How Does It Work?

How Does LOW-E Reflective Insulation Work?

Why does reflective insulation work? It's the Law! The second Law of Thermodynamics, unlike man-made laws, cannot be broken HEAT goes to COLD by one of three ways: CONDUCTION, CONVECTION & RADIATION.



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What is Conduction?

When two surfaces come in contact, the warmer surface gives up heat to the cooler surface as can be seen with a glowing burner on a stove heating the pot it is in contact with. In a building this is limited primarily to studs connecting outer and inner surfaces

What is Convection?

The movement of air as a result of air being warmed. Warm air rises seeking the coldest point. Convection is visible as wavy lines above a hot road. Convection is a major concern in the winter, but not in the summer.

What is Infrared Radiation?

Electromagnetic waves that can only be seen as part of the rainbow. It travels at 186,000 miles a second. Radiant energy travels in all directions seeking a cooler object to strike and then generates heat. Microwave ovens work on the same principles. Standard ovens heat the air, while a microwave heats what it sees.. Infrared is like microwaves at lower frequencies. Most of us do not understand microwaves or electricity but we use and enjoy the benefits of them. We may not understand infrared radiation but we can learn to make it work for us by learning how to control it.

What Does LOW-E Mean?

Understanding what LOW-E means can be difficult. All surfaces have an “e” rating from .01 to 1.0. The “e” stands for emissivity, which is the ability of a surface to reradiate or give off radiant heat to a cooler surface. The lower the “e” rating, the lower the amount of radiant heat the surface will give off. For example, a wood stove surface has an “e” rating of 1.0, meaning that at 1000 degrees it will give off 1000 in infrared. Cover it with a Low-E surface with an “e” rating of .03 then that surface will reradiate only 30 in infrared!

All building products have an “e” rating, most of them over .80.

Why is a LOW-E surface highly recommended?

The left sides of the houses above are demonstrating the potential heat loss and gain in buildings using only mass type insulations. The right sides of the house demonstrate the potential reduction in heat loss and gain by adding LOW-E Reflective Insulation with the mass insulations.

In the chart above we are demonstrating the difference in heat transfer with 75 degree floor temperature and using as an example, 120 degree summer inside roof temperature, with no LOW-E, 48,877 btu’s are transferred and with LOW-E, 2,712 btu’s are transferred.


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