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Are Cool Panels Right for Your Metal Building?

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December 8, 2017

The Pros and Cons of Choosing Cool-Coated Steel Panels

Many people now opt for cool-coated steel roofing when ordering their metal building.  In locations with sizzling summer heat, cool metal roofing slashes sky-high utility bills.

Buildings gobble up 40% of U.S. energy expenditures.  According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), heating, air conditioning, and ventilation also devour 40% of a commercial building’s utility costs.

What Exactly are Cool Panels?

In our last blog we covered why steel exterior PBR panels are preferred over R-panels.  Cool panels go a step further.

In essence, a cool-coated panel is a PBR or standing seam roof panel painted with a special baked-on, ultra-reflective paint.

All roofing absorbs heat from the sun.  The darker the roofing material is, the hotter the roof.  On a 90 degree Fahrenheit day, the surface temperature on a white roof reaches 110 degrees.

However, the temperature on a black roof soars to mind-boggling 190 degrees!  Dark roofing also absorbs 90% of the solar energy hitting its surface.

Heat from the roof transfers into the building.  Already working overtime to fight sweltering summer temperatures, an air conditioning system must battle even harder to combat heat transference from the roof.

New technology in reflective paints allows cool-coated steel panels to reflect the sunlight and ultraviolet (UV) radiation back into the atmosphere.  That cools the surface of the roof as much as 60 degrees!

What are the Advantages of Cool Panels on a Metal Building?

Reflective-pigment panels deliver impressive benefits in heat-prone climates:

  • A cooler roof equals a cooler building interior.  Cool-coated panels slash air conditioning costs by 15% or more.
  • Cooler roofs equal a more comfortable building interior in the summer.  Even building areas without climate-control are cooler.
  • Durable cool-coated pigments maintain 95% of their reflectivity over years of use.
  • All high-quality metal panel paints enjoy built-in resistance to discoloration with aging.
  • A cooler roof reduces strain on the building’s air conditioning system.  A less stressed air conditioning unit will last longer.
  • Areas surrounding the building will also be cooler with reflective-paint panels.
  • Harmful UV rays bounce away from the roof, drastically decreasing chemical damage to the roof itself.
  • Extreme heat causes thermal fatigue on any roofing material.  Therefore, cooler roof temperatures extend the lifespan of the roof.
  • Surprisingly, reflective paints work great in any color.  There is no need to stick to boring white if you want a more dynamic color.

Environmental Benefits

Cool-coated panels bring environmental benefits, too, by:

  • reducing strain on power plants, helping to avoid blackouts and power outages.
  • using less energy, dropping levels of pollution and chemical emissions in power plants.
  • relieving the urban heat island effect.
  • extending the lifetime of the roof.
  • reducing the eleven million tons of roofing materials discarded into overcrowded landfills each year.

As an added green benefit, all steel sheathing panels contain a high level of recycled content.  At the end of their lifecycle, steel panels are 100% recyclable, too.

A number of counties across the country no require cool roofing on new construction to meet local energy codes.

Are Cool Panels Right for Everyone?

Cool panels work best in hot southern climates.  Areas with mild summers or bitter winters will not benefit from cool metal panels.

In extremely moist, tropical climates, cool roofing tends to attract algae or mold.  However, some cool panel brands include algae and mold-fighting chemicals in the reflective paint to mitigate the problem.  In some locations, the reflective glare of cool metal roofs might annoy neighbors— especially if their taller structures overlook the cool-panel-clad lower metal building.

RHINO Cool Metal Building Panels

Speak to a RHINO Steel Building Systems metal building specialist today at 940.383.9566.  Ask them about cool-coated steel panels.  They will help you decide if cool panels are right for your building project.  RHINO offers cool-coated steel wall and roof panels in a palette of striking colors.

For metal building ideas, visit the RHINO gallery.

- by Bruce Brown,
Steel Building Systems, Inc

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