Radiant Barrier

Radiant Barrier Installation San Diego

If you have ever entered into your home or car after leaving it in the direct summer sun for a few hours, you know first-hand exactly how hot it feels. It gets super-hot, and it may take your air conditioning unit quite some time to cool the air.

So, why does your car get so hot compared to the air outside? It’s because of solar heat from the sun that keeps on accumulating in your car.

During the hot summer days, your attic, just like your car’s interior, can get uncomfortably hot. As the temperature rises to 110, 130, 140 degrees or more, the air in your home heats up intensely. Consequently, your home cooling system works harder, your power bill spikes, and you end up paying a lot more. A better alternative is to invest in a radiant barrier installation.

This article will teach you everything you need to know about radiant barrier installation, but first things first, radiant barriers are materials designed to help keep your attic cool. They deliver the same benefit as power attic ventilators, only that they go to the root cause rather than treating the symptoms.

The attic gets hot because the radiant energy from the sun beats down on it all day long. The sun emits heat energy in the form of electromagnetic radiation (EM). Once the electromagnetic radiation hits the earth or any other surface, any of the following three things happen:

 

The percentage of the EM radiation that goes to any of these 3 categories depends on the properties of the materials it hits and the wave length of the specific radiation. Radiant barriers installation tries to reduce part 3; the amount of the electromagnetic radiation that is absorbed into your roof.

Initially, the heat accumulates in your roof (shingles in most residential buildings) then it follows the second rule of thermodynamics – it looks for cooler places, so it begins to conduct down via your roofing material till it gets to the bottom of the roofing surface. It’s then transferred through convention into your attic. Most roofing materials, particularly OSB and plywood, are good radiators so everything in your attic heats up too. The diagram below describes this process:

Radiant Barriers

 

How your attic heats up can be described in 4 simple steps:

 

So, the primary sources of heat in an attic is solar radiation, which warms/heats up any substances it finds – ductwork, framing, Christmas decorations, insulation, etc. This is one reason radiant barrier installation is better than attic ventilators installation. The latter tries to cool the air (treating the symptoms), but the air is only hot because all the surrounding materials are hot. On the contrary, and rightly so, attic barrier installation reduces the attic temperature by going after the root cause – the solar radiation that blasts the attic from the downside of the rafters and roof deck.

 

Effectiveness of Radiant Barriers

A radiant barrier installation delivers optimal heat reduction when it’s perpendicular to the solar radiation that hits it. Also, the higher the temperature gradient between the opposite sides of the radiant barrier, the higher the reduction benefits that a barrier can deliver.

It’s good to note that radiant barriers installation are more effective in hot regions that in cooler climates, particular if the attic has cooling air ducts. Research shows that done well, radiant barrier installation saves between 5% and 10% of your energy bills when used in a warm, sunny climate. What’s more, the low heat gain may eradicate the need for an elaborate air conditioning system, thus, saving you more money.

A quick note: In cool climates, it’s normally cost effective to install additional layers of thermal insulation compared to installing radiant barriers.

 

Types of Radiant Barriers

Typical radiant barriers are made of materials with high heat reflective ability, commonly aluminum foil, which is applied to both or one side of the substrate materials such as plastic films, orient strand board, cardboard, Kraft paper and/or air infiltration barrier materials. Some radiant barriers are fiber-reinforced to boost durability and ease of handling.

 

Radiant Barrier Installation

The effectiveness of radiant barriers depends largely on proper installation. If you opt for a DIY radiant barrier installation, carefully read and adhere to the manufacturers’ instructions and/or guide and safety precautions, and confirm your local fire and building codes. You can also visit the reflective insulation trade association; they offer useful radiant barrier installation tips.

Note: It’s best to use a certified radiant barrier installation specialist. Give us a call, and claim your free, first time consultation.

It’s also easy to install radiant barriers in a new home, but it’s also possible to incorporate them in existing buildings, particularly if they come with open attic.


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