How strong are hurricane impact windows? Hurricane impact windows are often considered a crucial line of defense when dealing with the destructive force of hurricanes.
These windows are specifically designed to endure the strong winds, airborne debris, and forceful impacts that come with severe storms.
Nevertheless, the inquiry persists: how strong are hurricane windows?
They can handle wind speeds of over 200 mph, but can be of varying strengths based on their construction, materials, and rigorous testing processes.
Why are Windows Vulnerable to Hurricanes?
Homes with ordinary glass windows are at their most vulnerable during hurricanes.
There evidence abound to prove that typical windows are the weakest point of a home.
Also, the amount of damage reduces significantly if the windows and exterior shell of the building stay intact.
Maintaining the integrity of a building’s envelope is critical.
When the windows blow out pressure differences force the hurricane winds with such force it can lift the roof.
When even one glass pane fails the resulting pressure will cause significant damage.
An Important Consideration
Many of the homes and businesses were lost to Hurricane Katrina this way.
This is why the advice is to stay away from windows and skylights during hurricanes and tornadoes.
Fact: The main reasons for window failure in hurricanes are leaving windows open, incorrectly installed or broken windows and impact by wind borne debris.
What are Hurricane Impact Windows?
Hurricane Impact windows are designed to be considerably more durable than ordinary windows.
They are robust and built to withstand hurricane conditions, such as:
- The extreme winds
- Low pressure
- Impact from the storm flying debris
All this plays a role in keeping the occupants of a proper safe and the property intact.
An Important Consideration
All hurricane-grade windows have a Design Pressure (DP) rating. It proves the glass passed rigorous design pressure testing.
Every ten points on the DP rating is roughly equivalent to one hurricane level on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.
Even if it breaks, unlike regular glass, it won’t shatter and add broken glass to the debris.
Difference Between Hurricane Impact Windows and Ordinary Windows
Hurricane windows are more like the laminated glass used in car windshields than standard window glass.
Hurricane glass gets its strength and durability from its multi-layer construction.
Each pane comprises a strong polymer layer sandwiched between panes of tempered glass. The thickness of the layer depends on the model of the hurricane window.
This polyvinyl butyral (PVB) or sometimes, an ionoplast polymer layer, holds onto the glass shards even if the glass does shatter and break.
Fact: Steady high wind speeds are unlikely to shatter standard panes but sudden, sharp gusts put older glass and window frames under significant pressure.
How Strong Are Hurricane Impact Windows?
Hurricane Impact windows are immensely strong, tougher than windshields, engineered and framed to hold out in 200 mph winds.
They would only fail in very extreme weather conditions. To gain a DP rating, each design undergoes vigorous testing.
One is the large missile impact test using a nine-pound 2”x4” plank launched at the glass at around 35 mph twice, aiming for the center and then the corner.
To pass the window must remain intact.
The design is also tested to be sure it withstands the impact of small missiles traveling at high speeds, for this they use ball-bearings traveling at 50mph.
An Important Consideration
Along with different testing, the process also involves simulating hurricane conditions using the pressure of up to 200 mph winds.
This gives a better idea of how these windows would manage real-world situations.
Keep in mind that installing tough hard to break hurricane windows is the best way to prevent major damage in a hurricane.
And also it increases home security by protecting the property from burglary all year round.
Fact: UV protection is another benefit of hurricane impact windows, as they keep the sun's rays from deteriorating your furnishings.
Why Using Hurricane Impact Windows is a Good Choice
Hurricane impact windows are becoming extremely popular these days, and that is for many different reasons.
As mentioned already, they work wonders to deal with tough weather conditions. And they are also capable of protecting a home from invaders.
But, there are other clear advantages to installing hurricane-impact windows.
You may want to install hurricane impact windows because:
- They help reduce property insurance premiums.
- They can significantly lower outside noise levels.
- They are airtight, and increase a home’s heating and cooling efficiency.
- They help reduce fuel bills.
- They offer solar protection.
- They play a role in increasing a property’s value.
- They may also add ‘curb appeal’.
- They pay for themselves over a long service life.
Hurricane Impact Windows are the Future
Scientists predict an increase in the frequency and intensity of hurricanes.
The winds will be stronger when already a category 1 with winds of 90 mph has sufficient force to cause severe damage.
Much of the risk comes from the huge amounts of flying debris, including broken window glass.
Every hurricane reaches speeds where fallen branches and countless other loose objects become a threat to property and life as they are lifted and carried at speed by air.
It is due to all these hazards that installing hurricane impact windows would no longer be a luxury but a necessity to structurally protect a building.
Can Hurricane Impact Windows Break and How Strong the Storm Should be for That?
Hurricane impact windows are made with impact-resistant glass not impact-proof, so yes, they can break.
It is quiet but with the right hurricane conditions, very high wind speed and dense airborne debris, they can get damaged.
However, when the three layers are fused together by heat during a lamination process, the hurricane glass becomes tempered and durable enough to not lose its glass on shattering.
An Important Consideration
While hurricane-impact windows can break, this is a rare occurrence only.
In fact, an aluminum or steel framed hurricane window can have a 35-year plus service life.
These windows are relatively easy to buy and fit, low maintenance, and when the time comes, easy to replace.
They represent a solid investment in your property as well as hurricane preparedness.
Can Bullets Break Hurricane Windows?
Hurricane windows are designed to not break when hit by fast moving air-borne debris in a hurricane not specifically bullets.
There is no scientific evidence on whether or not hurricane windows are bulletproof.
The hurricane impact windows testing and certification process was developed to ensure buildings and homes would remain structurally sound in intense storms.
The considerably thicker bulletproof glass is designed and tested to ensure it stops bullets.
The hurricane glass is designed and tested to not break under pressure or scatter pieces of glass when hit by an object.
Anecdotal evidence suggests the object could be a bullet.
Are Hurricane Impact Windows Very Expensive?
If something strikes a hurricane window with enough force it will crack, and although the missile would not enter the home, the window still needs replacing.
However, by far, the main disadvantage of hurricane impact windows is their initial cost.
But offset that against a potentially long service life, at around $55 per square foot of window on average, they are a fair-sized outlay.
The Factors Affecting the Cost of Hurricane Impact Windows
The brand, window size and glass type and employing a qualified installer will determine the overall cost.
The cost of the hurricane windows is a good indicator of their expected performance.
The best manufacturers only use well tested, high grade, quality materials to make sure the windows offer the best protection in severe conditions.
There are the frames to consider too. Like glass, the more expensive frames, including steel and natural wood, offer greater protection and durability.
Aluminum frames, a good compromise, start at $90 per window.
Fact: Sound insulation capabilities are another advantage of hurricane impact windows, as they reduce noise transmission by as much as 50% compared to traditional windows.
How strong are hurricane impact windows? Hurricane impact windows are highly durable and strong, providing a crucial defense against the destructive forces of hurricanes.
Due to their durable materials, these windows are designed to withstand strong winds, airborne debris, and high-velocity impacts.
Investing in hurricane impact windows can provide homeowners and property developers with peace of mind.
These windows fortify structures against severe weather events, protecting both the property and its occupants from potential harm.