What is Radiant Barrier and Why is It Important?May 29, 2015
Cue the spooky 50s sci-fi music. Dub in the deep, scratchy voice of the narrator, warning about the pending doom about to visit earthlings and their humble abode, this planet earth.
Then … suddenly … the lady in the white swing dress puts her hand in front of her face and screams. In horror. It’s Radiant Barrier! Out to destroy the American way of life. Out to shred the fabric of American society. Out to soil the minds of our youth.
But alas! Radiant Barrier is a greatly misunderstood monster. In fact, Radiant Barrier is not a monster at all.
Radiant Barrier is Innocent, Your Honor
In reality, radiant barrier, according to the encyclopedia, is a type of thermal insulation that inhibits heat transfer by thermal radiation. (Cue the screaming lady in the white dress: We’re being invaded by “heat transfer by thermal radiation.”)
Fear not, fellow earth citizens. We at Capitol Machine are here to strike calm in your hearts and explain precisely what radiant barrier is – in the hopes of restoring tranquility to the land.
Radiant barrier is an insulation material designed to reflect heat – to put it simply. To delve more closely into the terminology, heat transfer measures the exchange of energy – in this case, that of the sun’s – from one source to another (a home). Cutting short the lesson in physics, thermal radiation in this case has to do with the sun. (For you nerdy types, all matter with temperatures above absolute zero emits thermal radiation. )
So, radiant barrier involving insulation in a house – which is what we at Capitol Machine are thinking about – provides a reflective barrier and adds to insulation’s effectiveness.
Radiant Barrier: Hot-Tempered But Friendly
The Reflective Insulation Manufacturers Association International (RIMA) flew to the rescue to explore the assorted myths and misconceptions involving this much maligned “villain.”
The purpose of RIMA’s analysis was to show that radiant barrier was neither monster nor saint, but rather a worthwhile option for homeowners to consider.
Here are the misconceptions brought to justice:
- Big savings on home energy bills: Homeowners can expect to cut utility bills after having radiant barrier installed in their attics, but the exact savings are unavailable. Energy savings in a home involve a multitude of factors, including the habits of the homeowners.
- Dust affects radiant barrier’s performance: The short answer is yes. However, radiant barrier is sometimes installed horizontally in an attic on top of the attic’s floor insulation. Over time, however, the barrier will collect dust, which reduces the barrier’s effectiveness. But for the most part radiant barrier maintains its effectiveness for long periods of time.
- Answer this: What is radiant barrier’s R-value? (R-value is a unit of thermal resistance.) According to RIMA, the question points to the misunderstanding between radiant barriers and reflective insulation. Radiant barriers are installed with the reflective surface facing the open air. It can block up to 97 percent of thermal heat. The problem is that due to variations in home construction and climates, an R-value cannot be accurately assigned to radiant barrier.
- Radiant barriers will damage roof shingles: The Florida Solar Energy Center tested shingle temperatures in homes where radiant barriers were installed in attics. Temperatures did increase by 5 -10 degrees. However, RIMA states that the color of asphalt shingles has a greater effect on shingle temperature than radiant barriers. Shingle manufacturers do not limit their warranties when radiant barriers are installed.
Fellow earthlings (and radiant barrier inquirers): You can breathe easier. We superheroes at Capitol Machine have saved yet another day. Now we’re off to save some fair maiden (who owns an insulating contracting company) from the villain of inadequate or inferior insulation installation equipment.