News & Updates

Smart Tint vs Switchglass

What is the difference?

  • Smart Tint is a film that can be retrofitted (stuck on) to the surface of your existing glass.
  • Switchglass is a ready-to-glaze product that incorporates a switchable Polymer-Dispersed Liquid Crystal film carefully laminated between two pieces of glass.

There are many promotional videos on the internet showing Smart Tint being easily installed in just a few minutes. These videos clearly over-simplify the process. Handling switchable film (even in the form of Smart Tint) requires considerable skill and experience. If the film is creased, bent or bruised it will damage the liquid crystals inside leaving a clear patch where the damage occurs. Our technicians need a minimum of six months training in the handling, wiring and laying-up of switchable film for lamination and our clean room (a totally dust-free environment) is monitored to ensure quality handling is achieved and optimum standards are met at all times.

A number of years ago we were considering the possibility of marketing these self-adhesive DIY switchable films ourselves. We tested a number of them (including Smart Tint), but based on the results all were rejected.

Pros and Cons of Smart Tint

Pros:
DIY
Cheap

Cons:
No warranty support
Easily damaged during installation
Low clarity
Limited lifespan
When cutting or trimming to size the edges are easily damaged

A Case in Point

– and the reason we felt the need to speak up about this DIY product

We were recently approached by a disgruntled customer of DIY Smart Tint. The following is a rundown of the customer’s unfortunate and costly mistake in choosing Smart Tint over Switchglass.

Their Smart Tint arrived rolled up and packed into a box which contained all the equipment; the film was approximately cut to size for each of the windows. The client’s Project Manager organised a local tinter to install the Smart Tint using the instructions provided. After the installation the client commented that the film was not very clear, with an unacceptably high level of haze. He also commented about the edges being slightly damaged and bubbles visible in the film.

Overall, the customer was definitely not satisfied with the outcome. The Project Manager communicated the customer’s dissatisfaction with the Smart Tint supplier and was given some tips on how to improve the clarity, i.e. by ramping up the voltage to the Smart Tint (this is not a good idea as it can damage the sensitive PDLC film and shorten its lifespan). This did temporarily improve the clarity, but the transformer could only run the Smart Tint for 2-3 minutes before shutting off, then needing 10 minutes to cool before starting up again.

After being initially responsive to the Project Manager’s needs the Smart Tint supplier then ceased further communication for no apparent reason. Now the Project Manager is looking to start legal action against them. This will be challenging as the supplier is located in the United States and he is in Australia. The customer concluded that the performance of the Smart Tint (and the lack of follow-up support) was unacceptable.

We were approached and met with all the stakeholders. Upon testing our sample and witnessing the results, their response was that the “Switchglass was much clearer than the Smart Tint”. At the end of the meeting it was agreed that the Smart Tint and glass would be removed and our Switchglass installed in its place.

Caveat Emptor

– let the buyer beware

This has been a very costly exercise for the customer who has spent nearly double the amount of what it would have cost to have Switchglass installed in the first place.

We will have some updates coming from this case study shortly as the replacement installation has not yet taken place. We will have a video, pictures and interviews with the customer, Project Manager, builder and architect. Our aim is to provide relevant information that will assist all parties and future customers in making an educated decision.

In conclusion, Smart Tint may seem like an attractive option due to its promoted ease of installation and low cost, but we advise caution – as the above scenario clearly demonstrates.

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