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What is the “R-Value” Measurement, and Why Does Radiant Barrier Not Have One?

If you are doing research on different insulation options for your project, you have probably come across the term “R-Value” and learned that higher R-Values indicate greater effectiveness in slowing heat transfer and controlling indoor temperatures. Therefore, it might be surprising to learn that radiant barrier insulation does not have a measured R-Value. Does this indicate that radiant barrier products are less effective than conventional insulation, like foam or fiberglass?

The answer is – not at all!

R-Value measurements do not apply to radiant barrier products because radiant barrier works through an entirely different process than traditional insulation.

What does R-Value measure?

An insulation’s R-Value is the measure of its resistance to the transfer of heat through the material. Essentially, R-Value indicates how long it takes heat to enter the material and then fully absorb through to the other side. R-Value is a measurement of resistance to a conductive process of heat transfer. Insulations with high R-Values transfer heat more slowly through the material, but the transfer occurs nonetheless.

In contrast, radiant barrier insulation does not absorb heat. It reflects up to 97% of heat that comes into contact with the material, such as heat from the sun entering an attic space. When heat enters the attic through the roof, 97% will be reflected immediately back to the source, instead of merely slowed down through conduction. The different process used makes R-Value an unnecessary measurement for gauging radiant barrier’s effectiveness.

What does this mean for my project?

So, what does the difference between conductive and reflective insulation mean for your project? Do you need to use insulation with an R-Value, or is relying on radiant barrier by itself the best solution? The answer is – it depends on your climate and needs. However, there is no reason why you must select only one type of insulation. Radiant barrier products like PolyShield RB PLUS ® and AgriBarrier ™ can be easily installed alongside traditional insulation and can further improve its effectiveness.

Have any questions on how radiant barrier insulation can help reduce your energy consumption, or which product is best for you? Give our team a call today at 817-538-5222. We look forward to speaking with you!

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