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Radiant Barriers

Radiant Barrier

 

The History of Radiant Barrier

Radiant barrier can be dated back to the lunar missions in the 60′s. NASA was originally looking for a material to protect the astronauts from radiation.

Technically, in 1945, Alexander Schwartz president of Infra Insulation, Inc. out of New York City, commercially produced a radiant barrier reflective insulation product he called INFRA Insulation designed to keep summer heat out and winter heat in a home or building. In 1945 they were installing radiant barriers on commercial buildings.  When Alexander died,  so did his dream of reducing energy consumption in America

In the mid 1960′s NASA experimented with the Radiant Barrier and created a liner to fit inside the space suit to protect the astronauts. It was also used on the lunar lander and space shuttle to reject the solar rays and heat.  At the time the radiant barrier was space-age technology and was very expensive to manufacture.  Today the price has come down and is accessible to almost every home owner in America.  So lets look at the research…

Case Studies

2 case studies in two different climate zones have been conducted by the EPA.

1st case study:

Location: Miami, Florida

Temperature Range: 50-120 degree temperature range on Avg.

Solution: Apply radiant barrier on the under side of the attic rafters. In addition to proper attic/roof ventilation this is a good option

2nd Case Study:

Location: Colorado

Temperature Range: -15 degrees to 85 degree range on Avg.

Solution: In cold climates the best use of radiant barrier is on top the in the insulation. It keeps the the heat inside the heated space.

Solutions: for the Dallas Fort Worth climate zone.

Yes, both studies are correct per their climate zone in which the text were conducted. However, North Texas has about as many hot days as it does cold days.  Both methods of radiant barrier are effective in our area.  So which one is the most effective?  Each home is different and poses a new set of variables.  With that being said…

Both methods will save you money on your utility bills.  If you have ridge vents at the top of your roof line and adequate soffit vents with baffles that allow the trapped heat to escape. Then, installing radiant barrier on the back of your rafters is a very effective way to reduce the heat in your attic. However if you have little to no insulation and very bad air flow then laying the radiant barrier on top of the newly installed insulation is the the best solution for reducing your utility bills. The benefit of laying the radiant  barrier on top of the insulation is going to give you year round benefits. It works in two ways, during the summer it will keep the heat out and in the winter it prevents the heat from rising into the ambient spaces of the attic.

TYPES OF RADIANT BARRIERS

There are two other types of barriers that technically do not count as true radiant barriers; paint and foam insulation. Paint is the least effective way to reduce the ambient heat in attics. Does it work? Yes, however it is only 50-75% effective.  Foil radiant barriers are 97% effective. Paint will fade with time and becomes non effective within 3-5 years.  Therefore we cannot recommend any paint based radiant barrier products at this time.  We do offer several different types of foil products to go on top of the insulation or to be applied to the back of roof decking.  Including: single ply radiant barriers, double ply, bubble and double bubble radiant barriers.  Technically foam is considered insulation because it has no heat rejection.  It absorbs the heat and prevents the heat from passing through the material. Foam is the best material to reduce the heat in your attic.  When applied to the back of the roof decking it will actually cool your attic better and more effectively than any radiant barrier.

SOLUTION

In conclusion there are several ways to apply radiant barriers.  Each house has a different set of variables.  If we had to choose which solution was the best way to install the radiant barriers in our climate zone it would have to be installing the radiant barrier on top of insulation and duct work.  The year round benefits of placing the radiant barriers on top of the insulation and duct work out weights the method of attaching the foil barriers to the back of the roof decking.  The most effective way to reduce your utility bills all year long would have to be installing radiant barrier in top of your insulation.

 

2201 E. President George Bush Hwy
Plano, TX 75074 Suite 109
Phone: 972.743.5444
Website: http://AllTexConstruction.com
Email: info@AllTexConstruction.com