Q:

Why does white reflect heat?

A:

Quick Answer

White objects reflect all light in the visible spectrum, which means they absorb the least heat, explains the University of California, Santa Barbara. Although light energy can be turned into heat energy, the two are not the same. As a result, stating that white reflects heat is incorrect.

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Full Answer

As an object receives and absorbs light, it also absorbs heat, as light is energy that can be converted into heat. The object absorbs some wavelengths of that light (in other words, some colors) and it reflects all others. As absorbed light turns into heat, objects that absorb more light get hotter. Black objects, which absorb all colors and reflect none, get hotter than other objects, all other things being equal. White objects, which reflect all light, behave in exactly the opposite way.

The amount of energy absorbed by an object depends not only on how light or dark it is, but also on the type of light it receives, the intensity of the light and its angle. As different colors of light are different wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum, some carry more energy than others. When two objects are under the exact same conditions, but one object is receiving light with more energy, that object gets hotter than the one receiving less energy.

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