In the world of after-market automotive accessories those of us who specialize in selling window and lighting tints never tire of hearing the question: Which is darker 5% or 50% tint? Perhaps unsurprisingly the answer to this question is as varied as the products about which the question can be asked. In the following brief guide we will discuss the meaning of these percentages as they are applied to window tint films and vinyl tint and protection kits for head and tail lights.
In general, when people are asking about the shade percentage they want to know the VLT which is the convenient abbreviation for the mouthful that is visual light transmittance.
VLT Measures Light Transmission
In essence the VLT is a measure of the amount of visible light which the tint film allows to pass through whether we are talking about your windows or your lights. It is easy to see how understanding these numbers can make the difference between taking your ride out for a spin and simply taking your life in your hands. If you tint too dark you risk not being seen by other drivers (in the case of headlight and taillight tint) or not seeing anything at all.
As far as window tint is concerned, the lower the percentage the darker the film. Since window tint is always sold using the VLT the lower the number the less light gets through. An important point to consider here, especially when buying online, is that different states have different laws regarding the VLT. Many states will not allow anything lower than 35% unless you have a medical exemption (you have to prove this beforehand so don't go trying anything sneaky as you're being pulled over).
Darkness Is the Amount of Light Blocked
In a perfect world, head and tail light tint would conform to the same standards as window tint and we wouldn't need to discuss the difference between smoke out kits for your car and window tint kits. But, as I'm sure you already know, we don't live in a perfect world. When purchasing smoked out headlight film from Rvinyl.com or any other reputable source you may find two different numbers which tell you the same thing. Because light tint is all about reduce light output a Dark Smoke Rtint will often be described as being 33% darkness with a VLT of 67%. I won't make you do the math on your own but you can see that 33 + 67 = 100 without much trouble. So, whenever you're in the market for tint film for your lighting be sure to note whether it is the darkness or VLT you're looking at.
So, remember, VLT is the amount of light that gets through a film. Darkness is the amount of light blocked. If you have both and add them up they will always equal 100.
If there was any confusion about the provenance of the term "smoked headlights" I think our quick, historical explanation has now firmly put it to rest. The term "headlight tint," however, shouldn't be confusing to anyone due to the fact that almost everyone in the whorl knows what window tinting is. In essence, the term is primarily used to describe tint that is laid on a headlight rather than sprayed on although the terms have become interchangeable in recent years. Evidence of this trend can be found by doing a quick Google search where a query for the term "smoke headlight" will return results from Lamin-X, Headlight Armor and other companies that sell headlight tint films and precut kits.