You may be considering solar films for your new flat like I was. For the past month, we have had no less than 6 companies come over to quote us on solar films.
If your home is like ours, with lots of big big windows, it gets really warm on a typical hot day in Singapore, even if it is not directly facing at the sun. It takes extra long for our small air-conditioner to cool the house down as well. Curtains didn’t even do the job for us and we wanted a better alternative. The first thing that I notice, of course, is that every single company has their way of measuring solar heat etc. Some brought Infrared lamps, others had thermometers, and then some brought light meters. It became a very interesting and confusing process at the same time because of the number of solar films available to us. The types and price range are all over the place and it was hard to make a decision. We had to wade through tons of information and companies to come to a conclusion on what we want.
This post is NOT sponsored in anyway, it is just an honest catalog of my thoughts on solar films available to Singapore homes. In my research, in addition to hearing what these companies have to offer, I also read many articles and watched a ton of youtube videos LOL!
This post will go through all the things I learnt over the few months: Types of solar films, solar rejection percentages and statistics, the final result, and finally a short list of companies that quoted us.
Types of Solar Films
You will hear names like mirror films, metallic, nano ceramic and crystalline but they all fall into 2 main types of heat rejection technology: Reflective and Absorptive. Some are a hybrid of these two.
Reflective Solar Films
Mirror and metallic films are usually reflective films, meaning they reflect the heat away. You can easily tell that these are reflective because they have a mirror effect on one side.
Astronauts use reflective films on their helmets, that’s why they have a mirror-like effect! (Image Source: Wikipedia/Public domain)
Pros: Allow more light into the house as the film is can be less tinted. Because the film is like a mirror, it also acts like a privacy filter, making it hard for people to look into your home.
Cons: Because metal components are integrated in the films, it might affect network signals from getting into your home. Your friends might not get 4G network on their phones inside your house!
Absorptive Solar Films
Absorptive solar films absorb heat and quickly transmits it away. Ceramic and Crystalline films have high tolerance of heat so they are usually integrated into these films.
Cars use absorptive films due to restrictive laws about reflective films. (Image Source: Steevven1)
Pros: Less mirrorlike effect, especially at night. This allows you to look out the windows better if outside is darker than inside. High heat absorption so your home is cooler.
Cons: Crystalline is an expensive material, so films using crystals are usually on the high end.
How to Rate Solar Films?
Most companies will bring devices to measure light, heat or invisible waves. It baffles me that each company I invited over for a quote brought different items such as infrared lamp, light meter, thermometer etc. Some only measure light, some measure just the infrared waves and some others claim that Total Solar Rejection (TSR) is the ONLY best form of measurement. Although I find that TSR is probably the best way to go, it also depends on your needs.
1. Are you looking to reduce light or heat or both?
2. Are you concerned about visibility in and out of your window?
Without being too scientific, let me just simply explain the waves that come from the sun that does different things. The sun is made up of three main components: Visible light, Ultra-violet (UV), and Infra-red (IR) and all will cause heat.
Infra-Red (53%): Infrared penetrates your skin and makes you feel hot as it causes a natural cell reaction. The cheapest films on the market are usually just infrared films. They apparently reduce IR waves from coming into your house and building up. Do not trust demonstrations done with infrared lamps though. Lamps usually produce a small range of infrared wavelength but these do not mimic the wide range coming from the sun. These films are amazingly transparent though. If you are just interested in reducing a little heat (about 10%) but not visibility, you can consider this.
Ultra-violet (3%): We all know that UV causes skin cancer but it also bleaches furniture or pictures in your house.
Visible Light (46%): Heat is a very loose term to define the transfer of energy and visible light also causes heat because there is a transfer of energy photons from one place to another. I will try not to bore you with thermodynamics so please read up more if this is your area of interest.
Singapore Companies that offer home window solar films
I literally went to Google “window solar films” and contacted these companies and all of them came down to my house for measurements and a quote. These are their general reviews, I will try not to be negative about them. Hopefully these reviews will save you some time if you do not wish to call and make appointments.
Jestac- 3M Solar Films
Hands down the most expensive solar film you can get and many Singaporean homes still go for it. The brand sells itself so I guess you are paying for it. Don’t get me wrong, 3M is a reputable brand and offers all the TSR specs and 10-year warranty etc. Unfortunately, they are just a little too expensive. Sales guy that came to my house was nice and wasn’t pushy or desperate, probably because the film sells itself.
Lumar Solar Window Films
Made in USA, and quite popular there as well. Price range is mid to high. The salesman was quite knowledgeable and they provide TSR (total solar rejection) statistics. Llumar is a popular brand in the US for window and car films but relatively known here unfortunately. Warranty is 10 years.
Solarcool gave me the cheapest quote of all but that is because they offer only IR rejection films. If your home isn’t too hot in the day or afternoon sun facing, they are an affordable solution. Their Eshield films are from USA but relatively unknown. They also offer only a 5 year warranty.
Zenith films also offer heat rejection and light rejection films but their films are OEM and unbranded. They also didn’t offer any TSR specs. However, because of this, they are marginally cheaper. The sales guy prepared a suitcase full of the “competition” and compared their film’s UV and light rejection against their films but failed to answer some scientific-based questions about TSR and Infra-red waves. They offer a 10 year warranty.
V-Cool iQue Solar Films
V-Cool is also a popular USA brand for window tints on cars. However I only came across them from going though hdb renovation forums as they do very little online marketing. Finally I decided to go with iQue because their films are also made in USA, have a 10-year warranty like many of the above, and pretty good TSR specs. More importantly, they are quite reasonable in pricing. We spent around $800 for our window films, on the living room and all the bedroom windows. The sales guy was the most experienced and oldest and he felt very genuine. Surprisingly, even the installers were professional and polite and they were very punctual.
Does it work?
In short, yes! Honestly I had my doubts but the effect was quite substantial and I saw that a couple of degrees difference in temperature from our room thermometer immediately after installation. I also used a light meter app (not as accurate as the real thing but it should work) and it showed a large difference. Also, because the lack of IR and UV penetration and lesser visible light coming in, the house also felt cooler on the skin.
Hope this article helped you in your selection of HDB window solar films! I do still recommend calling and making an appointment with the solar film companies and coming to your own decision.