Volume 15, Issue 3 - May-June 2011


Five (Mis) Conceptions Architects Have About Window Film
by Katie Hodge

What’s the worst thing an architect can say to a window film installer? How about, “I am serious about saving energy, but I don’t want to bother with window film. I will just install new windows?” Or how about, “Window film is just too hard to install?” or “It always looks dark.”

Common misconceptions all, but comments every window film company hears with regularity.
Window Film magazine has assembled the top five misconceptions about film most commonly circulated to architects, along with the real and simple truth, below:

1. Window film is messy and hard to install and requires chemicals.
Wrong. Window film is installed using simply soap and water. Depending on the number and size of the glass being filmed, installation can be done quickly in a matter of hours, minimizing the disruption to work time or a consumer’s space. The ease of installation combined with the excellent energy benefits make the product ideal for those serious about saving energy.

“Many property owners are simply unaware of the significant energy savings that can be realized, the energy consumption reduction tax credits and other economic incentives which are available from the use of window film,” says Antonius van Dijk, director of business development for U.S. Film Crew in Bethel Park, Penn.

2. Window film is expensive.
Nope. One of film’s great benefits is its low cost. Film is much more affordable than giving a home a complete window makeover and produces many of the same benefits. Film can help keep cost down while providing an energy-efficient end result.

“Building owners routinely leverage sophisticated software tools to estimate energy savings for HVAC, Building Management Systems (BMS), window and door replacement and other energy efficient devices in an effort to determine applicable tax incentives, lifecycle costs, and return on investment ratios. Ironically, the efficiency improvements and carbon footprint reduction achieved through the application of window film can be estimated using the same software and often the same data that is already available from previous models for the abovementioned energy efficiency devices,” says Mark Carlson, business development manager for HanitaTEK Window Films, based in Dallas.

“Actually there are a number of window films available that offer an affordable alternative to window replacement and can have a dramatic impact on cooling costs for a building,” says Alison Schell, vice president of 3M energy conservation in St. Paul, Minn. “Simple paybacks will vary depending upon the amount of sunlit glass exposure, the type of film, the type of glass, cost of fuel, cost of application, and other variables. However, we have seen paybacks often range in the 2-5 year period, with some reported to be even less than 6 months.”

3. Natural daylighting is difficult to achieve.
Not true. A common misconception among architects is that film reduces the amount of usable light that enters a building. With new spectrally-selective films you can allow as much or as little light as possible. Film is a made-to-order product where the buyer can decide how much light they would like and how much protection they would like.

“When most people think ‘tint,’ they think of dark films that would counteract the daylighting benefits architects use as part of a green building philosophy. The truth is, with the advent of the latest film technologies … films with higher visible light transmission can have significant impact on cooling costs, building aesthetics and overall comfort,” says Liza Noland, manager for sales and marketing at SunTek Window Films in Martinsville, Va.

4. Films turn purple.
Not any- more. This hasn’t been true since the early 1980’s when there were some bad automotive films out there. Window film is much more advanced than it was in the 1980’s and the technology of film today is far beyond old automotive films. “The perception that window film is that ‘purple stuff on cars’ has, thankfully, faded into the history of our industry,” says Lewiz Pitzer, special projects coordinator for American Standard Window Film in Las Vegas, Nev. “When I first began work in this industry in the late 80’s, it was common for someone to bring up the ‘P’ word in discussions about window film. Our industry has had excellent color stable products in the market for years now and it is rare to see a vehicle with purple film.”

“General Motors doesn't make a 1980 Corvette, and we don't make 1980 window film,” adds Ron Jones, architectural programs manager for Sarasota, Fla.-based Madico. “Technology changes such as the various metal deposition methods, color extruded base materials, specialty coatings, etc. have helped window film keep pace with market demands. Premium quality films made today offer durability and longevity that consumers can count on.”

4. Window film does not stand up to weather extremes.
False. Window film is a durable product that will withstand extreme weather and dirt or dust. In fact, in many cases manufacturers will guarantee the life of the product for a significant amount of time. The product will stay in place and continue doing its job for years to come. It’s an energy-efficient product that protects interiors and lasts beyond many other materials or products that face weather conditions.

“I challenge any user to identify other products in a commercial building that are guaranteed not to fail for 12 to 15 years and come with a warranty that includes costs of materials and labor with no proration. In fact, lighting fixture manufacturers assume a useful life of their fixtures of less than 10 years,” says Carlson.

“The profile of our industry has risen dramatically as manufacturers, distributors and dealers have joined forces to engage films to reduce energy consumption, mitigate damage in the event of failed glass and protect valuable furnishings from the affects of the sun,” adds Pitzer.

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