Solar Gain

What is Solar Gain?

Definition of Solar Gain in Construction

Solar gain is the increase in temperature of a material due to the influence of the sun’s heat. Solar gain is especially important in glazing, roofing and surface temperatures for pool surfaces, or any type of surfaces that individuals may walk on barefooted. Solar gain influences the degree of expansion and contraction of a material, which must be strictly engineered. Solar gain can cause windows to break, highways to buckle or concrete beams to crack. Solar gain is an important engineering element, and can seriously effect such things as wire cables, steel beams, etc. Location of the project is very important in determining the amount of solar gain that should be anticipated when engineering the project. Incorrect evaluation of the solar gain on a material or component, can have devastating effect on the component, as well as its structural capabilities.

The expansion of a long structural component due to solar gain must be properly calculated to determine the type of fittings and end bearing details required. In many instances an end bearing detail may have to be a teflon plate, designed to allow the component to lengthen and shorten, depending up the solar gain and the expansion and contraction. In addition, the deteriorating effects of a structural component due to solar gain based upon its expansion and contraction, over time, can weaken the member and actually cause failure.

When engineering long cables or electrical lines, the effect of the solar gain within the cables can radically affect the cables length causing clearance issues over roadways or watercourses. The term solar gain is also heavily used when engineering any solar energy systems. The solar gain that is achieved by various systems is the key to the efficiency of a solar energy design. Solar gain is a factor in a buildings positioning, the engineering of mechanical systems, the placement of expansion joints, the location of window systems, the design of automatic temperature controls, etc. Solar gain is an extremely important, and interesting element of any building and construction project design, and must be carefully evaluated and engineered.