Solar panels help cool buildings, says study

Sunday 18 September 2011 17:32

As well as providing a source of alternative energy, roof-mounted solar panels could also have the extra benefit of cooling the house or workplace on which they are fitted says a new report.

The findings come as part of a study conducted by Jan Kleissal and his team at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering in America due to be printed in an upcoming issue of the journal Solar Energy.  

The study, the first peer-reviewed one of its kind, used thermal imaging to monitor the temperature of buildings. The researchers found that during daylight hours the ceiling of a building with solar panels was five degrees Fahrenheit (2.8 degrees Celsius) cooler than the ceiling of an equivalent building without solar panels.

The team found that the cooling effect of the solar panels impacted the building's total energy costs and amounted to a 38 percent reduction in " annual cooling load" - the rate at which heat is removed from a conditioned space and the amount required to maintain a constant temperature.

The research team also found that the solar panels had insulating benefits - enabling the building to retain heat during the nighttime.

A summary of the article is available to read on ScienceDirect and can be purchased in full from the same site.

The latest innovations in solar technology were recently exhibited at the 20th Intersolar event, June 8-11, and at the Greenbuild Expo, June 29-30 in the UK. One of the major themes at both events was solar thermal technology or solar heating systems.

Later in the year, solar technology will also be exhibited at Solar Power International in the United States, October 17-20. In addition to showcasing the latest solar technologies, the event, which is expected to attract over 24,000 visitors, will host a series of seminars and workshops.

Solar Power International: 
Report - Effects of solar photovoltaic panels on heat roof transfer:

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