What Are Hopper Windows?
Basement Hopper Windows are the most common type of window in basements. They are hinged at the bottom and open by tilting the “sash” inwards. The sash is usually held into the frame by a chain. When the lock is opened, gravity takes over and the sash naturally falls inwards. The chain ensures it doesn’t go too far. In most hopper windows, the length of the chain can be adjusted to determine how much the window will open. Here is a picture of a vinyl hopper window:
History of the Hopper Window
Hopper windows became popular during the 19th century. At the time, this window served several purposes. Automobiles and paved roads were still only a novelty, and horses on dirt roads were the primary means of transportation throughout the country. The unpaved roads created large amounts of dust and when home owners opened their windows, a flurry of dust overtook the home.
The invention of the hopper window allowed for light and ventilation to permeate the home while restricting the amount of dust that could enter. Hopper windows were used on transoms, where the window was hinged at the bottom and tilted into the room. The dust from the roads was minimal at transom height–typically 7’0” above finished floor–compared to traditional window height. Another common use for the hopper window was to cool food. Homes built during this period had deep window sills where pies and hot items were set to cool. Opening the hopper window allowed fresh air to enter the home and assist in cooling the food.
Initially hopper windows were made of wood, as almost all windows were. Many homes across the U.S. still have old hopper windows. In some cases, these hopper windows were hinged at the top instead of the bottom like modern hopper windows. In order to hold the window open, the wood sash would be lifted all the way to the ceiling and held in place with a hook.
Are Hopper Windows Ever Used Outside a Basement?
While hoppers are used in basements more than any other room, they can also be “mulled”(attached) to other types of windows to create However, there are plenty of interesting architectural designs that include hopper window installation, like adding them beneath classic double-hung windows or above doors for a truly unique aesthetic.
Pros & Cons of Hopper Windows
- Hopper windows are an excellent way to ventilate the basement level.
- They are also a cost-effective option for letting light into difficult to reach rooms.
- Hopper windows are very secure.
- They are difficult to break into from the outside due to their opening mechanism.
- Hopper windows need to be cleaned more often than windows that open vertically.
- Careful thought may need to be applied to the landscaping around your house due to the unusual placement of hopper windows.
What Types of Glass are available in Hopper Windows
Most windows are double pane (with two layers of glass), but can be upgraded to triple pane for increased energy efficiency. This upgrade initially makes for a more expensive window, but over time lowers energy bills. Regardless of how many panes you choose, hopper windows can also come with tempered glass and insulated glass upgrades as well. Tempered glass is stronger and can handle impact better than non-tempered glass. Insulated glass contributes to energy efficiency and can retain heat better than non-insulated glass. Energy efficient windows can be key for retaining heat in basement level areas of the home.
What Options are Available with Hopper Windows?
The two most common options are grids and privacy glass.
What Material are Hopper Windows Made From?
Hopper windows are most commonly manufactured from Vinyl. Vinyl windows are on the less expensive side of the price spectrum, whereas wood and composite frames will be more expensive. The material that will work best for you depends on your functional needs and budget. Wood windows are often chosen for aesthetic appeal. Vinyl and composite are generally subtle, white framed choices, and although composite fiberglass tends to be more expensive than vinyl, it is also more durable. Vinyl is the most common option for hopper window frames.
How Much Does a Hopper Window Cost?
The price of basement windows can vary by brand, frame material, size and additional features, but a general price range is between $400 and $500.
The cost of replacing basement ultimately windows depends on the size of the job. For instance, if you’re simply swapping out old windows for new ones, then the cost will be lower than if you are having a window well and egress window put in. The average cost for the former is $1,000 or lower in most cases, barring any unforeseen problems like structural issues and frame alterations. Of course, the more expensive the windows, the higher your total cost will be.
In comparison, having a professional install a window well and egress window where there wasn’t one previously can cost as much as $8,000. This job can be accomplished via DIY methods, but you’ll still have expenses such as equipment rental costs, materials, and the proper disposal of the material that was removed. Of course, the risk of mistakes is higher when you do it yourself.
Are Hopper Windows Egress Compliant?
The answer is it depends. In order to be egress compliant, a window must meet certain size requirements which are designed so that a person has the ability to climb out. Most hopper windows will not meet egress code because they aren’t big enough.
Hopper Windows Pros & Cons
Adding hopper windows to your home can provide you with great benefits. Not only are you allowing light to access darker spaces of your home, but the airtight seal against the window’s weather stripping makes it extremely energy-efficient. The top latch lock also makes hopper windows more secure than other window alternatives. They also have the ability to open inward or outward, unlike awning windows.
However, hopper windows come with a unique set of challenges every homeowner should consider before installing. Hopper windows opening outward can trap rainwater, debris, and insects falling down the side of the house because of their V-shaped opening. Inward opening hopper windows can also interfere with drapes and curtains in the home. Additionally, the top latch can be very difficult to get to and may require the use of a chair or step ladder to access.
There are five signs that it’s time to replace your basement windows. They are:
- The windows are too difficult to open or close
- A draft can be felt through a closed window
- Condensation has formed between the glass panes
- The wood around the window is rotted
- Your energy bills are higher than you know they should be
What’s the difference between Hopper Windows & Awning Window?
Hopper Windows look very similar to awning windows but their differences are stark.
What’s an Awning Window?
You have likely seen an awning window plenty of times before as this style of the window made its debut before air conditioning came to the rescue in our modern age.
An awning window was originally designed to introduce more airflow into a home because, without air conditioning units, a home’s interior quickly became stuffy and far too hot for the liking of its occupants.
The design of an awning window allows the window to open outward to allow a welcome breeze to flood into the home. Usually, awning windows will be hinge mounted on the top, and also have some type of crank or mechanism used to allow the window to hold open securely, otherwise, the window would slam shut.
The original design of awning windows was much more simplistic than the modernized versions you see today. Hundreds of years ago, the composition of an awning window was simply held in its opened position with a stick.
Their functionality and aesthetics are derived from a fabric awning, which has a long history of use dating back to the ancient world. The ancient Egyptians were the first to utilize these fabric awnings, shading their market stalls and homes from the hot sun and adverse weather.
As you can see from their similarity in looks, the awning window takes its operation and style directly from the ancient origins of a fabric awning. Some ideas begin with greatness and in cases like the awning window, it’s our new technology that improves upon them.
What Are the Advantages of an Awning Window?
The reason why awning windows have held their popularity for so long is because of their versatile function and ventilation advantages. What could be better than having a window that’s small enough to prevent unwelcomed critters and security threats sneaking through but still allow a cool breeze to pass through the house?
And for that exact rationale, awning windows have prevailed through time.
As we’ve already discussed, awning windows can thank the ancient Egyptians for their original design, yet another invention from the ancient times that has lasted through a centuries’ worth of changes.
Just like the wheel, there’s only so much improvement that can be compounded upon a perfect, simplistically ideal design.
The shape of an awning window allows homeowners to open it outward even during a light drizzle, without moisture seeping into the home and wreaking havoc on structural integrity, just like the days of the Egyptians setting up awnings above market stalls to shade away from the sun or drops of rain on a dreary day.
The Advantages of a Hopper Window
Because they were originally invented to prevent debris and dirt from finding they’re way into homes, hopper windows are excellent at acting as a barrier against unwanted contaminants while still letting air vent through the home.
This is thanks to its bottom hinge, allowing the window to be secured, tilting inward for just enough of an opening but not large enough for debris to pass through.
Similar to awning windows, hopper windows are excellent space-savers. Many homeowners choose to install them in bathrooms and basements, areas that can’t fit full windows but still require ventilation and light.
Hopper windows function best when installed higher up on the wall, which is why you’ll see this style of window in basements.
Hopper windows are installed in areas where privacy and security are most valued. Bathrooms, again, are great homes to hopper windows because the style is small enough to allow privacy and a feeling of enclosure, but let in natural light through a small opening to ensure a nice draft and deliver a sense of security.
Hopper vs Awning Windows: The Run Down
Both styles of windows excel in areas that are tightly spaced but still require natural light and the ability to allow an occasional breeze. Awning and hopper windows are a nice compromise for these small areas in a home that want more light but cannot afford to sacrifice the wall space for a regular sized window.
The best part about both hopper and awning windows is that these styles are extremely energy efficient. You only have one pane to worry about and when they are not in use, they have a lock that allows for an airtight seal.
Because of their security features, many modern hopper and awning windows are manufactured with thicker glass, making them more difficult to break, and subsequently providing efficient and energy conscious window glass.
There aren’t too many disadvantages to awning and hopper windows because of their inoffensive size and palatable features of slight openings. If anything, these types of windows tend to collect more dirt and debris than regular paned windows because of their bottom or top hinge.
The angle of their opening is a bit like a trap for dirt, but alternatively, they keep everything out of the interior of your home. There may also be a consideration for the space hopper and awning windows will occupy when opened, but for most homeowners, this typically is not enough to be of real concern.
Both windows are a smart choice for any small room or basement in your home. With their energy efficiency and ability to ventilate, you can’t go wrong with a hopper or awning window style.