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Espag handles are the most modern type of handle found on double glazing windows and the most secure. They were designed to work with an espagnolete lock which is basically a multi-point locking mechanism attached to the perimeter of the window. The espag handle is designed to incorporate a square spindle that projects from the back of the handle and enters the gearbox of the lock mechanism, which is usually hidden inside the window. By turning the handle you can then turn the mechanism inside the window which then turns the locking points around the window.
These are fantastic types of locks and prevalent amongst the double glazing window fraternity. Generally speaking you should expect a good quality handle from most manufacturers although as the saying goes "you get way you pay for".
A lot of manufacturers are turning towards making these window handles from an aluminium alloy which is basically an assortment of different grade aluminium metals that are used to cast the handle design. To be honest they are good although somewhat lightweight. The older and perhaps more expensive material used for the manufacture of espag window handles is what they call Mazak (an alloy of zinc based metals). This is quite a heavy material and you will certainly feel the difference when handling this off the window.
Typical specification of a good espag handle for a upvc and some timber windows would be a 7mm spindle (in various lengths), push-button for a 'locked' closed position, key-locking (and fire-escape non-locking where required). Some handles reach out to the Secure By Design specification and give a little more peace of mind.
When selecting an espag window handle you will need to know the measurement of the spindle length - this is the length of exposed spindle that leaves the back of the handle and goes inside the window. It can be anything from 10mm upto 55mm. A common mistake is to measure the entire spindle length of a handle in its broken state and this will be too long as you only need the length that is exposed when the handle is together in its unbroken state. Espag handles typically break around the spindle pivoting area of the handle as this is the weakest point. When replacing a handle it will usually be be for this reason so look out for poorly riveted or sub-standard manufacturing.
You also have the choice of a cranked espag handle which gives more hand clearance against the window or an inline handle which some say is neater. The handed ones will only turn one way whereas the inline handles can be operated both ways, but note that you can only replace the handle by fixing an inline handle in the same direction as the old one came off the window. Right handed handles open in an anti-clockwise direction and vice-versa for a left handed handle.
Summary: Found on most modern double glazed windows these handles operate multi-point locks by virtue of a 7mm (or occasionally 8mm) squared spindle. The fixings are generally standard at 43mm centres. Replacement is easy requiring only the spindle length and in some cases the handing.