Tesla cars have several unique features, including their all-glass roofs. All Tesla models now come with a glass roof which gives their cars a more open feel than traditionally roofed vehicles. However, does this sleek and open design come with a cost? Glass permits incredible views, but it can also leave drivers and passengers more exposed to the sun’s harmful rays.
Tesla vehicles glass sunroofs are now made with UV protection in mind. The roof panels feature a tinted layer to provide protection from UV light. However, the glass roof may need additional shading for adequate heat protection, and the windows and rear glass panels appear to have less overall protection.
What has Tesla done to ensure UV protection in their glass roofs? Should you get your Tesla’s glass tinted for added protection? What kind of problems can UV exposure cause? This article will answer all these and more!
Why Does a Tesla Roof Need UV Protection?
You may be wondering how worried you should be about UV protection in the Tesla roof. How bad can sunlight be? While being exposed to the sun does not cause immediately felt issues, long term exposure can be damaging. Most of us spend quite a lot of time in our car, and all of that time can add up to quite a lot of sun exposure under Tesla’s glass roof.
Damage to Yourself
The largest area of concern is the damage long time exposure to UV can cause to yourself and your loved ones. UV rays are a form of radiation. They can cause damage to your cells. When mild this damage results in a sunburn, but when more severe it can result in skin cancer.
You definitely do not want a sunburn every time you go on a trip, and you certainly do not want to develop skin cancer. UV rays can hurt us even though we do not necessarily feel the damage happening. Protecting yourself from the beginning is the best policy because by the time you notice the problem it may be too late.
Damage to Your Car
Besides your own body, UV rays can also damage your car, and, as we all know Tesla’s are not cheap, such damage is probably something you want to avoid.
Exposure to UV first causes the colors in your car to fade. Both the dashboard and seats can become faded due to UV exposure leaving your Tesla with a worn-out feel.
The excess heat caused by UV exposure can also do a number on your car. High temperatures can cause components to dry and crack and may cause any temporary stains to become hard and permanent.
Tesla’s New Glass Roof
A lot of people on the internet have been wondering why the glass roof on the Tesla Model 3 and Model X sometimes appears to be a rusty orange color. That color is due to an added layer of UV protection!
Tesla’s glass roofs now consist of a layer designed to reflect the wavelength of UV light. This reflective layer protects your skin from the damage constant exposure to the sun’s rays is bound to cause.
Why is the roof orange then? The glass roof only looks orange when wet. The light reflected through the water droplets is then reflected back by the UV reflective layer, and the result makes the UV layer appear orange. This is the same phenomenon that causes rainbows.
Protective and Functional
The orange color also reveals a hidden technological advancement in Tesla’s UV protected glass. Tesla is not the first one to make glass designed to reflect harmful UV rays, but UV reflective glass normally appears silver or gold.
The silver or gold tint comes from a metallic glass layer. While metallic glass reflects UV light well, it also can obstruct signals from electronic devices such as cell phones and GPS, which can be a large annoyance in a car.
The different color of the Tesla roof’s tint suggests that the UV reflective layer is not metallic glass. This means that Tesla has designed a roof that can protect people from UV rays without disrupting their electronics. Protection now comes without giving up convenience.
Does UV Protection Help with Heat?
UV protection reflects the ultraviolet wavelength of the sun’s rays. Ultraviolet light has a high wavelength and can cause cell damage. UV light is what causes sunburns. It may seem then that if a UV reflective layer is protecting us from sunburn then it must be reducing heat as well. While UV protection does help keep your car cool, the reason may surprise you.
Why Does a Car Heat in the Sun Anyway?
The sun’s rays are made up of three different categories of light: ultraviolet, visible light, and infrared. The types of light differ due to their wavelengths with ultraviolet light being the highest and infrared being the lowest wavelength. What we know as heat is infrared (IR) light. UV light has energy and therefore heat, but what we feel on a warm sunny day is infrared light.
The reason a car heats up so much is due to the greenhouse effect. The higher wavelengths of light (ultraviolet and visible) travel through the glass and give energy to the interior of your car. The interior of your car then radiates that energy as heat (infrared light).
However, because infrared light has a longer wavelength it cannot pass back through the exterior of your car. Instead of being released, the released heat builds. What this means is that it is actually the inside of your car that gives off the heat, but your car gives off this heat because of the energy it absorbed through the sun.
What Effect Does a UV Protective Layer Have on the Greenhouse Effect?
The UV protective layer essentially cuts out one of the wavelengths that your car’s interior is absorbing. It can therefore reduce heat. However, ultraviolet is not the only energy that passes through your car’s windows to be absorbed and radiated as heat. Visible light contributes to this effect as well.
Therefore while cutting down the UV absorption will certainly help, it will not completely eliminate the greenhouse effect and heating of your car. The glass roof still means more visible light will be entering your car.
Tesla seems plenty aware of this shortcoming with their glass roofs as they sell a sunshade that can be installed to block much more visible light. For some, the UV reflection may be enough to keep your car at a reasonable temperature, but if you still find your Tesla a bit toasty, you may need the addition of a sunshade.
Why Should I Care About My Tesla’s Temperature?
Besides comfort, why is a Tesla’s heating properties such a matter of concern? Tesla’s have AC, so you need not feel stuck in an overheated ride.
While Tesla’s do have AC, they are also electric cars. Electric cars aim to save you energy and money, and overheating can get in the way of that. If you have to run the AC constantly to keep your car cool, then you are constantly using energy. Such a scenario will drain your Tesla’s power much faster, resulting in a vehicle that is not as efficient and therefore more costly.
If you took the time to invest in a Tesla, then chances are you care about your energy use. While the ultraviolet reflection does reduce the greenhouse effect, if you find yourself running the AC a lot in your Tesla it could be you are ignoring the impact of visible light. A sunshade may be necessary to give your Tesla full heat protection.
Besides energy efficiency the danger of overheating with a parked car is serious. If your Tesla overheats when parked, you can expect melted water bottles, fried electronics, and serious danger to any living thing left in the car.
Do Tesla Windows Have UV Protection?
Unfortunately, not every piece of glass on the Tesla has that orange tint that signifies the UV reflective layer. The windows and several other places do not offer extra layers of UV protection. Here are the pieces that customers have noticed are missing that telltale orange and whether or not this should cause concern.
The windshield of the Tesla does not have their new UV reflective layer, but there is a very good reason for this. Windshields in all cars already block most UV radiation.
Because of their important position windshields are different from the other pieces of glass in your car. They are made of 3 pieces: two pieces of glass with a layer of plastic in between. Plastic is actually quite good at reflecting UV rays, and with two pieces of glass also giving some protection, windshields protect you from UV rays as they are.
Rear Roof Panel
One puzzling piece that seems to be lacking UV protection is the rear panel of the Tesla roof. Several customers have noted that while their front panel has an orange tint, their back panel appears to be tint free.
It is unclear while Tesla did not give the rear panel the same amount of protection as the front. If you spend most of your time driving solo this will hardly be a concern. However, if you have kids or other regular backseat riders then it may be a serious problem.
If you plan on using the backseat of your Tesla often, then you may want to consider adding extra tinting to your Tesla’s glass to better protect backseat riders.
Another area that is lacking Tesla’s extra upgrade is the windows, but this is true in most cars. While car windshields protect quite well from UV rays, their windows tend to be far less capable in this area. Tesla’s vehicles are no exception to this general rule.
Should you be concerned about this lack of window protection? If you are concerned about UV protection at all, then you probably should be. The left side of your body gets most of its sun exposure through the window, not the windshield and roof.
Studies have shown that there is a greater chance of developing skin cancer on the left side of your body and that you are at higher risk if you drive for many hours a week. This seems to indicate that the lack of UV protection from windows could be a significant problem for those who spend a lot of time behind the wheel.
Does Your Tesla Need Extra Tinting for UV Protection?
If you are not concerned enough about UV protection to get tinting in a normal car, then you probably do not need it in a Tesla either. Tesla has added UV protection to the one area that differs largely from other cars, the glass roof, and this places the Tesla at about the same protection level as most other vehicles.
That being said the protection from harmful UV rays that cars typically offer is not adequate for those at risk. If you have cancer, spend large amounts of time driving, or have especially sensitive skin, then getting your Tesla tinted is worth the effort to protect yourself.
Best Options for Additional Tinting
With that in mind, it can be quite a hassle to pick the right tint for your Tesla. You want something that is both aesthetically pleasing and effective, and there are a ton of options out there. Here are some of the best tints to use on a Tesla.
3M Crystalline Tint
This is a popular tint with Tesla owners because of its near invisibility. The 3M crystalline tint adds no shade to your windows, but it protects against both UV and IR rays.
The 3M crystalline tint will not change the look of your Tesla, but it will protect your skin and keep the interior clearer. Visible light will not be reduced at all with this tint, leaving your cabin open and well-lighted.
Huper Optik Ceramic
Ceramic style tints are top of the line in terms of performance. They reflect almost all UV light as well as a good portion of IR as well. The use of ceramic rather than metal prevents this tint from blocking signals as well. Ceramic tint will add slight shading to your windows.
Huper Optik Ceramic is a high performance and super thin ceramic option. It has even been used in spacecraft! Your Tesla will be well protected with this tint.
XPEL Prime XR Plus
One of the better known high-end tint brands is XPEL, and their top of the line tint is XPEL Prime XR Plus. This is a top-quality tint that both protects and gives your Tesla an elegant look. XPEL Prime XR Plus has even been recognized by the Skin Cancer Foundation for its ability to protect from harmful UV rays.
Some Tesla owners swear by Spectra Photosync as a clear tint alternative to 3M Crystalline. This window film prides itself on its ability to not only reflect 99% of UV but also 99% of IR as well. This product can be harder to find than other tint brands. However, if heat is a major concern it may be worth hunting down Spectra Photosync for your Tesla.
Formula One Pinnacle
If you want a tint that is effective, but also visible for a sleek style, look no further than Formula One Pinnacle. This dyed tint is made to last for years without fading, so it will maintain its high UV and IR reflection. It also looks great and comes in as a cheaper option than many of our other tint options.
Things to Remember When Tinting Your Tesla
Once you have selected a brand there are a few important things to keep in mind when finalizing your Tesla tinting job.
- The main roof panel is already protected! As we have discussed throughout the article, there is a UV reflective layer in the front panel of the glass roof. Therefore, you can save yourself some money by not getting this tinted.
- Keep it legal! Different states have different laws about tinting. Check to see how dark your area allows windows to be tinted before getting any work done. In general, front windshields should not have any shade at all.
- The installer matters as much as the tint! Picking the best tint is only half the battle of getting a great tint for your Tesla. Hiring the right installers can make the difference between a mess and a masterpiece. Make sure to check out reviews, and see if the place you want to hire has worked on luxury cars. It also helps to visit and get a feel for the place before committing!
Tesla’s glass roof is an eye-catching feature, and Tesla has taken steps to ensure that this trademark does not become a health hazard for their customers. Unfortunately, Tesla has not done much to improve the UV protection of the rest of the car, so a tinting job for your Tesla could be worth it for your car’s interior and your health!