Tag Archives: pole barn windows

Planning for Lighting in a New Pole Barn

Both of my post frame buildings outside of Spokane, WA have no windows on the garage/shop level. This means when inside, with doors closed, it is dark – one is forced to rely upon electricity or radar to navigate.

Reader KRISTI is preparing to build her new pole barn and had some questions about how to light up her life:

“Hi there!

I plan to have a 36’x40’ pole barn built before the cold weather hits here in Michigan and I have a couple of quick questions if you don’t mind. 

First, I will be using this building as workshop so it will definitely be insulated and heated. I’m planning to run a radiant slab heat system. My first question is regarding windows. I want to be able to see outside but more importantly, I want all the daylight I can get! That in mind, which wall would you recommend to bring in the most light? How do I frame up the interior walls around the windows? How difficult is it to add windows once the insulation and sheathing is done inside? Lastly, would you recommend using clear acrylic panels along the tops of the walls? I’m a little worried it will yellow over time & I’m not sure how I could insulate the acrylic if it’s even possible. 

The barn will be in an open area with little to no shade & will have a large garage door on the east end, and 12’ walls with a ceiling. 

Thank you in advance for any time you should spend on answering my questions! I totally understand if you are too busy to indulge me and if I could only ask one question I would ask how to frame out the interior walls for a window. 

Thanks again!”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

Gambrel roof pole barnTo get the most light, place windows on the south wall. Easiest way to frame your exterior walls (interior walls around windows) is to use what we refer to as commercial girts (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/09/commercial-girts-what-are-they/). Once you have finished insulating and an interior wall covering, there will be an extreme degree of difficulty to add more windows – it is best to plan for them in advance and install at time of initial construction. This also allows for them to be incorporated into engineered building plans as increasing openings. Without engineering, can compromise the structural integrity of your building. While eave light panels are very effective for unheated buildings, in your case you would be heating much of Michigan, if you used them. Here is some more reading on light panels: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/02/acrylic/.

We will be looking forward to helping you with your new pole barn!

Single-Pane Windows

Single-Pane Windows

When I was first in the post frame (pole barn) building industry almost 40 years ago windows were hardly ever a chosen option, and when they were, they were always single-pane windows.


Because the buildings were probably never going to be climate controlled and the single-pane windows were cheap. And, as we found out, single-pane windows were difficult to ship and have them arrive at jobsites without breaking.

With more and more post frame buildings being climate controlled, it truly only makes sense to use double-pane windows.

I was surprised when I read this on the website of another company which provides pole barn kits: Even windows can be insulated. In an insulated pole barn, you might consider installing double pane windows.  They are more expensive than single pane, but increase energy efficiency and help keep the area climate controlled.”

It has been at least three decades since I would even have considered providing less than a double-pane window to a client.

Single-pane windows are made with a single layer of glass. They come in all of the same styles and materials double-pane windows do, but they are not as efficient at keeping out noise or seasonal temperatures. Their initial cost is less, but over time, energy bills will be higher.

Single-pane glass treatments have no insulation. When you have only one pane of glass, outside temperatures and noise will affect the inside of your post frame building more easily. However, the costs of heating or cooling down your pole building are directly related to the type of window you choose.

Double-pane windows come with two panes of glass. These panes are separated from each other by a spaced filled with air. This air traps winter’s colder temperatures or summer’s heat in between the two windows and forms a barrier which blocks the heat and cold from affecting your pole building. The energy savings over single pane windows can be as much as 24 percent in cold climates during the winter and 18 percent during the summer in hot climates. This results in lower energy costs and less noise, which can be an important consideration in high traffic areas.

These window treatments do initially cost more than single-pane windows do, since they use double the glass material, but the insulation and strength they offer can make them a much better buy. In fact, with double-pane windows you won’t have to use your air conditioner as often and your heater can be set at a lower temperature because the air temperature inside your post frame building will be more consistent.