The Science Behind Window Tinting

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A tinted window showing sky and trees to illustrate The Science Behind Window Tinting

At Pacific Window Tinting, we’re good at what we do. The best. We focus on the job at hand and the satisfaction of our customers. The job is always done right, but it isn’t finished until we know without a doubt that the customer is happy with the work. With this hyper-focus on our customers’ needs and on consistently performing window tinting work at an expert level, we’re not usually thinking about the science behind the work we do — i.e., the science behind window tinting.

Make no mistake, though, there is a science behind window tinting — and it’s fascinating.

We thought we’d take a minute to look at how a window tint works. This should provide some perspective on both the nifty craft of window tinting itself and the science regarding the behavior of light, heat, and window film.

How Does Window Tinting Work?

We’ve all seen the windows of cars tinted. The cars’ windows are darkened. The drivers and passengers in the vehicle are mere outlines or shadows behind the side and rear windows. More and more often, however, many of us are noticing that people have chosen to tint the windows of their homes.

Quick side note: Before applying car window tint films to your vehicle (either the front side windows, the rear side windows, or — for heaven’s sake no! — the front windshield), make sure you know the window tint laws in your area.

Window tints work by reducing the amount of light — both visible light and ultraviolet light rays — that penetrates the windows. If, for example, you have window film on the front window of your home, the tint will block UV rays, visible rays, and heat from entering the home.

As we’ve discussed before on the Pacific Window Tinting blog, over time, sunlight will fade carpets, drapes, furniture, and more. The sun’s heat can also damage sensitive electronics and cause wood to warp.

“Solar window film can passively reflect and absorb up to 70% of incoming solar heat,” we wrote in “Why Portland Window Tint Should Be Installed In Every Home.”

How does it work, though? Let’s have a look.

The Science

Generally speaking, window film is coated with transparent dyes and metals that function by converting incoming solar radiation to infrared radiation and reflecting it outward. (Ceramic window films are nonmetallic and don’t contain any dyes.)

Therefore, the sunlight undergoes four transformations as it passes through and away from the tinted windows.

  1. Radiation prevention. This keeps your home or car cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
  2. Reflection. This process directs the light away from your home or car.
  3. Absorption. The tint absorbs the sun’s rays, preventing light and heat from penetrating the space.
  4. Transmittance. This is the allowance of some light to enter the space. You’ll determine the level of transmittance when you choose your tints.

That’s basically it!

Any questions? Contact Pacific Window Tinting today to see how we can help you.