Thanks for your excellent data!
This has been a scorcher of a summer by northern Indiana standards! My home isn't air-conditioned, so temperatures inside the house reached nearly 100 degrees on several days (with the humidity taking the heat index to well over 100). I was freaking out about my violins the whole time, but so far I'm not detecting any problems.
Both my violin cases are black (no color choice available), which has been a real source of worry for me. I'm glad to hear that case colors apparently don't make all that much difference in heat resistance. I think I've at least partially gotten around the violin-case-as-sauna problem when I've had to take my violins out into the sun by covering them with nice, thick, white terry-cloth towels. The towels feel relatively cool to the touch even when sun is an issue, and the surface temperature of the case underneath feels surprisingly low. I keep the air temperature in the car cool, but not frosty. So far, so good. Keeping my fingers crossed.
To Tom: you're absolutely right about the tinted windows. In fact, the windowless trunk of a sedan is much cooler than the passenger section in a car parked in the sun for a while: try it and see for yourself.
I've also seen that in modern design cars the windshield is very raked, and while stylish and aerodynamic, this allows more sun to beat onto the dashboard, increasing the heating effect. In my wife's car (a new mininvan), the dashboard turns into a hot plate that heats up the whole place; in my own car (a 14-yr-old sedan with a much more upright windshield) the effect is much less.
To Marsha: you've found a good solution!
This is something a physics student wouldn't be surprised by (if I remember correctly we do a lab with black and white coffee cups here at Oberlin).
I believe about half the energy of the sun that gets to the ground is infrared and probably almost everything being given off by the hot stuff around the case is infrared. Of course, visible light is also heating the violin case, but if one fabric is reflecting visible light and absorbing IR and the other is doing the opposite you won't observe any difference at all or maybe the opposite of what you would expect based on the color.
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September 6, 2011 at 12:20 PM · I also live in a hot climate, and researched the effect of lighter roof shingles a few years ago. I was also surprised that the color didn't make that much difference- the lightest ones were only about 7% cooler in the house than the darkest ones. In cars, most of the interior heat comes from the solar radiation coming into the windows, and reflecting back at a wavelength that can't "get out" of the windows. I've heard the color of the car makes little difference. Maybe those limos have such heavily tinted windows, tho, that the white helps some.