Clearly Exceptional: Top-Rated Replacement Windows (cont.)

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Southwall Insulating Glass, which produces suspended-film glass for window manufacturers, confirms that changes in how its product is made will make it easier and less expensive for window manufacturers to incorporate suspended-film glass into standard designs. Manufacturers wouldn’t say whether the savings would be passed along to consumers.

SAFETY HITCH. No matter what type of window or glass package that you seek, you’re likely to notice that every manufacturer now includes WOCDs. The inclusion of WOCDs is prompted by a minimum-sill-height requirement (the distance between your floor and the bottom of your window) that’s on the rise in local building codes. WOCDs are an accepted alternative to the sill-height requirement if the WOCDs prevent a window from being opened more than 4 inches unless you override the devices manually. (The measurement is based on the size of an infant’s head.)

The idea is to prevent children from accidentally falling from windows, and it’s no small concern: According to 19 years of research that was conducted through 2008 at Center for Injury Research and Policy of Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, 14 children and adolescents on average were treated each day for injuries that stemmed from accidental falls from windows. American Academy of Pediatrics says 31 percent of children’s fall injuries during that period were from first-story windows.

(You’ll have to consult your local building inspector’s office to determine whether such child-safety requirements exist. You also will have to verify that WOCDs are permitted under your local fire-safety code.)

Only three manufacturers sold WOCDs 3 years ago, but in 2013, all 12 of the manufacturers with which we spoke say they make WOCDs available as an option.

Not all manufacturers include the installation of WOCDs in the price of their windows. Seven manufacturers charge, on average, $13.40 more per double-hung window for the factory-installed hardware. Five other manufacturers will ding you an average of $19 per window for the hardware, but they don’t install it. (Three years ago, only one manufacturer had factory installation; two provided the hardware only.) That installation will set you back another $8–$30 per window unless you do it yourself, according to contractors with whom we spoke.

Four manufacturers also provide factory-installed WOCDs for their awning and casement windows, typically for about $32 per window. Two other manufacturers charge just for hardware. Silver Line charges $6.60 per window, while Alside charges a whopping $75 per window. Having a contractor install these devices costs about the same as the installation price for WOCDs on double-hung windows.

WOCDs for double-hung windows are simple enough to override—you press in on two small retainer clips to open the window fully—but the same isn’t true to override the WOCDs that are on most awning and casement windows. Most WOCDs for awning and casement windows require you to remove the window’s screen before you can open the window more than 4 inches.

However, two manufacturers, Andersen and Marvin, make casement windows that don’t require you to remove the screens to open the windows fully. Marvin’s WOCDs are mounted to the window’s frame—outside of the screen—and Andersen’s are incorporated into the crank handle. These WOCDs will set you back $100 and $80, respectively, per window. Marvin’s WOCDs come factory-installed; Andersen’s don’t. Contractors say their design makes them slightly more expensive to install—$20–$40 per window.

WOCDs can be a huge expense, but if you have small children present, the devices might be priceless. 

Drew Vass is a regular contributor to Consumers Digest. He has written on a wide variety of home-improvement topics that range from garage doors to home heating systems.

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