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Old 07-04-2020, 04:28 PM   #1
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Before you buy that dark colored motorhome: Temp Tests

I have had from dark colored to light colored motorhomes. When I purchased my current coach, which as you can see in my avatar has a light colored base, someone commented that the color would really help in cooling it. At the time, I tucked that back into my head to do a test someday. My darkest colored coach was a bear to cool when it was over 90 degrees. This one, not too bad.

Yesterday, when the ambient temperature was near 90 degrees and the sun was beating on the side of the unit I got reminded to do the temp tests when I reached for the door handle surrounded by a black bezel and was surprised just how hot it was! I pulled out the heat gun and did some tests. Here's the results, for what they are worth.

My coach has a very dark maroon color in places. One of those places is near the door handle. I couldn't believe this temp!

Next, I tested on a copper color, which I considered kind of a medium color:

Finally, I tested on the base color, which is light:

Almost 40 degrees F of difference dark to light. And no wonder my fingers were scorched when I touched the black door handle! Clearly, your color choice (as well as other factors, of course) will have a significant difference on how hard your AC's have to work in hot weather to cool your coach. Another point is that on the shaded side of the rig, there was still a temperature difference between dark and light colors even after hours of being shaded! It was only a few degrees, but it had been quite a while with no direct sunlight on it.

As long as I was at it I decided to see just what the tire covers did. I have light grey tire covers. Here is the temp on the tire cover:

Here is the temp under the cover on the tire itself:

Looking at the avg temps (I was holding on the target for about 5 seconds) it's almost a 35 degree difference. So not only is the tire cover protecting from harmful UV, it's also keeping the tire substantially cooler. And imagine, based on the color differences above, what a black tire surface temp might have been!

So for what it's worth, these may be things to keep in mind as you go about selecting colors for the coach and various other accessories, especially if you will be using them in hot sunny conditions. It made me wish I would have gotten white tire covers instead of grey and happy that my base coach color is light!

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Old 07-04-2020, 04:33 PM   #2
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That is pretty interesting, thanks for doing that.

Do you happen to remember what the temp were on the shady side?

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Old 07-04-2020, 04:40 PM   #3
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When I lived in Arizona, one of the Phoenix radio stations had an event where they parked identical vehicles (Ford Explorers, if memory serves) of different colors in a parking lot and monitored the interior temperatures as the summer sun roasted everything in sight. The white vehicle was 10 degrees cooler than any of the others. Lighter colors, like silver and yellow, were nearly as hot as the black ones.
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Old 07-04-2020, 04:47 PM   #4
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NCC, thanks for doing the text. Wife and I have been cooking the past few days in 90 degree temps while in a park in Indiana and we’re discussing the same issue. Our current coach is light with a white roof and as we are looking at newer DP,s most of which seem to have dark roofs we were wondering about the heat.

Now we have some idea,

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Old 07-04-2020, 05:01 PM   #5
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Mine is black and grey with a white roof I’ve found that the windshield is a oven and I put a sunscreen on the outside of windshield made all the difference.
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Old 07-04-2020, 05:31 PM   #6
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I worked at a Chrysler dealership for 33 years , you did not want to touch a dark colored car on a hot/sunny day . Or have to get into one with leather seats

The flip side of the story ...ever wonder why radiators are painted black ?

Black dissipates heat faster than other colors .

EDIT: But at 4 PM with not a cloud in sight and no breeze .... that's no help.
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Old 07-04-2020, 06:09 PM   #7
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To say nothing of the paint checking on the dark areas of many coaches. Had a bus conversion that was maroon from the belt line up, painted with 4 coat of kool seal white, it was like I added another air conditioner when I finished!
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Old 07-04-2020, 06:15 PM   #8
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Put a mirror in the direct sunlight next to a piece of glass that is painted black. I bet you can guess the result when you take the temp of the back side.
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Old 07-04-2020, 08:18 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by CJ7365 View Post
That is pretty interesting, thanks for doing that.

Do you happen to remember what the temp were on the shady side?

Yes. The cream color was ambient at 89. The dark and medium colors were 94. It had probably been close to 4 hours + since any direct sunlight had hit that side.
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Old 07-04-2020, 09:01 PM   #10
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Great little experiment! We're in a heat wave here, so I can confirm your findings . We fall in the darker paint colour category.

A great example of why wheel covers are so important when parking for an extended time in hot climates. Also why we use white tire covers, even though they don't look as nice as darker ones. Does a lot to save the life of your rubber tires.
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Old 07-04-2020, 09:07 PM   #11

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Thanks for the info! You can sure tell the difference in temperatures between a dark and a white deck on a bass boat too so it isn't terribly surprising that would translate to a motorhome as well. I would've never guessed it would be a 40 to 50 degree difference though.
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Old 07-04-2020, 09:47 PM   #12
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We did that experiment in 2007 with our light grey Bounder parked next to a friend's dark colored Allegro Bus with both of us parked in full sun on a hot July weekend. We came away with similar temperature differences.

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Old 07-05-2020, 09:38 AM   #13
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Dark colored coaches are beautiful but I definitely don't want one!

Thanks for the info!
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Old 07-05-2020, 11:58 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by jmck1737 View Post
Our current coach is light with a white roof and as we are looking at newer DP,s most of which seem to have dark roofs we were wondering about the heat.
I think you'll find that the dark colors stop at the top of the roof radius and the roof is actually white. At least it's that way on our last two coaches.

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