Impact of Paint Color on Rest Period Climate Control Loads in Long-Haul Trucks

Jason Aaron Lustbader, Cory Kreutzer, Matthew A. Jeffers, Steven Adelman, Skip Yeakel, Philip Brontz, Kurt Olson, James Ohlinger

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

7 Scopus Citations


Cab climate conditioning is one of the primary reasons for operating the main engine in a long-haul truck during driver rest periods. In the United States, sleeper cab trucks use approximately 667 million gallons of fuel annually for rest period idling. The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory's (NREL) CoolCab Project works closely with industry to design efficient thermal management systems for long-haul trucks that minimize engine idling and fuel use while maintaining occupant comfort. Heat transfer to the vehicle interior from opaque exterior surfaces is one of the major heat pathways that contribute to air conditioning loads during long-haul truck daytime rest period idling. To quantify the impact of paint color and the opportunity for advanced paints, NREL collaborated with Volvo Group North America, PPG Industries, and Dometic Environmental Corporation. Initial screening simulations using CoolCalc, NREL's rapid HVAC load estimation tool, showed promising air-conditioning load reductions due to paint color selection. Tests conducted at NREL's Vehicle Testing and Integration Facility using long-haul truck cab sections, "test bucks," showed a 31.1% of maximum possible reduction in rise over ambient temperature and a 20.8% reduction in daily electric air conditioning energy use by switching from black to white paint. Additionally, changing from blue to an advanced color-matched solar reflective blue paint resulted in a 7.3% reduction in daily electric air conditioning energy use for weather conditions tested in Colorado. National-level modeling results using weather data from major U.S. cities indicated that the increase in heating loads due to lighter paint colors is much smaller than the reduction in cooling loads.

Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages9
StatePublished - 2014
EventSAE 2014 World Congress and Exhibition - Detroit, MI, United States
Duration: 8 Apr 201410 Apr 2014


ConferenceSAE 2014 World Congress and Exhibition
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityDetroit, MI

Bibliographical note

Posted with permission; See NREL/CP-5400-61084 for preprint

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5400-61866

Other Report Number

  • SAE Paper No. 2014-01-0680


  • cab climate conditioning
  • CoolCab
  • CoolCalc
  • Dometic Environmental
  • long-haul trucks
  • PPG
  • thermal management
  • Volvo


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