Solar Film is a window tint, applied to windows in homes to reduce light, heat, glare and UV rays from the sun.

Have a look at our Buyer's Guide to help you make a more informed choice.

Introduction

Solar films are thin plastic or polymer layers applied to existing windows to help control light or heat coming through home windows. This helps provide improved indoor comfort and protect furniture from sun damage. 

Solar film works by minimising the amount of radiation that enters through the windows. Either by rejecting the sun's infrared heat or absorbing solar heat at the glass panel, this serves to reduce the sun’s energy before it has a chance to pass through the glass and add to the internal temperature.

 

Types

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TypeDescriptionProsConsCost(Avg)Idea For
Solar Reflective Film Heat Reflective Film One-way Mirror Film

These types of film are reflective on both sides and works by reflecting much of the sunlight's energy, causing heat to be stored in the window glass while preventing some from entering.

Reflective films are easily identifiable by their reflective surface, which gives it a mirror-like effect. They block people from seeing through the windows by acting like a mirror.

One downside is that it provides privacy only when the outside light is brighter than the inside (e.g. day time). If the inside is brighter (e.g. night time), it is possible to see through the window from the outside.

  • Provides some privacy control
  • As film is metallic based, it might affect network signals (mobile/wifi) around the house
  • Highly reflective window film can be unbearable for neighbors who might complain on the reflected light
  • Tend to fade or turn clear after long exposure to the sun
  • Privacy preserving
Dual Reflective Solar Film

Similar to solar reflective films, they are reflective on the exterior but less reflective on the interior. 

This helps provide both clear day & night views.

  • Improved privacy during the day
  • Offers enhanced views with low interior reflectivity, especially at night
  • Highly reflective window film can be very annoying for neighbors who might complain on the reflected light
  • Tend to fade or turn clear after long exposure to the sun
  • Privacy preserving
Ceramic Solar Film

These types of films are coated using millions of microscopic ceramic-based nanoparticles onto thin layers of films.

These particles are not visible to the naked eye resulting in a window film that is completely clear, allowing a greater level of visibility both during the day and the night. 

Ceramic window film also comes in varying shades(from lighter to darker), to provide different levels of privacy desired.

Unlike reflective solar films (which reject heat), they work by absorbing the radiant heat.

  • Enhanced views with better reduction in reflection and glare
  • Better durability where color don’t fade over time
  • Better temperature control features (reduction of solar heat and the rejection of UV light)
  • No privacy control
  • Absorb heat and is important to select a film that can dissipate the absorbed heat quickly
  • Blocking out moderate sun exposure
Neutral Solar Film Sputter Window Films

These films are designed to look as close as possible to natural glass whilst helping to reduce glare and provide good heat rejection.

  • Provides natural glass look
  • scratch-resistant
  • easy maintenance
  • No privacy control
  • If film is metallic based, it might affect network signals (mobile/wifi) around the house
  • Preserving exterior view
Spectrally Selective Film

Spectrally selective refers to reflecting specific wavelengths of the solar spectrum (particularly UV and InfraRed wavelengths), while allowing for maximum transmission of visible light.

This results in excellent heat reduction, improved visibility and reduced glare.

This film also comes in varying shades (from lighter to darker), to provide different levels of privacy desired.

  • Excellent heat reduction
  • Enhanced views with better reduction in reflection and glare
  • No privacy control
  • Blocking out strong sun exposure

Buying Considerations

  • Heat reduction specifications - Solar films work by reflecting heat or absorbing the heat and quickly transmitting it away or a hybrid of these two. To compare effectiveness of different films one should compare films with similar VLT (visible light transmission) using the below attributes:
    • Total Solar Energy Rejected (TSER) Shown in %, this measures the total amount of solar energy rejected by the window film. Higher value is better which means more energy rejected.
    • Insulating value (U-VALUE) - Measures how well the film insulates heat. Lower value means better insulation.
    • SHGC (Solar Heat Gain Coefficient) and SC (Shading Coefficient) - Both measure how much heat is transmitted through the film into a room. More heat transmitted will result in a hotter room hence lower value the better. SC is an older standard and manufacturers are shifting to SHGC. To aid comparison with those still using SC, an approximate approach to convert to SHGC is as follows: SHGC = SC * 0.86.
    • Visible Light Transmittance(VLT) - Shown in %, this measures amount of visible light that passes through the film. Smaller this value, the greater the glare reduction. Owners that do not want a room to be “too dark” can opt for a film with higher VLT value.
  • Film composition - If the film type you’re getting contains metallic compounds, then check how much of it is present and how it’ll affect network signals around the house.
  • Warranty - Solar films is a long term investment and with correct maintenance care can last a long time. In the scenario where issues occur, what is under warranty is important. Do clarify the warranty period (typically >5 years) and what is under warranty and the warranty conditions. Last but not least, confirm if any cost are involved and how to report an issue.
  • Demo of films - Specification comparison is a good way to shortlist vendors, but to finalize one, a demo is very important. This gives you confidence of the film's actual performance with the onsite test done. Test should minimally include the following:
    • Light measurement (depending if needs are to reduce or maintain brightness)
    • Infra-Red ray reduction
    • Ultra-violet ray reduction
    • Temperature reduction (of room and of window)

FAQ

Technical Terms

  • Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) - The fraction of solar radiation transmitted through a window or skylight, expressed as a percentage. The lower a window’s SHGC, the less solar heat it transmits and the greater its shading ability. Generally, a lower SHGC is desirable in warm climates.
  • U-Value - Measures a film's capacity as a whole to resist heat transfer. Lower u-value means more heat retained. The lower the U-value, the slower heat moves by conduction through the film. Hence in general, look for lower u-value.
  • Reflectivity - For both the interior facing and exterior facing side of a film.  High reflectivity would mean the film have a mirror-like finish vs. one that is nearly invisible and hence provide a clearer view through the film. In general it is best to select a film with good exterior reflectivity (for privacy control) and interior with low reflectivity (for a clear view outside).
  • Shade - Measured by VLT (visible light transmission). VLT % is the total amount of visible light that passes through glass after film has been applied. Lower VLT means darker shad
  • Total Solar Energy Rejected (TSER)  -  The total amount of solar energy (heat) rejected by the window film.  Solar energy is made up of 3 energy wavelengths:Infrared (IR) rays- 53%,Visible light-44%, ultraviolet (UV) light- 3%). When comparing how much heat it can reject, we should be comparing the total amount of energy rejected for this wavelength. The higher the number, the higher the amount of total solar energy(heat) rejected.
  • On angle measurement:  There're some vendors which will give measurements based on different angle of the sun. This is not an industry-accepted standard and therefore cannot be used as a measure to compare between films. Take TSER for example, all film products, have improved total solar energy rejection as the sun climbs higher and sunlight strikes a window less directly. When the sun is directly overhead (i.e 90%), all windows (with or without film) have 100% total solar energy rejection.
  • Infrared (IR) rejection rate -  The IR rejection rate is a number that shows how much a film can reject the majority of the heat from infrared wavelength. It does not mean that if a large portion of the IR is blocked then almost no heat will be transmitted through a film. Rejection from the other wavelength is also crucial. Hence referring to the other measures would be more accurate.