Window Film and Windows – An Unlikely Couple

September 8th, 2014 by Editor

Recent research makes some bold growth predictions for the solar reflective architectural window film market. But what does this mean for window manufacturers? An upcoming article in Window Film magazine, sister publication to DWM, looks at the possible interface among window film companies and window manufacturers. Could they work together or would warranty standards hinder the potential partnership?

In June 2014, Lux Research Inc., an independent research firm that’s headquartered in Boston, released a report forecasting a near doubling of the worldwide architectural solar reflective films market by 2018. According to the report, the predicted 92-percent increase will be driven largely by tightening building codes and standards, an increased interest in daylighting methods that block solar heat gain and film’s low cost when compared to replacing existing glass.

“Challenges” listed in Lux Research’s report include momentum induced by competing products, including low-E glass and external shading, push-back from window manufacturers, many of which void their warranties when aftermarket films are applied, and perceptions of surface heat build-up, which is believed by some to create glass failure. Also mentioned is a need for increased awareness of window film products among energy service companies (ESCOs), architects and other key adopters. It’s worth noting, however, that these factors are keyed into (and therefore do not detract from) the company’s primary predictions.

So how can film manufacturers improve relations with window manufacturers and forgo perceptions of glass failure? The report’s author suggests two approaches: one boils down to marketing and public relations, the other involving product improvements. But he also suggests that, based on his research, the issue of heat build-up and glass failure, “… isn’t as widespread as window manufacturers perceive it to be,” and that window film manufacturers could provide additional hard data to lay this issue to rest. In an ideal world, Ranade says he envisions window manufacturers adding aftermarket window films at the point of sale for their own products.

“Selling the products directly to [window manufacturers], of course would be ideal,” he says. “They’re doing [residential glazing] installations anyways, in most cases. The residential segment is so fragmented as it is, that anywhere you can consolidate the channel, that’s a winning solution.”

But at least one representative for a window film manufacturer suggests that there’s no real incentive for window manufacturers to endorse window films, nor is there currently an avenue for stimulating such collaborations.

“We do have one example in the Glass and Glazing Federation in the U.K., which is comprised of glass manufacturers, window manufacturers, window film companies and everything in between,” says Jeffrey Plummer, Madico’s senior vice president of sales and marketing. “But here [in the U.S.], we have the International Window Film Association (IWFA), which is one organization, then the glass manufacturers have their own, as do window manufacturers.”

Regarding the warranty issue, Plummer says he’s not sure what window manufacturers stand to gain through retracting their cancellation policies.

“If they have a way to eliminate the fairly significant warranty exposure that’s created when an unknown product is installed on their windows — because they don’t know what the homeowner is installing and whether it’s a high quality film, or whether they’ve taken into account the glass type and climate … so, I think partly because it reduces their liability and partly because of concerns regarding these unknowns, that their positions of voiding warranties isn’t likely to change.”

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