by Holger Geiser, Spandex Group Building Window Films specialist
In a recent blog post, I talked about the great opportunity solar control films offer.
It is a rapidly growing market, and with energy costs rising, we anticipate this growth to accelerate in 2023. More and more users are looking for ways to reduce the cost of maintaining comfortable temperatures inside. Which certainly makes them a market worth entering.
While application is relatively easy for window film installers with experience in graphics applications, I wanted to expand further on the kinds of sun protection films available and how to choose the best one.
Nearly all Building Window Films (BWF) are made of PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) – a polyester polymer. It’s the most suitable polyester for producing high-quality, long lasting performance window films, because it provides extreme clarity and has very little to no extension coefficient. Which means they don’t shrink with time, in contrast with other types of vinyl.
The Sun Protection Window film categories
There two categories of sun protection film, for different use cases and customer needs.
UV Filter Films
As the name suggests, they filter out the damaging UV rays. Especially important in protecting textiles, carpets, clothing and furniture against fading. Installing a UV protection window film can prevent up to 80% of fading damage.
You can see how a furniture shop or a museum can benefit from installing it on their windows.
Most of the UV filter films in the Spandex product range are totally clear interior films and can be installed on any kind of glazing system. Others are slightly tinted and have solar control properties, but still offer full transparency and visual clarity.
Sun/Climate Control Films
These are distinguished from UV filter films by their performance level. It’s possible to deflect total solar energy radiation by up to 86%, depending on the product. This means that the films alone can cool interiors, without the need for air conditioning or other cooling appliances.
Most solar control films consist of at least two PET layers, protecting the metallisation and other coatings from oxidisation. Various interior and exterior versions are available; all are UV-stabilised, meaning that more than 99% of harmful UV radiation is filtered.
Maintenance and Lifespan
Both UV filter and sun protection films have a scratch-resistant hard coating to optimise their performance under harsh conditions, including environmental factors such as weathering and emissions in the case of exterior films. It allows you to clean them, just like you would normally do with the glass.
In the case of UV protection window films, the product can last up to 12 years on a window. Whereas solar protection films can have a lifespan of up to 20 years.
How do I choose a window film?
There is a variety in light transmission, solar glare reduction, solar energy rejected and UV absorption between all the films. This is achieved through a combination of coatings that react differently to sunlight and other factors. By applying a sun control film, you could alter the temperature balance within the glass pane, which may lead to issues. Because of that, it’s important to select a film that is compatible with the glazing system to avoid damage to the glass.
Some general guidelines are:
- For single pane float glass, any interior or exterior building window film is applicable
- For early-generation (up to mid-90s) double-pane glass, it’s possible to use silver reflective interior films, but at Spandex we recommend installing an exterior window film, nearly all of which are compatible with this kind of glazing
- For second-generation, double-pane low-E insulated glass units (IGUs), we strongly recommend silver reflective and other standard and advanced exterior films
- For triple-pane insulated glass units (produced since the beginning of the 2000s) we recommend reflective exterior product solutions and advanced products compatible with this glass type
- Regardless of glass type, if the outer pane is made from heat-strengthened glass (also known as ESG, tempered or HS glass), you can apply any exterior building window film
As I’ve mentioned, there is a big variety in the properties of all the different films, so we suggest getting in touch with our experts. They are the most knowledgeable about the specifics of each film in our product range. With their help you will easily find the product that is optimal for your project.
A hot opportunity
Given all the benefits of sun protection and climate control films, it is no surprise how fast the market opportunity is growing. Hopefully this article has helped you gain more insight into the different options available to you.
With the warmer months ahead, it’s a great time to talk to your customers and prospects about sun protection. And if you’re interested in the broader business opportunities in Building Window Films, check out my separate blog post on Safety and Security Films .
Author – Holger Geiser
Holger Geiser has 30 years’ experience in Window Films, which he uses to help Spandex customers take advantage of the growth opportunities with Sun Protection and Functional films. Holger offers sign makers, graphics producers and installers a deep understanding of these speciality products and their applications, supporting visual communications businesses to develop additional revenue streams in the architectural and building window markets.