If you are looking to install window tints on your car, you may have already come across the seemingly complicated and number-dense world of window tint films.
There are numerous ways window tints are classified, and knowing what each classification means will help you decide which tint is right for you.
Also, there are laws that vary based on window tints, so that is another reason to know what tint you are using.
This guide will take you through the common classifications of window tint for cars.
Classifications of Window Tint for Cars
There are several ways to classify window tints.
Visible Light Transmission (VLT)
The first and most important classification for window tints is the VLT value, expressed as a percentage.
The VLT of window tint film is a measure of the percentage of light that passes through the film. Darker films have a lower VLT percentage, whereas lighter films have a higher VLT percentage.
Most state laws and regulations relating to window tints reference the VLT.
When you see a window tint film referred to as “35% tint”, it references the VLT, meaning that the window tint film allows 35% of the visible light through.
One important thing to note is that almost all car windows have less than 100% VLT when they leave the factory. When you apply a window tint, it further reduces the existing VLT, resulting in a lower VLT than the film you installed.
Window tints come in a variety of colors. The traditional grayscale tints dominate, but you can get window tints in almost any color you desire.
Films are also classed as reflective or non-reflective. Metallic films are the most reflective, providing a “mirror look”. Some states ban the use of reflective window tints.
Tint Location Definitions
You may come across some terms referring to tint locations, for example in state laws and regulations. They are useful to know, as regulations differ from window to window.
Front side windows are the driver and front passenger door windows.
Rear side windows are any side windows behind the front side windows, including those on rear doors and embedded into the chassis.
The rear window at the back of the car has far less regulation than other windows.
The window shade band is a strip across the top of the windshield. Regulations dictate its thickness and minimum VLT.
Infrared (IR) Reduction and Ultraviolet (UV) Protection (TSER)
All light falls on the electromagnetic spectrum. Visible light covers all light that can be seen with the human eye. Infrared is light with a longer wavelength than visible, whereas ultraviolet is light with a shorter wavelength.
The degree to which IR and UV light will be reduced by a window tint film is denoted as a percentage.
IR reduction plays a larger role in heat reduction, whereas UV protection plays more of a role in protecting the occupants and upholstery from harmful rays.
You may see UV protection given alternatively as an equivalent SPF rating, as commonly seen on sunscreen.
You may also see these two values combined to give a total solar energy rejection (TSER) percentage. The higher the number, the better the performance.
We hope this guide has helped you understand the way that window tints are classified.
If you have any comments or questions about this guide or window tint classifications in general, feel free to leave them in the section below.