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Does Argon in Glass Windows Cause Distortions?

Nearly every facet of owning a home requires you to make choices. When it comes to choosing windows, you pick between styles and types, and decide between choices like single-pane windows or air-, krypton- or argon-filled double-pane windows. Krypton and argon windows exist to provide extra insulation to your home, though they may produce side effects such as light distortion. The extent to which you perceive this distortion depends upon factors such as your light-color sensitivity and the colors of your walls.
  1. Double-Pane Windows

    • Double-pane windows contain two panes of glass with a gap between them. Manufacturers fill this gap with gaseous materials such as air, argon or krypton. The distance between panes of glass in a double-pane window, and the gas filling this space, lowers the loss of heat from the home through windows. Double-pane windows often possess a special coating to further reduce the transfer of heat. Windows with coatings are known as "low emissions" or "low-e" windows. Double-pane low-e windows may possess argon filling between the panes.


    • Argon is a colorless, odorless elemental gas found in the Earth’s atmosphere. Elemental means you cannot break argon down into any component parts, in the way that water, for instance, breaks down to two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. Argon takes up about 1 percent of the Earth’s atmosphere, making it the third most prevalent natural gas in the atmosphere. Because it is colorless and reflects light in much the same manner as air or oxygen, Argon itself causes no visual distortions when used in windows. However, Argon windows may exhibit visual distortions for other reasons.

    Light Distortion

    • Low-e argon windows can exhibit light distortion. This light distortion results from the low-e coating, not the argon. Low-e coatings reflect light in a different way than naked panes of glass, especially when it comes to red and blue light. This can cause your perception of colors within your home to change, especially on painted walls. However, the degree to which this phenomenon affects you depends upon your sensitivity to light and color in light. The color of your walls also makes a difference – white walls, for instance, show color distortions more clearly than dark walls do because white walls provide an ideal surface for reflection.


    • Argon windows may exhibit problems with fogging, which leads to obvious distortions in windows by leaving layers of perspiration and fog on the inside of the double-pane structure. Some sealants used to glue panes in place on double-pane Argon windows allow water penetration. In such instances, water vapor can leak through the sealant on a window and cause fogging between the panes. Sealant on these windows allows argon to leak out, though leaking of argon causes little loss in the insulating value of windows.