06 Mar The Best Smart Electronic Window Tint Film Options Out There
There is a great appeal in modern properties with big open windows and glass fronts that let in lots of sunshine at the best parts of the day. Many of us still achieve this pleasure on a smaller scale via large patio doors that open into a large living room. These are great features on sunny days when we want the best of the sunshine.
However, there can be privacy issues with these large glass areas. These rooms can also get quite hot in the height of summer. That is where homeowners need some form of shading or screening to help provide that privacy or to cool down the home.
There are some different products available that can be installed to help with this issue. One of the more popular modern approaches is to use a tint film on the windows that can be controlled to change the shading and transparency of the glass. The idea here is that homeowners have greater control over the purpose of their windows – without too big an expense or too much hassle.
In this guide, we want to look at the benefits of turning to this types system, as well as provide some reviews of the best companies and their products. This approach isn’t going to work for everyone – and not all companies have the perfect solution just yet. However, the products highlighted below are some of the best options around right now.
What is Smart Film and How Exactly Does it Work?
The idea here is that these products can replace the need for an electronic window shade at times of strong sunlight. There are cleverly-designed windows and window film that use liquid crystals and electricity to block out the light entering the home. Homeowners can either have the product on, allowing for a clear view out of the window, or they can turn it off and create an opaque screen. Looks and levels of transparency differ depending on the product. There are also slightly different approaches depending on the company.
If we take a moment to consider the science behind this application, we see that there is a clever use of physics in play to achieve this look. The finer details of a specification can depend on the build and the crystals within the film. But, most products use a similar approach. With time, some companies may expand upon this and create something more advanced.
The idea is that an electric current passed through liquid crystals so that they form a determined pattern. This pattern then means that they can let in the light and create that transparent appearance. When users cut the power, the crystals return to a random position and block the light out. A flick of a switch is all that should be required to create the ideal privacy shade or protection from the sun.
Smart Film vs Smart Windows: Are Smart Films a Better Choice?
Some homes will decide to turn to smart windows for their needs. This means a new window with these clever crystals built-in. There are cases where this is the more practical solution. These panes are safer and better looking for bathroom remodeling. They are a great choice for those working on new builds that want to plan the light entry a little better. However, it makes more sense for many consumers to stick with an adhesive, add-on film. This sticks to an existing window, lowering the costs and the hassle for all involved.
Benefits of Smart Window Films:
There are some undeniable benefits to turning to one of these films for your windows. Some of these include:
An electronic shade can be very helpful when it comes to reducing the glare and the temperature of the home. However, it comes at the cost of minimizing the view from the window. Users have to sacrifice their view of the garden from the living room or patio doors if one of these shade is in place. Also, blinds and shade can require maintenance and cleaning on a regular basis, which is not the case with window films.
There are also some great health benefits to turning to one of these window films over a more traditional electric shade. These films, when bought from a reliable company, work to reduce the impact of sunlight through a glass barrier. This means a reduction in UV rays entering the home. There is also the fact that electric shades, blinds, and other devices can harbor dust, dirt and other pollutants that may put family members at risk. These films are a great hypoallergenic alternative.
A Simple, User-Friendly Approach:
For the most part, these products are very easy to use and install. It is possible to buy a piece of film, cut it to size, add the right connectors and transformer and that’s it. The self-adhesive versions can be a little more tricky, but it is still a better installation process than getting a whole new window. Many of these products also have either remotes, dimmer switches or apps for simple control over the look of the window. Experiences with these products can vary depending on the style of the film, the brand and the size of the window.
The Look of the Film:
Unfortunately, there are also a few downsides that you need to consider when adding one of these tints to your window. The first is the final look of the product. These tints often have wires running from the windows to the transformers. This is essential to pick up the signal and create the effect on demand. Some say that it can look a mess in a clean, minimalist home. Others wonder about the safety implications of these wires with children and pets around.
Cost and Availability:
Another possible issue here is the cost of the product and availability. As you will see from the two companies below, not all brands are suitable for basic installation, or able to create the ideal solution. This means a small market of products in a developing industry where brands can charge a fair amount of money for their technology. Prices will only increase if you have large windows or need to adapt the whole home.
View make some great windows, but don’t have the easy-to-use smart films that we are looking for.
These film tints are a great idea for all those that want a new solution for the home but don’t want the hassle of installing whole new windows. That is one of the reasons why there are so few companies creating these affordable solutions. Some designers and affluent homeowners will love the work of View. This company makes windows with built-in, WiFi-connected controls. Users manage the settings on a mobile device. The problem is that they are a luxury option for new builds. They like to custom-design for new spaces, which puts them out of most price ranges.
What About the Much Heralded Aeotec Product?
For a while, there was talk of another company making their way into the market. Aeotec had plans to create their own smart, Z-wave film that would rival the options that are discussed below. However, the project was abandoned. They state that even though they worked hard to refine the product and create a great system, there was a constant stumbling block. They couldn’t make it easy to install.
They are on record as saying that “it was too easy to make a mistake” all because it was “too easy to get a bubble underneath the film” as a result, they didn’t believe in the product and didn’t want consumers to “waste $300 of your money”.
There are two ways to look at this statement. First of all, this could be a cover for a bigger issue. Maybe they want to blame a simple installation issue for a bigger problem with product development or finances?
Alternatively, this could all be true, which then leads to questions about the ease of installation of some of the products below. How easy is it for consumers to get air bubbles and poor results with these films too?
This Leaves Us With 4 Major Players in this Smart Film Industry
There are a number of companies that currently create these products and offer a great service for homeowners looking for this sort of compromise product. We will now consider the products of 4 of the most well-known. They are SONTE Film, Smart Tint, Invisashade, and Rayno Film.
In our, reviews we will discuss the features of the products and their ease of use. We also want to consider the pros and cons. There are cases where the user experience doesn’t always match the claims of the company, so we want to provide a more objective point of view here.
What Can We Expect From a SONTE Product?
The first product that we want to look at is SONTE Film. This is a simple system with a wifi-enabled window shade. The company offers lots of great sales claims about the functionality and user-friendly feel of the system. For example, there is even the idea of turning a window into a projection screen. This may be a little bit of an exaggeration to promote the opaqueness of the product when it is turned on.
Still, there is nothing to stop users from testing out this theory if they have a window or glass screen that is the right size. There is a simple installation process. As they state themselves, all you need to do is measure the film, cut it to size, peel it off, stick it to the window and plug everything in.
What are the Pros and Cons of Choosing SONTE?
The obvious benefit for homeowners with a product like this is the way that transparency and opaqueness are controlled via an app. This is an important tool with these products because it reduces the amount of wiring needed and can increase ease of use for the consumer. All you have to do is connect the product to the app and transform the look of windows.
In addition to this, there is the SONTE Daisy Chain option where users can connect several films to one system. Therefore, you could switch all the windows in the home in one go if needed. The app also has a timer mode where users can tell the system to make the windows opaque at a certain time each day.
The downside here is that there aren’t too many options available to consumers. There are two very basic types of clear/white film on offer and buyers can choose the most appropriate size that will suit their window. One is self-adhesive and one in non-adhesive for laminated glass. Other brands in this guide have tried to create some alternative options for greater choice, such as models with advanced technology or different colors.
What Can We Expect from a Smart Tint Product?
Smart Tint is a popular company that uses a one-touch solution to help users switch from a clear screen to a frosted one. Like Sonte Film, there is the opportunity to use an app as applicable for ease of use. There are two types of product here – both of which are designed to be easy to use. The first is a self-adhesive option which peels off and sticks to the window – much like those of the other brands here. The alternative is a non-adhesive version that requires double-sided tape. This version may eliminate the risk of the bubbles that Aeotech struggled with. But it might not have a clean finish or be as secure.
What are the Pros and Cons of Choosing Smart Tint?
Starting with the benefits, one appealing thing about this company is the range of colors on offer. It comes in white, grey, black, yellow, pink green and blue. This, therefore, opens up new possibilities for interior design ideas, such as interesting colors for screens in bathrooms. The controls on the films are about as easy to control as it gets. There is a one-touch solution that changes the transparency between the frosted color for privacy and the clear screen for visibility.
There are some downsides to this company. The biggest is some confusion over the level of transparency that you can achieve. Ideally, these films should be invisible when not required. The transparency can also depend on the color. The company state that the white option is 81% transparent when on and 9% when off.
Meanwhile, the green is 66% transparent when on and 8% when off and the black one is 45% transparent when on and 4% when off. So, where does this 98% figure come from? There is also the usual issue of the trim. There is a copper trim to the bottom of the product that can stand out a little too much against the window.
What can you expect from an Invisashade product?
Invisashade offers two different products that have a different appeal depending on budget and purpose. The first is their own form of lamination film for existing windows that fits between the panes of glass. The second is the self-adhesive electronic privacy film that is similar to the products used by other brands. There is the option here to either order it pre-cut to the size of the window or to buy a sheet and cut it yourself.
There is also a choice in how to control the transparency and opaqueness are controlled, with either wall switches, remote controls or apps. Many will love the concept of the “plug n play” kit where users are promised the chance to simply “trim, stick plug and play! With no need for “soldering or special wiring. It comes with the film, the remote control, the receiver, and the basic kit.
What are the Pros and Cons of Choosing Invisashade?
One of the great things about Invisashade is that they seem keen to improve their products. There are upgrades to the technology in order to improve the user experience, rather than a decision to just stick with a basic product range. This suggests a company that wants to compete with the other brands at the top of this market.
One example of this is the InvisiShade 4.0 line. This option includes an enhancement to the materials so there are greater anti-microbial properties. This is perfect for those buying these tints for their health benefits. There is also the benefit of reduced power consumption, improved clarity, and better UV resistance.
This means that the more expensive upgrade may be the more appealing option over the cheaper plug and play. There is also a problem with the finish of the product and one of the sales claims. There is the promise of quick installation with paintable cord covers providing a great look that hides the wires as needed.
The issue is that it makes it sound as though these covers are included in the kit – they are not included and need to be purchased separately. so beware of the nice look of the wiring in the sales
What can you expect from a Rayno Film product?
There are three main products on offer from Rayno Film at the moment. Rayno Platinum offers “superior protection” by reducing up to 99% of ultraviolet rays entering the property. At the same time, it has a simple function that allows users to switch between the clear view and opaque privacy that they need.
Then there is the Rayno’s Rescue Series. This version is more focused on security, as it adds greater strength of the glass limit the “risk of intrusion and shattered glass”. It offers the same screening and privacy of the Platinium option and the same UV filters. Then there is the Trinity option which is a 3-in-one solution that covers all the needs of consumers.
What are the Pros and Cons of Choosing Rayno Film?
One of the most appealing things about this brand is the fact that it is trying to differentiate from themselves from companies that just want to provide an alternative form of privacy screening. The idea of a stronger film is great for homeowners that want a product that they can rely upon. There is a sense with some of these products that these stick-on films can be a bit flimsy or cheap. The Rescue and Trinity options provide that extra protection that others cant.
The downsides to this option are similar to those of many of the other products in this guide. There is always going to be an issue of cost due to the lack of competition in the market. These films aren’t cheap. There also appear to be fewer color choices available than with other brands. There is a blue or a blueish-charcoal mentioned on the website, but nothing about all the bright colors seen in the Smart Tint range.
Finding the Best Option for Your Needs
As you can see, there aren’t that many choices available right now. There is a small handful of major players in the industry, and they all have some of the same pros and cons in their products. Others have tried to compete with them but haven’t manage to find the right solutions.
We are left with a few products that are easy to install and easy to use, with a simple switch between transparency and opaqueness. They are cost-effective and, in some cases, can have a couple of additional benefits.
Yet, many of these adhesive films also share the same issue with the final look of the product. They don’t always blend in too well. There are also common problems with the levels of transparency.
It is difficult to find a product with the perfect look, installation methods, and final results. These films are essentially a cheaper substitute for the built-in effects on new windows. They won’t look as professional and may not have the contrast in the visibility and shade that you expect.
However, they are a cost-effective alternative that can make a difference when it comes to privacy, family health and the overall aesthetics of a room. Compare and contrast the options available from these companies more carefully. Research local companies that we may have missed. Take your time and find that perfect color with the right installation method and transparency rating for your needs.