We often get asked if our solar control window films are polarized like some sunglasses. This post explores the technology behind our solar control window films and compares it to the polarized lenses in sunglasses.
Why Do We Need Polarization?
In one word: glare. Polarized glasses were developed to reduce glare to our eyes. (Read more about glare.)
According to Olympus Life Sciences, “natural sunlight and almost every other form of artificial illumination transmits light waves whose electric field vectors vibrate in all perpendicular planes with respect to the direction of propagation. When the electric field vectors are restricted to a single plane by filtration, then the light is said to be polarized with respect to the direction of propagation and all waves vibrate in the same plane.”
In other words, natural light waves move in all directions. We get what we call glare when light reflects off of a surface and the light waves start moving in the same direction. This often happens outside when light reflects off horizontal surfaces like water, roads and snow. When the light waves become polarized and start moving all in the same direction, it can become quite bright and almost blinding to the person experiencing it.
Understanding Polarized Lenses
Polarized glasses were developed in 1937 in a garage in Cambridge, MA by Edwin Land, the soon-to-be founder of Polaroid Corporation. According to Polaroid Eyewear, the company’s name is a combination of Polarization and Celluloid, “two key elements of [his] revolutionary invention”.
Polarization technology in sunglasses is designed to reduce the glare described above from light reflecting off horizontal surfaces like water, roads, and snow. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, polarized lenses filter light waves, allowing only vertically oriented light to pass through, significantly reducing glare from horizontal reflections.
Polarized lenses have special chemicals applied to them that create a vertical pattern and only let in vertical light waves. The concentrated horizontal waves – or glare – caused by reflections off the road, snow, or water surfaces are blocked by the lenses.
Source: Revant Optics
In the diagram above from Revant Optics, you can see that the polarized horizontal waves that are reflected from surfaces are blocked by the polarized lenses, which only let in the vertical waves, effectively eliminating the glare.
Solar Control Window Films: A Different Approach to Controlling Glare
Unlike sunglasses, solar control window films – the type we specialize in at Concord Window Film – do not use polarization technology. Instead, these films are designed to control the total amount of visible light entering through windows, thereby reducing glare.
The active ingredients in window film are uniformly applied to the film (not in a vertical pattern) so that visible light is reduced uniformly when it hits your window. And while window films don’t filter light in the same way polarized lenses do, they effectively mitigate glare and offer additional benefits like UV protection and heat reduction.
How Solar Control Films Reduce Glare
The key to understanding how our solar control films reduce glare lies in their construction. These films are made with layers of materials that absorb or reflect certain wavelengths of light. By controlling the amount of visible light that passes through your windows, solar control films reduce the brightness and glare inside your home. This makes for a more comfortable living environment, especially in rooms with direct sunlight exposure.
And you will notice with window film that your view from your window will be crisper and clearer because of the reduced glare. So, it does feel like a pair of sunglasses for your home.
Additional Benefits of Solar Control Window Films
In addition to glare reduction, Concord Window Film’s solar control films have other benefits:
All Concord Window Films block 99% of harmful UV rays in the 300-380nm spectrum, protecting your skin and helping to prevent your furniture from fading. (Learn about all the causes of fading here.)
By reflecting or absorbing heat, these films reduce the amount of heat entering your home. This allows you to be more comfortable, but also to reduce your AC use. The U.S. DOE classifies window film as an energy-efficient window covering, and many municipalities and local utilities in warm climates offer rebates for homeowners installing solar control film.
In conclusion, while solar control window films and polarized sunglasses both reduce glare, they do so through different technologies. Our window films at Concord Window Film might not be polarized, but they are expertly designed to reduce glare, protect against UV rays, enhance privacy, and improve energy efficiency in your home. For DIY homeowners looking for professional-grade window film solutions, Concord Window Film offers a range of products to meet your needs.