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Skylight shade or film options?

ano

Senior Member
cobra said:
Got a material quote back from SmartTint at ~$1000, which isn't as bad as I expected.  And 1/3 of that is for their dimming controller, so the shade material is about $600 for two windows.  The downside is that while they said it was compatible with home automation systems, they mean you can hook in to the relay for on/off control.
 
They specify that the dimmer must do true sine wave control.  Anyone know of a pure sine wave UPB/ZWave/Zigbee dimmer? (it'd probably need voltage control as well, but was looking around to see if anything like this existed.)
Let me know if you ever try the SmartTint ones.  I see they have a sample, but its like $27 just for shipping.  I priced a bedroom window. $3700 Whoooo... and that is without a controller.
 

cobra

Active Member
Yeah, this quote came out at $51/sq.ft, although they don't break out a per window price, so there may be a rate for sq foot for film and a wiring charge per window.  I also didn't get an answer yet on how well they work for blackout, the specs on their site give transparency numbers in the 4-9% range, in light blocking mode.  I may order a sample to test, depending on what they say when I call them.
 
The dimmer controller is pretty pricey, you can get away with simpler switches if you just want on/off control.  It looks like you can wire it directly to 120VAC and a relay for that case.  I wonder how that is for safety, when windows are clear and you need to have 120VAC applied to them...
 

ano

Senior Member
cobra said:
Yeah, this quote came out at $51/sq.ft, although they don't break out a per window price, so there may be a rate for sq foot for film and a wiring charge per window.  I also didn't get an answer yet on how well they work for blackout, the specs on their site give transparency numbers in the 4-9% range, in light blocking mode.  I may order a sample to test, depending on what they say when I call them.
 
The dimmer controller is pretty pricey, you can get away with simpler switches if you just want on/off control.  It looks like you can wire it directly to 120VAC and a relay for that case.  I wonder how that is for safety, when windows are clear and you need to have 120VAC applied to them...
From what I have seen, they don't really block lots of light, as in your room gets dark. What they do is become frosted, which gives you privacy.
 
My thought was to use this on a large bedroom window we have.  We have installed automated drapes, which work great, and completely blackout the light, but my wife doesn't like it when she takes a shower because she thinks people can see in. (They really can't)  So the only solution is to close the drapes and its dark, or open them and people can see in, supposedly. If we could frost the window, that would solve the problem.  Also we get lots of sun in this window, so at times if we could block some of this light a bit, that would be good. 
 
If you have a bedroom, where it needs to be dark, I don't think this would work as your only covering. With drapes or blinds, it would work.
 

wkearney99

Senior Member
ano said:
My thought was to use this on a large bedroom window we have.  We have installed automated drapes, which work great, and completely blackout the light, but my wife doesn't like it when she takes a shower because she thinks people can see in. (They really can't)  So the only solution is to close the drapes and its dark, or open them and people can see in, supposedly. 
 
We solved that by using Hunter Douglas top-down/bottom-up shades.  The bottom raises and lowers, as you'd expect.  But the top also comes down.  This allows for dropping the top portion of the shade to below 'boob height', allowing for the desired privacy while still allowing for full daylight through the portion opened above.  They're also black-out shades, and exclude a pretty decent amount of daylight when fully closed.  I'd have preferred to have used just light-passing material, and some drapes, but SWMBO ruled otherwise...
 

JonW

Senior Member
wkearney99 said:
We solved that by using Hunter Douglas top-down/bottom-up shades.  The bottom raises and lowers, as you'd expect.  But the top also comes down.  This allows for dropping the top portion of the shade to below 'boob height', allowing for the desired privacy while still allowing for full daylight through the portion opened above.  They're also black-out shades, and exclude a pretty decent amount of daylight when fully closed.  I'd have preferred to have used just light-passing material, and some drapes, but SWMBO ruled otherwise...
 
We have the same ones, but my wife is a little more modest and usually drops the top of the shade to just above 'boob height'.
 

cobra

Active Member
ano said:
From what I have seen, they don't really block lots of light, as in your room gets dark. What they do is become frosted, which gives you privacy.
 
My thought was to use this on a large bedroom window we have.  We have installed automated drapes, which work great, and completely blackout the light, but my wife doesn't like it when she takes a shower because she thinks people can see in. (They really can't)  So the only solution is to close the drapes and its dark, or open them and people can see in, supposedly. If we could frost the window, that would solve the problem.  Also we get lots of sun in this window, so at times if we could block some of this light a bit, that would be good. 
 
If you have a bedroom, where it needs to be dark, I don't think this would work as your only covering. With drapes or blinds, it would work.
 
From the SmartTint website, it looked to me like I could get 90% light blocking, but I think I may have misunderstood their specs.
 
I've also been talking to Glass Apps, and while their price is quite a bit higher (they told me $85 / sq ft for adhesive film), they say you can use off the shelf AC dimmers, as long as you have a minimum load.  So the cool thing is that your favorite HA dimmer should be able to just dim these windows.  I was pretty excited, since SmartTint wants over $300 for their custom dimmer and it's not setup for automation, other than relay on/off.  However, when I asked about light blocking, the lady I talked with was looking at the specs, and she thinks they block 40% of sunlight.  I was surprised, as I didn't expect them to just block half the light...  But as I think you said, these are better for privacy than blackout.  40% won't cut it in that case.
 

ano

Senior Member
cobra said:
From the SmartTint website, it looked to me like I could get 90% light blocking, but I think I may have misunderstood their specs.
 
I've also been talking to Glass Apps, and while their price is quite a bit higher (they told me $85 / sq ft for adhesive film), they say you can use off the shelf AC dimmers, as long as you have a minimum load.  So the cool thing is that your favorite HA dimmer should be able to just dim these windows.  I was pretty excited, since SmartTint wants over $300 for their customer dimmer and it's not setup for automation, other than relay on/off.  However, when I asked about light blocking, the lady I talked with was looking at the specs, and she thinks they block 40% of sunlight.  I was surprised, as I didn't expect them to just block half the light...  But as I think you said, these are better for privacy than blackout.  40% won't cut it in that case.
You will probably need to get a sample to really know if it will work.  Specs can be misleading, especially with light because people's eyes are quite sensitive, so a 40% reduction might be a tiny bit to your eyes.  If you look at window film, for example, you can get it for 80% blocking, 90% blocking, 95% blocking, 97% blocking, etc.  
 
If it will work, it really probably depends on the application.  I was thinking about it for a room that already has curtains so the curtains would darken the room, the Smarttint would just add privacy. 
 

ano

Senior Member
One possible dimmer solution would be to use the three speed Simply Automated UPB switch. It maintains a sine-wave so its possible it could work.
 

cobra

Active Member
ano said:
One possible dimmer solution would be to use the three speed Simply Automated UPB switch. It maintains a sine-wave so its possible it could work.
Is that a fan controller?  Interesting idea, I'll keep it in mind.
 

Pseudomizer

New Member
cobra said:
Got a material quote back from SmartTint at ~$1000, which isn't as bad as I expected.  And 1/3 of that is for their dimming controller, so the shade material is about $600 for two windows.  The downside is that while they said it was compatible with home automation systems, they mean you can hook in to the relay for on/off control.
 
They specify that the dimmer must do true sine wave control.  Anyone know of a pure sine wave UPB/ZWave/Zigbee dimmer? (it'd probably need voltage control as well, but was looking around to see if anything like this existed.)
 
I went down this path with Smarttint. Spent $1,200 for one large window and replaced their remote cheap control with a Z-wave GE On/Off switch. Worked great. I replace the On/Off switch with the dimmer switch and with the first try the connectors on the film got fried. Sparks all over the place. I tried to make it work again but it burned a hole into the film.
 
I will not discuss the rest of this story as this ended up in the New York court but bottom line is that they tell you it works with "home automation systems" and they name some of the high end ones like Crestron but in the end you have to use their tools and apps from them. I was offered a software/hardware combination for $1,500 which would allow me to control my film(s) from my cell phone but the whole purpose of my home automation system is to have everything in one single app and control my whole home within one framework which also enables voice control having to deal with a single system and not multiple ones.They were aware of those requirements from day one as I was very clear about them. Once you buy their product, it is yours and they go as far as blocking your email address on their mail server.
 
If you are simply looking for On/Off I can tell you that it worked. Will it work over a long period of time without frying the film? I don't know. Will they support that? I don't know. Work with them and maybe you have better luck than I did.
If you are looking to dim the film which most people would want, then don't try anything else than their provided hardware/software combination.
 
I do want to add that I was impressed with their film from a technological point of view. I tested it during the day and during the night. I was concerned that during the night, you could see shapes and shadows through the film. I can say that I was wrong in that assumption. The strange thing is when you are standing outside your home and you look through the window with the film on (opaque), you can see the light bulbs of the room shining through the film. A person can stand right in front of the window from the inside and you will NOT see that person. Somehow my Philips Hue bulbs emit on a frequency which penetrates the film but you cannot see anything else through that window. Very impressive film technology from Smarttint and I wish it would have gone differently with those guys.
 
Another important aspect which most people don't know about. The film works with power but in my opinion it is reversed, let me explain. Per default the film is non-translucent which means you cannot look through when no power is applied. To make it transparent you have to apply power. If your house looses power, your windows will be non-translucent which means you cannot look through them. Some people argue that the privacy is maintained by doing it this way. Other people like me don't think this is how it should be and here is an example confirming my theory. Smarttint gets also applied to cars. Imagine you are on the highway with 65 miles per hour and for whatever reason your car has no more power (battery failure with engine outage or pick your choice). I don't want to be in that car when that film becomes non-transparent at that speed!
 
Good luck for your projects guys as I just wanted to share some experiences and thoughts on smart films!
 

cobra

Active Member
Pseudomizer said:
Another important aspect which most people don't know about. The film works with power but in my opinion it is reversed, let me explain. Per default the film is non-translucent which means you cannot look through when no power is applied. To make it transparent you have to apply power. If your house looses power, your windows will be non-translucent which means you cannot look through them. Some people argue that the privacy is maintained by doing it this way. Other people like me don't think this is how it should be and here is an example confirming my theory. Smarttint gets also applied to cars. Imagine you are on the highway with 65 miles per hour and for whatever reason your car has no more power (battery failure with engine outage or pick your choice). I don't want to be in that car when that film becomes non-transparent at that speed!
 
Good luck for your projects guys as I just wanted to share some experiences and thoughts on smart films!
Thanks for sharing!  Your experience with Smarttint matches what I expected after a few exchanges with them (and a couple reviews I ran across.)  The film looks really nice, and agree with your comments on the technology.  I was considering buying their smart dimmer and modifying it for better home automation, but the amount of reverse engineering might be painful.  (And I didn't think they would warranty any of it once I ripped it apart.)
 
I appreciate your sharing the problem with using a dimmer too, as I was comparing Smarttint to GlassApps film, and the GlassApp reps tell me you can use a standard dimmer as long as you have a minimum load (meaning, use a newer LED dimmer or have a larger sq ft of film on a standard dimmer.)  GlassApps film is more expensive though, and I was surprised that it seems to support dimming at 120V where the Smarttint does not.  It seems they really are a different composition.
 
As for cars, and the privacy when powered off, I agree.  That is kind of reverse of what I would hope for, but I guess it depends on the application.  It would certainly be irresponsible to put that film on the front windshield of a car.
 
In your experience, I see you said you can see bulb light from the outside.  How would you rate the film for blocking sunlight when you are on the inside?  Which color film did you purchase from them?  I see the translucency numbers are different by up to ~20% between the different colors.
 
Sorry to hear about the court action though, that's painful...
 

Pseudomizer

New Member
cobra said:
In your experience, I see you said you can see bulb light from the outside.  How would you rate the film for blocking sunlight when you are on the inside?  Which color film did you purchase from them?  I see the translucency numbers are different by up to ~20% between the different colors.
 
 
I bought the standard white. Here is a good video which shows what I experienced in terms of what you can see. Look at the top of the room and the light shining. Hope this helps.
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ndonk_BZ8nI 
 
 
 

In your experience, I see you said you can see bulb light from the outside.  How would you rate the film for blocking sunlight when you are on the inside?  Which color film did you purchase from them?  I see the translucency numbers are different by up to ~20% between the different colors.
 

cobra

Active Member
I obviously don't quite understand how these work.  They seem to transmit a lot more light than I would expect, but still block patterns being visible through the film.  It looks to me like they would block more of the overhead light than seems to be blocked in those videos.
 
Or are the large white patterns on the shaded film in that video from lights on our side of the film?
 

Pseudomizer

New Member
The patterns are from the other side and not from our side of the wall. This is the same experience I had at my home hence my comment about liking that technology. Privacy is important and that product does not.
 
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