Window film, which is also known as tinted film, are among one of the first accessories to be added to a vehicle when a proud owner takes delivery of his/her car. It would not be an exaggeration to say that almost every vehicle out there have window films applied to them.
Window films do more than just reduce heat in the car's cabin, as a high quality window tint can also reduce glare and improve safety and security by providing stronger resistance to shattering.
If we look at the market today, there are various types of window films, each with its own set of strengths and weaknesses:
The most popular type of window film is metallized film, which comprises about 70 to 80% of the films in the market today simply because it is a proven technology.
Capable of protecting your vehicle from various types of harmful rays, metallized window film is very popular because it is affordable.
However, its heat rejection performance is generally moderate. Besides that, there is high reflectivity which can affect visibility.
It potentially blocks radio frequency signals such as mobile phones, GPS, and auto-gate remotes.
Another downside about metallized film is that there is a high risk of corrosion which will cause discoloration in the film after a number of years, which can affect visibility and the aesthetic appearance of the vehicle.
Unlike metallized film, dyed window film is less reflective, which means that the driver will not have issues with visibility at all. Besides that, this film doesn’t cause signal interference.
Despite having these advantages over metallized film, dyed window film also falls under the affordable category, but it is far from perfect.
Heat rejection performance is low, there is no protection against harmful rays, discoloration is highly likely to happen, and bubbling is also likely to occur as this type of film uses adhesives that are not specially formulated for the film.
Hybrid metallized-dyed film
There also exists hybrid films that uses metallized & dye technology to get better heat rejection, as well as improve protection against harmful rays.
Since it is a combination of two films, cost is expected to be higher than above-mentioned two films. As the film consists of metal elements, there is potential risk of reflectivity, corrosion and signal interference. There is also a risk of discoloration as this type of film utilizes dyed film technology.
Moving up the ranks, we have ceramic film, which offers similar, if not better heat rejection than metallized and dyed films. It also protects against harmful rays without interfering with signals.
The biggest strength of ceramic film is that it has relatively low reflectivity and no risk of corrosion or discoloration.
The only downside about ceramic film is that it costs more than metallized films.
New generation film such as 3M’s Multi-layer Optical Film technology
This type of film not only offers maximum heat rejection, but also high visibility as they are designed to selectively filter out heat-contributing rays like infrared rays. 3M Multi-layer Optical Film technology for example also does not interfere with signals. There is also no risk of corrosion or discoloration as there is no metal contained in this kind of film.
However, since they offer a lot, the cost can be high.
Now that we know of the different types of films and what they offer, there are a few other things that need to be considered before choosing the right window, such as:
Consumers need to consider the Total Solar Energy Rejected (TSER) rating, which simply stands for how much solar heat is prevented from going into the cabin.
The general misconception is that dark film rejects more heat; when in reality heat is caused mainly by Infrared (IR) rays.
Ultra Violet (UV) rays on the other hand, also don’t cause heat, but they are harmful to the human skin and a vehicle’s upholstery.
Many window film manufacturers market their product only by stating the infrared rejection percentage instead of utilizing the TSER standard, when the right thing to do is to disclose the TSER ratings.
This is because IR rejection alone is not the best indicator of heat rejection. The TSER rating is more indicative of the actual heat rejection performance of a film, as it measures the level of solar energy, UV, Visible Light (VL), and IR rays blocked.
Ultra Violet (UV) = 3%
Visible Light (VL) = 44%
Infrared (IR) = 53%
Besides UV and infrared rays, glare is also something that needs to be taken into consideration.
Caused by excessive amount of light transmitted into the cabin, glare can only be countered by darker film.
However, consumers need to take a balanced approach to this as a film which is too dark can limit visibility.
Besides that, JPJ regulations do not allow dark film on the front windscreen. So, a good way to reduce glare whilst maintaining good visibility is to apply a top visor of dark film whilst the rest of the windscreen is kept with a lighter film.
JPJ regulations say that the front windscreen tint should have minimum 70% Visible Light Transmission (VLT) while the front side windows have minimum 50% VLT, and other windows minimum 30%.
Besides protecting occupants only from heat and harmful rays, window films have progressed into safety films which also protect us from break-ins.
In order to qualify as a safety film; it has to be at least 4mils (0.1mm) thick according to IWFA. These films offer higher impact resistance with thicker construction and by using stronger adhesives, they are able to hold shattered glass in place in the event of breakage. There is a misconception that glass which has been tinted with safety film is unbreakable but the truth is that at some point, the glass will shatter. Sharp glass shards are held by the film and prevents them from injuring the occupants. The added resistance also serves as a deterrence.
To ensure that the window film you purchase is of high quality, choose a film that originates from a reputable window film company who produces high quality window film where the performance and durability of the film is tested and verified by a third party.
It is also advised that consumers pick a shop that is an authorized installer of the brand so that they have the assurance that the applicators in the outlet are well-trained and is able to apply the tint onto their car windows according to specified Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) as dictated by the brand to ensure the best possible application onto their vehicles.
It is also advised that consumers pick a car tint brand who can offer manufacturer warranty, as shop-level warranty will be void if the tint shop goes out of business. A manufacturer warranty gives consumers the assurance that if the applicator (tint shop) that applied the film for them goes out of business, the customer is still able to get their issues resolved by another authorized applicator in the brand’s installer network.
All 3M window tints are covered by a comprehensive 5-year e-warranty should your window films need replacing because of bubbling, peeling, blistering or purpling.
That being said, it is important to keep all of the things mentioned above in mind before choosing the right window film for your car because you will know exactly what you are getting, and what you are protecting yourself from.
Between 15-May until 15-June 2018, Carlist.my is offering 33 e-vouchers for 3M window tints for download daily, which entitles you to a discount of RM 1,300 on 3M Scotchshield Crystalline Security & Solar Car Tinting Package. The vouchers are valid until 31-July 2018.
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