I'm very pleased with the windows and with the installation.
Installation Date: March 26, 2012
Windows: Don Young thermally broken aluminum windows double hung model 8400 installed by Ultra Windows. The windows have double pane Cardinal e366 tempered glass, argon filled. No grids, 50/50 (top/bottom) and each sash is approximately 40" by 40".
Rational for Selecting the windows: The rating for Solar Heat Gain is excellent at .22, but the rating for cold weather heat loss through the window to the outside is .44. While the cold weather spec isn't as good as fiberglass or vinyl windows usually have for this size window, my concern was for the intense Summer heat I get. The windows I replaced face Southwest, are surrounded by brick, and they front a wood deck. I looked at all the major brands (major because they advertise so much) such as Marvin, Anderson, Pella and Simonton. None have as good a warranty or better specs for solar heat gain. (In case you haven't researched windows, the ratings are on a scale of 0 to 1 with the lower the number the more efficient the windows).
Warranty: In the summer I've measured over 120 degrees outside the windows. The warranty for the fiberglass and vinyl exclude damage from excessive heat. They don't define excessive heat which is a concern. That combined with the lack of a full (no prorating) lifetime warranty led me to consider the thermally broken aluminum. Don Young has the best warranty by far. It's simple, straight forward and really is a full lifetime warranty for the frame and glass unit.
Ultra Windows: The labor warranty is a full, lifetime warranty. You can't beat that. My experience with installation matched that of other customers. The installers were outstanding. Ultra Windows is the only installer I found that included reconnecting the security system for the replacement windows. I watched the installation and it was impressive. The crew is made up of pleasant guys with great skills. They protect floors and furniture with covers, and are constantly vacuuming to keep the job site as neat as possible. The only damage was a small 3 inch tear in the sheet rock. They repaired it and after I painted it you'd never know it had ever been damaged.
Mike Goins: I've lost track of how many window installation company sales reps I've talked to over the past 3 years. It was usually a somewhat unpleasant experience ranging from the car salesman approach "what'll it take to get you to buy the windows today" to the rude "if you're afraid of your brick being damaged during installation, maybe I better check to be sure none are damaged now and you just want a free repair." Mike was professional, courteous and knowledgeable. He never pressured me and was always patient with my seemingly unending questions. If he didn't know the answer, he would say he didn't know and would then find out for me. I like that honesty.
Experience so far: There have been a few days with temps close to 90 degrees with the sun hitting the windows. The frame feels slightly warm, the window pane cool to the touch except near the edge. I can finally have the shades up and enjoy our view during the summer after 15 years! The day before we had our single pane aluminum windows replaced I placed my hand on the frame. After 4 seconds I had to take it off because it was too hot!
Window Quality: I'm very pleased with the windows. As with any product, there can be issues. One of the sashes had 2 dents in the stainless steel spacer. 3 of the 6 windows didn't have the balancers attached correctly (these were checked and fixed by the Ultra Windows crew just by tightening some screws). The dent in the spacer required a replacement glass unit. That was installed on 4/17. Unfortunately during the installation the top of the sash was dented several times by the Don Young employee. He immediately called the company to order a new piece. I'm watiting for a call to schedule the installation of the replacement.
Screens: The screen mesh is well named, it really doesn't interfere with the view much at all. The windows came with full screens, but I ordered half screens for use during the summer months when the windows can rarely be opened because of the heat. Two of the screens were made incorrectly (the pins that hold the screen in were placed on the top and bottom rather than the sides). New screens were delivered on 4/17, but one of them didn't fit. The Don Young employee said he will get a new one made or have that one fixed. I'm waiting on a call to schedule the installation.
Recommendation: I recommend if you can, go look at an installation done by Ultra Windows. I did, and it helped me a great deal to see and touch the windows I would be getting, as well as see how the installation looked. I've told Mike I would be happy to have potential customers come by to see their work at my house.