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stack of insulated glass

Today, it’s easy to take big glass windows, doors, curtain walls and skylights for granted. However, this type of architecture wasn’t possible until the technological breakthrough of insulated glass in the 1800s. Here’s a brief history of insulated glass.


For hundreds of years, single pane glass was the standard. Although it lets in natural light and blocks the wind, single pane glass is a poor insulator and allows heat and cold to pass through easily. In 1865, American engineer and inventor Thomas D. Stetson filed a patent for an insulated glass unit. He discovered that if you bound two glass panes together to make a single unit and removed the humid air between them and replaced it with dry air, you could increase insulation and prevent heat loss. However, Stetson’s process in the manufacturing of glass windows didn’t get much use in the building industry until the 1930s, when Charles D. Haven and John Hopfield patented it under the name Thermopane. After being promoted by the Libbey Owens Ford company — a national glass supplier for automobile manufacturers and commercial buildings — insulated glass became commercially available in the 1950s. The improvements made in manufacturing insulated glass meant that you could now keep the heat in or out while letting in large amounts of light. The way residential and commercial buildings were built changed forever. For example, it paved the way for all-glass patio doors in residential homes and stunning curtain walls on giant skyscrapers.


Technology has come a long way since Stetson’s time. Nowadays, insulated glass consists of at least two panes of glass separated by an inert gas like argon or krypton. Argon is six times denser than air, while krypton is 12 times denser, providing enhanced thermal insulation. Argon and krypton gas are widely used in insulating glass because they’re inexpensive, colourless, odourless and non-toxic. Moreover, triple and quadruple paned windows and doors and glass coatings that help maximize energy efficiency, block out damaging ultraviolet rays and reduce noise transfer are commonplace.


If you need a custom glazing solution for your home or business, look no further than All-West Glass. We carry hundreds of different window shapes, styles and materials and we can customize glass to suit any need. We also offer numerous glass coatings, including low-E, UV protection, condensation-resistant and reflective. Contact us today to learn more about our products and services. We have 18 retail locations across Northwestern Canada.


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