Solar Window Film: What Is It and How Does It Work?

By February 10, 2022 February 17th, 2023 Blog

solar window film

Solar window film, also known as solar control window film or sun control window film, is a product you can apply to your building’s windows to improve the performance of the glass.

This article will tell you everything you need to know about the benefits of these types of window films, such as the 3M Prestige series solar films.

What Is Solar Window Film?

Window films are a special type of pliable, polyester-based sheet that gets applied directly on top of a building’s windows or other glass surfaces.

There are many different types of window film, each with their own unique properties that can provide a wide range of benefits for commercial buildings.

Solar control window film is one type of film designed to control certain effects of the sun as it shines onto and into your windows, changing the way the glass performs under direct sunlight.

What does solar window film do?

One of the principal effects of sun control window film is that it rejects up to 97% of the infrared light coming from the sun through your windows. 

As humans, we detect infrared light as heat. So, when you block infrared light from coming through your building’s windows, it provides a number of benefits. 

Since there is less of the sun’s heat coming through the windows, benefits include enhanced comfort and sun protection, reduced reliance on AC systems  to stay cool, and building energy savings.

Sun control film also rejects up to 99.9% of the damaging UV rays from the sun (the ones that cause furnishings to fade).

In short, solar window film is designed to reject the harmful, uncomfortable, and expensive effects of direct sunlight shining through your property’s windows — without the need to tint your windows a dark or highly reflective shade.

The 3M Prestige series of sun control window film, for example, allows a high transition of natural light into your indoor spaces and lets you maintain your views, while still receiving all of the benefits mentioned above.

solar control window film

Summary of the benefits of solar control window film:

  • Rejects up to 97% of infrared light
  • Blocks 99.9% of damaging UV rays
  • Increases indoor comfort and sun protection
  • Reduces the need to run AC constantly
  • Extends the life of furnishings
  • Makes buildings more energy efficient (saves money!)
  • Allows natural light in
  • Doesn’t inhibit views of the outdoors

How energy efficient is solar window film?

According to 3M, window film from the Prestige series can become carbon negative in as few as 6 months from the date of install.

While a building’s overall energy efficiency depends on many factors, installing sun blocking window film to improve window performance can go a long way towards making your building more green. This is especially true for commercial facilities with many exterior windows, such as large glass office buildings and skyscrapers. 

high performance window film

The reality is that high-performance window films are an investment that typically pays itself off within 1-3 years of installation, due to the large savings on monthly utility bills they provide. 

Consider the fact that high-quality solar films last at least 15 years (often much longer — but our 3M films come with a 15-year warranty), and you can see how worthwhile the investment is.

What if you want to change the appearance of your building?

While the default appearance of sun window film is transparent with low reflectivity, there are also high-performance window films available in a variety of finishes.

If you want to give your building’s outdated facade a facelift in addition to enhancing its window performance, you can opt for colored, tinted, or reflective window film.

reflective window film

For example, a decades-old glass office building can greatly benefit from something like a highly mirrored window film that reflects the surrounding sky and landscape. This can instantly bring an old property into the modern era, adding curb appeal and increasing the appeal to would-be tenants.

Colored, tinted, and reflective window films also provide the benefit of added privacy, which can make working inside your building more comfortable and secure for employees and tenants.

Who Should Install Sun Control Window Film?

Solar control window film is appropriate for any commercial building where you want to improve indoor comfort and window performance to reduce your reliance on air conditioning and cut down spending on energy bills.

Examples of commercial facilities that can benefit from solar window film:

  • Office buildings and campuses
  • Government buildings
  • Shopping centers and department stores
  • Specialty retailers
  • Schools, colleges, and universities
  • Hospitals
  • Hotels and resorts
  • Restaurants
  • Luxury homes

sun control window film

Is sun control window film installation complicated?

Window film installation is generally a simple process. First, all your windows are measured and the film is cut to precisely fit each of the windows it will be applied to.

Before installation can begin, the windows are thoroughly cleaned to ensure there are no particles of dust or dirt on the glass. Then, it’s just a matter of applying the window film directly to the glass using a special soap solution and smoothing it out to ensure there are no bubbles or other irregularities.

The whole process is typically very quick, as there is no need for glass removal or replacement. Depending on the size and the complexity of the project, window film installation can take anywhere from a few hours to a number of days.

window film installation

No matter how simple you think your window film installation may be, it’s important to always have solar control window film installed by certified professionals. If it is done incorrectly, or if the wrong type of window film is used for your specific type of window glass, there can be negative performance impacts.

Campbell Corporation has been a certified 3M partner since 2006, and we are a six-time 3M window film dealer of the year. We offer a wide range of proven-to-work solar window films, including the 3M Prestige series films, that will stand the test of time on your building.

Our professional, courteous, and proactive team will install your new sun blocking window film to the highest industry standards, guaranteeing performance enhancements to your building’s windows. Contact us today for a free consultation.