California To Require Heat-Reflecting Vehicle Windows, Starting With 2012 Model Year


You won't need this any more. And neither will baby need a sunscreen.
Image credit:Alohakine.com, window sun shade.

This past spring California Air Resources Board (CARB) was actively considering a regulation that required new vehicles to be painted with coatings formulated to reduce absorption of the sun's heat, lowering the vehicle's air conditioning load, and thereby improving vehicle efficiency. (Opposition to the paint rule was strong for technical and for political reasons; but, it's still under consideration.) See Cool Cars: Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Efficiency for details. In its latest move to control heat input to cars, CARB has now approved a proposed requirement for solar gain-reducing windows. Besides boosting mileage, heat controlling windows would make cars a lot more comfortable on hot days. However, some argue that the technology will 'interfere with wireless communications'. Read on for details.
From the CARB press release:-

Cooler cars mean less air conditioning thereby increasing fuel efficiency and preventing about 700,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere in 2020 - roughly the equivalent of taking 140,000 cars off the road for a year.

"This is a common-sense and cost-effective measure that will help cool the cars we drive and fight global warming," said ARB ChairmanMary D. Nichols. "It represents the kind of innovative thinking we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our vehicles and steer our economy toward a low-carbon future....

The regulation has two steps. Over a three-year period starting in 2012 windows in new cars sold in California must prevent 45 percent of the sun's total heat-producing energy from entering the car, with the windshield rejecting at least 50 percent of the sun's energy.

In 2016 car manufacturers will be required to install windows in new cars sold in California that prevent at least 60 percent of the sun's heat-producing rays from entering the cars interior, or propose alternative technologies to achieve an equivalent result.

Costs for the windows are expected to average $70 for the 2012 standard, and about $250 for the 2016 standard, with annual savings in gas of $16 and $20 respectively. Costs would be recouped over a five to twelve year period.

Here's the money slide from a recent CARB public hearing on thie topic (via pdf from CARB presentation at hearing.)

Don't be making any direct leaps from cars to buildings and speculating on government over-reaches to come. Cars with internal combustion engines produce waste heat year round - if a car is compared to a building, its engine would be a furnace that's always on, even when it's hot out. Unlike a car, you might want heat pouring in through a buildings' windows during the cooler months of the year. The CARB proposal, then, is not directly applicable to buildings.

For EV's and plug-in hybrids which are highly battery dependent, like the Volt, this glazing technology is even more important. Instead of using your batteries to run an electric air conditioning compressor at full load as you leave the parking lot mid-day, you keep the juice for the cruise.

As for the worries about interfering with wireless signals: what would you rather have, a climate catastrophe or the ability to know how hot it is outside your car via a thermister transponding a temperature signal from the car's antenna tip? Although invisible nano-bits of metal coated on the windows, as proposed, would partially function as a "Faraday Cage" I'm sure there are engineers clever enough to solve the problem.

A TreeHugger prediction.
If you were born before roughly 1960 you will recall that until the early 1980's most cars sold in the USA were without original equipment air conditioning when they arrived at the dealers. You had to take your car to an aftermarket shop to have one installed. By the late 80's, car makers had caught on, and air conditioning became a "standard" feature, not an option that others supplied to customers.

Same for music. Until the mid-eighties most cars came with truly crappy AM radios, if anything. A huge aftermarket developed for decent sound system installation, leading to OEM makers eventually catching on and capturing that business for themselves - quite belatedly.

The same thing willo happen once cool cars meeting the California standard are driven by people who live in other hot states. Where was Detroit on this all along? Why does government have to lead the way?

Related posts.
Car windows up & AC on versus windows down: which is more efficient?
Lighter Roofs Could Save $1Billion USD Annually
Solar Powered Prius Could Be First Hybrid With Solar

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