Ninth Symposium on the Urban Environment
19th Symposium on Boundary Layers and Turbulence


Effects of Solar Photovoltaic Panels on Roof Heat Transfer

Anthony Dominguez, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA; and J. Kleissl, M. Samady, and J. C. Luvall

Building Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) is a major contributor to urban energy use. In single story buildings with large surface area such as warehouses most of the heat enters through the roof. A rooftop ‘modification' that has not been examined experimentally is solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays. In California alone, several GW in residential and commercial rooftop PV are approved or in the planning stages. With the PV solar conversion efficiency ranging from 5-20% and a typical installed PV solar reflectance of 16-27%, 53-79% of the solar energy heats the panel. Most of this heat is then either transferred to the atmosphere or the building underneath. Consequently solar PV has indirect effects on roof heat transfer. The effect of rooftop PV systems on the building roof and indoor energy balance as well as their economic impacts on building HVAC costs have not been investigated. Roof calculator models currently do not account for rooftop modifications such as PV arrays. In this study, we report extensive measurements of a building containing a flush mount and a tilted solar PV array as well as exposed reference roof. Exterior air and surface temperature, wind speed, and solar radiation were measured and thermal infrared (TIR) images of the interior ceiling were taken. We found that in daytime the ceiling surface temperature under the PV arrays was significantly cooler than under the exposed roof. The maximum difference of 2.5 degrees C was observed at around 1800h, close to typical time of peak energy demand. Conversely at night, the ceiling temperature under the PV arrays was warmer, especially for the array mounted flat onto the roof. A one dimensional conductive heat flux model was used to calculate the temperature profile through the roof. The heat flux into the bottom layer was used as an estimate of the heat flux into the building. The mean daytime heat flux (1200 – 2000 PST) under the exposed roof in the model was 14.0 W m-2 larger than under the tilted PV array. The maximum downward heat flux was 18.7 W m-2 for the exposed roof and 7.0 W m-2 under the tilted PV array, a 63% reduction due to the PV array. This study is unique as the impact of tilted and flush PV arrays could be compared against a typical exposed roof at the same roof for a commercial uninhabited building with exposed ceiling and consisting only of the building envelope. Our results indicate a more comfortable indoor environment in PV covered buildings without HVAC both in hotter and cooler seasons.

wrf recordingRecorded presentation

Joint Session 4C, Observing and Modeling Boundary Layers Over Complex Urban and Terrain Environments for Energy Applications II
Tuesday, 3 August 2010, 10:30 AM-12:00 PM, Torrey's Peak I&II

Previous paper  

Browse or search entire meeting

AMS Home Page