Are My Windows UV Protected? Why It's Good to Know

August 10, 2023

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are my windows uv protected

Windows play an important role in any home or building. They allow natural light to enter and provide views of the outdoors. At the same time, windows can also allow harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun to penetrate into living and work spaces. This is why it's important to understand if your windows offer UV protection.

To know if your windows are UV protected, you can check with the window manufacturer for the UV transmittance rate - the lower the percentage, the better the UV blocking. Also, look for features like tinted glass, Low-E coatings, added films, or multiple panes which increase UV protection.

Continue reading for an in-depth discussion on the importance of UV window protection.

What is UV Radiation?

Ultraviolet radiation is part of the electromagnetic spectrum that comes from the sun. There are three main types:

  • UVA - causes skin aging and wrinkling
  • UVB - causes sunburn and skin cancer
  • UVC - absorbed by the ozone layer

Both UVA and UVB rays can damage skin, eyes, and immune systems with repeated exposure. They can also cause fabric and furnishings to fade.

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The Importance of UV Protection

UV rays are present all year round, even when it's cloudy. Windows without UV protection allow these harmful rays to stream through unchecked.

Without protection, UV radiation can contribute to conditions like cataracts, skin cancer, and premature aging of the skin. Sensitive individuals and children are especially vulnerable. UV rays can even reduce the efficacy of some medications.

Prolonged UV exposure can also damage fabrics, flooring, artwork, and furnishings. Items will fade more quickly over time when they are subjected to intense UV rays.

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How to Tell if Your Windows Offer UV Protection

So how can you identify if your windows block UV radiation? Here are the main options:

  • Double or Triple-Pane Glass - Multiple panes trap UV rays between the layers of glass. Look for argon or krypton gas-filled windows.
  • Tinted Windows - Dark tinted glass blocks more UV rays. Green, gray, and bronze offer the best protection.
  • Low-Emittance Coatings - Low-E coatings boost insulation. Some types also filter UV rays.
  • Laminated Glass - Windows with an inner laminate layer can screen UV rays.
  • Fiberglass Windows - Fiberglass mesh in glass panels blocks UV.
  • Ask the Manufacturer - Contact the window brand to check if they offer UV protection.

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How Much UV Protection Do Your Windows Provide?

The amount of UV protection windows provide is measured by the UV transmittance rate. This refers to the percentage of UV light able to pass through.

Most manufacturers will provide a UV transmittance rate for their windows, usually ranging from 0 to 15 percent. The lower the transmittance, the better the UV blocking.

Here are the UV transmittance ratings for different window types:

  • Standard 1/8 inch glass - 85% transmittance
  • Double-pane glass - 25 to 40% transmittance
  • Triple-pane glass - 8 to 15% transmittance
  • Tinted glass - 10 to 25% transmittance
  • Low-E coated glass - 8 to 15% transmittance
  • Laminated glass - 5 to 30% transmittance
  • UV blocking film - Less than 1% transmittance

are my windows uv protected

Other Factors Affecting UV Protection

In addition to the window materials, there are other factors that can strengthen or weaken UV blocking:

  • Window Frame - Aluminum frames offer less UV protection than vinyl, wood, composite materials, or fiberglass.
  • Age and Quality - Older windows lose effectiveness. Check for cracks or faulty seals that allow UV penetration.
  • Shading Exterior - Awnings, screens, and solar screens maintain cooler interiors and block additional UV rays.
  • Directional Exposure - South-facing windows receive the most UV light in the Northern Hemisphere.

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Prioritize UV Protection In Your Next Window Replacement

If your windows are old or original to your home, they likely provide very little UV blocking. Replacing them with new double or triple-pane windows can provide major benefits.

Be sure to ask manufacturers about UV transmittance rates when shopping for replacements.

Also, look for windows with low-E coatings or laminated glass for enhanced UV protection.

Installing high-quality UV-blocking windows preserves the health of your family and protects your furnishings from premature fading. By stopping intense sunlight at the source, you can create more comfortable indoor environments.

When getting estimates for new windows, bring up your concerns about UV protection. Many window companies will offer additional films or coatings to strengthen UV blocking for only a small upcharge. This minor investment upfront can provide decades of future benefits.

Look at the direction your windows face as well. South-facing windows receive the most intense UV light in North America. Investing in the strongest UV protection for these exposures can make a big difference.

Finally, don't neglect interior window coverings as another line of defense. Strategically hung curtains and blinds can limit harmful rays, especially during peak sunlight hours. Consult with an interior designer on optimal placement for your home.

Making ultraviolet protection a top priority in your window replacement project is one of the wisest long-term investments you can make for your home. Don't miss this opportunity to enhance UV blocking and create healthier indoor living spaces.

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About Home Windows Dallas

Are you looking for customized doors and windows to spruce up your space? Home Windows Dallas is just what the remodeling doctor ordered! We have the experience you need to feel confident in a window and door designer. Please call (469) 908-3363 to schedule an appointment.

 FAQs

Can you get UV damage through a window?

Yes, it is possible to get UV damage through windows if they do not offer adequate UV protection. Standard clear glass provides very little blocking of harmful UVA and UVB rays. Double-paned or Low-E coated windows with tints or laminates can filter out more of the sun's UV radiation. Installing windows with low UV transmittance ratings is the best way to prevent overexposure to ultraviolet light indoors.

Can I get sunburned through a window?

It is possible to get sunburned while sitting next to a window, even if you are indoors. Ordinary clear glass does not provide sufficient blocking of UVB rays, which are responsible for sunburns. Without curtains or blinds to further limit sun exposure, UVB rays can penetrate through windows and damage unprotected skin. To prevent sunburns through windows, install UV-blocking window films or opt for tinted or Low-E glass which offers greater UV protection.

Do old windows have UV protection?

Old windows generally provide very little UV protection compared to modern options. Up until the 1950s, most windows were single-pane glass which blocks almost none of the sun's harmful UV radiation. Improvements like tinted glass, Low-E coatings, and double paning help filter UV rays. Replacing original windows from pre-1950s homes is the best way to upgrade UV protection and limit fading and damage from intense sunlight.

Do normal house windows block UV rays?

Standard clear glass windows do not effectively block UV rays from entering homes. Older single-pane windows allow up to 85% of UV radiation to permeate into living spaces. Even most double-paned windows only filter out 25-40% of UV rays without additional coatings or films. To get adequate UV protection from house windows, upgraded options like tinted, Low-E, or laminated glass should be installed to minimize damage from the sun's rays.

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