Choosing Tint Percentage for Your Vehicle’s Windows

If you’ve decided to move forward with tinting the windows on your car, you have a few important choices to make. One that’s at the top of any such list: The tint percentage you’ll be choosing, which speaks to the amount of light and UV rays that will be allowed into the vehicle through your tint.

At Spandex, we’re happy to offer the very best vehicle window tint, helping clients achieve any level of tint they’re looking for while applying durable, long-lasting window tint film to any vehicle type. What is window tint percentage, what is it telling you, and what are some common tint percentage options to choose between? Here are some basics.

Window Tint and Visible Light Transmission (VLT)

To understand car window tint percentages, you first have to understand visible light transmission, or VLT. This measure refers to the percentage of light that is allowed to be transmitted through the window tint. As you’ve probably guessed, 100% VLT indicates that none of the visible light spectrum is blocked–the glass actually isn’t tinted at all. On the other end of the spectrum is 0%, meaning that no light at all can pass through (which obviously includes UV rays as well).

The number before the percentage refers to the mount of light being allowed in through the tint. A 35% tint, then, will allow 35% of the available visible light through it. The remaining 65%, obviously, will be blocked by the tint film.

It’s also important to note that, while black is far and away the most common color considered within VLT, it is not the only option. If you’re thinking of a different tint shade than black, however, it’s important to realize that these other shades will have different light-filtering qualities than black films, and your selection for tint percentage and VLT areas will also be different as a result.

Common Window Tint Percentage Templates

In most cases, window film manufacturers offer a range of different tint percentages that hit some of the common templates desired by clients. Here are the most common such templates, plus their most common uses and benefits:

  • 50% tint: This is perhaps the most common option used today, blocking half of the light spectrum while still providing some visibility. It’s perfect for those who want a slight tint reduction without sacrificing too much natural light, and is also effective for blocking UV rays. For those who mostly prefer tint for stylistic reasons rather than privacy or security, the 50% tint might be the best option.
  • 35% tint: For those who want to make their windows look a bit more like a luxury vehicle without sacrificing any visibility, a 35% tint might be the best choice. This will reduce the amount of light entering the car by two thirds, while still allowing most people to see in and out without difficulty. It also provides good UV ray protection.
  • 20% tint: As we move down the spectrum to where less and less UV light will be allowed in, we get toward the privacy realm. Many vehicle owners go with a lower percentage to keep bystanders from seeing in, while still allowing light transmission through the windows. This is also a great film to use when you find yourself driving frequently at night, as it will help reduce glare from other vehicle headlights.
  • 5% tint: The 5% tint is only legal in certain areas — it’s illegal in the majority of states because it’s simply too dark and not safe for driving at night. It’s perfect if you want to reduce light and UV transmission as much as possible, however. If you’re looking for a tint that’s really good at blocking the sun, this is the way to go–it blocks most of it (95%)!

Factors in Choosing Tint Percentage

As you’re choosing between the templates above, or perhaps other custom options you have available, which variables should you be considering to help make your choice for you? Here are a few:

  • Legal restrictions: As we noted above, certain very low tint percentage numbers may or may not be legal in your state. Make sure you’re aware of the laws where you live before making your selection. This may also depend on the specific type of vehicle you’re driving, as some states have varying regulations based on this.
  • Privacy and security: Are you installing tint primarily as a privacy and security measure, or for stylistic reasons? If you’re looking mostly for privacy and security, then you’ll want to block as much light and UV transmission as possible. However, if visibility is a more important factor for you, then you may want to choose a percentage that’s on the higher end, allowing more light in.
  • Aesthetics: How important is the specific style and appearance of your windows? All three of the most common levels show a small amount from within the car, so if you want all the windows to look the same or have no visible tint whatsoever, then you’ll just need to know that very low percent numbers will restrict visibility more than higher number templates.
  • Health considerations: Finally, some install window tint to protect their skin — even higher percentages block up to 99% of UV radiation. If this is your primary goal, know that while 50% tint will offer great protection, lower tint percentages may be even better here — those with the most sensitive skin, or those with high risks of skin cancer or related concerns, should go with 35% or 20% tint in most cases.

For more on how to choose your ideal window tint percentage, or to learn about any of our car window tints, heat transfer vinyl, vinyl car wraps or other services, speak to the pros at Spandex today.



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