Research Shows Window Film Market to Nearly Double in the Next 3 Years

Opportunities and Challenges for Solar Control Films

June 9, 2014 | State of the Market Report | LuxResearch

Despite Adoption Challenges, Solar Control Films Will Be a $863 Million Market by 2018.


Managing solar heat gain, light transmission, and glare have become critical pain points, as the use of architectural glass has grown globally and the pressure from building codes and standards to manage heat gain have risen. Compared to competing technologies such as switchable glazings, aerogel glazings, and daylighting skylights, after-market solar control films offer a low-cost, short-payback-period technology that can address the much larger retrofit market. Despite this promise, there are significant specific concerns to overcome, particularly perceptions of thermal stress build-up and inertia induced by specified incumbent technologies like low-emissivity glass and external shading. Even with these adoption challenges, energy security and regulatory drivers will propel the market from today’s $450 million to $863 million by 2018. The factors driving adoption across the globe vary by geography. While Europe continues along a path of relative macroeconomic paralysis, near Net Zero Energy Building (nNZEB) mandates keep the demand for solar control films constant. In contrast, Asia-Pacific grows at 20% per year driven by the adoption of Passive House in Korea and China. Falling in the middle of these growth extremes, the east and west coasts of the U.S. drive the market due to strong city- and state-level policy support.

For solar control film adoption to proliferate, the decision-makers in the value chain need to be identified and the perspectives of early adopters, early resistors, and the as-yet unaware or ill-informed need to be taken into consideration. There is greater familiarity with incumbent technologies that must be combated, requiring demonstration of the upside to hurdle adoption barriers. Warranty issues arise from residential window manufacturers requiring development of relationships with glazing OEMs to mitigate barriers, and with ESCOs such as Siemens and property management firms like Jones Lang Lasalle and CBRE to create pull. Finally, building energy simulations from the likes of Sefaira can provide granular energy assessment and payback estimates.

Of course, from a value proposition perspective there is much that can be done by incumbents and new entrants alike beyond managing inertia- and perception-based issues. Improving durability of existing solutions and developing tools for predicting project-specific energy savings represent concrete steps to accelerate market growth and grow market share for current value-chain participants. Data on thermal stress build-up in assemblies, including failure modes such as seal breakage, will allow better warranty longevity. Also related to durability, marketing films with a lower coefficient of thermal expansion, such as biaxially-oriented polyesters, will open up further paths to adoption. Despite a relatively aggregated market, there are technology-driven paths for prospective new entrants in the space. Waterborne ceramic oxide coatings, such as those offered by Advenira Coatings, offer an entry point for polyolefin film manufacturers into the solar control films market, a space previously limited to polyesters, polycarbonates, and fluoropolymers. Polyolefins and acrylics can also be positioned as low-cost alternatives to polyester substrates, particularly in emerging economies.
In reality, solar control films offer a path to growth for all participants in the value chain, through improved energy efficiency with relatively short payback periods at one end, to penetration for all-too-familiar materials for which new markets are few and far between at the front end.

Lead Analyst

Aditya Ranade, Ph.D., M.B.A.
Senior Analyst
+1 (857) 284-5689

5 Comments Comment

  • brad on July 8, 2014

    the industry would grow at ten times that speed if the manufacturers would get involved with helping to educate the general public on the benefits of window film through television and radio, half or more of the people out there don’t even know you can tint the windows on your home, this is all being left up to the installers. have you ever seen a window film commercial???

  • brad on July 8, 2014

    come on people let all get on board and turn this industry upside down and we,ll all get rich…

  • Patric Fransko on July 23, 2014

    @Brad…Let’s hope that this report in accurate. It would be great for everyone in our industry!

  • David Yacobelli on October 9, 2014

    Brad. You are 100% correct. I had a conversation a few years back with Kent Davies, CEO Cortaulds Performance Films. He was completely unfocused on the US market in general. Our struggles as an installer in upstate NY were falling on deaf ears. There is absolutely no money being spent by manufacturers on advertising, lobbying, or education of public and legislaters. I believe the US market is peanuts compared to the Euro market. So we are left to fight for ourselves. It’s disgraceful.

  • Frank Arena on May 22, 2015

    I believe it would be the IWFA’s responsibility to coordinate a program to educate the public with nation wide TV commercials. Dealers and ALL manufacturers need to agree to a 1-3 cent per square foot increase in film cost to dealers to fund it along with a proposed deadline date to launch the advertising campaign before the 2016 Tint-Season. The top 5 film manufacturers who dominate the market must all be in the game. Unfortunately, some of the smaller off-brand manufacturers may get a free ride if they are not in agreement but they don’t count as much anyway. All in favor?

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