Low E Windows, Vinyl, and Fire Safety

CodeWatcher Fire Safety vinyl

Could low-e windows be an ignition source in some home fires?

Some homeowners try to reduce their maintenance time and costs by cladding their homes with vinyl. Others try to reduce their heating and cooling bills by installing energy efficient low-e windows. And if one of these types of homeowners lives close enough to the other, and the angle of the sun and the time of year is just right, these estimable goals can result in a fire.

This according to a Safety Research & Strategies blog:

The prismatic heat of sunlight reflected on curved glass has been noted on a large scale. In Las Vegas, the Vdara Hotel’s 57-story structure with a curved exterior threw a concentrated beam of heat, burning hotel guests arrayed around the swimming pool area below, causing one news outlet to dub it a “death ray.” In London, wags re-christened the so-called the Walkie-Talkie building, a $400 million skyscraper with a concave design, the Walkie-Scorchie building, after it was blamed for focusing rays of light powerful enough to melt cars on the street below.

But cases involving individual homes and low-e windows started popping up in 2007, according to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors. Forensic engineer and Adjunct Professor of Alternative Energy at Western New England University. Curt Freedman first encountered the phenomenon when he was called to investigate a case of melted vinyl siding on a home in Hasting on the Hudson, New York. This spurred Freedman to start collecting exemplar windows and do his own testing to refine his understanding of the phenomenon.

Read the full blog here.