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Reflective Insulation

Comparing Prodex Total Reflective Insulation to Mass Insulation Products

Prodex Total Reflective Insulation

  • Lowers Your Utility Bills in Winter AND Summer
  • R-value Not Affected by Humidity, Compression or Thermal Bridging

Reflective Insulation Compared to Mass Insulation Chart

Prodex Total Reflective Insulation Lowers Your Utility Costs in Winter AND Summer

In addition to providing thermal protection (R-value) to reduce your winter heating costs, reflective insulation also cools your home in the summer; thereby, reducing your summer utility costs. While mass insulation (fiberglass, cellulose and spray foam) products are made to resist or impede the flow of warm air, a reflective insulation reflects back radiant heat (primary source of heat- flow) from the sun so it does not penetrate the building. It also reflects back radiant heat inside the house so it doesn't escape. The concept is simple each unit of radiant heat energy that is reflected away from your home in summer and each unit reflected back inside during winter means less money paid in utility cost. Mass insulations (including fiberglass) do not prevent radiant heat transfer (the primary source of heat-flow.)

Energy Savings - Economic gains from installing a radiant heating insulation in the attic are well documented. Studies show that an attic radiant barrier can save as much as 17 percent on air conditioning energy costs. Research conducted by the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) has shown that the installation of a radiant barrier can generate significant financial savings. About 22 percent of the heat gain in a typical Florida house comes through the attic. An attic radiant barrier reduces heat gain through the roof by about 40 percent. The summer peak energy use savings was as much as 27 percent. This study also showed that the average peak reduction from the radiant barrier system was three times as great as the savings produced by adding more fiberglass insulation (a change from R-13 to R-19). Whole house tests run by the Mineral Insulation Manufacturers Association and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory show the average reductions in ceiling heat flow from the addition of a radiant barrier stapled under the rafters between 24 and 30 percent compared with R 19 attic floor insulation and no attic radiant barrier insulation. The US Department of Energy Attic Radiant Barrier Fact Sheet (DOE/CE-0335P) states that reductions in the cost of cooling can reach up to 17% by proper installation of an attic radiant barrier. The Oxford City Council has estimated that the cost to add insulation to an un-insulated attic will pay back in 2 years. Estimates are that insulating an un-insulated attic saves 25 percent on heating costs in cold climates. Heavily insulating the attic (R value + radiant barrier) is  a worthwhile investment. You can almost never have too much insulation.  

Recommended Reflective Insulation: Prodex Total

Prodex Total Reflective Insulation R-value is unaffected by Thermal Bridging, Compaction, or Moisture Absorption.

Unlike fiberglass insulation, the R-value of Prodex reflective insulation is unaffected by thermal bridging. The actual R value of fiberglass insulation may be lower by as much as 20% due to wood framing. Wood framing that holds the insulation in place reduces its effectiveness. Wood conducts heat faster than insulation, a phenomenon known as "thermal bridging." Fiberglass sheets or "batts" in a 2-by-6 wall can be rated R-19 by its manufacturer, but the conductive effects of the wood framing would reduce this to R-15. Installing Prodex Total Reflective insulation over the studs rather than fiberglass between the studs solves the bridging dilemma.

Any pinching or smashing of fiberglass insulation also reduces its R-value. To be effective, fiberglass must be kept fluffy soft and not be exposed to high-moisture such as a damp basement where the material will be compacted if it gets wet, negating its insulation value"(Vaughn, 2007). Fiberglass insulation requires an additional vapor barrier (or vapor retarder) between the warm surface of the wall or ceiling and the insulation.  Fiberglass insulation does not stop radiant heat transfer (The primary source of heat flow in and out of your structure). It does not adequately control air infiltration. Batts are particularly unpleasant to hang overhead in ceilings and under floors and they require straps or wire mesh across the joists to hold them up. Cutting the batts to accommodate electrical boxes, duct, wiring, plumbing and chimneys creates a free air path through the wall cavity or attic floor. Prodex Total Reflective Insulation attached over the studs provides a tighter air barrier.

Once cellulose or fiberglass insulation gets damp (and it will in most applications), it will stay damp. Not only will you have trapped moisture in the blanket causing rot, rust, oxidation, mold etc., the damp cellulose or blanket will provide less and less R value as the moisture builds. Couple this with the fact that fiberglass and cellulose insulation does not prevent radiant heat transfer (primary source of heat flow) and you can see why fiberglass insulation is not the recommended as basement insulation, pole barn insulation or metal building insulation.

The R-value of a Reflective Insulation and a Mass Insulation is based on the same Fundamental Equation.

Reflective insulation uses mass insulation (closed-cell foam, fiberglass, wool etc.) plus low emittance surfaces (foil) and trapped air spaces to form an efficient insulation system. If you're only incorporating a mass insulation, you're losing half the battle.

Think of reflective insulation as a radiant barrier with two separated reflective surfaces and a core. The insulation system is typically composed of closed-cell foam, fiberglass, mylar air-bubbles or shredded newspaper plus two (2) low emittance reflective surfaces and trapped air spaces.

The system retards the convective flow of the heated air the way fiberglass insulation does. The total thermal performance of the reflective system varies with the size and number of enclosed reflective spaces in the building cavity. Reflective insulation systems are typically located between the roof rafters, floor joists and wall studs

  • The difference between a radiant barrier and reflective insulation is the membrane (the core between the reflective surfaces) AND one reflective surface vs. two.
  • The Prodex Reflective Difference: Rather than one reflective surface, Prodex has two. Rather than mylar air-bubbles, fiberglass or shredded newspaper. Prodex Total Insulation core is composed of closed cell polyethylene foam.

Having two reflective surfaces allows Prodex Total to reflect energy both directions! The outer reflective surfaces reflects out the heat or could coming in structure - The inner reflective surface reflects back the cool air from your air-conditioner or the warm heat from your furnace! Click for pricing or to order Prodex 48 Inch InsulationProdex Reviews


Mass insulation heat flow reflective insulation heat flow

Photo of Prodex reflective insulation (click to enlarge): Prodex Insulation cross view of center

The better reflective insulations combine: radiant barrier, vapor barrier and R-value.

Radiant barrier: Thin layer of reflective low emissivity film installed with an airspace to block radiant heat transfer between a surface that radiates heat (such as a roof) and a surface that will absorb heat (such as fiberglass insulation on an attic floor). Prodex blocks 97% of radiant heat transfer. A radiant barrier that has no inner substance, is not insulation per se, and by definition has no R-value. Photo of radiant barrier only (click to enlarge):

Foil Only Radiant barrier cross section

Vapor Barrier(moisture barrier) refers to any material that prevents moisture from passing through the walls or roof of a building. Permeability (perms) refers to the measure of the rate of transfer of water vapor through a material. The lower the perm, the fewer the vapor that can pass through. A vapor barrier should have a perm of less than 1. Transmission rates are established by standard test methods. One common set of units is g/m²/day. or g/100in²/day. (1.0 US perm = 1.0 grain/square-foot·hour- inch of mercury ≈ 57 SI perm = 57 ng/s·m2·Pa). Prodex Total Insulation is a vapor barrier, Class 1. with a perm<0.1.

R-value: Measure of the ability of a material to impede heated air by convection. The higher the R-value the more effective the insulation will be in preventing convective heat transfer. R-value does not measure the insulation's ability to resist radiant heat transfer. Mass insulations like fiberglass and spray foam primarily slow convective heat transfer. We repeat, the R-values of reflective insulations and mass insulations are based on the same fundamental equations. Prodex has an R-value 16.

History: Reflective insulations are a commercial spinoff of the NASA Apollo Space Program. NASA used a reflective foil covering to create a radiant barrier for both the spacecraft and space suits to reflect the intense heat of the suns away from the astronauts by day and to reflect internal heat back inside the capsule of space suit at night for warmth. NASA estimates that "Using conventional insulation, a space suit would have required a 7-foot-thick protective layer." Prodex Reflective insulation improved on this technology to consumers for all types of building applications.

Today, reflective insulations have become a standard component of a total insulation system. It's designed for both new construction and retrofits. Using Prodex Total Reflective insulation for either your home or metal building insulation will increase the comfort level inside, protect against condensation and save on energy costs. Click to compare reflective insulations.

Benefits of using Prodex Total Reflective Insulation:

  • Light weight, very strong and easy to install
  • Moisture-proof. Will not allow moisture to pass through in either direction
  • Eliminates condensation within the ceilings, walls and floors when properly installed as a vapor barrier.
  • Unlike mass insulation products, it's unaffected by humidity. No mildew, mold or fungus growth.
  • No significant mass to absorb and retain heat
  • Very low emittance value - E-value = 0.03 (compared to 0.90 for most insulations) which significantly reduces heat transfer by radiation.
  • No change in thermal performance over time due to compaction, disintegration or moisture absorption (common concern with mass insulation)
  • Easier to install than fiberglass - It can be stapled, nailed, glued or sewn.
  • Safer for workers to install than fiberglass - There are not fibers to breath or cause skin irritation, or eye irritation.
  • Nontoxic and non-carcinogenic - Does not irritate the skin, eyes or throat. Contains no substances which will out-gas.
  • Carries a Class A/Class 1 Fire Rating
  • Radon retarder - It will limit radon penetration through the floor
  • Not a nesting material for rodents, birds or insects
  • Attractive in areas where insulation is exposed such as a metal building.
  • Reduces the "black globe effect" in animal confinement buildings

Applications include: pole barns, metal buildings, attics, garages, roofs, basements, crawlspaces, radiant floor heating, walls, air ducts, floors, under concrete and more.

Standard Fiberglass vs. Prodex Reflective Insulation in a basement:

crawlspace without reflective insulation Prodex reflective Insulation in crawlspace

Click to compare Prodex reflective to other insulations.

Installing reflective insulation: To lessen heat flow by convection, a reflective insulation, with its multiple layers of low emissivity films and enclosed air space, is positioned in a building cavity (stud wall, furred-out masonry wall, floor joist, ceiling joist etc.) to divide the larger cavity - Use a 1" furring in a 2"x4", 2"x 6" or 2"x 8" etc. to create smaller air spaces. These smaller trapped air spaces reduce convective heat flow. There are many areas to install Prodex reflective insulation. Installation methods provided include: pole barns, metal buildings, attics, walls, floors, ceilings, roof, crawlspace/basements, garage doorsClick for more installation applications.

Certifications: Prodex Total Reflective Insulation is ICC-ES recognized and Energy Star Qualified.

ICC-ES is a nonprofit organization that does technical evaluations of building products, components, methods and materials. ICC-ES evaluation reports provide evidence that products and systems meet code requirements. Their reports on code compliance are available free of charge to code officials, contractors, architects, engineer and anyone else with an interest in the building and construction. 

Energy Star is a joint program for the U.S Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. It's designed to help people save money and protect the environment through rating energy efficient product and practices. 

Prodex Total Insulation: One solution for Cold, Heat and Condensation = Reflective Insulation (R-value 16) + Radiant barrier + Vapor Barrier - All in one product! 13/64 inch (5mm closed cell polyethylene foam covered on both sides with .0012 inch (0.03mm) aluminum foil facing.

5 Reasons To Believe In Prodex Total Reflective Insulation

  1. Real-time Prodex Insulation Reviews on every product page 
  2. Energy Star Qualified
  3. ICC-ES Recognized
  4. BBB report (bottom right of every page)
  5. Over 2 billion square feet sold worldwide 

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March 17, 2014

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