Summer is officially here, and with that comes pool parties, barbeques and road trips. Be careful though! When a car is left in the warm sun all day, it can result in dangerously hot interior temperatures. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, when outside temperatures are at 80 F or above, the inside of our cars can reach up to 172 F.
To help drivers and passengers stay cool, there are a few insider tricks that today’s engineers can use, including:
- Transparent infrared reflective film – This feature can be incorporated into the vehicle windshield and side windows. This film created by BASF reflects most of the near solar infrared radiation but doesn’t inhibit any other frequencies, such as a cellphone or GPS signals, a necessity in today’s connected world. It is also fully colorless and transparent for visible light.
- Cool pigments that reflect infrared rays – BASF has new pigments that allow black and other dark surfaces to reflect the sun’s heat. These pigments can be used in exterior coating applications and interior applications such as the dashboard or leather seats. Typically carbon black only reflects five percent of the sun’s radiation. In comparison, these new pigments can reflect more than 30 percent.
- High-performance foam – Foam can be used as an insulator. Conventional foam is too thick for automotive applications but this new foam is thinner thanks to microscopic, dense structures engineered by BASF. It offers five to seven times better insulation than conventional foam of the same thickness so it can be placed into tight spaces of a car and still maintain the insulation properties.
These solutions not only keep the vehicle interior cooler but also reduce the amount of energy needed to run the air conditioning and return the car to its optimal, comfortable temperature.
Some other quick tips for drivers this summer:
- Park in the shade – This seems pretty obvious but it really does make a big difference.
- Use a radiant barrier system (RBS) car shade – According to the Florida Solar Energy Center, these shades help reduce the interior air temperature by 3 to 5 F and provide an additional 6 to 11 F reduction for the steering wheel and dashboard temps.
- Place a towel or cloth over the steering wheel and seats – This is especially helpful on leather since it has a relatively high thermal conductivity.
- Crack a window slightly or vent the sun roof – Both offer ventilation and reduce the amount of stagnant, steamy air in the car. In addition, if time is not of the essence, open all of the doors prior to entering the vehicle, allowing more of the heat to escape.
These tips are designed to make the car more comfortable upon re-entry. Even with the additional heat management features, interior temperatures could still reach dangerous levels and cause heatstroke, therefore, children and pets should never be left in the car.
Keep cool and stay tuned for other automotive heat management solutions that can make a difference and save fuel, energy and air conditioning use.