absorbers of heat

Which Surfaces are Good Radiators and Absorbers of Heat?

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The ability of surfaces to manage heat depends on various factors, such as composition, color, texture, and design. Moreover, it’s important to understand the mechanics for numerous applications, ranging from building materials to solar energy systems. In general, dark-colored and rough surfaces tend to be good radiators and absorbers of heat, while light-colored and smooth surfaces are better reflectors.

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Heat radiating surfaces emit thermal energy effectively; dark colors have the ability to absorb incident radiation and emit heat: The absorption coefficient of dark pigments is the underlying reason for the transfer. Nonetheless, the difference between radiating bodies and their emissivity with respect to color is negligible.

Rough or textured surfaces are good radiators for several reasons: They have a large surface area with irregularities and microscopic features that ensure better heat dissipation. Metal surfaces (aluminum, copper, galvanized iron, etc.), on the other hand, are known for high thermal conductivity. Their reflective properties affect the radiating process: Polished metal surfaces can reflect a significant amount of incident radiation, reducing the absorption and radiation capabilities.

Dark-colored surfaces, as mentioned earlier, tend to be effective absorbers due to their high absorption coefficient. The absorbed radiation is converted into heat energy, leading to an increase in temperature. That’s why dark surfaces are used to absorb heat and increase the temperature of the structure.

Materials with high thermal conductivity, such as metals, are good absorbers of heat. When exposed to thermal radiation, metals can rapidly absorb and conduct heat through their structure. This property makes them suitable for roofing applications in cold regions.

However, it is important to note that good radiators may not necessarily be good absorbers and vice versa. The ability to radiate and absorb heat depends on the specific properties and characteristics of the surface material.

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What is Emissivity?

The concept of emissivity is also worth considering. Emissivity is a measure of a surface’s ability to emit thermal radiation relative to a perfect black body (emissivity = 1). Surfaces with higher emissivity values tend to be better radiators and absorbers of heat. For example, dark-colored or oxidized metals often have higher emissivity values compared to polished or reflective surfaces.

Different Surfaces and Their Characteristics

  1. Low-Sloped Roofs
  • Rise to Run Ratio:Less than 9.5 degrees (from the horizontal)
  • Solar Reflectance:55
  • Thermal Emittance:75
  • Solar Reflective Index:Greater than 90
  1. Metallic Roofs
  • Solar Reflectance:Greater than 0.55
  • Thermal Emittance:70 – 0.85
  • Solar Reflective Index:Greater than 82
  1. Liquid Polyurethane Coatings
  • Solar Reflectance:77
  • Thermal Emittance:90
  • Solar Reflectance Index:29

Solar Reflectivity & Color Theory

Solar reflectance is the capability of a surface to reflect the Sun’s rays from the surface to the atmosphere. The SRV (Solar Reflectance Value) ranges from 0 to 1; 0 indicating total absorbance and 1 signifying total reflectance.  Below are some common colors and their SR values:


Color SR
Aluminum Zinc 0.68
Oyster White 0.61
Ash Grey 0.46
Almond 0.63
Slate Grey 0.37


Dark-colored surfaces, particularly those with rough textures, tend to be good radiators and absorbers of heat. This is because dark colors absorb a larger portion of incident radiation, while rough surfaces provide increased surface area for efficient heat dissipation. Metal surfaces, known for their high thermal conductivity, can also be effective radiators and absorbers. It is important to consider the specific characteristics of surfaces, including their composition, color, texture, and emissivity, when evaluating their ability to radiate and absorb heat.

If you want to know more about reflective and absorbent surfaces, connect with Lakhwa Chemical Services, the best company in Karachi, Pakistan.

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