Radiant Barrier Insulation and Why It Works

May 17, 2021

If you own a home or commercial property, you probably already know the importance of insulation. Not only does good insulation save you a bundle on your energy bill, but it also helps soundproof your home and can even keep insects and critters from making their way inside your building. Radiant barrier insulation is a smart choice in Northern California. Here’s an overview of what it is and why it will be great for you.

What is radiant barrier insulation?

A radiant barrier is anything that can reflect heat back to the source. If you put a radiant barrier between a heat source and an empty space, like your attic, you can deflect the heat coming from outside and enjoy a much cooler interior.

Radiant barriers are layers of metallic foil that can be used in addition to other forms of insulation. They’ll help reflect heat from the sun back to the exterior of your home or commercial building.

How does radiant barrier insulation work?

To understand how radiant barrier insulation works, you’ll need to think back to your fifth grade science class. There are three different kinds of heat transfer: conduction, convection and radiation.

Conduction occurs when there’s direct contact between the heat source and the material, like putting a pan on a gas or electric burner, or curling your hair with a curling iron. Convection heating occurs with air movement—for example, convection ovens constantly circulate hot air for a more even heating experience. It’s the same as if you used space heaters to heat a room: the warm air rises so the heater can cool the colder air at the bottom of the room, eventually creating an even heating effect.

Radiant heat transfer is different. It’s caused by electromagnetic radiation, which causes the same sensation as when you can feel the warm sun on your face—even though it’s not touching you, and the air is completely still. Radiant heat transfer barriers can be as simple as a reflective windshield screen in the summertime, or a thermal coffee cup.

Radiant barriers require some air space on at least one side of the insulation (your thermal coffee cup has empty space between the layers, and so does your attic). If it’s used between two solid materials, the heat will just move through the layers. When you use it with dead air on one side, only 4 percent of the heat gets through. The rest of it is reflected back.

Radiant barrier insulation has little to no R-value on its own—it requires appropriate installation and dead air space on one side to work properly. However, if it’s installed properly by a reputable company, it can help significantly improve your interior temperature control and reduce your energy bills.

To learn more about whether radiant barrier insulation would be great for your Northern California business, get in touch with the experts at Ace Insulation Inc. today. We’re happy to help you make the best, most cost-effective selections for your specific insulation needs.

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