smart window film

Hallway looking is to offices with glass windows with smart window film

Comparison of Smart Window Film and Other Privacy Window Film Options

By safety & security Films, smart window film, window film No Comments

By this point, you already know that smart window film is eye-catching, exciting, high tech, and a cost-effective alternative to mechanical blinds or new glazing… but if you’re using it solely for privacy, it’s worth figuring out how smart window film compares to other privacy film options. 

That’s what we’ll be discussing today. 

Smart Window Film vs. One Way Privacy Window Film

One way privacy film, such as 3M One Way Mirror Film, enhances security and privacy in buildings, creating a private area within the building that looks like a mirror to outside observers, but provides an unobstructed view to people within the mirrored area. 

Because of these highly specific capabilities, one way privacy window film is a great fit for interior rooms in schools, as well as security areas in commercial spaces – but be aware that mirrored privacy films require a light differential, so you’ll want to consult with a window film expert before investing in one way film. 

The bottom line: Smart window film transforms from opaque to clear at the touch of a button, blocking or clearing views on both sides of your glass. One way privacy film maintains privacy on one side while allowing full visibility on the other side. 

Smart Window Film vs. Decorative Privacy Window Film

Decorative privacy window films provide a welcoming façade as well as flexible, attractive privacy on any of your glass doors, windows, or walls. Decorative privacy film is useful in any situation in which you don’t require a clear line of vision. Since it comes in a nearly unlimited variety of textures, colors, and patterns, you can use it to easily personalize and modernize your space. 

When most people think of decorative privacy window films, they think of solid-surface applications, such as covering a glass wall with frosted privacy window film or white opaque window film. However, decorative films can also be cut precisely into shapes, bands, and other designs (including your logo!), which can provide privacy without covering your glass entirely. 

The bottom line: Smart window film can be used on part or all of your glass windows, doors, or walls, but can switch from clear to opaque depending on your current needs. Decorative privacy window film obscures your view at all times, but it can also cover part or all of your glass doors, windows, or walls. 

Smart Window Film vs. Blackout Film

Sometimes you want flexible privacy – and sometimes you wish your location just didn’t have so many darn windows. When you need to block prying eyes from sensitive data at your POS terminals, or you simply want to block the view of your storage room, blackout film, such as 3M Blackout Film is probably the right choice to use. 

Blackout film is an opaque black that completely obscures the view of something you don’t want seen. However, if black isn’t your style, you have color options. 

In fact, that’s exactly, what Dollar Tree did at a few of their stores, hiring the window film manufacturing experts at NGS to create a custom opaque window film in Dollar Tree’s signature shade of green. 

The bottom line: Smart window film changes from clear to opaque, which isn’t necessary for situations in which you want to completely obscure the view, all the time. In those situations, blackout film is the right choice. 

Read the Dollar Tree Case Study

Smart Window Film vs. Glass Graphics

If you’re looking for privacy and eye-catching designs, consider using full-size glass graphics on your windows, doors, and interior glass accents. Glass graphics help increase your signage and is therefore extremely effective for retail applications. It can also help strengthen your brand message, call attention to a new location, and even share the news about limited-time deals and sales. 

Interested in glass graphics but aren’t sure how to get started? The team at NGS can help you with every stage of this process, including selection of the most appropriate glass graphics materials for your needs, high-quality design and manufacturing of your graphics – and even installation

From concept to completion, NGS has got you covered, no matter if you’d like glass graphics, blackout film, decorative privacy film, one way privacy film, or smart film. 

The bottom line: The high-tech, switchable nature of smart film does a great job of grabbing attention, especially in retail locations, but if you want to grab attention while building your brand or sharing new information with potential customers, glass graphics may be a better choice. 

Choose the Smart Window Film Experts – NGS! 

Hopefully, this article helped you determine whether or not smart film was the right choice for your windows in your office building, school, hospital, hotel, retail store, or government building

If you decided that, Yes, You Would Like More Info on Smart Film, you may as well get a detailed consultation that takes your specific needs into account

Smart film is extremely flexible and cost-effective, especially when compared with smart glass windows, which may require full glazing replacement if the smart electrical components wear out, but there are certain areas in which smart window film is a better choice – and certain areas where privacy window film is a better choice

Instead of wasting your time trying to do all the glass film research yourself, it’s a better idea to simply get the experts to walk through your location and help you determine your best options for longevity, aesthetics, and, of course, effective privacy. 

As the #1 Commercial Window Film Company in the U.S. and the team behind some of the largest smart film and privacy film installations in the nation, NGS has the experience and know-how to get you started off right with your smart window film and privacy film selections. 

Check out these creative applications for smart film, so you can start thinking about how you can transform your space with NGS.

Office scene with desk and computer with a clean window backdrop with solar window film

Smart Window Film Facts

By smart window film, window film No Comments

If you’ve seen smart window film, you already know how totally cool it is – but smart film is even cooler than you think. 

In this article, we’ll discuss the facts on smart window film, including the science behind it and the right way to install it, so you can make sure the privacy window film installer you hire for your smart film project is a trustworthy expert. 

Ready to get started? Let’s dive right in. 

How the Heck Does Smart Window Film Work?

As you already know, smart film switches back and forth from being a white opaque window film to being completely clear, just with the tap of an app button – like so: 

Pure magic, right? 

Well, no. Pure technology

As science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” and smart film definitely fits in that science fiction “magic” category. 

Here’s how it works

  • Smart film consists of thin sheets of PDLC (polymer dispersed liquid crystal)
  • PDLC is made up of many thousands of liquid crystal droplets, which are dispersed across the film in a polymer. 
  • Without an electrical charge, the liquid crystal droplets randomly orient themselves across the polymer. 
  • In a random orientation, the droplets act a lot like the surface of a lake on a windy day. 
  • Think about it: When the wind hits the surface of the lake, the droplets of the lake randomly orient themselves in response to the wind…
  • … and this random orientation ruffles the surface of the water and makes the surface of the lake opaque, so you can’t see through it to the lake floor.
  • Similarly, when the liquid crystal droplets of the PDLC smart film are randomly oriented without an electrical charge, they turn the surface of the film opaque white, so you can’t see through it. 


  • Each of the liquid crystal droplets can (and do) move around when exposed to electricity. 
  • Specifically, when exposed to electricity, the droplets rearrange themselves into regimented patterns along parallel axes…
  • …and in those regimented patterns, the rearranged droplets allow light to pass through them
  • In this pattern, the droplets are rearranged and stilled, much like how the surface of a calm lake becomes crystal clear, so you can see through it to the lake floor. 

Pretty cool, right? 

PDLC Smart Film vs. Electrochromic Smart Glass

Of course, PDLC smart film is only one method of transforming glass back and forth between a clear state and an opaque state. The other popular method of doing this is by using electrochromic smart glass – but electrochromic glass has a lot of drawbacks when used for commercial or decorative purposes. 

First, let’s talk about how electrochromic glass works, and then it’ll be easier to understand why many business leaders choose smart film over smart glass for their commercial window tinting solution. 

  • Electrochromic smart glass consists of a microscopically thin electrochromic material that is sandwiched between two layers of glass
  • When electricity is applied to the electrochromic material, the material changes from transparent to opaque (or vice versa). 
  • Electrochromic glass transformation starts on the edges of the material and moves inward, ranging from a few seconds to a few minutes long for full transformation (depending on window size). 
  • In its opaque state, electrochromic smart glass can be blue, black, white, or other colors, but on large panes of glass, the color you choose may go through a few tint changes as it darkens from the edges to the center of the glass. 
  • This tint change is called the “iris effect.” 

With that explanation, you can see why many business leaders choose PDLC smart film over electrochromic smart glass

  • PDLC smart window film becomes a uniform, frosted white when opaque, which is more desirable than variable tinting from the edges to the center of your glass. 
  • PDLC smart film switches from clear to opaque in an instant, whereas electrochromic film can take minutes to switch. 
  • PDLC smart film can be applied to existing glass, but electrochromic glass requires full glass replacement.
  • If an electrical component fails in PDLC smart film, all you have to do is replace the film and get back to work. If an electrical component fails in electrochromic glass, you have to replace the entire glass window, door, or accent wall. 

One benefit that electrochromic glass offers over PDLC smart film is that it only requires electricity for its transformation process. Once electrochromic glass is either clear or opaque, it can maintain that state indefinitely, without additional power. 

In contrast, PDLC smart film is only clear while the electricity is on. If the power is turned off, smart film immediately becomes frosted privacy window film.

How to Install Smart Film So It Works Right and Looks Great

Now that you know how smart film changes from frosted privacy window film to crystal-clear visibility, and you understand why PDLC smart film is often a better choice for businesses than electrochromic glass, you need to know how to hire for a professional smart film installation job

Here’s how to make sure your commercial window tinting smart film installer is an expert: 

  • They know how to “trim out” the smart film to hide wires.
    Smart window film requires electricity, and electricity requires wiring. No one wants to see ugly wires around their glass windows, doors, or accent walls, so you need to make sure your installer has a plan to hide those wires. Experts will hide wires by customizing the colors of the wiremolds so they precisely match the adjacent window frames, and the installers will also use specific materials to hide the backside of the exposed wires, delivering an attractive, finished look to your smart film windows.
  • They know how to install the wiring.
    Window film experts typically aren’t electricians – yet it takes some electrical skill to properly install strong, long-lasting wiring, on a dedicated electrical circuit, so you can keep your PDLC smart film working for years. Make sure your installer has extensive smart film experience in a variety of settings because you don’t want them guessing on how to complete your installation.
  • They know how to protect your investment
    Edge sealing is a common practice among leading smart film installation experts, because edge sealing prevents water and other contaminants from getting between your film and your glass. Unsealed or exposed smart film edges can stress and wear out your smart film’s electrical components, and those unsealed edges can also cause film to buckle or become baggy. Ensure your installer has sealed the edges of your film, so you can maintain your investment.

Check out the video below to see how an expert smart window film installer keeps your smart film attractive and long lasting.

Get Your Smart Film Installed Properly with NGS

Make sure your smart film project is a success when you work with NGS

As nationally recognized smart film experts, as well as the #1 Commercial Window Film Company in the U.S., NGS has the wide-ranging experience to ensure that your smart window film exceeds your expectations for beauty and high performance. 


Not sure how to use smart film in your building or business? Check out these creative ideas!