windows and can save you as much as 55% on your annual heating bills." is a typical exaggeration and a definite red flag for doing business with them.

You say $150 is fairly inexpensive. I would call $9.95 inexpensive. A typical home owner would be looking at near $2,000 plus installation and, a proper evaluation of savings, reduced air leakage and added insulation value, would probably show the real savings to have a rather long payback period. Every house would be different.

Putting that money towards new windows would also improve the value of one's home, where new home buyers would probably not view these as such.

The Maine Fire Marshal's office has stated concerns about the simple shrink plastic coverings posing an obstacle to egress in the case of a fire placing an increased liability on anyone who installs them. Anyone considering these units should check their local codes.

Although there may be isolated cases where window replacement is not possible and an option like this might be useful, I personally would rather see new windows with all of their other benefits. I like their performance and my wife likes the tilt out convenience for cleaning.

Bud

Thanks, Bud!  Appreciate your insights.

$150 for a typically sized window is remarkably INexpensive for what they accomplish. In at least 95% of the cases I encounter while presenting an audit report, if I recommend a new window, it's never because there is going to be an affordable payback, but rather because that window is the source of much complaint about comfort, and most typically in the winter. And when I do recommend a new window, it quite literally NEVER gets done (maybe 1% of the time).

I'm a huge fan of double cellular blinds in combination with draperies. In dozens of computer models I've shown that with the addition of these two things, heat loss is reduced between 40% and 60% of the heat that would have normally escaped through a window assembly. And that is only based on conduction, not air-leakage. Problem is, many people don't like the look of cellular blinds, and, especially, drapes. So a really great alternative to (not only) window replacement, but blinds and draperies too, is this very product, which, I'm sure has a payback of around 2-3 years.

There is such a misguided trend in energy efficiency auditing to suggest window replacement, yet the payback is at the very minimum 10 years and often more like 20. Yes, they provide more comfort, and yes they prevent condensation, and yes they save energy, and yes they add value to the resale value of a home. But have you priced window replacement for an entire home lately? Who wants to be that sort of debt slave? And if a person lives in a condo and wants to output the money to replace their windows but the condo association requires that ALL condo owners need to have the same look and feel for all fenestrations? It's simply impossible.

To me, this product (or similar products) is a great solution for many issues and at a price that is very reasonable. Try making a storm window (one that is subjected to severe weather) for $150 or less; you won't succeed. So, as far as a reasonably priced option to window replacement for "the rest of us", I believe this product is very valuable in achieving comfort as well as energy savings, and at the same time, it's moderately aesthetically pleasing.

Kari, here is a similar product, no aluminum frame. I have no experience with these, yet, but they make sense to me. http://www.indowwindow.com

For what they are selling, shink wrap, which is not durable at all, the price seems a bit excessive to me.  I would think a local handy person, or the homeowner, could make simple panels, with "plexiglass" or glass for less, and the product would be durable.  The shrink wrap ones I've seen, probably half were torn, but they would be fairly easy to repair.

Its clear from Mr. Kuhn's review that he has not had any personal experience with the Advanced Energy Panel. First, the Advanced Energy Panel does not use "shrink wrap". No heat is applied in the glazing or 'skinning' of Advanced Energy Panels. The low density polyester film used in AEPs is in fact quite durable and it has many functional and thermal advantages over the use of rigid high density materials such as glass or plexiglass. As evidence of its durability, I offer the case of a bar fight in a local pub that had Advanced Energy Panels on the inside of all of its old large wood windows.  One unfortunate patron was thrown against the window and while the glass and a muntin in the wood double hung window was broken, the the Advanced Energy Panel that he was pushed against first was not ripped or punctured and its frame did not bend. Moreover, if the panel had been torn or punctured it could have been reglazed for $25!

Additional advantages of film over glass are safety and light weight.

Thermally, low density film is far superior to glass and plexiglass because film stays much closer to room temperature and thus raises the mean radiant temperature of the room. This reduced temperature differential also dramatically reduces (virtually eliminates) the uncomfortable convected air currents that are inherent next to glass. Because of its high density and conductivity, plexiglass and glass continually extract heat from the air immediately adjacent to its indoor surface. This cooling causes the air to get heavier than the warm air at the top of the window causing it to fall due to gravity. This unfortunate characteristic of glass is even felt next to dual-glazed, low e glazing (much to the dismay of those who spent a fortune buying new windows and think that they are leaking cold air!)

Another advantage of film is its extremely light weight compared to two layers of glass or plexiglass. 

 

Regarding the important role of mean radiant temperature in human comfort, I would refer anyone interested in achieving comfort as well as energy efficiency to the 2009 ASHREA Fundamentals Chapter 9.. This seminal reference also explains the thermal characteristics of various materials and the relationship of these characteristics to heat flow.

Finally, it is true that a handy homeowner could create a dual film interior window insulation panel that may be similar to the Advanced Energy Panel, but most don't have the time or desire. But, if you want to make them yourself, do yourself a favor and don't use "shrink wrap", plexiglass or glass.

Robert, any disclosure about your relationship with this product.  It is always important to know whether we are talking to a consumer or a marketing/sales person.  Just asking.

Bud

I'm sorry, That I didn't identify myself as both a customer and currently a licensed manufacturer of Advanced Energy Panels. I bought 4 panels from WindoTherm several years ago then 20 more the following year. I was so impressed that I established Window Improvement Masters in 2011 with Advanced Energy Panels as our core product line. My background is architecture, HVAC design, energy management, and residential construction. I also sold Marvin and Integrity windows for a Vermont dealer.

Robert, my hunch is that you have a Google Alert set up in order to find web discussions about this product, and joined here when you picked up this thread. Right or wrong, you're gonna get backlash when you do that, which you did. Folks on professional discussion forums generally want to discuss issues with their peers, not sales people trying to sell (or in this case defend) their product. If this is a strategy for marketing your product, I would rethink it.

I'm also curious if perhaps there is a relationship between your company and the starter of this thread, who doesn't appear to be an energy auditor, contractor, or similar industry pro. Just a hunch... could be completely wrong.

Quote "Thermally, low density film is far superior to glass and plexiglass because film stays much closer to room temperature and thus raises the mean radiant temperature of the room."

I would like to inject some building science into this statement. It implies that the temperature of the inside surface of the film located between two temperatures is higher than it would be in glass or plexiglass with the same Delta T.

First, let's think about which mode of heat transfer we are talking about. Well we are assuming an air tight storm in both cases - so that eliminates Convection. The OP says that this unfortunate characteristic of glass even happens with Low-e glazing - so that eliminates Radiation. So we must be talking about Conduction!

So now we must focus the conversation on R-value, since that is what dictates the amount of heat flowing through a solid. The OP must be representing that the R-value of this film is higher than that of glass or plexiglass. Single pane glass has an R-value of 0.91, and add a storm window and it jumps to R-2. Double pane with Low-e jumps it to 3.13.

Mr. OP - can you please provide us a link to the independent lab which did the R-value testing of this film?

Yes, I can provide the independent lab test results if I can figure out how to upload it from my document files. Can also provide other test results. I've never used these forums and could use a little coaching, forum.

Thanks,

Bob

Attachments:

So that tests the r-value of the assembly. We still do not know the r-value of the film itself. The value of the approach of putting ANY interior air barrier on a window is really the air space that it provides between the two panes. I believe that if the same test was done for plexi or any other material(and it was air tight), you would have near identical results. If there is a higher r-value for the film itself - it is second fiddle to the size of the air gap. What was the air gap in this study?

It looks like a great product! I just take issue with the claim that it is far superior to ANY  other air barrier on an interior storm. It implies that the r-value itself is higher for the film than other materials and the lab results do not clarify that.

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