Better to by cheaper than expensive based on quality. Worse window to lock and get worthwhile reason for poor performance.
The window I replaced was a 58″x58″ slider. The seal had broken and there was a lot of water & condensation between the panes. The new window is beautiful. I like that it slides open from both sides. The screen also slides so one screen may be used for both windows. The window is in my east facing kitchen. The low e coating keeps the kitchen very cool in the summer morning. With the old window I had to keep the blinds drawn until the sun had passed overhead. Initially I was unprepared for the loss of glass area with the replacement window. But I quickly became accustomed to it.
Before I decided on this window I frequented the replacement windows forums & I read the Consumer Reports article on replacement windows. Then I got bids from three other window companies on Champion, Marvin, and Thermolite Composite windows. I also went to Menard’s & got quotes on Jeld-wen & Crestline windows. Although the windows were only $320 & $455 I would still have had to find a good window installer. So would probably have paid the purchase price of the window to have it installed. Strong Windows quoted the lowest price at $685.
Overall I love the Soft-Lite windows. I had all of my windows replaced, 22 in all. I was worried about the price but after they were all in I believe they are worth it. The windows open easily, are easy to clean and my wife loves the ability to open both top and bottom sash at the same time. I have noticed a big savings in my utility bill. In the winter I do not feel that nasty draft as I did with the old windows. People can be standing outside of my house holding a conversation and it is not heard inside when the windows are closed. The only issue I have had is the pop out security locks to keep people from opening the window from the outside. Many of them have popped out and won’t stay in when I try. I have had several replaced but the continue to pop out. I don’t know where to turn to get them fixed. The installer comes each time I call but they continue to fail. I am not sure how to contact the manufacturer.
Would like to update my previous review – the Soft-Lite Imperial LS is an attractive window, though I do not like the somewhat “sloppy” diagonal corner welds on the sashes. But you don’t notice it unless you are looking closely. The fiberglass screens are more reflective than our old aluminum ones and block the view more in strong sunlight. But I like that they can be raised to the top sash level and will stay in place, allowing the top sash to be lowered for air flow. Soft-Lite does not offer outside-the-glass simulated divided lights that look real, as I saw on a Pella wood window – would have liked that option. The locks on several of my windows are a little difficult to open/close, not sure if that is a Soft-Lite, installation, or “user” flaw. The windows themselves open and close easily. As this is a new installation I cannot yet comment on energy efficiency.