Shade Cloth Color Question

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Shade Cloth Color Question

Postby alexcaste » Wed Mar 19, 2014 12:20 pm

Hi,

I have a question about colors and heat on the playa. I know Black absorbs and transmits heat. I am wondering if anyone has ever used any of the following colors of shade cloth and what their experience with it was:

Black
Green
Blue
Red
white

I have a 26x26 piece of 80% aluminet I am using for the roof of the shade structure but I am thinking of getting woven shade cloth for siding in order to save money.

Most of the shade cloth comes in 50 - 80% shade.

Any suggestions?
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Re: Shade Cloth Color Question

Postby Sham » Wed Mar 19, 2014 12:48 pm

Over the years, we have used so many different colors and fabrics for shade. I guess if it just blocks the sun, it will work. If you already have a material, then I would go with that.
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Re: Shade Cloth Color Question

Postby FossaFerox » Wed Mar 19, 2014 12:50 pm

Lighter (and less red) colors will be slightly cooler, provided they aren't a lower %shade rating, but the effect will be minimal so if the price is different I would personally let that be the deciding factor. What sort of structure are you building? Square EMT frame with canopy fittings?
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Re: Shade Cloth Color Question

Postby tamarakay » Wed Mar 19, 2014 6:06 pm

You can't beat 90% black . We have the white/blue color and it's nice, but the 90% black kicks serious butt.
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Re: Shade Cloth Color Question

Postby TT120 » Wed Mar 19, 2014 6:10 pm

Yellow with pink polka dots would be the coolest by far.
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Re: Shade Cloth Color Question

Postby Elorrum » Wed Mar 19, 2014 6:59 pm

TT120 wrote:Yellow with pink polka dots would be the coolest by far.

I think the model number for that is M432-itsybitsyteenywheeny.
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Re: Shade Cloth Color Question

Postby trilobyte » Wed Mar 19, 2014 7:31 pm

Silver reflects the most and retains the least of the sun's energy by a large margin, which is why it's so much more expensive. When you look at prices and see how much cheaper the other cloth options are, remind yourself that the price reflects how much more crappy it might be in a desert. Second best is white, and then the energy efficiency drops even more significantly. The target audience for that stuff isn't using it in the desert, they're using it for greenhouses and farms in more temperate climates.

You can kind of buy yourself a pass if you're just doing some kind of flat-top (ie no side walls), or is open on at least two sides....plus has at least a couple feet clearance above the tops of the heads or tents you'll have underneath.
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Re: Shade Cloth Color Question

Postby tamarakay » Thu Mar 20, 2014 12:24 pm

Oh I don't know Trilo, people say that about the silver, but during the heat of the day it was hard to find a seat under my black 90% shade cloth monkey hut. Of course everything was a nice dusty white/grey/beige mix by then.
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Re: Shade Cloth Color Question

Postby Canoe » Thu Mar 20, 2014 6:24 pm

Trilo is technically correct. The black will absorb more heat, both from the sun and radiated heat (hot air, sun-baked ground). And black radiates heat easier, so more heat is radiated down at you from the cloth (and some away from you: in simple terms, radiates equally in all directions).

But due to the nature of Shade Cloth, with some shelter designs, the difference in shade cloth colour is not a huge factor. Particularly with a breeze outside that is cooling the cloth to take away some of the absorbed heat, so it lowers the amount of heat that the cloth has available to radiate. If the shelter isn't an enclosed box, the air flow inside, even if convective up a wall, helps cool the cloth from the inside too, further reducing the amount of heat it will radiate at you. When the air can blow through the shade cloth, this really maximizes removing heat from the shade cloth before it radiates at you. And the hottest air will rise to the top, usually far away from occupants. Combine those and this is why the extra space Trilo recommends helps a lot.

The other twist that comes into play with some shelter designs, is that heat within the shelter also radiates. If the inside walls/ceiling are silver/light, more of the inside heat that you and other objects radiate away, is reflected back at you. If the inside is black, much more of that heat is absorbed; and if a breeze is removing heat from that wall/ceiling before it's radiated back at you, so much the better. So some black interior shelters do very very well for their occupants, even if they're left scratching their heads while they puzzle why.

The opposite can also occur, where one side is open with sunlight and radiated heat pouring in the opening, reflecting off the silver/light sides and onto you, much like a solar oven.

The main benefit of Shade Cloth is that it blocks a portion of the direct sunlight and direct radiated heat from reaching you.

So how do you predict which colour of Shade Cloth will be optimum - or disastrous - for your shelter design? I don't know of a way. This is why you want to find out what worked on playa for the type of shelter you're considering: the type of material (cheaper cloth vs. shade cloth), it's shade/sun spec, and its colour, and even the orientation of the shelter relative to the sun. Hard to beat Playa-Tested©)'( designs and materials.
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Re: Shade Cloth Color Question

Postby BBadger » Thu Mar 20, 2014 9:09 pm

According to D.H. WIllits, who did a study on shade cloth for greenhouses, white shade cloth is almost always better than black. You can read about all this from another post on the subject.

Basic reason: the black shade cloth has a higher emissivity, which means it absorb and emit light (and heat). The light that it absorbs will usually be converted to heat and radiated back out. What you can do is keep the shade cloth itself cool (such as by using water), and then it'll work extremely well.

Also, if you're going to buy 90% black shade cloth for a monkey hut, you should just go buy silvered tarps as they will be far more opaque, usually cheaper, and reflect more heat than black shade cloth. They're also useful for blocking rain.
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Re: Shade Cloth Color Question

Postby Canoe » Thu Mar 20, 2014 10:20 pm

BBadger wrote:... the black shade cloth has a higher emissivity, which means it absorb and emit light (and heat). The light that it absorbs will usually be converted to heat and radiated back out...

This is the problem with taking partially understood information, and applying it out of context instead of accounting for all meaningful factors in a system. You can see how the total in some of the cases with dark vs. light interiors, it can end up elsewhere than one would reasonably intuitively expect it to.
tamarakay wrote:You can't beat 90% black . We have the white/blue color and it's nice, but the 90% black kicks serious butt.

There is reflectance and there is emmisivity. They add up to 1. And that is confused by visible reflectance vs. heat reflectance vs. total reflectance, and the same again in emmisivity (although they're much better than black asphalt roof tiles, the white roof paint documentation uses that to good effect to obscure how much light & heat the white absorbs). But things will absorb light into heat and heat into heat. Ignoring selective materials, if something is good at reflecting, it is poor at absorbing and equally poor at emitting. If it's reflectance is 92%, it's absorption is ~8%., it's emmisivity should be ~8%.

So yes, shiny aluminum will absorb less heat than matt aluminum, and matt aluminum less than white, and white in turn less than black. Lighter materials will have a more difficult time radiating their absorbed heat away. Where black is good at absorbing (both light into heat and absorbing radiated heat directly), it is equally good at radiating that heat out again. And it will radiate it away, unless something else happens to remove a portion of that heat. But this is in isolation from what happens when it interacts with the environment.

Another twist due to the fact that surfaces aren't truly flat, but textured: a portion of the heat radiated away from a surface will encounter another nearby part of that same surface, and subject to absorption. So a white surface will reabsorb less of what it radiates compared to a black surface, such that a highly textured white surface can have a net emissivity greater than a smoother black surface. (edit. doesn't apply here, so you can ignore)

The wind on the playa will be working to remove whatever heat has been absorbed by the shade cloth, regardless of colour. The wind is providing a similar, if less efficient, benefit as the water does on the green house shade cloth (water is cooler than playa air and it has an additional swamp-cooler/evaporative-cooling benefit), in that the wind is removing heat from the shade cloth before it is radiated down.
The wind will be somewhat more efficient at removing heat from black than from white, as it is both conductive heat transmission and radiated transfer to the air blowing through/across it. As all of the shade cloth heat is not preserved to be radiated above and below the cloth, the differences between "silver" and white, while there is a real difference, are not as great as one would expect. Hence why Trilo's recommendation works.

Now go back and read what can happen with black interiors for some structures, and with some with light interiors, keeping in mind reflectance & absorption add up to 1 and absorption ~equals emmisivity, and the wind removing a portion of the heat from shade cloth before it radiates.

So again, due to the weird way in which things can add up, we're still at:
find out what worked on playa for the type of shelter you're considering: the type of material (cheaper cloth vs. shade cloth), it's shade/sun spec, and its colour, and even the orientation of the shelter relative to the sun. Hard to beat Playa-Tested©)'( designs and materials.


p.s.
you can take the same info on reflectance vs. absorption, combining it with conductance and insulation, and look at the performance of the various treatments for enhancing the performance of coolers on the playa.
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Re: Shade Cloth Color Question

Postby EspressoDude » Fri Mar 21, 2014 6:27 am

color won't make much difference after day one, because it all becomes playa colored after the first dust storm. however based on my experience 80% aluminet works better than other colors, at about 4X cost.
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Re: Shade Cloth Color Question

Postby Ulisse » Fri Mar 21, 2014 9:17 am

Bbadger and Canoe are almost exactly right except that wind cannot remove heat unless the heat is contained in something that the wind moves away from the shelter. In other words, if the shelter is wet, water will absorb some of the heat energy contained in the tarp, shade cloth, whatever and when wind moves across it water is blown away from the shade cloth and it will take heat away with it. A dry tarp will not lose heat because of wind.
Heat is energy, as is light. Can you blow light around?
When you feel cooler with a wind blowing on you it is because the breeze is blowing sweat off your body.
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Re: Shade Cloth Color Question

Postby theCryptofishist » Fri Mar 21, 2014 10:02 am

I suspect that the reason silver is more expensive, is not that it is better in some absolute sense, but that it is made of more expensive material...
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Re: Shade Cloth Color Question

Postby Canoe » Fri Mar 21, 2014 7:40 pm

Ulisse wrote:... except that wind cannot remove heat unless the heat is contained in something that the wind moves away from the shelter. ... A dry tarp will not lose heat because of wind...

I have a surprise for you. Air is made of something. The air against and nearby the Shade Cloth is heated by the Shade Cloth (both radiated and conducted heat transfer), and that heated air is moved on by more air (wind), taking it's heat energy away with it, and replaced by more air with which more heat transfer occurs. This is greatly enhanced when air can flow through the Shade Cloth, as heat transfer is significantly greater (surface area, boundary layers, turbulence, refresh flow, etc.). Which is why this method of heat removal works very well with Shade Cloth and not as well with solid weaves or tarps (where it's limited by, mainly, surface area and boundary layers).

A dry tarp that is hotter than the air blowing on it will lose heat because of wind (but that is limited by a number of factors), but usually not enough heat lost to offset the heat it's gaining (directly from the sun and radiated from the sun-baked ground).

Heat will radiate, and heat will transfer when there's a temperature difference.

> if the shelter is wet, water will absorb some of the heat energy contained in the tarp, shade cloth, whatever
correct, but

> and when wind moves across it water is blown away from the shade cloth and it will take heat away with it
> when you feel cooler with a wind blowing on you it is because the breeze is blowing sweat off your body
two reasons: one the same as wind cooling a dry tarp, the other, try looking up evaporative cooling
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Re: Shade Cloth Color Question

Postby A-RockLeFrench » Fri Mar 21, 2014 8:13 pm

So Canoe, Are you like, some kind of scientist or something?
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Re: Shade Cloth Color Question

Postby Canoe » Fri Mar 21, 2014 8:16 pm

definitely or something

I have a strong curiosity on how and why things work, and a friend who was a thermal engineer who'd buy the beer.
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Re: Shade Cloth Color Question

Postby alexcaste » Tue Apr 08, 2014 9:17 am

FossaFerox wrote:Lighter (and less red) colors will be slightly cooler, provided they aren't a lower %shade rating, but the effect will be minimal so if the price is different I would personally let that be the deciding factor. What sort of structure are you building? Square EMT frame with canopy fittings?


Yes I am building a square emt frame with a aluminett top and was looing to see what shade cloth to buy for the sides. The people on the greenhouse store told me to buy white in order to not absorb heat but I had remembered and seen plenty of pics of black shade cloth being used.
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Re: Shade Cloth Color Question

Postby FossaFerox » Tue Apr 08, 2014 11:21 am

The difference would be minimal as mentioned above and it would come down to mostly the %shade rating. That being said, for side walls it's worth pointing out that your southern and eastern sides matter a lot more than the north and west since it's the morning sun you really care about.
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Re: Shade Cloth Color Question

Postby Token » Tue Apr 08, 2014 8:17 pm

This is the color you will see on any shade cloth within the hour
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And real NATO camo netting is by far the coolest thing ever.
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Re: Shade Cloth Color Question

Postby trilobyte » Thu Apr 10, 2014 6:45 am

Ours stayed silver throughout the week. It's not that it was made of magic or we did anything to brush off the dust, I think it was the natural airflow and gentle motion of the moving shade cloth that kept most dust from settling on it.
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