Window Tint Percentages

You’ve probably heard of people “blacking out” their cars with tints on their windows to create a whole new look for their ride. Vehicle window tints are a popular aftermarket addition to any car, but it’s vital to know about the different film percentages, what they mean and several technical terms you will find helpful.

Whether you put films on a car, truck, limo or hot rod, you can restyle your whip and personalize it to your liking with Rvinyl products. We design window films for DIY enthusiasts to give you the freedom of simple customization. We offer you the perfect combination of style and affordability so that you can stand out from the average car — because why would you want to look like everyone else on the road, right?

Types of Window Tint Percentages

There is no one-set film that car enthusiasts use on their windows. Instead, tint percentages often range from 10% up to 90%, usually in increments of five or 10, but can also reach as low as 5%. Here’s what you need to know about the various film percentages.

  • No Tint: Having no film on your vehicle means you’re using regular factory windows made of clear glass. They give you full visibility but often create glares while driving and can also admit more heat and allow UV rays to damage the interior of your car.
  • 50% Tint: Applying a 50% tint to your windows forms little to no darkness and blocks only half the light from reaching the inside of your vehicle. However, it’s still excellent for hindering UV rays and heat and increases your vision because you experience less distraction from glares and less strain on your eyes.
  • 35% Tint: Using a 35% tint crafts a darker appearance but still allows you to see through with ease. It gives your car a smooth look with many advantages.
  • 20% Tint: With 20% tint, you can see through the window up close from an outside view, but it’s difficult.
  • 5% Tint: Applying a 5% tint means you can’t see through at all. This window tint percentage is illegal for many vehicles, but there are exceptions such as limousines.

In general, car window tints of all percentages offer many benefits to drivers. For example, they reduce glare, protect your skin and interior from UV rays and provide security against the wandering eye when you have valuable possessions in the front or back seat.

Rvinyl films also reject heat and keep your car cool during the summer months, but they can even store heat in the winter time. By installing your tints, you can protect your car’s glass from shattering which is a significant safety advantage. Films are an inexpensive investment when you’re looking to increase different levels of improvement for your car or if you want to add a sweet new vibe to your ride.

How Dark Should Your Window Tint Be?

While the percentage of tint you install to your car windows is all about personal preference, budget and needs, it also depends on the legal laws and regulations upheld by your state. According to car tinting laws in the United States, each municipal has specific legalities regarding car window tint darkness. However, most states allow up to 50 percent on vehicles.

The darkness of the film you choose depends on the percent of light passing through your car’s glass known as visible the light transmission, which we will discuss in more detail. It’s imperative to check with your state’s tint laws to ensure you don’t get pulled over and fined. On the other hand, dark tints are often used for off-road situations or show cars.

When Would You Want a Darker Window Tint?

Applying a darker shade of window tint can accommodate many situations and your different needs. For example, you already know of the standard benefits of reducing glare, minimizing interior damage, increasing the shatter resistance of the glass and protecting yourself from UV rays. Car tints can even reduce the amount of heat in your vehicle during hot days or keep you warm in the colder months. But there are other reasons you may want to enhance your car with a darker tint, too.

For instance, drivers with medical exceptions may require higher levels of tint to protect their skin. People with conditions such as systemic lupus erythematosus, bloom syndrome, solar urticaria and albinism have more sensitivities to light. Therefore, darker films can safeguard their skin from being hurt by UV rays. It’s vital to check with your doctor on how to receive medical authorization for window tints.

Another reason you may want darker window tints is for your show car. Because you have to be wary of state laws and regulations regarding the level of film you adhere to your windows, people often place darker tints on show cars that aren’t for sale or are not meant to be driven. Instead, the custom-made automobiles are for public display during shows and exhibitions. Dark tints provide a sleek and stylish finish and enhance the appearance of your vehicle.

Visual Light Transmission vs. Tint Darkness

You have a decent understanding of the different types of tint films, their benefits and when it’s a good idea to apply them, but now it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty details. Visible light transmission is the amount of visible light that passes through the glass of your car window — which is similar to the level of darkness your film has, but each has several differences.

For example, if you apply a tint of 70% VLT, it allows 70% of sunlight to pass through your windows. Therefore, it only blocks 30% of the sun. The darker the film you apply, the lower the amount of light that can get through will be — more light will be reflected off your window. The VLT percentage determines how much UV and heat protection you will have along with security and glare reduction.

Compared to the level of darkness, the VLT percentage describes how much light is let through, while darkness indicates how much isn’t. No matter the level of VLT you install, you will still benefit from all the advantages of car film tints.

Calculating the Combined VLT of Your Existing Window and Preferred Tint

Before making a final decision about the level of tint you want to pump up your ride with, you need to consider the VLT of the existing windows on your vehicle and the VLT of the film you want to apply. When you combine film onto an already tinted window, your VLT will be lower than expected.

As a refresher, 60% VLT means 60% of light will pass through, and about 40% will be reflected. A lower percentage specifies a darker film. But today, many automakers install some tinting beforehand. Because manufacturers apply a high level of VLT to cars, it means you have to consider the original tint along with the tint you want to add to your windows.

Calculating the combined VLT of a glass window with film over it and the tint you want to install involves the multiplication of the VLT of the glass by the window tint. For example, if you mount a 5% film to a glass window with 80% VLT tint, it will equal 4%. So, the glass and shade will have a collective VLT of 4%.

In the case where you’re not sure of the VLT percentage of your existing window tint, you can always refer to a professional. But if you want to test it for yourself, you can use a device that reads VLT. You clip it to the window, and it uses lasers to examine light permeability. If you want to measure the current VLT if a plain window or a window with tint, you'll need a meter.

What Is Visible Light Reflection?

Visible light reflection (VLR) is the exact opposite of visible light transmission. VLR is how much solar energy is reflected off the glass and away from the inside of your vehicle. Because the sun radiates solar energy in the method of visible light, it hits the glass windows of your car, and two events occur — either light passes through, which is transmittance, or it’s bounced back, which is a reflection.

Transparent glass absorbs little to no visible light, whereas darkened windows absorb more light depending on the percentage. If you apply a film with a high VLR, it means most of the light won’t pass through, but the VLR measurement of non-tinted glass is low. It’s in opposition to VLT where a higher percentage indicates more light is passing through. There is a clear distinction between VLT and VLR, so make sure to pay attention to the different terms when discussing and thinking about the tints you want.

You can measure the amount of visible light reflected, too. VLR is a relationship between visible light and solar heat transmission, referred to as luminous efficiency (LE). Luminous efficiency helps define how much energy is in visible light compared to solar heat. Refer to the following on how to calculate the LE of your tint.

Divide the VLT by the coefficient of shading. For illustration, if the tint has a VLT of 60% and a coefficient of .4, then the LE will equal 1.5. Having a higher LE means your tint will permit a more significant percentage of visible light to pass through but less heat.

As we show you a more in-depth look at tint films for your car, you may be wondering if you will even be able to see through the glass reliant on the level of darkness. This is where visual acuity comes into play. It’s how the human eye reacts to visible light as you can adjust to different levels of VLT films. Even if the film you select reduces light transmittance by 70%, you will still be able to see. However, when you get down to low levels of VLT like 5%, then it becomes difficult for your eyes to adjust.

The UV and Total Solar Energy Rejection Properties of Tints

As one of the many benefits of installing tint to your ride, Rvinyl films have UV properties that can shield the interior of your car from harmful rays and even protect your skin from being burnt which can lead to skin cancer. Ultraviolet rays are invisible within the solar spectrum near the violet end. Found in sunlight, UV light can penetrate through glass. But when you apply tints, you can protect you and your car from dangerous UV rays.

Window tint films from Rvinyl also have total solar energy rejection properties. Total solar energy rejected, or TSER, is the total amount of solar energy — UV, visible and infrared — blocked by tint film. The higher the TSER value, the better the performance of the film when it comes to adding protection from solar energy.

How is Headlight Tint Different from Window Tint?

What is the difference between headlight tint and window tint? In this case there really is a difference and it's a big one. You see, professional grade headlight films made by companies like Rtint, Husky, Xpel and others are made from optically-clear, thermo-formable vinyl. Window tint is made of polyurethane which can be milled to a thickness of less than vinyl and which shrinks when heated. The fact that it shrinks rather than stretches when heated and its thinness mean that it does not perform well on compound curves that are common on today's headlights. Worse yet, if an installer is successful in applying window tint to headlight lens the results can often times be as permanent as painting. At Rvinyl we have heard stories of customers who have had their lights tinted with window film and now cannot remove it without destroying the lenses.

Rvinyl Has You Protected With Various Levels of Car Window Tint

No matter if you’re looking to upgrade your ride or searching for a way to safeguard your car with several advantages, you now know the ins and outs of tint percentages. Rvinyl offers films at a third of the price compared to relying on a tint shop, meaning you can take even more pride in installing your own film.

Our DIY customization options have a three-year warranty against peeling, cracking and fading and you can remove them whenever you feel necessary as they aren’t permanent. Rvinyl experts also replace defective films, and we offer a rebate program where you can submit photos of your work.

Browse our inventory of window tint kits and receive free shipping on qualified orders. Contact us online with further questions by speaking with a Rvinyl representative.