Quick Intro to EC Technology
Since the dawn of time, light and darkness have fascinated the human mind. The ancients had little but sunlight to tell time and starlight and moonlight to determine lengths of seasons.
Today, light and darkness are part of electrochromic technology most individuals consider a necessity for optical protection, comfort and safety.
In a world where changes come swiftly and without much warning, electrochromic technology just might be the best solution for a broad range of contemporary problems we face every day. For example, a car short trip to town at mid afternoon in bright sunlight requires protection for the eyes.
By twilight, a trip back home in semi darkness can cause an auto accident if a driver forgets to remove their sun glasses. How much better it is when sunglass lenses can adapt from bright sunlight to darkness.
Even better, cars windows and doors installed with electrochromic film would make driving much safer and convenient.
That in essence is what electrochromic technology is. It’s the ability for glass material to detect changes in light and temperature.
It’s not a surprise why glass material that detects changes to light and darkness is called smart glass. Smart glass is found on windows, doors, in laboratories, medical facilities and hotels and restaurants.
Certain types of medical diagnostic technologies also rely on electrochromic film for detection purposes.
From Film to Electrochromic (EC) Film
When film for cameras was first created and developed, it had a lot of potential uses other than photography.
Electrochromic film was a natural, utilitarian emanation of the use of film. Electrochromic film is film coated with a polymeric solution. When regulated electrical voltage passes over film, the film takes on the ability to detect changes. This process is often known as smart film.
Smart film can be placed on existing glass surfaces to change as light changes. This is very convenient for windows and doors on older homes, buildings or an older vehicle. Add EC film to a sun visor to upgrade its features.
Electrochromic Film for Cars
One major use for EC has become a popular feature on many models of cars. This is not only a safety feature to avoid harsh sun glare and glare from oncoming traffic or other vehicles, but also for rear view mirrors.
Electrochromic film for cars is especially beneficial now that many cars have unusually bright, blinding, halogen headlights.
Instead of installing a new windshield or rear view mirror, ask your local auto detailer can apply EC film or you can purchase a roll of EC film and DIY.
If you plan to purchase a new vehicle, choose a model that has pre-installed EC windows, front and rear windshields, side mirrors and rear view mirror.
Reasons to Invest in Electrochromic Film for Cars
In addition to adjusting light changes, there are several other reasons to invest in EC film for cars. These include:
- Saves fuel
- Keeps the interior of your car cool in hot weather
- Retains warmth in colder temperatures
How EC Film for Cars Work
In older versions of EC film for cars, lithium ions were used. However, with the introduction of nanotechnology, quantitative liquid crystal, electrical voltage and different styles and types of EC windows, EC film for cars allow a speedier passage of light in an EC car window, rear window and windshields.
EC glazing is coated with ceramic layers at thicknesses measured in microns. When low-voltage electricity is applied, lithium ions moved between ceramic layers, causing darkening of the coating. Then, this tinted glass reduced the amount of sunlight entering a building, thereby reducing solar heat gain and glare for building occupants.
This is the same effect for cars. trucks, vans and heavy duty vehicles.
Electrochromic film as transparent overlays consists of durable, color-coated film applied with pressure sensitive, transparent adhesive. It is protected by removable paper or a clear, removable liner. These EC films are industrially cut with a knife fed over a roll sprocket, with a friction fed, flat bed electronic cutting machine.
This process is the primary application used for electrochromic window tint. Window tint is a desired feature in luxury cars, such as Audi, BMW, Tesla, an electric vehicle, and Jaguar.
Car window tint that relies on electrochromic film makes perfect sense as an energy saving feature. With the focus on energy saving vehicles that reduce dependency on fossil fuels, electrochromic film has contributed to reducing pollution and the carbon footprint. In addition, EC film requires no chemicals or solvents in film processing.
Where are the EC Film Markets Today?
With such popularity of electrochromic film for cars, medical and optical uses as well as the computer industries, the film market for EC film continues to advance and evolve.
As various technological upgrades to film processing equipment used to create EC film take place, businesses and municipalities are also ordering EC signage that adds value and greater visibility to outdoor signs and advertising.
Another interesting feature that is growing in the film market is the use of EC film that replaces silk screening inks. Because EC film requires no solvents, it provides a transparent colored background copy for retro-reflective street signs so street names are clearly visible. This is a significant advantage for public safety.
In addition to architects, building contractors, aerospace, automotive, transportation and manufacturing managers, EC film has grown exponentially across Europe, the US, Canada and Asia, especially with building designers and residential building contractors.
Since EC technology is a dynamic system and was presented 25 years ago as a formal technology, many of the large scale installations have been completed within the last decade.
Examples of EC technology in buildings include:
- BLT Architects with Sage Electrochromics
- H. Marcus Radin Conference Center, Clovis CA,
- Hamilton Garden at Kimmel Center, Philadelphia, PA
- Henderson Architectural Group with View Inc.
With widespread use of smart glass, automotive customers are realizing the cost experience for installation of smart glass for their cars is similar to that of solar conversion for homes and buildings: The energy savings over time outweigh initial costs.
Electrochromic technology for cars at present is optional. However, in the US the Dept. of Transportation has provided compliance and regulatory guidelines for window tinting and colored or tinted glazing:
“The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) is the agency in the Department of Transportation responsible for safety regulations concerning motor carrier operations. Our regulations include certain requirements for motor carrier safety management controls, driver qualifications, and CMV equipment necessary for safe operations as follows:
Section 393.60(d) of the FMCSRs permits the coloring or tinting of windshields and the windows to the immediate right and left of the driver on CMVs, provided that the parallel luminous transmittance through the colored or tinted glazing is not less than 70 percent of the light at normal incidence in those portions of the windshield or windows.
Additionally, FMCSA has published regulatory guidance to section 393.60 that addresses this specific issue as follows:
Window tinting is permitted as long as the light transmission is not restricted to less than 70 percent of normal (refer to the American Standards Association publication Z26.1-1966 and Z26.1a-1969).”
Ways You Can Apply Electrochromic Technology
EC film is widely available at major retail stores such Best Buy and Walmart. It is also available from most signage retail stores and auto detailers.
Since it can be applied from a roll and the backing peels away easily, you can apply it to your car windows as well as your rear view mirror and side mirrors.
If you frequently travel alone or with young children, EC film for cars is a safety and interior vehicle comfort feature.
If you value safety, protection and comfort in your car, it’s easy to see why electrochromic film should be a consideration for yourself and occupants of your car.
Want to learn more about electrochromic products? Check out these other awesome guides:
- What is Electrochromic Film?
- What is Electrochromic Glass?
- Where Can I Buy EC Film?
- EC Film for Existing Windows