Eli5: what an “air gap” is in the context of storm windows and how/why it better insulates windows.

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PS: Is it still an “air gap” without using “noble gases” and just “air”? Thanks so much!

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18 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

Glass conducts heat well. Air conducts heat reasonably well. The junction between glass and air, however, does not.

So, we add two panes of glass, therefore doubling the number of junctions.

Noble gases and air do the same thing. Noble gases are supposed to be ‘better’. Argon’s standard iirc.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Glass conducts heat well. Air conducts heat reasonably well. The junction between glass and air, however, does not.

So, we add two panes of glass, therefore doubling the number of junctions.

Noble gases and air do the same thing. Noble gases are supposed to be ‘better’. Argon’s standard iirc.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Glass conducts heat well. Air conducts heat reasonably well. The junction between glass and air, however, does not.

So, we add two panes of glass, therefore doubling the number of junctions.

Noble gases and air do the same thing. Noble gases are supposed to be ‘better’. Argon’s standard iirc.

Anonymous 0 Comments

The gap between multi-pane windows acts as an insulator. Here in Canada we often use triple pane – with 2 air gaps. Glass itself is a poor insulator, but air – if it is not allowed to circulate much and transfer heat via convection – is a relatively good insulator. Most insulation like down or fibreglass works by trapping small pockets of air. Similarly, by trapping a thin layer of air between window panes you can increase the insulative properties of the window.

Argon has a lower thermal conductivity than air – so technically, windows with interstitial pane gaps filled with argon should insulate better.

However, I’ve had a window manufacturer admit to me that it’s a bit of a gimmick, as after about 6 months the argon leaks out of the imperfect seals and the gap is “just air” again.

Anonymous 0 Comments

The gap between multi-pane windows acts as an insulator. Here in Canada we often use triple pane – with 2 air gaps. Glass itself is a poor insulator, but air – if it is not allowed to circulate much and transfer heat via convection – is a relatively good insulator. Most insulation like down or fibreglass works by trapping small pockets of air. Similarly, by trapping a thin layer of air between window panes you can increase the insulative properties of the window.

Argon has a lower thermal conductivity than air – so technically, windows with interstitial pane gaps filled with argon should insulate better.

However, I’ve had a window manufacturer admit to me that it’s a bit of a gimmick, as after about 6 months the argon leaks out of the imperfect seals and the gap is “just air” again.

Anonymous 0 Comments

The gap between multi-pane windows acts as an insulator. Here in Canada we often use triple pane – with 2 air gaps. Glass itself is a poor insulator, but air – if it is not allowed to circulate much and transfer heat via convection – is a relatively good insulator. Most insulation like down or fibreglass works by trapping small pockets of air. Similarly, by trapping a thin layer of air between window panes you can increase the insulative properties of the window.

Argon has a lower thermal conductivity than air – so technically, windows with interstitial pane gaps filled with argon should insulate better.

However, I’ve had a window manufacturer admit to me that it’s a bit of a gimmick, as after about 6 months the argon leaks out of the imperfect seals and the gap is “just air” again.

Anonymous 0 Comments

If you touch a hot thing, you feel how hot it is cos the heat goes right into your hand and may burn you.

If you hold your hand near a hot thing, you feel it’s hot, but you don’t get burned, that’s cos of the air gap.

The heat has to transfer to the air molecules that then bump into your hand and transfer the heat to your skin, and you feel it is warm/hot.

So, not all the heat gets transferred across the air gap.

If we make the air gap be sealed, so it’s the same air stuck in the gap, we can reduce the amount of air particles in there. We can “suck” a bunch of them out. That means there will be less particles of air to take the heat from the hot side, to the cold side. So less heat gets transferred. If we use a Noble gas in the air gap instead of air, and we suck a bunch of those gas particles out as well. Then there will be even fewer gas particles to carry the heat about. Because Noble gases generally have less particles and more space between the particles than the same amount of air.

Anonymous 0 Comments

If you touch a hot thing, you feel how hot it is cos the heat goes right into your hand and may burn you.

If you hold your hand near a hot thing, you feel it’s hot, but you don’t get burned, that’s cos of the air gap.

The heat has to transfer to the air molecules that then bump into your hand and transfer the heat to your skin, and you feel it is warm/hot.

So, not all the heat gets transferred across the air gap.

If we make the air gap be sealed, so it’s the same air stuck in the gap, we can reduce the amount of air particles in there. We can “suck” a bunch of them out. That means there will be less particles of air to take the heat from the hot side, to the cold side. So less heat gets transferred. If we use a Noble gas in the air gap instead of air, and we suck a bunch of those gas particles out as well. Then there will be even fewer gas particles to carry the heat about. Because Noble gases generally have less particles and more space between the particles than the same amount of air.

Anonymous 0 Comments

If you touch a hot thing, you feel how hot it is cos the heat goes right into your hand and may burn you.

If you hold your hand near a hot thing, you feel it’s hot, but you don’t get burned, that’s cos of the air gap.

The heat has to transfer to the air molecules that then bump into your hand and transfer the heat to your skin, and you feel it is warm/hot.

So, not all the heat gets transferred across the air gap.

If we make the air gap be sealed, so it’s the same air stuck in the gap, we can reduce the amount of air particles in there. We can “suck” a bunch of them out. That means there will be less particles of air to take the heat from the hot side, to the cold side. So less heat gets transferred. If we use a Noble gas in the air gap instead of air, and we suck a bunch of those gas particles out as well. Then there will be even fewer gas particles to carry the heat about. Because Noble gases generally have less particles and more space between the particles than the same amount of air.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Still air is not a good conductor, so a good trick we have of insulating things is “trapping” air. The trapped air in between the windows acts like an insulator and the windows on either side keeps the air from being disturbed.

This trapped air concept are why things like aerogel and styrofoam are good insulators, they are essentially filled with air inside and the air can’t move.