instructions: testing switchable smart film for windows and glass

Please note: If you require pricing for this material, please see our smart film pricing system.

Our electric glass film material can be instantly switched from its transparent state to an opaque state with our wireless remotes and automation systems. You can also vary the transparency by using a dimmer control. This article explains how to test your shipment of smart film, after it has been unpacked (see smart film unpacking instructions).

We highly recommend that you do not skip this step as it will save you a lot of trouble later, in case you have a damaged or defective section. This is a high quality product that was tested thoroughly when the electrodes were installed, but there's always the possibility of some kind of shipping damage.

switched film remote control of glass transparency: window in opaque mode   switched film remote control of glass transparency: window in transparent mode

Precautions On Handling of Smart Film

First, a word about safety. The 65v AC power is not normally enough to give you a shock, but you should still take precautions and wear shoes while doing this, and make sure the power is off while connecting wires. You could, in theory, suffer a critical shock if you had a weak heart and were standing in the basement with bare feet on a wet concrete floor, or if you were grounded in some similar way.

If you do not feel comfortable doing this, any electrician or electronics technician can help you do this safely.

It is important to understand that the PDLC film can be mis-handled and damaged, and this can happen mainly when it is folded or curved the wrong way. If it is unrolled on a flat surface, you will have no problems with it, as long as you keep it flat.

When you pick it up, hold it by the corners and don't let it fold inward, keep it flat, as per the pictures below. It cannot be used to make a compound curve (eg. like a horse saddle), and it cannot be sharply folded (like a piece of paper).

incorrect handling of smart film, can cause creases incorrect handling of smart film, can cause creases correct handling of smart film, no creases

Note that each side has a thin peel-off protective layer of plastic, so you do not have to worry about fingerprints. If you are using the self-adhesive type, the self-adhesive side is clearly marked, and there is another thicker protective layer that will be removed when you are ready to apply it to your glass surface (a total of 3 protective layers). The non-adhesive type just has the thin peel-off protective layer on each side (2 protective layers).

Once installed, if you need to clean it, use rubbing alcohol, not water and soap, or glass cleaner like Windex.

Testing The Switchable Film

switchable smart film laid flat on floorHere we have laid the smart film flat on the floor, ready for testing.

The two copper electrodes with attached wires are on the left edge of the material; these will be connected to the DC/AC inverter.

Please note that each copper electrode has two wires soldered to it (for redundancy purposes), in case you break one of them.

The inverter has a 65v AC for high transparency film. It is powered by a 12v DC power supply, plugged into a regular AC outlet.

In this example we are using the inverter/power supply combo, but If you purchased a regular house transformer, it will plug directly into an AC outlet, replacing both the inverter and power supply combination. The transformer type does not have a dimmer connection, but you could use a regular household dimmer to control the AC source that it is plugged into.

Please Note: make sure all power is disconnected while you set up the connections; check carefully for any shorted wires and use tape to cover any temporary exposed wiring.

If you have ordered a piece that is narrow and tall (greater than 5:1 ratio), it may have a dual set of electrodes, top and bottom. If this is the case, the two red electrodes need to be wired together, and the two black electrodes need to be wired together to form a parallel circuit connection.

smart film 12v DC inverterThis picture shows the connections from the inverter to the smart film. The copper electrodes on the smart film will have red and black wires to distinguish between the two electrodes.

The red and black wires from the smart film will connect to the AC output terminals. Since this is alternating current, the polarity does not matter.

The dimmer control (variable resistor potentiometer type) will be connected to the dimmer terminals. The polarity does not matter.

The 12v DC input will be connected to the 12v DC power supply. Since this is a direct current connection, polarity does matter; please see further instructions below.

smart film 110/220v AC transformerIf you ordered our AC transformer system, it will plug directly into a standard wall outlet, and the 2 black terminal posts on the front will connect directly to the smart film electrodes.

We have 4 models of AC transformers, each with a higher capacity for powering a larger area of smart film, up 36 square yards.

In either case your system can be equipped with a remote control that uses the same system as our roller shades and window/skylight openers.

We also have interfacing for Z-wave hubs, and any other system such as Insteon and Zigbee. Alternatively, our RF/IR/WiFi smart hub has phone apps for Android and IOS; it is also able to "learn" our radio control signals.

The film is normally shipped with the power transformer/inverter carefully wrapped with bubble-wrap, inside the plastic film tube, so please be careful to inspect the inside of the tube and remove any electronic components.

Connecting the Inverter to the Power Supply

12v DC cigarette lighter plug for inverter The inverters require a little more work to set up, but they are a popular choice due the very easy ability to have them connected to a 12v RV or car battery (with solar and/or AC trickle charger) for backup purposes, if you live in an area where grid failure is a distinct possibility.

The inverters are supplied with a 12v DC 'cigarette lighter' type of plug, so that you can use it in a mobile environment such as a car, boat, RV, travel trailer, etc.

If you are using it in a home environment where it is grid powered via an AC/DC power supply connected AC house current, you will need to remove the cigarette lighter plug and install the screw terminal adapter that comes with the power supply.

Please Note: It is very important to get the polarity correct after you cut off the cigarette lighter plug. If you leave a few inches connected to the plug, you can run a continuity check if you are not sure which wire is connected to the tip (which is positive +).

The 12v DC wire that you cut has 2 wires bonded together. One of them has a smooth surface (positive +), and the other has ridges molded into it (negative). You should be able to feel the difference by running your finger around the plastic insulation on the wires, and these must be connected according to the picture of the adapter below.

If you want to be absolutely certain, you can run a continuity test from the spring loaded tip to the short piece of wire you left connected to the plug.

Applying Power to Test the Smart Film

First, a word about safety. The 65v AC power is not normally enough to give you a shock, but you should still take precautions and wear shoes while doing this, and make sure the power is off while connecting wires. You could, in theory, suffer a critical shock if you had a weak heart and were standing in the basement with bare feet on a wet concrete floor, or if you were grounded in some similar way.

If you do not feel comfortable doing this, any electrician or electronics technician can help you do this safely.

12v DC power supply screw terminal adapter

If you have connected things correctly, you can use the plug on the power supply or transformer to apply power. You should see the entire surface become instantly transparent as soon as you apply power. It should be perfectly uniform in its transparency, with no areas of inconsistency.

It can actually be a bit hard to tell when the film is on the floor because anything that actually touches the film will show through, so you can try picking it up by an edge to see the full effect, taking care not to short any wires.

If you do see something that doesn't look right, please take a picture and contact us right away for assistance.

If the film checks out properly without any problems, you can move to the next step of installing the smart film.

Articles in this series:

Smart Film - unpacking your shipment

Smart Film - testing your smart film (you are here)

Smart Film - installing your smart film

Smart Film - setting up remote control & phone app

Please note: If you require pricing for this material, please see our smart film pricing system.