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Insulation R-Values vs Radiant Barriers

Insulation R-ValuesMost people are familiar with the term R-Value when discussing insulation properties.  An R-Value is a measure of an insulation product's resistance to thermal heat transfer.  It's a measure of how long it takes a heat "absorbing" product to absorb 100% of its potential and begin to transfer that heat out the other side of the product.

Basically, a product with a higher R-Value is better than a similar product with a lower R-Value.  A higher R-Value product takes longer to absorb 100% of it's potential and therefore, is more effective at "delaying" the transfer of heat. R-Values themselves don't mean much alone unless they are used to compare the effectiveness of different R-Value rated products.

Why Radiant Barriers Don't Have R-Values

Radiant barriers do not "absorb" heat like R-Value rated products.  Instead, they BLOCK the transfer of radiant heat flow in two ways:

  1. by REFLECTINGradiant heat that hits its surface across an air space, and 
  2. by REDUCING the emission of heat from its surface across an air space.

RadiantGUARD® Radiant Barrier Makes R-Value Rated Products More Effective

Installing a radiant barrier between a source of heat and an existing R-Value rated insulation will improve the effectiveness of the R-Value rated insulation.  Why?  Because our RadiantGUARD radiant barrier reflects 96% of the radiant heat which means only 4% of the heat is now hitting the R-Value rated insulation and therefore, it will take longer for it to absorb 100% of it's potential thereby holding the heat longer before passing the heat out through the other side. 

In summary, you increase the R-Value of your existing insulation by installing a radiant barrier foil insulation product.  Studies have found the following about radiant barriers to be true:

  • A Tennessee Valley Authority study based on radiant barriers used in the summer found that
    • a radiant barrier combined with an R-11 insulation has the same affect as an R-19 insulation alone. 
    • a radiant barrier combined with an R-19 insulation has the same affect as an R-30 insulation alone.
  • The Florida Solar Energy Center specialist Philip Fairey found that a radiant barrier combined with an R-19 insulation produced a LOWER peak energy demand than an R-30 insulation alone.