Want to cut down on your energy bills without the fuss and expense of installing solar panels on your roof? Many people aren’t aware that solar reflective paint can reflect heat from the sun, keeping your home cool and moderating your heating costs.
What is solar reflective paint? The pigments used to make solar reflective paints are formulated to reflect the ultraviolet rays of the sun and diffuse the radiant heat. These paints can help keep the internal temperature at a significantly lower level, up to 70%.
It’s true – you can cut back on energy costs with a simple paint job. In this article, let’s take a look at solar reflective paint – what it is, and how you can use it to your benefit during the warmer months.
How Does Solar Reflective Paint Work?
Here’s a lesson that you might have learned in school – colors can absorb heat. Darker colors absorb more heat, and lighter colors absorb less heat, but either way, some heat will be absorbed.
This is why wearing lighter colors during the summer will help your body cool down, and darker colors will make you feel stuffy and hot. This is because sunlight brings heat, and wearing black can trap the heat in your body.
What does this have to do with paint? Well, in uninsulated buildings, the roof and exterior walls can absorb a lot of heat from the sunlight, especially during warmer months, causing the temperature inside to increase.
This means your air conditioning units and fans will need to work extra hard to bring down the temperature, and of course, that comes with a hefty electricity bill.
During the summer, a roof that’s been painted black can reach up to 150°F. Drastic temperature changes between the day and night (when it gets cooler and the roof can cool down) can also cause the material to expand and contract, which can cause cracks and damage your roof quicker.
A solar reflective paint can significantly reduce this effect. Rather than absorbing the sunlight and the heat that comes with it, the paint reflects the UV rays and prevent the heat from entering the building, making it feel cooler inside without having to use air conditioning.
The pigments used to make solar reflective paints are formulated to reflect the ultraviolet rays of the sun and diffuse the radiant heat. These paints can help keep the internal temperature at a significantly lower level, up to 70%.
Of course, by preventing your roof from absorbing the heat, this paint will also increase the longevity of the roof, so you don’t have to do much maintenance.
Benefits Of Solar Reflective Paint
Besides the cooling benefits mentioned above, solar reflective paint is becoming increasingly popular because of the benefits below.
Solar reflective paint can be applied on almost any clean surface, regardless of the material. This means whether your roof is concrete, brick, or even metal, you can apply solar reflective paint on it.
If you have a south-facing wall, you can also use solar reflective paint to cover that wall to protect it from solar heat as well.
Because solar-reflective paint is designed for outdoor use, it is more durable than other types of paint as well.
Compared to standard white paint that is often used for exterior walls and roofs, solar reflective paint does better with withstanding the elements. However, it is still recommended that you clean it and re-paint every so often to maintain a good level of protection.
In humid areas that make your roof prone to fungal growth, solar reflective paint has properties that can protect your roof against fungi. This means you don’t have to worry too much about maintaining your roof if you live in hot, humid regions.
Although solar reflective paint is generally more expensive than other types of paint, the benefits you reap can really pay off the cost of the paint.
Solar reflective paint can take a big chunk out of your electricity cost and provides good protection against the elements, so it takes less money and effort to repair and maintain your roof.
What Can’t Solar Reflective Paint Do?
Contrary to popular belief, solar reflective paint cannot be applied to the inside of buildings to keep them warm. This is because solar reflective paint only reflects sunlight, so without this crucial element, it cannot work.
Although solar reflective paint can make a house cooler in the summer, it cannot be used to keep the house warmer in the winter. This is because the paint does not block infrared light, which means that it can only keep the sunlight out, but not in.
In the winter, the warmth from inside your house may escape through the roof, especially if it’s uninsulated. Unfortunately, solar reflective paint cannot do anything about this effect, so it won’t be able to keep your house warm during the winter.
Along the same line, because the paint reflects heat, it may keep snow and ice from melting off your roof during the colder months. In very cold regions like the Midwest, the accumulation of snow on your roof can really weigh it down and damage your roof, especially if you have a flat roof.
This is why solar-reflective paint is a less popular choice in very cold regions.
And finally, your building may be hot because of other reasons rather than sunlight. Most of the time, uninsulated walls and roofs are the main reason why heat is being transferred inside. This is often seen in industrial buildings and garages.
Although solar reflective paint can somewhat reduce this effect, some air conditioning is still needed to lower the temperature. To significantly lower the temperature, some structural changes need to be done in order to fix this issue, and solar reflective paint alone won’t be able to fix it.
Solar Air Conditioning Vs Solar Reflective Paint
Because of the disadvantages above, solar reflective paint only performs well in areas that don’t have an extremely cold climate.
In other areas, a more well-rounded solution would be solar air conditioning. Solar air conditioning is a type of system that uses solar panels to create electricity to run its air conditioning unit.
The panels absorb solar heat and keep the sun from hitting the roof, thus preventing the building from heating up, while the electricity generated from the solar panels is fed to your air conditioning system, which means it actively works to lower your electricity consumption.
During the winter months, you don’t have to worry about the performance of solar air conditioning, as the solar panels perform well regardless of weather conditions. This is why solar air conditioning is preferred in colder regions.
However, solar air conditioning can be considered quite a big investment, as solar panels do cost a lot to set up and maintain. However, many people say that solar panels can pay for themselves as time goes by since you can save quite a big sum of electricity costs.
You will also need to provide regular maintenance of your solar panels to keep them working smoothly.
Because of these disadvantages, many people still prefer solar reflective paint over solar panels. Painting a roof is a one-off job that is cost-effective and doesn’t require a lot of regular maintenance, and it can perform quite well during the summer months.
Depending on the climate that you live in and your budget, you can opt for a solution that works well for you.
How To Apply Solar Reflective Paint
Solar reflective paint is relatively simple to apply since it works well on most clean surfaces. Let’s take a look at how to apply solar reflective paint on your roof or an exterior wall.
When we say this paint works well on most clean surfaces, the emphasis is on the word “clean.”
That means all cracks should be filled in, all dirt and grease need to be removed with a degreaser and a power washer. If you want to go the extra mile, you should apply a fungicidal wash to remove any algae.
This step will take time but is highly necessary to ensure that the paint will stick to the surface and perform well. After this step, you should wait at least 24 hours for the surface to dry completely before applying the solar reflective paint.
Apply the Solar Reflective Paint
When painting a roof or an exterior wall, the most important advice we can give you is to watch out for rain. This applies to all types of paint, not just solar reflective paint.
The best time to paint a roof is during a dry, cool day with low humidity and a low chance of rain. Your paint will need to take some time to dry, so don’t just look at the weather on the day you plan to paint, but also the following two to three days to make sure the paint can dry properly.
When you are ready to paint, apply a thin coat of the paint first, and let it cure for at least 24 hours. After the first coat is completely dry, you can apply the second coat and let it dry.
After 24 hours, the solar reflective paint should be ready to keep sunlight and heat out of your building.