When factory-darkened glasses made their debut a few years ago, everyone immediately started to say farewell to window films… everyone who didn’t know better. Let’s have a look at the advantages and disadvantages of window films as compared to factory-made solutions.
- Heat protection
Factory-darkened glasses don’t contain any layers which would filter infrared radiation responsible for half of irradiated heat. SkyFol window films, depending on their manufacturing technology, are capable of more than 90% infrared filtering, therefore providing twice the heat protection of factory-darkened glasses.
- Light protection
Factory-darkened glasses are available with one level of light transmission, regardless to your actual needs. As opposed to this, SkyFol window films series are available with up to 6 to 8 light transmissions each, from very dark (5% of light transmitted) to completely invisible ones (90% light transmission).
- UV protection
The level of UV protection of factory-darkened glasses is around 40%. Because of light filtering, pupils dilate, therefore a lot more UV radiation gets into the eyes than with clear glasses. SkyFol window films have a UV filtering of 99%, so you and your loved ones will always travel in complete protection.
Factory-darkened glasses are tempered – this is the only type that can be installed in cars. The importance of tempered glass is that in case of breakage, the glass panel explodes into little pieces to avoid the formation of larger shards, which might cause life-threatening injuries. SkyFol window films keep these small glass chips together, which would otherwise be able to cause serious injuries as well – just think of your eyes and face. This is especially true of the SkyFol SHP series, whose thicker structure and safety adhesive keeps the glass in one piece even in case of stronger mechanical impacts.
This is the aspect which was a serious weakness of window films 20-30 years ago – if compared to the first dying technologies, factory-darkened glasses proved to be a lot more durable. Nevertheless, technological advances of the 90s (e.g. solvent-based, durable pigments and coloring of the base material) solved these initial problems, and today’s good-quality window films can be more durable than factory-darkened glasses.
There are two persistent advantages of factory-darkened glasses: they are a simple solution as the car is already equipped with them, and also they are always of perfect quality. If a window films is installed by someone unprofessional, it will certainly be worse aesthetically. For this reason, the support of professional installers is a crucial point in SkyFol’s strategy, to make sure that you have the job done in a workshop where you get a product appropriate to your needs, installed perfectly.
There are other factory-made and subsequent darkening solutions as well, the most wide-spread of which is a sunshade built into the car door. Its drawbacks are that it provides limited light and infrared filtering, it is available in only one level of darkness, and it protects from shards of glass only partially. The advantage is that it can be drawn as required.
Life showed that professionals were right: factory darkening will not be able to substitute window films. Almost all the functions of window films can be provided by dual-pane glasses and an IR-absorbing PVB adhesive between the glass panels. This, however, is a very expensive solution, and it also makes the car a lot heavier, so we don’t have to fear the spreading of this method. Meanwhile, window films continue to develop and they will become even stronger and more durable. The best example for this is the relatively recently introduced SkyFol NT Pro series, which can filter up to 92% of infrared radiation with several levels of darkness available, with lifetime warranty. Where will all this go on? Just think about a film that absorbs solar energy and charges the battery of the car, or a film whose darkness can be modified with a switch. The future looks promising.