How Does Reflective Insulation Work?

When you’re thinking about insulation options, there are several different methods, and finding the best choice for your application really comes down to understanding how each product works. Whether you’re talking foams, fiberglass, cardboards or shiny bubble wrap, each one works to insulate in a different way. Before we dive into products, lets first address that choosing which insulation is appropriate for you starts by understanding what type of heat transfer you are dealing with.

Okay, I promise not to over-do the science lingo here, but let’s cover how heat transfer works. There are three modes of heat transfer: conduction, convection, and radiation (infra-red). Of the three, radiation is the primary mode; conduction and convection come into play once matter interferes with the radiant heat transfer.

CONDUCTION: Conduction is direct heat flow through matter from actual physical contact. For example, an electric stove uses conduction to transfer heat to a pot resting on the surface, which is also conducted to your fingers when you make contact. The more contact, the greater transfer of heat. This movement of heat is always conducted from the hotter surface to the colder surface, never reverse. Generally, the greater density of an item, the better conductor it is; so inversely, the less dense the mass, the less flow of heat by conduction.

CONVECTION: Convection is the transport of heat within a gas or liquid. Think of a group of people in a tiny room. Their body heat will transfer to the air around them making the room feel hot. These warmed air molecules move in a general upward motion.

How does reflective insulation work?

RADIATION: The last and most prominent mode of heat transfer is radiation. Radiation is the transmission of electromagnetic rays through a space. Like radio waves, waves of radiant heat are invisible, and for this article’s purpose we will be referring to inferred rays only. Mostly everything emits infrared radiation, sending rays from their surface in every direction until they are absorbed or reflected by another surface. These rays have no temperature, only energy. When the rays strike another object, the rays are absorbed and only then do they create heat. The heat then transfers through the object by conduction and then new rays are emitted out of that object.

The amount of radiation emitted is a function of the emissivity (or rate at which radiation is given off) of the source’s surface. So, in plain english, an object (or surface) with low emissivity absorbs little rays, but rather has high reflectivity. Insulation layered with metalized film, like our Astro-sheild, has a low emissivity of 5%. This means it is reflecting approximately 95% of the rays that strike it. This high reflectivity is greatly reducing radiant heat from being transferred into the surface, intern working as effective insulation.

TRY THIS EXPERIMENT: Hold a piece of Astro-sheild reflective insulation close to your face without touching the surfaces. You will begin to feel the warmth of your own infrared rays being reflected back towards your face and being absorbed by your skin surface. While your skin and the insulation are both solid surfaces, the insulation has a low emissivity (5%) and your skin has an emissivity of 99%, so the rays are being absorbed by your skin and heat is conducting throughout the surface.

You can imagine how the same principles would apply as this effective insulation is implemented in a building or packaging application to help keep heat transfer to a minimum, and keep your space in a desired temperature range.

*Do you have a building that you’d like to keep cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter? Call us about using reflective insulation. 800-776-3645 or brenda@insul.net

*Do you have temperature-sensitive goods you’re worried about shipping? Call or email us about using InsulTote packaging to keep your goods safe during transit. 800-776-3645 or packaging@insul.net

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Visit insul.net for your reflective insulation needs or visit insultote.net for your insulated shipping needs.

How Reflective Insulation Works

Heat flows from a hot or warm medium to a cold medium in three ways:

  1. By radiation, from a warm surface to a cooler surface through an air space
  2. By conduction through solid or fluid materials
  3. By convection, which involves the physical movement of air

Heat Flow by Radiation, Conduction and Convection

Radiation is the transfer of heat (infra-red radiant energy) from a hot surface to a cold surface across an air space or vacuum. All surfaces including those of a radiator, stove, a ceiling or roof and insulation radiate to different degrees. The radiant heat is invisible and has no temperature, just energy. When this energy strikes another surface, it is absorbed and increases the temperature of that surface. This concept can be understood with the following example: On a bright sunny day, radiant heat from the sun travels through a car’s window, strikes the steering wheel and is absorbed, causing it to become hot.

Conduction is the direct flow of heat through a material resulting from physical contact. A typical example of conduction would be the heat transferred from hot coffee, through the cup, to the hand holding the cup. Another example is when the contents of a kettle boils from heat transferred from the burner to the kettle. Also, a poker becomes hot from contact with hot coals.

Convection is the transfer of heat by air circulation or movement. Typical examples are forced convection: warm air rising from a heat register, free convection: warm air rising from a chimney, and finally, warm air rising from all of the hot surfaces of a radiator, furnace or wood stove.

Reflective Insulation & Radiant Barriers

Reflective insulation and radiant barriers have the ability to control the transfer of radiant heat in a variety of different applications including buildings, RVs and temperature-sensitive packaging.

Unlike mass insulation, reflective insulation is able to keep heat in and reflect heat away. Mass insulation material like fiberglass and foam merely slow down the transfer of heat; they do not reflect heat away, nor do they keep heat in.

Reflective insulation has the ability to control the transfer of radiant heat. In fact, Innovative Energy’s products reflect (block) 95 percent of radiant heat. Our products are ideal for:

  • Buildings & home insulation: Heating and cooling systems simply work more efficiently when reflective insulation is installed in key areas of a building.
  • Temperature-sensitive packaging: Keeps perishable and temperature-sensitive items safe in shipping and transportation; helps maintain food safety and quality for prepared food.
  • Insulation for RVs and fleet vans: Thin, light, reflective insulation and duct systems are ideal for efficiently heating and cooling small spaces.
  • Controlling heat transfer in just about any situation: Innovative Energy specializes in creating customized solutions for all types of applications.

Reflective Insulation Products

Among Innovative Energy’s line of reflective insulation products is AstroShield. Watch video below to learn how this reflective insulation product can block up to 95 percent of radiant heat.


If you have a need to control heat transfer, let Innovative Energy help. Contact us to find out how we can develop a solution to perfectly suit your needs.

How to Ship Flowers, Herbs & Plants

Shipping Flowers

Cut flower bouquets, bare-root plants and herbs may be shipped successfully; it’s imperative to control the shipping temperature as well as minimizing the chance of breakage. Follow the steps outlined below.

  • How to Ship Cut Flowers:
    1. Plan to pack in the morning and ship the same day.
    2. Select durable flowers with fairly tight buds and foliage that won’t easily bruise or break.
    3. Strip the foliage as appropriate and give each stem a fresh cut.
    4. Hydrate by placing flowers and foliage in clean buckets with clean water for a few hours. If shipping bunches of the same variety, bunch them together and tie the stems with twine.
    5. Wrap damp paper towels (or other substrate that will keep the flowers hydrated) around the cut ends.
    6. Place the wrapped ends in a plastic bag and loosely fold the bag around the stems to keep the towels secure.
    7. Put the prepared flowers into an InsulTote pouch; this foil bubble cushion will help protect the flowers from breakage as well as maintain a constant temperature for more than 24 hours (we recommend freezing the pouches overnight before using).
    8. Choose a box large enough to accommodate the extra packaging needed to cushion and protect the flowers.
    9. Pad the box with InsulTote box liners and place the wrapped flowers so they are protected on all sides, top and bottom.
    10. Add packing peanuts or other filler to completely stuff the box.
    11. Ship the same day the flowers were packed and in the most expedient manner; overnight if possible. Plan to ship early in the week to avoid your package being stranded in transit over the weekend.
    12. Alert the recipient that the shipment is on its way.
  • How to Ship Fresh Herbs:
    1. Plan to pick and pack in the morning and ship the same day.
    2. Wrap damp paper towels (or other substrate that will keep the herbs hydrated) around the cut ends.
    3. Place the wrapped ends in a plastic bag and loosely fold the bag around the stems to keep the towels secure.
    4. Put the prepared herbs into an InsulTote pouch; this foil bubble cushion will help protect the herbss from breakage as well as maintain a constant temperature for more than 24 hours (we recommend freezing the pouches overnight before using).
    5. Choose a box large enough to accommodate the extra packaging needed to cushion and protect the herbs.
    6. Pad the box with InsulTote liners and place the wrapped herbs so they are protected on all sides, top and bottom.
    7. Add packing peanuts or other filler to completely stuff the box.
    8. Ship the same day the herbs were packed and in the most expedient manner; overnight if possible.
    9. Alert the recipient that the shipment is on its way.
  • How to Ship Bare-Root Plants:
    1. Plan to pack in the morning and ship the same day.
    2. Hydrate by placing bare-root plants in clean buckets with clean water for a few hours.
    3. Wrap damp paper towels (or other substrate that will keep the plants hydrated) around the roots.
    4. Place the entire plant in a waterproof bag and loosely fold the bag around the plant to keep the towels secure.
    5. Choose a box large enough to accommodate the extra packaging needed to cushion and protect the plants.
    6. Pad the box with InsulTote liners and place the wrapped plants so they are protected on all sides, top and bottom.
    7. Add packing peanuts or other filler to completely stuff the box.
    8. Ship the same day the plants were packed and in the most expedient manner; overnight if possible or 2-3 day shipping if the variety of plant being shipped is sturdy.
    9. Alert the recipient that the shipment is on its way.

Know the laws regarding interstate shipments. Contact the Department of Agriculture in the state(s) where you plan to ship. Look online for the specific state; most websites will also list a help line. Your local post office is a source of information as well. Ignore this step and risk paying large fines for shipping prohibited produce, plants and other items!


Visit www.insultote.net for your insulated packaging needs and more shipping solutions.

How to Ship Fruits & Vegetables

 

Shipping Fruits and Vegetables

Shipping grapefruits in the middle of summer or apricots in the dead of winter can be successful.

Follow these steps to ensure your products reach their destination in perfect condition.

  • Step-by-Step to Ship Fruits & Vegetables:
    1. Select fruits that are sturdy enough to endure shipping. Those with hard skins (apples, pears, citrus, apricots, and cherries) are good travelers. Softer fruits (plums and peaches) will only arrive safely with extra packaging and careful handling. Avoid berries and other fragile fruits.
    2. Choose perfect fruit (no bruises, brown spots or damage) that is slightly under-ripe.
    3. Determine the best shipping box. Wooden crates are preferred for fragile fruit but corrugated boxes are fine if enough padding is used. Choose a box large enough to include the padding needed to protect the food from mishandling and temperature changes.
    4. Prepare the box by lining it with an InsulTote insulated bubble wrap box liner; this product acts as a heat deflector and insulator (InsulTote offers many sizes of box liners with no minimum order required).
    5. Wrap each fruit individually in tissue or brown packaging paper and place it in a single layer on top of the prepared insulated bubble wrap. Add packing peanuts to fill in any gaps. Then place a box liner sheet on top of the fruit.
    6. Continue layering fruit and InsulTote box liners until the box is completely full. More padding decreases the chance that your product will be damaged in transit.
    7. Ship the box overnight if possible. Depending on the weather, sturdy fruits will stand up to 2 – 3 day shipping. Plan to ship early in the week to avoid your package waiting in transit over the weekend.

Note: Know the laws regarding interstate shipments and prohibited fruits. Contact the Department of Agriculture in the state(s) where you plan to ship. Look online for the specific state; most websites will also list a help line. Your local post office is a source of information as well. Ignore this step and risk paying large fines for shipping prohibited produce, plants and other items!


Stay tuned for step-by-step instructions on shipping flowers, herbs and plants. Visit www.insultote.net for your insulated packaging needs and more shipping solutions.