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Differences In Window Film

This is a question we get a lot: “What are the differences in window film brands?” While it is easy for most salespeople to say that all brands are the same – it just isn’t true.

Not only do the chemical composition of heat rejecting materials and the method used to apply them to the substrate differ from company to company, but so do the adhesives and substrate that each manufacturer uses.

The major difference that arises from the use of different heat rejecting materials is how much visible light is cut down by the films to achieve heat reduction. While glare reduction can sometimes be a desired attribute to a film, most residential clients are looking for a film that can reduce heat without making the windows too dark.

Around 2 out of 3 of the brands of film on the market today sacrifice heat reduction to allow more light through the film. It is the minority that pushes for maximum heat rejection and minimum light reduction.

The relationship of heat rejection to light reduction is known as luminous efficacy. Films with a high luminous efficacy reject more heat while blocking less light. Not surprisingly, manufacturers that produce films with lower luminous efficacy typically use adhesives and polyester substrate that can reduce or impair visibility through the film by adding unwanted distortion or clouding.

Some manufacturers are notorious for having distortive architectural films, such as Llumar and 3M. Dealers that carry these products are more likely to do mostly automotive tinting. Since they don’t do much work outside of a car, it just isn’t worth it for them to carry a manufacturer with films better suited for flat glass application.

Other manufacturers such as Panorama, Madico, Huper Optik and V-Kool have shown time and again that the materials used to create their products are of the highest quality, and add no distortion or clouding to the glass they are applied to. Dealers that carry these products are likely to have more experience working in homes and businesses and probably do little or no automotive application.

Regardless if you are having a semi-metallic, ceramic or spectrally-selective film installed – make sure that you have taken the time to look at the film sample to see if it looks cloudy or distortive. Check to see if there is an alternative brand with a higher luminous efficacy.  Although these characteristics may not matter in some commercial installations – when it comes to a home – the less noticeable a film is, the better.

If you live in the Chicago area, give us a call at 800-683-8468 to get a free estimate. If you would like to learn more about our company and products, visit

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