Several weeks ago I was invited to join a customer on a sight inspection at an older home which was getting completely renovated. This was a beautiful home in a gorgeous location, and it definitely screamed for new doors and windows. This time energy efficiency was taking a back seat to something which was far more important to the homeowner – security! Before the doors and windows were to even be installed, wiring was being run throughout the whole house to every opening so each fenestration product could receive an alarm. It got me thinking about the increasing importance of safety and security in today’s fenestration market.

In addition to being beautiful, energy efficient, and transparent, today’s fenestration products must also be secure.

Windows are a vulnerable entry point in any house or business and are therefore the favored point of entry for burglars and thieves. Modern window technology counteracts these problems and dangers with effective solutions involving stronger frames, locking systems and glazing solutions employing layers of laminated glass. We will see an increase in the coming years in the number of homeowners willing to spend that extra amount to provide peace of mind for their family. I oftentimes hear the remark, “this world has gone crazy!” Well, the world has always been crazy – we are just better informed!

DIN 52290 is used to determine how secure a window system can be to protect us from outside threats. This test involves increasing levels of security certification starting with level A in which a 9 pound steel ball is dropped on the window glazing from various heights. Level B involves how many hits the window can take from a 4.5 pound steel axe. Level C progresses to shooting guns of various calibers and distances into the window. To top it off, the Level D test technician breaks out the explosives! This phase of the test involves creating explosions to produce increasingly greater pressure levels outside the window designed to blow through the window glazing!

If someone detonates a bomb outside your window, you won’t need an alarm to warn you, but it is the quiet and determined thief or perpetrator that we worried about which necessitates the sophisticated alarm systems. Wiring technology itself is also making leaps and bounds and there are contractors specializing in this field as well. In this case, the door and window alarms were being wired as part of a whole house structured wiring system that integrated and controlled every dynamic aspect of this home including security, sound system, lighting, internet, television, and climate control. This is much more easily done on a new construction project and it is something to consider when building a new home as it can significantly increase the value of your home down the road as future technology evolves.

The awareness and importance of entry door security is also increasing significantly in North America as a result of European influence. To increase security of doors, building owners are becoming increasingly interested in multipoint locking systems. The combination of hooks and shoot bolts offers unprecedented level of security. This type of hardware has proven itself in Europe and is now gaining popularity in North America as well. Multipoint locking systems not only increase security but also improve weather resistance and reduce the propensity for doors to warp as they hold every portion – top, bottom and middle- of the door securely into place.

Also, when it comes to entry door systems, keep your eye on biometric technology! Biometric identifiers are distinctive and measurable characteristics used to label and describe individuals who are then placed into a “trusted access group.”You can now program your door to allow yourself and trusted group members to unlock your door by programming fingerprints into the door’s locking system. Other biometric characteristics which can be used are facial recognition, iris identification, palm prints, and even voice. My son invited me to play Xbox One with him last Christmas. After the Xbox camera scanned my body and face into the system, the computer game created a likeness of me on the screen that was downright scary! Now, he can play against me even when I am on a road trip!

When I look under the hood of an old ’94 Chevy given to me my wife’s Grandma, I can still grab my socket set and screwdriver and perform a few basic repairs and maintenance tasks. But when I look under the hood of my 2013 Chrysler 300, I say to myself, “I need to call a computer programmer!”

So, will this same level of technological sophistication that has weaved itself into automotive design also start to influence future fenestration design and performance? Well I guess, “They aren’t your grandma’s doors & windows anymore!”

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