classic car with a window tint
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Quick Guide to Window Tint Percentages: VLT and Reflection Numbers

VLT and reflection percentages are the first thing that pops up whenever you hear about car or home window tinting.

But don’t let these abbreviations and numbers confuse you. It’s easy to understand what they are and why they are important.

This easy guide to window tint percentages will let you in on everything you need to know!

Window Tint Percentages: What They Are (and Why You Need Them)

As we said above, there are just two metrics you need to be aware of: VLT and reflection percentage.

Combine those two and you’ll easily figure out both the darkness of your tint and its reflectivity. (In plain English, the extent to which you can use it as a mirror.)

What Is VLT?

VLT means Visible Light Transmittance. That is, the amount of light that manages to pass through the window.

In theory, it’s measured on the scale from 0% to 100%.

However, 0% and 100% don’t exist in practice, simply because 0% would let zero light in, whereas 100% would let ALL the light in. That would beat the tint’s purpose!

What is Reflection Percentage?

window tint percentages on a Tesla
Here’s what 35% VLT looks like on side windows and rear windscreen on a Tesla.

Reflection or reflectivity percentage doesn’t have to do with the amount of light that gets through the window, but the amount of light that doesn’t get absorbed but bounces off the surface.

For example, if a tint’s reflectivity is 100%, you can basically use this window as a mirror. When you look at it, all you see is your own reflection. You can’t see through it!

Now, you can make your home windows reflective to your heart’s content. The only concern here is what you like or don’t like.

Your car, however, needs to comply with laws and regulations. And the regulations are pretty uniform in Australia when it comes to reflectivity. Wherever you live or travel to, you aren’t allowed to go above 10%!

What is the Best Car Window Tint Percentage?

There is no exact answer to this question. It will vary both on your needs and the legal restrictions in your area.

Privacy will call for the lowest VLT that’s legally available. Now, if you happen to own a registered commercial vehicle, you may go below the 15-35% VLT which is the minimum across Australia for the rear windows. In fact, you can go as low as 5%. That’s almost impossible to see through!

Front side windows, however, are vital for the safety of everyone involved. So the nationwide limit is 35% VLT, and you can’t go below that even with commercial vehicles.

Any other purpose (e.g. less glare or sunburn, less heat, more safety) won’t require anything super dark on either windows. 35% VLT is just enough to eliminate the need for sunglasses and make your car’s interior feel cool enough.

window tint percentages for australia
A common setup in most of Australia: 35% VLT for front windows, 20% VLT for rear windows

But what if you have a classic car that wouldn’t look very good or authentic with darker tints? 

No reason to suffer the dog days just because you’re driving an old-timer! These days, you can get a very transparent tint (such as 75% VLT) that still won’t let the UV and Infrared light in.

lower window tint percentages for classic cars
This Chevy wouldn’t look good with 35% VLT! But you won’t even notice that this one has a 75% VLT tint that protects its interior while preserving the looks.

Legal Tint Percentages In Australia

If you’ve made it to this point in the article, you already know one thing: not all window tints are legal. On the other hand, some tint percentages are only legal in certain parts of Australia and illegal elsewhere. And vice versa!

So how to find your way through this legal conundrum?

Take a look at this article with a neat chart that only takes a single look to figure out.

Or, if you don’t want to risk anything, it’s always safe to go with 35% VLT on any of your front or rear windows. The only exception is your windscreen, which can only be tinted at the top 10% of its surface, above the wipers. Also, reflectivity is allowed up to 10% anywhere except for NSW. So if you want to play it absolutely safe, don’t choose a reflective tint.

What If My Windows Already Have Some Tint?

This is a bit more complicated than tinting windows that weren’t tinted by the manufacturer. But it’s still no rocket science!

Two figures matter here.

The first one is your factory VLT percentage.

And the second one is the VLT percentage of the tint you’d like to apply now.

Multiply the two numbers and you’ll figure out whether the result will comply with the standards.

For example: your factory VLT percentage is 75%, and you’d like to apply another 50%. You’ll end up with 37.5% VLT.

What is the Best Home Window Tint Percentage?

window tint percentages for houses

At home, you can go absolutely wild with your tint. There are no restrictions and regulations, so the only two factors are your needs and personal preferences. (Head over here for the pros and cons of tinting your house windows!)

For boosting your family’s privacy, go for 25% or less. But if you only want a house that’s a bit cooler in the summer, 50% or 70% VLT will be just enough. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can cameras see through tinted windows?

Cameras can see through tint just as much (or little) as you can! So unless your neighbour owns a specialised night vision camera, they won’t be able to peek inside your car or home.

However, it also means that your own security camera won’t be able to see through the tint from the inside. Some varieties of dome cameras can solve this problem though!

What is the most common window tint percentage for a car?

Across all of Australia, the most common percentage is 35% for front side windows and 20% for the rear side and rear windows.

However, “most common” doesn’t mean universal. You know the old adage: check your laws before you tint!

What is the most common window tint percentage for a home?

There are no laws on that account! But that doesn’t mean you’ll see ALL options. The most common percentage is 30-35%, which goes a bit down on bedroom windows.

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