Buy a new car and you’re faced with endless choices. These aren’t choices about needs, like a larger engine with more power for towing a trailer, but wants, like heated seats, extra thick leather, or a 27 speaker stereo system. The reason is most any new car you can buy has your needs covered, carrying you speedily from point A to point B in comfort and safety.
In the glass world things are the same. Choice abounds. There is self-cleaning glass, LowE glass (in many flavors), and an endless choice of patterned and decorative glass. And there is also all kinds of choice with spacers for insulated glass. Metal or flexible or plastic spacers. Spacers in most every color. Warm edge spacers and soon, make it yourself spacer.
All of these spacer systems fill the need – they hold two, or three pieces of glass apart from each other creating an air gap in an IG unit. They all seal around the edges of the glass very well, not letting the outside air in or the inside air, or gas, out (see the argon gas article below for more on this).
So why has spacer choice become such a religious experience when they all work, and work well? Why is spacer choice often a deal breaker even when the performance specs between the spacer requested and the one supplied is so minimal as to be measurable only with highly sophisticated laboratory instruments?
I have spoken to several people who have just got to have spacer X and if you ask them why spacer Y won’t work they seldom have an answer beyond the mantra, “Because that’s what we always use.” Occasionally I can see their point, which is usually “we want to match what’s already there.” But more times than not, nothing is already there as these are new installations or in the case of remodeling the old is being torn out to make way for the new.
Over and over again though people are often more concerned about the spacer than the glass, which is odd since glass has a lot more to do with ‘look and feel’ and certainly with energy efficiency than the spacer. The performance difference between one manufacturer’s spacer and another’s can be just about nil but the performance difference between one manufacturer’s glass over another’s can be quite significant.
Certainly marketing is at work here, helping to drive perception and choice. So if you are one of those folks who has religious beliefs about spacers remember that no fabricator can stock all the different types of spacers on the market nor all the different types of glass for that matter.
Be glass and spacer agnostic and focus on the fabricator
So just as with cars and individual climate control so it is with the world of spacers—there are wants and there are needs. In the end you may be so focused on the scripture of some arcane test data you’ve read, derived under well managed laboratory conditions, that you miss out completely on satisfying your needs because you are so focused on fulfilling your wants.
When buying a new car you want to find not only the best deal but the dealer. Ditto when buying insulated glass. You real emphasis as a repeat buyer of glass shouldn’t necessarily be the glass or spacer, but who you are buying from. Are they honest? Are they fair? Do they deliver what they promise?
Working with a good, reputable fabricator will make your life easier than any specific spacer system you’ll ever use. One reason is that they’ve ‘got religion’ too. These folks are pros and stay very well informed about the latest advances in spacer technology. When they find a new spacer that offers significant advantages they will make the switch. They want to supply you the best product they can, filling not only your needs but your wants as well.