Radiant Barrier Insulation Blog - InsulationStop.com
Sometime in early March a customer called in looking to see if InfraStop® would work for his DIY project. P.J. in Boca Raton, Florida wanted to insulate the exhaust line on his interior air conditioning unit. The exhaust line was very warm and he was concerned that although he was cooling his bedroom, the exhaust line was making it harder for the air conditioning unit to do its job.
We explained to him this is why InfraStop® is so effective for duct wrap insulation and in related HVAC applications. Even though his project was small, the principle was the same. He needed to control the radiant heat escaping the AC unit's exhaust line and keep it from entering his conditioned space, in this case his bedroom.
P.J. was a little skeptical that our insulation would work as well as we explained so we decided to send him a roll at no charge in agreement that he would send pictures of his project and let us know how our material worked whether good or bad.
We did our part and P.J. did his and now has a much cooler exhaust line on his interior AC unit. Take a look at the pictures and project narration he sent back to us. We love to see the difference in the thermometer. Thanks P.J!
Intermodal containers are more commonly known as shipping or cargo containers. These rugged and long lasting portable containers are waterproof and can be locked, making them perfect structures for short or long term storage.
Because of their durability and flexibility, portable containers are used in many different applications other than their original purpose to transport material across waterways on container ships.
Now, they are being used for jobsite or residential storage. Moving and storage companies like Pods® and others rent and sell them. Common uses in the agricultural sector include greenhouses, feed storage, and raising honey bees to name a few. The modular flexibility allows shipping containers to be used in permanent housing which appears to be a growing trend. Another trend is doomsday preppers who are purchasing containers at a rapid rate and burying their accumulated belongings in them.
Regardless of what the shipping containers are used for the overall concern is the same, to protect the possessions and belongings inside. As good and versatile as metal storage containers can be, they function like metal buildings and therefore have two potential drawbacks. The first is heat gain and the second is condensation.
Heat gain is straight forward. Metal is an excellent conductor and if the container is exposed to the sun, the metal will get much hotter than the air temperature and this radiant heat will be absorbed and passed right into the interior space potentially making conditions unbearable for occupancy. Excessive heat can also have a negative effect on goods and materials designed for storage.
Condensation can also be a concern in many locations and climates, just like it is in metal buildings and barns. Condensation is harder to diagnose in most cases as buildings that do condensate or sweat only do so in certain seasons when the conditions are right. These conditions are typically either: warm, heated, moisture rich interior air contacting a cold metal roof in winter months or cool, moisture rich interior air contacting a hot roof in the summer months. If moisture has accumulated once, it will accumulate again potentially damaging possessions inside.
Thankfully, the same InfraStop® foil insulation used in metal buildings and barns can be used in portable shipping containers to prevent both radiant heat transfer and condensation. Insulating with InfraStop® allows you to keep your container cooler in the summer months and warmer in the winter months if you are heating the inside. A more consistent temperature is much better on goods and materials than large temperature fluctuations.
Regarding condensation and moisture, InfraStop® bubble insulation is a vapor barrier when correctly installed which includes taping the seams. This prevents moisture rich interior air from contacting the metal. The reflective layers of the insulation reflect any absorbed radiant heat which a typical non-reflective vapor barrier cannot do. The result is a conditioned space and a buffer zone of trapped air, an ideal insulator in itself.
Traditional insulations such as blow in-in cellulose or spray foam can be used as well. These types will do well in insulating but will not be as effective in blocking radiant heat or preventing condensation. Traditional insulation types are also much more costly to use and are be difficult to remove and are not reusable. Typically, they only make sense if the shipping container is to be used for permanent habitation by people.
InfraStop® insulation is a natural choice in this environment as reflective insulation is the insulation used in the shipping and packaging industries. The difference here is where it is installed. Instead of covering the material inside the shipping container as it would if a container ship was out to sea, InfraStop® can easily be installed on the walls and ceilings effectively doing the same job to protect the interior. Another benefit of InfraStop® is that it can be removed and reused very easily if needed.
How does a radiant barrier work? Will reflective insulation work in my barn? What is an interior radiation control coating?
All of these questions and more can be answered by reading RIMA's handbook, Understanding and Using Reflective Insulation, Radiant Barrier, and Interior Radiation Control Coatings. RIMA or the Reflective Insulation Manufacturer's Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to the research, knowledge and use of reflective insulation, radiant barriers, and IRCC's.
This is the third update to this handbook since its introduction in 1999. The handbook is designed to provide users with a working knowledge for using reflective materials. Readers can understand the concepts and terminology of reflective insulation and discover the physics of reflective technology as well as learn about the different materials, applications, and installation procedures between the different technologies.
Whether you are looking to add a radiant barrier to your attic, insulate your basement wall, or work with radiant barrier paint (IRCC), this handbook is an important read for anyone who wants to better understand reflective insulation.
Today's HVAC systems are engineered for optimal energy efficiency. At the same time, the ductwork that transports conditioned air hasn't been updated for many years. Ductwork provides no insulation value for warm or cool air between the HVAC unit and the room that the air is transferred to.
As the conditioned air travels through the ductwork, up to 30 percent of it can escape through inadequately sealed joints and holes. In addition, the conditioned air loses its temperature. The end result is lower energy efficiency, increased utility expenses and reduced indoor air comfort.
Insulating buildings or homes with reflective bubble insulation is the ideal solution for this waste of energy. This duct wrap insulation provides up to an R-8 value by reflecting convective heat and radiant heat. Using this type of HVAC insulation around ducts helps prevent air leaks and increases the efficiency of the ductwork. There are also other advantages of reflective bubble insulation. When compared to other types of duct wrap insulation like fiberglass, this HVAC insulation is easy to install with its flexible and lightweight characteristics.
It can be easily cut and glued, nailed or stapled into place. It's safe to handle and requires no special breathing equipment or clothing. Use it for both hot and cold extreme temperatures. This HVAC insulation also functions as a vapor barrier and its performance is not affected by moisture.
This post may very well be one of our favorites. A customer contacted us about using InfraStop® as window insulation. CK was using shipping boxes from FedEx® to keep his home office cool in Vancouver, Canada. The details of his project are as follows. CK's home office is a small den measuring approximately 200 square feet with a west facing 8' x 10' window wall. His comments are below in italics.
"Just wanted to say thanks very much. This product works very well in keeping the heat out. From the photos you will note that earlier I had used FedEx® boxes on windows to keep the heat off and the temperature at the windows (this is May in Vancouver, Canada) and is reading almost 40°C (104°F). But in the peak of summer last year the temperature would touch 47°C to 50°C (116°F to 122°F) at the windows and inside of the room was unbearable. This is a small office since I work from home and with 33°C to 35°C (91.4°F to 95°F) in the room it would be simply unbearable to work between 3pm to 8pm and even after the sun went down the temperature of the room would still be 29°C (84.2°F) when the outside temperature would be 22°C (71.6°F).
"I placed the InfraStop® last week and waited for the full force of the sun on the windows. Surprisingly and for the first time since last year I was able to work comfortably in my office with room temperature now between 24-25°C (75.2-77°F)."
"I have also placed this on bedroom window which had similar issue and now it's cool as ever! Thanks again."
Click on the link to read another post about the benefits of using InfraStop® foil insulation for window insulation.
What do you do when you love basketball and have competed at a higher level? Why you build an indoor basketball court and home gym of course as one of our customers recently did. "KJ" called us from Washington state inquiring about insulation for his metal roll up garage door in his indoor gym.
When he told us that he built an indoor basketball court for himself, our curiosity being Indiana natives was aroused. Check out these images to see the building, basketball court, and roll up door insulated with InfraStop® double bubble white insulation.
Unlike traditional insulation that is installed in attic floors to keep heat inside buildings, many times radiant barriers and reflective insulation are installed at the roof line for the first line of defense to keep overhead heat out.
In residential construction, a radiant barrier traditionally is installed under the roof joists from inside the attic. For commercial or barn insulation, reflective insulation can be installed from the outside both over and under purlins or from the inside between the trusses below the purlins.
Simply taking the square footage (building width x length) is not enough to give an accurate material measurement. It is important in all roofline applications to understand the roof pitch and its corresponding pitch factor. Using these calculations will ensure you have enough material.
To determine roof pitch or slope we are back to mathematics and linear equations. Do you remember y = mx + b? Thankfully roof pitch can be derived another way. Regardless of what method you use some basic measurements are required. Remembering that slope or y = mx + b is equal to rise over run we must find two solid measuring points.
For true slop this would be best determined on an unfinished roof deck or atop the trusses. Shingles and metal roofing materials can change the measurements but for ordering insulation this degree of accuracy is not required.
To quickly determine rise, record the dimension from the top of the ridge down to bottom of the truss in a barn or commercial building. In a residential attic, record the measurement from the top of the ridge to the top of the floor joist or attic floor. To determine run, take the building width and divide by 2.
We now have the rise and the run but there is one more step to determine pitch. In construction, the roof run is always measured by a unit of 12 so whatever the two measurements are the run needs to be expressed by 12.
Let's run through an example to demonstrate. We have a barn that we want to insulate and the measurement from the roof peak to the bottom of the truss is 12' and the building width is 36' wide. Following the dimensions above, we know the rise is 12 feet. To determine run, divide the building width by 2 which gives a dimension of 18'. We have determined the rise to be 12 and the run is 18. This is represented in a fraction.
12/18 can be expressed as 24/36 which can be expressed as 8/12. This building's roof has an 8/12 pitch. Notice the fraction is converted to express the run in a unit of 12.
Once the pitch is determined we use the chart to find the pitch factor. The pitch factor is the amount the square footage (width x length) needs to be multiplied by to take into account for the roof pitch. Let's use the same example from above and say the building is 60' long.
To get total square feet, multiply the width (36) x the length (60) = 2160. Looking at the pitch factor chart we see the factor for an 8/12 roof is 1.2. 2160 x 1.2 = 2,592.
2,592 square feet of insulation would be required to cover our example 36' x 60' barn with an 8/12 roof.
An attic radiant barrier is designed to reduce the amount of energy flow from the roof deck to the attic floor in the home attic environment, which thereby also reduces the temperature in the attic. Ideally, they're designed to reduce heat loss in the winter time and minimize heat gain in the summer time, which have a direct effect on heating and cooling costs.
The million-dollar question that most homeowners have when the topic comes up is, simply, do I need a radiant barrier? In other words, will a radiant barrier help with heating and cooling costs, which are seemingly always on the increase?
It's a tough question to answer without knowing more about your specific attic and city climate in order to get a good feel for whether or not it would be worth it to have one installed. But now, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (the Tennessee Department of Energy lab that is also home to many of the world's most powerful supercomputers) has developed a tool to help you gauge whether or not a radiant barrier would make sense in your home.
Oak Ridge has put together a simple radiant barrier calculator and it only takes a few minutes for users to fill out their information to get a good read on things. Here is how it works:
- Step 1: Select a climate zone on the interactive map or choose from one of seven listed cities to decide on an area of the country that best reflects the type of climate you live in.
- Step 2: Enter the square footage of your attic floor size.
- Step 3: Select the type of attic insulation you have.
- Step 4: Detail the ductwork in the attic.
After you enter the information about your attic, all that's left to be done is click the "calculate" button on the bottom of the page. After the calculations have been made, you will be shown the approximate savings per square feet of attic, both with and without adding insulation (if applicable) as well as the approximate savings after one, six and 20 years.
Pretty simple, huh? It's a lot of good, thorough information that you can attain in just a few short steps.
It should not come as much of a surprise that the homes that yield the best savings are those that are southern located with unconditioned or conditioned HVAC installs, poor insulation and ducts in the attic. Here are the details for a hypothetical home in a Miami, FL-based climate, with a 2,000 square foot attic floor, less than R-30 insulation and ducts present in the attic:
- Savings of 9 cents per square foot with a radiant barrier.
- Savings of 11 cents per square foot with a radiant barrier and insulation.
That is a total of $180 and $220 per year, respectively - seemingly well worth the investment of installing a radiant barrier.
Conversely, a Minneapolis-based home, with quality attic insulation, a 2,000 square foot attic floor and no ducts in the attic would not yield any type of energy savings if a radiant barrier was added. Like we already noted, the homes that have the most to gain from adding a radiant barrier are those that are poorly insulated, have duct work and are also southern-based, where the weather plays more of a factor.
So next time you are staring down your utility bills wondering why they are so high and thinking of possible solutions, you can get a good read on a very practical solution just by heading on over to ORNL.gov to calculate your approximate energy savings in the radiant barrier calculator.
Reflective insulation permanently forms a dependable and effective barrier between the object it is sealing therby repelling damaging elements such as moisture, vapors, excessive heat and air currents. In addition, reflective insulation is the most affordable and best material to prevent infiltration by rodents, fungus, insects and harmful ultraviolet radiation that is often detrimental to animals, food and manufactured products.
Outstanding Environmental, Health and Safety Benefits
No special protective equipment or clothing is needed when handling reflective insulation. Non-toxic, clean and fire-retardant, it's versatility amazes long-time users who consistently discover additional applicatons for this functional, all-purpose insulation.
Reflective insulation offers many benefits:
- Dramatic reductions in energy costs
- Lower investment costs required for purchasing heating, cooling and air circulation equipment
- Reinforced to provide maximum durability and dependability
- Tear and puncture resistant
- Reflects over 97 percent heat or UV radiation
- Lightweight and easy to handle. Conforms to any shape, size or areal configuration
- Designated with a Class A/Class 1 fire rating
- Meets nearly all local, federal and state building codes
The Science of Radiant Barrier Insulation
Instead of absorbing heat energy, reflective insulation reflects it. Unlike traditional insulation made from cellulose, rock wool, Styrofoam and fiberglass that simply absorbs or slow down conductive and convective heat transfer, reflective insulation performs a process of radiant heat transfer.
Radiant heat transfer occurs when electromagnetic waves reach the infrared region of the electromagnetic scale.. Fireplace heat transferring to the other side of a room is an example of radiant heat transfer because no medium (such as metal, glass or other solid objects) is needed to initiate the transfer. In fact, any kind of material with a temperature exceeding absolute zero will emit some amount of radiant energy.
Industrial Uses for Reflective Insulation
The ability of reflective insulation to perform correctly in extreme temperatures makes it perfect for use in a variety of industrial settings involving:
- HVAC Ducts
Reflective "bubble" insulation offers superior insulation values for hydraulic fracturing tanks, pumps, storage tanks containing volatile, temperature-sensitive chemicals (gas, oil, toxic waste) and boilers operating in enclosed areas. By preventing radiant heat transfer through industrial equipment with reflective insulation, energy costs are significantly reduced and the comfort level for individuals working around industrial equipment is optimized and sustained.
When used in HVAC settings, reflective insulation excels in controlling heat transfer, eliminating infrared and UV rays and preventing damage to sensitive equipment in storage. Reflective insulation is also an effective sealant for minor compromises in HVAC equipment and is much safer for workers to apply than fibrous, irritating fiberglass that can be inhaled into the lungs.
Agricultural Uses for Reflective Insulation
- Post Frame Construction/Pole Barns
- Chicken Coops/Incubators
- Metal Buildings
- Livestock Trailers
A vital aspect of sustainability involves constructing a building envelope to maximize environmental control of variously sized spaces with barriers, interior finishes and insulation. Maintaining a healthy environment for livestock, livestock feed and agricultural equipment means the difference between enjoying a thriving and profitable operation or paying for losses incurred by excessively hot structures conducive to the development of mold, fungal, rodent and insect infestations.
Applications associated with agricultural use include pipe insulation, water heater covers, equipment sheds, cold storage units and all new/existing structures.
Shipping Uses for Reflective Insulation
- Protects cargo that is sensitive to slight temperature changes: (ice cream, fruit, candy, cigarettes, vegetables, dairy, meat, pharmaceuticals, coffee) from heat and moisture damage.
- Insulating reefers and railroad cars carrying cargo vulnerable to extreme temperatures and humidity levels greatly reduces unnecessary overhead costs resulting from spoiled or damaged cargo.
- Using reflective insulation as box liners eliminates the possibility of condensation forming and creating an environment promoting mold, mildew and fungus growth.
- Items packed in thermal bags insulated with reflective insulation remain fresh, useable and ready for use upon delivery.
During a shipping transfer, the potential for damage due to accidents or rough handling always exists. Unlike traditional insulation that degrades in performance if smashed, pinched, exposed to moisture or otherwise disturbed, reflective insulation maintains its ability to protect items from fluctuating temperatures of excessive moisture regardless of compaction.
Food Service Uses for Reflective Insulation
Probably no industry needs the advantages afforded by reflective insulation than the food industry. Billions of dollars are lost every year by food service businesses because of rotting food and compensation to consumers who file lawsuits because they became seriously ill due to eating spoiled food. .
Reflective insulation can be used for:
- Protecting foods during transportation
- In commercial kitchens for flame retardant purposes
- As insulation to reduce energy costs of running freezers and coolers
- In commercial ovens to prevent fires and sustain optimal equipment condition
- As insulation for delivery bags to help maintain even temperatures of cooked or uncooked food
- As an effective protective wrapping for all kinds of packaged foods
Automotive / RV Uses for Reflective Insulation
Radiant barrier insulation not only maximizes energy efficiency and thermal performance of RVs but also helps regulate internal temperatures to improve passenger comfort. Unlike thick, bulky, traditional insulation, reflective insulation is thin, flexible and ideal for implementing into the thin walls of RV roofs.
When restoring vehicles, one major concern is finding sound muffling insulation that doesn't damage the vehicle's fragile body in the long term. Using jute-backed, cotton or foam insulation may result in deterioration of vehicle areas due to moisture build-up. In addition, because reflective insulation stops nearly 98 percent of radiant heat transfer, it is the perfect insulation for lining engine covers in RVs and for reinforcing firewalls.
Reflective insulation is also a superior sound deadener that muffles loud road noise and vibrating engines. NASCAR and the International Race of Champions (IROC) use reflective insulation in race cars not only to inhibit noise but as a dependable flame retardant material.
Easily cut using a pair of scissors, reflective insulation keeps UV rays from damaging the interior of vehicles, RVs, campers and even private airplanes. Just attach a piece of this versatile material to the interior side of a window and attach using removable adhesive strips.
Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Uses for Reflective Insulation
- Modular Buildings
- Canvas Buildings, Yurts
- Heat Shields
- Spas / Saunas
- Coolers / Food Service Bags
Reflective insulation offers numerous solutions to problems involving heat control entities that are difficult to regulate. Many OEMs must meet or exceed local, state or federal requirements regarding heat and temperature control of inhabited environments within enclosed spaces. Reflective insulation helps conform to these requirements that, unless met, could result in a OEM operation suffering a mandated shutdown and huge losses in revenue.
Many survival gear items integrate reflective insulation into their construction. Blankets, tarps, tents and backpacks designed for wilderness survival or for survival after a catastrophe contain reflective insulation. Stockpiling vacuum-packed or freeze-dried foods wrapped in reflective insulation can keep them fresh and safe for years. Preparing MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) using reflective insulation is a convenient and economical method of preparing enough food to stockpile in the event of a disaster situation.
Additional Applications of Reflective Insulation
- Crawl spaces
- Basement walls
- Garage doors
- Animal kennels
- Driveway snow melts
- Concrete slabs
- Air conditioner covers
- Wine rooms
- Work shops
- Window sill sealer
If you are looking for a way to improve the comfort of your home and protect it from the elements, insulating your crawlspace is the right thing to do. Fortunately, there are multiple benefits to improving these dynamic areas of your house. Look to the following advantages when deciding on whether to upgrade your crawlspaces.
One of the best parts about insulation is that it can keep critters from entering your home, which is positive for you and your loved ones. Whether it's roaches, spiders or mice, it is important to keep pests from turning your house into a breeding ground. No one likes to unwanted critters in their kitchen pantry or on their bathroom floor. By properly insulating your crawlspace, you're more likely to keep unwanted bugs and pests out of your living spaces.
Insulation also helps retain heat in your floors, which is important during the wintertime and can cut down on your utility bills. Whether you have vented or unvented crawlspaces, adding insulation greatly improves the way your home uses energy. Double-bubble foil insulation is an ideal crawlspace insulation because of its high thermal performance in crawlpsaces and that this performance is not affected by moisture which is vital in any crawlspace application.
Adding a protective layer of insulation also shields vital materials and structures within your home. It can keep mold from forming by keeping moisture out. Mold can pose serious health hazards to you and your family members, so keeping it out of your crawlspaces is a priority. Structural damage to your home can cost a lot of money and if it is bad enough you will need to hire a qualified contractor to repair and damages. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure in this case. If you want to increase the value of your home and protect it from the elements, then insulating your crawlspaces is the way to go. The benefits of this upgrade will make your home more comfortable, safe, and efficient.