Reflective Insulation

Reflective insulation systems are basically made up of aluminum foils along with a backing substance. The most common materials used for backing in reflective insulations include:

  • Kraft paper
  • Plastic film
  • Polyethylene bubbles
  • Cardboard

Reflective insulation systems usually operate by offering resistance to heat energy flow. They work extremely well when heat flows in the downward direction. These types of insulation systems are generally recommended for installation between roof rafters, floor joists, or wall studs. They are installed in the same way as batt and blanket insulation.

Materials used for making reflective insulation consist of flanges which are meant to be stapled to wall studs or floor joists. Given that reflective insulation materials are good conductors of electricity, one must ensure that no direct contact is made with exposed electrical wiring. Besides, for effective thermal performance, correct installation of reflective insulation is required. The operation of a typical reflective insulation consisting of foil bubble material is shown in the figure below.

Reflective Insulation

 

Radiant Barrier Insulation

“A radiant barrier insulation system is a layer of foil facing an air space and is installed in the envelope of a building.”1 In other words, “If a single reflective surface is used alone and faces an open space, such as an attic, it is called a radiant barrier.”2
It is the reflective insulation system which is frequently employed to cutback energy costs on permanent basis. The operation of these insulation systems involves reflection of radiant heat energy. The performance of radiant barrier insulation systems containing pure form of aluminum doesn’t vary due to changes in humidity. Low emittance and high reflectance values are highly desirable for getting effective results out of radiant barrier insulation systems.

A Radiant barrier is a type of building insulation which is primarily used to lower the level of heat acquired in summer season and heat lost in winter season by the interiors of the building. In case of newly constructed buildings, the radiant barriers are integrated within the structure. Besides, there is an option to choose foil-faced wood products for places like roof sheathing etc. While in case of already constructed old buildings, these radiant barriers are found to be securely fixed across the joist’s base.

 

Benefits

Following are the major benefits offered by Reflective insulation systems:

  • Convenient to use and handle
  • Provides cost effective solution for all types of thermal insulation needs
  • Really comfortable and delivers excellent performance
  • Very strong and durable
  • Not affected by punctures, tears or cracks in the structure
  • Installation procedure is simple since it doesn’t require any extraordinary clothes or protective equipment
  • Non hazardous in nature
  • Resistant to all kinds of insects, fungus and bacteria
  • Available in compact shapes and smaller sizes
  • Extremely light in weight
  • Fire rating and safety criteria of nearly all central, state, and local building codes is fulfilled
  • Almost maintenance free systems
  • Offers great safety, health and environmental gains

 

Applications

Major application areas of a reflective insulation system include:

  • Thermal insulation of commercial as well as residential building structures
  • For protection of shipments carrying drugs and food items
  • For transportation and automotive purposes

 

References

1. Radiantbarrier_def.

2. Radiantbarrier.energysavers

 

 

Sources

Energysavers

ORNL

Radiantbarrier