Double pane RV windows have some definite benefits. But, there are some drawbacks, too.
Double-paned windows may be present when you purchase an RV, and if you already have double-paned glass, this post will have an important tip or two for you.
But if you’ve got single-paned windows in your RV and are thinking about replacing one or more with dual-paned windows, today’s post will offer you the pros and cons of dual pane RV windows vs single pane glass.
Are dual pane RV windows worth the extra money? Can you replace them yourself? (RV DIY is our mantra, so we’ve got you covered there, too!)
Let’s talk about RV double pane windows!
- 1) What Are RV Windows Made Of?
- 2) What Are RV Double Pane Windows?
- 3) How Do I Know If My RV Windows Are Single or Double Paned?
- 4) What Are the Benefits of Double Pane RV Windows?
- 5) What Are the Disadvantages of Dual Pane RV Windows?
- 6) Can I Replace an RV Double Pane Window?
What Are RV Windows Made Of?
As we noted in our post on how to clean RV windows, the windows of an RV or camper are most often made of tempered glass, polycarbonate, or plastic.
By far the most common window material found in RVs (at least in North America) is glass. RV glass windows may be single pane or dual/double pane.
What Are RV Double Pane Windows?
Double pane RV windows are made with two layers of glass. The two layers usually have a space between them, typically filled with gas, generally either krypton or argon.
Single pane RV windows are made with a single pane of glass, usually tempered/safety glass.
Tempered glass is created using a heating and cooling process that strengthens the glass. This type of glass, if broken, shatters into tiny pieces (rather than large, sharp shards).
How Do I Know If My RV Windows Are Single or Double Paned?
Upon a simple visual inspection, it should be easy to see whether your RV windows are single or double pane.
Single pane windows have one sheet of glass in a window frame, while dual or double pane windows have two sheets of glass with a space between them.
If it’s not apparent whether your RV windows are single or double window panes, you can conduct a little test using a match.
From inside the RV, light a match and carefully hold it a few inches in front of the window. If you have dual panes, you should see two reflections of the match. (Better yet, you should be able to conduct the same test with a flashlight!)
You can also spot a dual-pane window by sliding it open. Then look at the edge of the glass, and you’ll see the seal that bonds the two panes together. It’s usually a hard black sealant that keeps the gas inside. Of course, dual-pane windows are also considerably thicker, due to both the two pieces of glass, and the space between them. You’ll see that thickness when looking at the edge of the open window.
What Are the Benefits of Double Pane RV Windows?
There are several advantages to having double pane windows in your RV.
Let’s take a look at the greatest benefits.
Whether you find yourself traveling in hot weather or cold weather, if you have single-pane windows, you’re going to feel the heat and the cold coming through. In fact, with single pane windows, you’ll almost certainly want some sort of window covering to keep your windows insulated from excessive heat in summer and excessive cold in winter.
With double pane windows, however, the windows themselves act as insulation due to the triple layers (two panes of glass with a layer of gas in between them).
Not only will double pane RV windows offer more protection from the sun’s heat, UV rays, and cold, but they’ll also provide far greater efficiency when you’re using your AC or heat. Using less AC and heat to control the temperature in your RV is beneficial to both your wallet and to the environment.
Double pane RV windows also offer insulation from noise. This is true whether you’re driving down the highway or camping in close proximity to neighbors at an RV park.
RV double pane windows are great at reducing the amount of noise coming into your RV.
Structural Integrity of Windows
When you have dual pane RV windows, you’ve got two panes of protection. This doubles the strength of your windows overall, increasing protection from things like flying rocks & other road debris, tree branches, etc.
If you do any cold-weather RVing, you’re probably well aware of the fact that condensation can be a real problem. Moisture from cooking, showering, and even breathing can build up and lead to mold and mildew over time. Excessive condensation issues can even cause water damage around vents and windows if uncontrolled.
Double pane RV windows offer better protection from condensation due to the three layers (two glass, one gas) of insulation offered by the window structure.
What Are the Disadvantages of Dual Pane RV Windows?
Along with the benefits of RV dual pane windows come a few drawbacks.
Let’s take a full-disclosure look at the negative side of having dual pane windows in your RV.
Plain and simple, double pane windows are more expensive than single pane windows for obvious reasons.
Double pane windows add a considerable amount of weight to an RV when compared with the weight of single pane windows. This will reduce the amount of gear you can carry based on your rig’s GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating).
There are lighter-weight dual-pane RV windows made of acrylic. We’ve actually had this type of windows in RVs we’ve rented overseas.
Acrylic double pane RV windows offer some of the insulating benefits without the weight penalty. But their insulating capacity is not as good as glass dual pane windows.
Vibration Can Break the Seal
The constant vibration from driving can cause the inner seal of a double pane RV window to break over time. This may tend to be more of a problem on towable travel trailers than motorhomes. That’s because they don’t have the suspension and resulting smoother ride of a diesel pusher for example.
A broken dual pane window seal leads to window fogging. If an RV window starts to fog up and isn’t repaired promptly, it can eventually lead to etching, which can require complete window replacement (rather than the option to repair it).
Should you have to deal with a foggy RV window, see our post on RV foggy window repair and we’ll show you ways to take care of the problem.
We should note here that due to the way acrylic dual pane windows are manufactured, they don’t suffer the same seal breaking/fogging issue that glass windows can suffer.
Can I Replace an RV Double Pane Window?
Yes, you can! We’ve done it (several times!) and you can too if you’re interested in DIY RV window replacement.
For a full visual step-by-step tutorial of RV window replacement made easy, see our YouTube video and follow along with us as we replace our own RV window:
If you simply need some tips on how to keep your RV windows clean, we’ve got you covered there with this video on cleaning your RV windows and mirrors super fast, (no window cleaner needed)!
Geek Out with Us Every Week
Join our newsletter to learn about all things RV-related. Every week we offer free tips, tricks, product reviews, and more to our online community of RVers. So, whether this is your first time on the road or you’re a seasoned expert, we’d love for you to geek out with us!
Tuesday 30th of August 2022
I had a 1998 Bounder with double (PAIN) windows thru the 10 years i had it i had replaced all of them driver & pass side twice, never again.
Tuesday 30th of August 2022
We've replaced quite a few in our Mt. Aire, too. Definitely a "double"-edged sword!