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Reflective Insulation in Metal Buildings, Post Frame Buildings and Pole Barns

Metal Building Reflective Insulation
Metal buildings and pole barns are growing in popularity in commercial, agricultural and industrial construction because they offer high quality at a low price. Reflective insulation is a natural fit for pole barns and metal buildings because it offers an inexpensive solution to heat loss and heat gain, controls condensation and reduces moisture saturation, improves the efficiency of the lighting, inhibits flame spread in the event of a fire, and even qualifies for a federal tax credit. When the product that does all this is so thin, lightweight, inexpensive, and easy to install, then there’s no reason not to install it in your building.

Reflective Insulation Resists Heat

One reason metal buildings and barns with metal roofs are so difficult to insulate is because of the metal emits tremendous amounts of radiant heat inside, trapping the heat in the building like a hot car, and enormous amount radiant heat loss in the winter, that can never seem to be contained. Rather than packing the roof and walls with more and more bulky mass insulation as it needs replacing, you can reflect out the heat with reflective insulation.

Reflective insulation consists of reinforced bubble insulation with highly reflective metalized aluminum films that have been proven to reflect out 95% of the radiant heat, only emitting 5% through. These reflective surfaces not only block out the incoming heat in the summer to keep the building cooler, but also reflect back in the radiant heat that would typically be lost in the winter. This allows a higher R-value in a smaller thickness. The interior layer of bubble insulation also adds additional reinforcement, improves the insulation value by another R 1, and helps maintain a thermal break to resist conductive heat.

The new insulation requirements in ASHRAE 90.1 and the International Energy Concervation Code now have even higher requirements for insulating metal buildings and commercial buildings. Since using only fiberglass to insulate to 30 R-value (or 0.044 U-value) is expensive, labor-intensive, and generally impractical, a hybrid system of R-19 fiberglass batts and a layer of reflective insulation can be used. By installing R-19 fiberglass batts between the purlins and applying a layer of reflective insulation across the bottom of the purlins. With the heat flowing down, this system can be used to meet the strict R-value and U-value metal building requirements of ASHRAE and IECC.

Reflective Insulation Controls Condensation

Condensation is a serious concern in colder climates. It forms when two air masses with a significant temperature difference meet on a single surface. This can be a serious problem in commercial metal buildings because the metal roof and walls conduct heat, providing little buffer between the two air temperatures. Traditional insulation like fiberglass often absorbs the moisture, which not only reduces the insulation value, but can actually lead to mold and mildew. Reflective insulation works to reduce condensation in metal buildings and barns by reflecting radiant heat and resisting conductive heat.

Reflective surfaces reduce the temperature difference of the air masses meeting on the roof. If there is a significant difference between the inside and outside temperature, like in a heated building in the winter, then the extreme temperatures meet on the roof and condensation drips down into the building. Because the reflective insulation is reflecting the heat back into the building and not emitting onto the roof, the temperature under the roof is closer to the temperature outside. Combine this with the thermal break created by the bubble insulation to reduce conduction through the framing, and the likelihood of condensation is greatly reduced.

Reflective Insulation Maximizes Lighting

Aluminum foil reflective insulation reflects light in addition to thermal radiation, to reduce your utility bills even further. Our reflective insulation products are made with an even deposit of pure liquid aluminum, meaning that they will reflect even more light than reflective insulations made with aluminum foil. It is the nature of pure metals like aluminum that they reflect nearly all the visible wavelengths of light equally, unlike traditional plastic facer materials.

Our reflective aluminum metalized film laminated to the bubble insulation provides a bright, clean and modern look to any building. If your metal building or pole barn utilizes windows and skylights, then the reflective insulation will allow you to maximize the amount of light scattered throughout the building. If your metal building utilizes electric lighting, then reflective insulation can help ensure that you achieve the maximum efficiency at the lowest possible cost.

Reflective Insulation Improves Fire Safety

In 2009, the American Society for Testing and Materials updated the fire test requirements for reflective insulation. The current edition of the ICC International Building Code now requires that aluminum foil reflective insulation be tested with the Corner Room Burn Test or Surface Burn Test with the ASTM E 2599 mounting method. To meet the new fire standards, all of our reflective insulation products are made with aluminum metalized films, so they achieve a perfect zero flame spread! 

Not only do our Tempshield products pass the new fire tests for reflective insulation, they can actually achieve a better flame spread rating than traditional metal building and barn insulations, like fiberglass and foam. Rather than having to take the time to install something like wire mesh or sheetrock to help the products perform better in a fire and meet ASTM standards, these products can meet these fire standards while self-supported, creating an easier and faster installation.

Reflective Insulation Qualifies for a Tax Credit

For a limited time, reflective insulation products can even qualify for a commercial building tax credit through the IRS. From now until the end of 2013, any owner of a new or existing commercial building can qualify for a tax credit up to $1.80 per square foot of the property when a system is installed that can reduce the energy use of their building by 50% or greater. Incorporating reflective insulation into your metal building’s insulation envelope would just be one component of a qualifying high-efficiency system. To see which deductions you may qualify for, and to estimate the exact savings or your particular commercial metal building, see the US Department of Energy’s list of qualifying software programs here.

In Conclusion

Reflective insulation is estimated to have one of the fastest growing demands over all other insulation products from 2004 to 2014, according to a study by The Freedonia Group. This is primarily due to their increasing use in metal buildings, pole barns, post frame buildings and other large commercial and aggricultrual structures. It’s no wonder reflective insulation is seeing such an explosion in demand, since the addition of this thin product reduces the cost of heating and cooling, controls condensation, maximizes lighting, and even improves fire safety.

If you have a question about reflective insulation or any of our other products for your metal buildings and pole barns, feel free to contact us.

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