How to Make Windows More Private at Night

February 12, 2019

Night Time Privacy Window Film 

privacy from neighbors

Privacy is important for feeling safe and comfortable in your home, and many homeowners want reflective window film to keep people from looking inside. While reflective window film enhances home privacy during the day, its reflective features don’t provide much privacy at night. Unfortunately, there is no window film available on the market that can prevent people from looking in while you can see out, for both day and night. So, what can you do? We get this question a lot, so read on to learn more about your options depending on your privacy needs, such as decorative window film, perforated window film and more!

Why reflective window film won't work at night

Before we explore your options, how do reflective privacy films work and why don’t they work at night? To start, even untreated glass reflects some light, but none can achieve higher levels of privacy without some sort of window film. Reflective window film works by reflecting sunlight and other outdoor light like a mirror, so your neighbors see their own reflection instead of what’s in your home. Since reflective window film is still translucent, the outdoors must be brighter than the inside of the room that the film is protecting. While daylight is brighter than your interior lights, keeping those lights on at night negates the reflective effect and people can see inside.

house night time privacy

Daytime privacy with reflective window film

All that said, if you need privacy for your home during the day and don’t need it at night, reflective window film is the best option for great protection. We offer a variety of tints, including one way window film! Even mirrored film needs the room darker than the outside, though.

However, for many homeowners this becomes a problem, as our windows are a huge part of our homes’ look and feel. Not everyone wants to draw the shades when you have a great night view!

reflective window film

Night time privacy with reflective window film

Situation: you want reflective window film that prevents people from seeing in both day and night.

Alternatives to reflective window film range from simple window film work-arounds to specialty glass that changes tint according to the lighting, like tinted reading glasses. While futuristic windows sound awesome, that’s not a practical solution for most homeowners. Fortunately, Solar Art offers other styles of window film that come close to standard privacy film, even if none of them are exactly what you’re looking for. Let’s explore the options. Keep in mind that reflective window film, decorative window film, and opaque window films are also heat blocking window films, that block UVA and UVB rays during the day. Beyond privacy, heat reduction is an added benefit that the other options don’t have.

Decorative window film 

Situation: you want to cover a glass surface or window with decorative window film or  patterned film and one way privacy isn’t a concern.

While reflective window film is tinted, it lacks patterns or designs like decorative window film. Decorative window films are popular choices for windows in bathrooms where you want light but don’t want views in or out. Styles include frosted window film, geometric designs, lines, dots, gradients, and more. If you need to cover up a small window like in a bathroom, decorative window film is ideal, but they are not the best choice for larger windows where views are important.

Frosted film for windows

Blackout Window Film

Situation: you need 24/7 total privacy protection for sensitive possessions

While most decorative window films are somewhat translucent, blackout window film is an option for rooms where you need to completely block out the light both in and out. We also carry whiteout film or a bronze window tint that have the similar effects to blackout window film. While some rooms, like garages, benefit from blackout film, this is not ideal for homeowners who want to see out their windows at all. 

Perforated window film

Situation: you want to prevent people from looking inside and your windows’ look and feel isn’t a concern

Perforated window film is an opaque window film that is black on the inside and brightly colored on the outside with densely-packed, millimeter-scale perforations (or holes) that lets light through. This creates the effect of a solid (typically white) window to your neighbors while still letting you see outside. If you want, you can also print an image onto perforated window film for beautiful graphics. Like tinted window film, your view outside is dim but you can see more than your neighbors can see in. Keep in mind that perforated window film isn’t reflective or translucent, so the color does become important. Choose perforated window film when you aren’t concerned about exterior aesthetics but want to see out, but it’s not an option when you want to preserve the look and feel of your windows while also achieving privacy.

Casper cloaking film

Situation: you want to watch TV in private and whole-window reflection isn’t important

Casper cloaking film is a great option for offices and homes with TV's and computer screens in rooms with large windows that neighbors can see through. This film works by blocking light from LED screens and turning them black for people on the outside of the room. Unfortunately, while this makes great tech privacy film, these films don’t take the place of reflective window film as they don’t block interior LED lights in a room. They protect your LED screens from prying eyes, but not much more.

casper gif 1

Workarounds in your home that don’t include window film

If you want reflective privacy film anyway but know it can’t protect you at night, you can enhance your home’s evening privacy in a few ways.

Any interior light you turn on passes through your window to the outside, so lighting options become important. Installing dimmer switches and focused task lights instead of filling your entire room with light will help reduce how much outsiders can see inside. Combined with window film that has a heavier tint to begin with, you may achieve some level of night privacy by simply limiting how much light passes through your glass at all (which still affects your light levels at during the day as well). However, converting your lighting systems over to dimmers can be expensive and time consuming. Severely shading your windows takes away your daytime views, so that may not be the best option for everyone.

Darkening your walls and decor with dark, matte paint and colors is a more extreme option, but it works by helping your interior absorb as much light as possible before passing through your windows to the outside.

Finally, if darkening your decor and installing dimmer switches isn’t an option, your blinds and shades are a valid and practical solution to the problem. No light can pass in or out and they are easily adjustable any time of day or night. Sometimes closing them just partway is enough to distract prying eyes and protect your home in the evenings, or install sheer privacy panels. Both closing part way and using sheer panels serve the same function as decorative window film: they break the window up into smaller parts to make it harder to see in. Regardless of your curtain style, shades and blinds are designed to give ultimate privacy. They just don’t let you see you when they’re drawn.

Window blinds

Solar Art Window Film

We feel your pain: window film that reflects both day and night does not exist at the moment in any form. This is a common problem that homeowners encounter when requesting home privacy window film from us, and the answer ultimately comes down to what is more important: daytime or nighttime privacy? Achieving outside privacy or preserving your windows’ look and feel? Solar Art offers all of the window film options we covered here, so if perforated window film or decorative window film sounds like a good option to you, contact us today to help make your homes more private day or night!

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