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Last July, we drove through 12 western states in our E. While it makes a fantastic road tripper, one thing I wish I could change is the amount of heat absorbed through the roof - even with a mid-tone like the kiwi green, the cabin became quite warm whenever we left shade.

Has anyone tried adding a layer of insulation to the roof?

Alternately, has anyone tried vinyl wrapping or plasti-dipping just the roof in a more reflective color?

I understand that Ursa recommends the white top for the e-campers. My thought is to vinyl wrap the top in white. Any thoughts on how challenging this might be, or a general cost estimate?

I've searched the archives, but haven't found anything about this.
 

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sunroof probably isn't helping much. cover that sucker up
 

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A quick and easy partial solution would be to apply a reflective film to the skylight, then leave it open, and crack open the front side windows.

When I applied the film (a gold colored film from Lowes) the difference was immediately noticeable and significant. With the windows open an inch - just enough that their being open is masked by the in-channel rain deflectors, this works well enough that I could leave my dog in the back for up to a half hour. (I tested this on a sunny day at 3 pm in mid July before risking her health.) It would be even nicer if that skylight were motorized, but . . .
 

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I didnt even consider the huge rear sunroof! A cheap way around that is making your own heat shield barrier out of a windshield heat barrier. The roof, once the headliner is lowered or removed, is simple. Inexpensive solutions are heatshield and sound deadening matting used by the classic car industry. Its available in generic rolls usually about $25 for two rolls and a can of adhesive at auto swap meets and car shows. Or you can opt to over spend for a product that does similar with a large brand name on the packaging. While your at it, you may want to do the same to the floor and then add some CLD tiles to the doors and seal up the door cavities. Its amazing what sealing up the doors alone alone will do for cabin noise.

I see Reflectix mentioned. Its near the exact same thing as the windshield heat barriers sold at dollar stores. Same premise, cut your own to fit.
 

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I considered reflectix, but didn't want to sacrifice all the light through the sunroof - just the IR and UV. (The window treatment film is also less expensive than Reflectix ).
 

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I considered reflectix, but didn't want to sacrifice all the light through the sunroof - just the IR and UV. (The window treatment film is also less expensive than Reflectix ).
Hot a tint shop. Radiant heat will enter regardless as the window itself is a heat magnet. Various tints can reflect heat and UV (whoch I believe the factory tinti and window itself is designed to do by default) but radiant heat is what is making the inside toasty. Unless the source is blocked, your spinning your wheels. A compromise may be added tint and a plant on screen.
 

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Go to a reputable tint shop that carries 3M film and ask them to install a ceramic based film on your sun roof. Had this done back in '08 and it's holding up awesome on mine. The ceramic based stuff is awesome. They had a demo box with a red heat lamp set up that they stuck panes of glass with the different films on them in front of, and the ceramic one blocked just about all the radiant heat from the lamp. I was sold. Got it done on all windows, including like I said the sun roof.

And don't listen to the people that will try to tell you that tinting the sunroof will somehow make it explode. It's not true.
 

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Tinted sunroof is absolutely the way to go, I have a 3M ceramic with 5% tint on mine and the difference in interior temp is huge. I also live in the desert, and the sun here can be BRUTAL.

Insulating the interior panels is a waste of effort, you would need a complete barrier between the interior space & the sheet metal and a very thick layer if you wanted to see any real difference in temp. Changing the color of the roof is a very good idea, and a white or mirrored vinyl would do nicely. (although white would probably look better).
Measure the length & width of the roof section & order a roll online. Installation could be a challenge with all of the contours and ribs along the roof, but few if anyone would ever get a very close look at it so imperfections would likely go unnoticed.
 

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I was playing with the idea of getting the roof done with white line-x. The sun out here probably isn't as crazy as desert heat, but we never get a break from it. Sun 365 days a year.
 

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Call around to local shops. It really varies from area to area. Make sure they use high quality stuff though. 3M makes really good film. I paid about $300 back in 2008 to get all my windows done with the ceramic stuff and haven't had any issues with it. Check your local yelp review site to see what people have to say about a shop. Remember that like most things, for the most part you get what you pay for.
 

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Call around to local shops. It really varies from area to area. Make sure they use high quality stuff though. 3M makes really good film. I paid about $300 back in 2008 to get all my windows done with the ceramic stuff and haven't had any issues with it. Check your local yelp review site to see what people have to say about a shop. Remember that like most things, for the most part you get what you pay for.
Yeah, agreed on getting what you pay for. I've just never had any vehicle tinted and didn't even have a general idea. I'll check around for some reviews before I make a decision, thanks.
 

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I was playing with the idea of getting the roof done with white line-x. The sun out here probably isn't as crazy as desert heat, but we never get a break from it. Sun 365 days a year.
I am just a little farther north than you, but its also 5000-7000ft above sea level. Sun shines year long here too, and there is over a mile less atmosphere getting in the way. Its def a desert for a reason, lol

A lot of houses here have white roofing to combat solar gain, it makes a pretty big difference so I dont see why it wouldnt on a vehicle too.

An even better option would be a thermal barrier along the roof top, like a layer of white vinyl but not actually touching the surface of the paint. Then the vinyl would absorb some heat, but none would be transmitted into the roof panel, and if you could get a thin layer of air to move between the vinyl & roof while driving you would get a great level of insulation from solar gain. This has started to catch on with buildings to introduce natural daylighting with minimal solar gains. It can be hard to implement on a structure, but a car that moves? Would take some creativity for sure.
 

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A few years ago it was $250 to have my moms Toyota Matrix tinted with the ceramic stuff. Thats four doors, rear 1/4's and rear hatch.
 

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A roll of the gold/bronze window tint made for house windows, sold at Lowe's for less than $15. It took me less than an hour to apply it more than 7 years ago. I had enough left over material to have done at least one cargo area side window, or redoing the skylight if it ever needed it.

The Element's skylight is a simple DIY job. It can be removed from the vehicle so you can work at a table. Windshields are the hardest to do because the surface is inverted and obstructed, the entire surface can't be covered, and any imperfections are in the drivers line of sight. Side lights are usually easiest to do. (I'd never recommend putting a film over the rear window unless the rear defroster grid is permanently disconnected.)

Most of what you pay for at a shop installing films should be for their labor and experience. Get 2 quotes from shops that have been around for at least 5 years, and compare their warranties for fading (materials) and peeling (labor). To decide if ceramic vs metallic film vs tinted is worth the coast, have the quotes separate the cost of materials and labor. (Run, don't walk, away from a shop that won't break down their quotes.)

Applied to an already neutral colored glass glass*, the only films that deteriorate noticeably over a ten year period are bulk tinted materials and cheap vinyl. On the E's skylight and side windows, there's no significant advantage of ceramic compared to metallic film of the same carrier quality. IR is already rejected by the glass (greenhouse effect); the effectiveness of a window film relies only on the change of optical transmission at visible and UV frequencies.

An unmentioned secondary benefit of film on the skylight is that the plastic barrier lowers heat loss during colder weather.

Be aware that site laws vary widely on the level of tint legally permitted on front side windows; what's legal in Michigan can get you ticketed in Indiana - and if you're pulled over for something else, it doesn't matter in which what state the vehicle is registered. As delivered, the Element has to comply with all state codes for front side window tint.
 

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Hot a tint shop. Radiant heat will enter regardless as the window itself is a heat magnet. Various tints can reflect heat and UV (whoch I believe the factory tinti and window itself is designed to do by default) but radiant heat is what is making the inside toasty. Unless the source is blocked, your spinning your wheels. A compromise may be added tint and a plant on screen.
Rob, you're right up to a point. The tinted window isn't a heat magnet, but a visible to IR converter. I believe that Honda lists the glass as UV-reducing (with the intention of reducing deterioration of the interior finishes).

Whatever is converted to IR from visible and UV by the glass radiates in all directions, inside and out. But whatever visible light is reflected by the discontinuity in reflectivity at each the boundary of the glass, whether with air or a plastic film, isn't absorbed by the interior and re-radiated as IR.

Anyway, I started this by saying to also open the skylight. Whatever heat is generated by the skylight then directly acts to assist a convection current up and out of the car.
 
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