In the 21st century, there are a lot of regulations commercial builders need to keep in mind and comply with. Of course, energy efficiency is one of them, and as such – having proper heat insulation is essential.

One of the most popular, and most effective ways to thermally insulate a building, is by using radiant barriers. Radiant barriers are, according to the Energy.gov site, ‘primarily installed to reduce summer heat gain and reduce cooling costs’. They consist of highly reflective material which reflects heat instead of absorbing it, but won’t reduce heat conduction. Therefore, they are mostly used in hot climates, rather than cold ones.

Types of radiant barrier insulation

The insulation is usually made out of highly reflective material, such as aluminum foil. It is usually applied to either one, or both sides of the insulated wall, where substrate materials are located. Those materials can either be plastic films, oriented strand boards, kraft paper or cardboard.

They can also be used in combination, depending on the building, its location and creation type. Before finishing the installation, a radiant barrier testing should be done to make sure it was properly installed and is blocking extra heat.

Here are five tips when installing radiant barrier insulation in commercial buildings:

  1. Whenever possible, make sure the reflective material faces upward. That way, it can direct heat away from the building, increasing its effectiveness to the absolute maximum. This will not always be possible, but you should use it whenever you can.
  2. Install it during winter, spring or autumn days. Even though it sounds trivial, the heat workers are exposed to while installing insulation can often lead to dehydration, or even worse consequences, as temperatures on building sites can be much, much higher than on the ground. If you’re forced into working during summer, make sure you drink plenty of water and take frequent breaks.
  3. Do not cover vents or lighting. Also, be extra careful not to touch, or damage any electrical wiring or any other infrastructure while installing. Reflective foil usually conducts electricity, so make sure you use appropriate clothing when installing. Foil can accumulate dust, or even trap moisture, which is why you shouldn’t apply these barriers on top of the floor insulation.
  4. Make sure the material droops between both attachment points, leaving at least an inch of air space between it and the insulated wall.
  5. Make sure the barrier you’re using is rated Class A by the National Fire Protection Association. That way, you can make sure you’re meeting all building code regulations.

Buildings are heated the same way a spoon, placed in a cup of steaming hot tea, is heated. The heat will travel through the spoon to its handle, through a number of different processes, including conduction, convection or radiation.

By convection, heat transfer happens where either gas or air heats up and loses its density, therefore rising. As it cools down, it regains its density and falls down. Radiant heat, on the other hand, will travel in a straight line, away from any heating surface.

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