Window tinting is popular for car owners looking to reduce glare, heat, and UV radiation. It can also provide privacy and enhance the aesthetic appeal of a vehicle. However, not all window tints are created equal, and it’s important to understand how they are measured to ensure you get the right product for your needs.
In this article, we’ll explore the different methods used to measure window tint, including visible light transmission (VLT), ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and infrared (IR) radiation. We’ll also cover frequently asked questions about window tinting and provide tips on choosing the right product for your car.
How Window Tint is Measured: Understanding VLT
VLT, or visible light transmission, measures the light that passes through a window. It’s expressed as a percentage, with higher percentages indicating more light transmission and lower percentages indicating less. For example, a window with 70% VLT allows 70% of visible light to pass through, while a window with 5% VLT only allows 5% of visible light to pass through.
VLT is the most commonly used method for measuring window tint, as it accurately represents how dark the tint appears to the human eye. Most states have laws regulating the minimum VLT allowed on car windows in the United States. For example, the front windshield in California must allow at least 70% of light to pass through, while the front side windows must allow at least 70% or more VLT.
Measuring UV Radiation
UV radiation, which is responsible for causing skin cancer and fading car interiors, can also be measured to determine the effectiveness of window tint. While VLT only measures visible light, UV transmission meters are used to measure the amount of UV radiation that passes through a window.
Window tints that block more UV radiation are generally considered to be of higher quality, as they provide better protection against the harmful effects of UV rays. However, it’s important to note that not all tints that block UV radiation also block IR radiation.
Measuring IR Radiation
IR radiation, or infrared radiation, is the primary cause of heat build-up in a car’s interior. IR transmission meters are used to measure the amount of IR radiation that passes through a window.
High-quality window tints block UV and IR radiation, providing superior protection against heat and fading. However, it’s important to note that not all window tints are created equal, and some may only provide limited protection against IR radiation.
Choosing the Right Window Tint: FAQ
Q: What’s the difference between dyed, metalized, and ceramic window tints?
A: Dyed tints are the most basic and affordable type of window tint, consisting of a layer of dyed film that absorbs heat and light. Metalized tints contain metallic particles that reflect heat and light, providing better heat rejection and UV protection. Ceramic tints use a layer of ceramic particles to block heat and UV radiation while allowing for high visible light transmission.
Q: Can I apply window tint myself?
A: While it is possible to apply window tint yourself, it can be a difficult and time-consuming process. Professional installation is recommended to ensure a high-quality and long-lasting result.
Q: How much does window tinting cost?
A: The cost of window tinting varies depending on the type of tint and the size of the tinted windows. Basic dyed tints are the most affordable, while ceramic tints are the most expensive. The cost for professional installation can also vary, depending on the location and the installer.
Q: Will window tinting affect my visibility while driving?
A: The amount of VLT allowed by law ensures that window tinting does not affect your visibility while driving. However, choosing a tint that is not too dark is important for your comfort and safety.
Q: Can window tinting be removed?
A: Yes, window tinting can be removed. However, the process can be time-consuming and may damage the window if not done properly. It’s important to have the tint professionally removed to avoid any issues.
Tips for Choosing the Right Window Tint
Now that you understand the different methods used to measure window tint, here are some tips for choosing the right product for your car:
- Check local laws: Make sure you choose a window tint that complies with the VLT laws in your state or country.
- Consider your needs: If you live in a hot climate, a window tint that blocks UV and IR radiation may be your best option. If you value privacy, a darker tint may be more suitable.
- Choose a reputable brand: Look for a window tint backed by a reputable brand with a good track record for quality and customer satisfaction.
- Consider professional installation: While it may be tempting to save money by installing the tint, it will ensure a high-quality and long-lasting result.
Tools to Measure Window Tint
Measuring window tint requires specialized tools to accurately determine the VLT, UV, and IR transmission levels. Here are some common tools used by professionals to measure window tint:
- Tint Meter: A tint meter is a handheld device that measures the VLT of a window. The device emits a beam of light onto the window and measures the amount of light that passes through the window. Tint meters are calibrated to measure VLT according to local laws.
- UV Meter: A UV meter is a device that measures the amount of UV radiation that passes through a window. This device is useful for determining the effectiveness of a window tint in blocking harmful UV radiation.
- IR Meter: An IR meter is a device that measures the amount of IR radiation that passes through a window. This device is useful for determining the effectiveness of a window tint in blocking heat and glare.
- Spectrophotometer: A spectrophotometer is a more advanced tool that measures the entire spectrum of light that passes through a window, including VLT, UV, and IR radiation. Professionals typically use this device for more accurate and precise measurements.
It’s important to note that while some of these tools are available for purchase, they can be expensive and require specialized training to use properly. It’s recommended to have a professional measure your window tint to ensure accurate and consistent results.
Best tools for measuring window tint
- Solartech Universal Tint Meter: This is a professional-grade tint meter that accurately measures VLT levels in accordance with local laws. It has a wide measurement range of 0-100% VLT and is easy to use, with a simple one-button operation.
- Solartech UV and IR Meter: This meter measures both UV and IR radiation levels, allowing you to determine the effectiveness of a window tint in blocking heat and glare. It has a range of 0-2000 W/m2 and is easy to use, with a large digital display.
- Filmhandler Tools Spectro-50 Spectrophotometer: This advanced tool measures the entire spectrum of light that passes through a window, including VLT, UV, and IR radiation. It has a wide measurement range of 0-100% VLT and is highly accurate, with a +/- 1% precision.
- Tintman Digital Tint Meter: This handheld device measures VLT levels and is calibrated to comply with local laws. It has a range of 0-100% VLT and is easy to use, with a large digital display.
- Dymaxion Tintmeter: This lightweight and portable tint meter measures VLT levels. It has a range of 0-100% VLT and is highly accurate, with a +/- 2% precision.
Tips for Measuring Window Tint
- Clean the window: Before measuring the window tint, cleaning the window thoroughly to ensure accurate results is important.
- Check the calibration: Ensure your tool is properly calibrated before measuring the window tint to ensure accurate and consistent results.
- Measure in multiple locations: To get a more accurate measurement, measuring the window tint in multiple locations is important.
- Consider the type of window: The type of window can affect the accuracy of the measurement. For example, curved or textured windows may be more difficult to measure accurately.
- Consider lighting conditions: Lighting conditions can also affect the accuracy of the measurement. Measuring the window tint inconsistent lighting conditions is important to ensure accurate and consistent results.
Window tinting can provide numerous benefits, including reduced heat and glare, enhanced privacy, and improved aesthetic appeal. However, it’s important to understand how window tint is measured to ensure you get the right product for your needs. By considering VLT, UV, and IR measurements, as well as your local laws and personal preferences, you can choose a window tint that will provide optimal protection and performance for your car.