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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

  • Author(s): Levinson, R;
  • Egolf, M;
  • Chen, S;
  • Berdahl, P
  • et al.

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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