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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Experimental comparison of pyranometer, reflectometer, and spectrophotometer methods for the measurement of roofing product albedo


Albedo (solar reflectance) can be measured outdoors with a pyranometer or indoors with a hemispherical reflectometer or a spectrophotometer. The current study evaluates these methods and their applicability to roofing materials by measuring and comparing the ASTM E1918 (pyranometer), non-ASTM E1918A (alternative pyranometer), ASTM C1549 (reflectometer), and E903 (spectrophotometer) albedos of 10 roofing products, including three single-ply membranes, one asphalt shingle, three roofing aggregates, and three high-profile tiles. It uses full-size (4 m × 4 m) assemblies in the E1918 and E1918A trials; corrects the E1918 albedos to remove shadow and background errors; and evaluates C1549 and E903 albedos with two different irradiance spectra, one global horizontal and the other beam normal. E1918A albedos matched E1918 corrected (E1918_cor) albedos to within 0.036. Agreement between C1549 air mass 1 global horizontal (C1549_G1) albedo and E1918_cor albedo was within 0.015 for membrane and shingle coupons, and within 0.031 for aggregates, though the uncertainty in the latter agreement was up to 0.043. After minor corrections, C1549_G1 albedos of flat or slightly convex tile chips were 0.032–0.052 higher than the E1918_cor albedos of their corresponding high-profile tile assemblies because high-profile surfaces have concavities. Switching to the beam-normal albedo C1549_1.5E increased the C1549 albedos of the 10 tested products by 0.004–0.054, with the largest increases (C1549_1.5E – C1549_G1) accruing to spectrally selective cool colors. Using C1549_1.5E albedo to characterize a chip of a cool-colored tile compounded the error induced by representing a high-profile surface by a flat or slightly convex specimen.

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