In building our tiny house trailer of just 240 sq. ft. we knew that insulation was going to be our best friend or our greatest enemy. With such a small space heat absorption, moisture buildup, and drafty seems are of utmost concern. We knew almost immediately – even before building – that we didn’t want to take any chances. Our home was built with R-13 batting in mind but we wanted more. That is when we found out about EcoFoil Double Bubble Radiant Barrier and decided we needed to know more about radiant barrier for a tiny house trailer.
Radiant barrier is unlike mass insulation, which only slows down or resists heat transfer. Radiant barrier actually reflects heat. Heat always goes cold by natural law—the problem is how to keep the heat in in the winter and how to keep it out in the summer. And living in eastern North Carolina we were especially concerned with keeping it out in the summer.
There are three ways in which heat goes from warm spaces to cold spaces:
• CONDUCTION – direct heat flow through a solid object such as a wall or a ceiling.
• CONVECTION – heat movement through air, occurring when air is warmed. The warm expands, becoming less dense and rising.
• RADIATION – the movement of heat rays across air spaces from one warm object to a cooler object.
The heat we feel from a wood stove or a quartz space heater is radiant heat. It is important to know that all objects and bodies give off radiant heat. So while having all of our friends over in the winter would keep us exceptionally warm asking them to stay away in the summer seemed a bit extreme! Come to think of it, even the insulation in a home attic gives off radiant heat to the cold attic space in the winter, and to the living space in the summer. Traditional insulation won’t stop radiant heat loss. Radiant heat must be REFLECTED with a radiant barrier.
Once we had that bit of knowledge in our minds we began to research more about EcoFoil products. Our tiny house trailer would be sitting on a light grey in color, concrete pad. With the correct angle of the sun it could heat up fast and add a great deal of heat to the underside of our trailer, which would simply rise up the trailer.
By the time we set about to bolt our frame to our trailer we had decided to use the EcoFoil Double Bubble by laying it over our trailer (white side down) and then tightly wrapping it up and over our wood framework. We made sure to join our three pieces together (necessary for the full width of the trailer to be covered) with the white insulation tape so as not to take on any potential water hazards.
It has been over a year now since we added the EcoFoil and we have found it to be an awesome product. It hasn’t sagged any (although it literally holds our traditional insulation in), hasn’t been penetrated by pests or weather, and does – in fact – reflect heat away from the bottom of the house.
I don’t know what it will look like or how it will hold up over the next 10, 20, or even 50 years. What I do know is that each night we go to sleep we feel a little more comfortable and each day we are awake is a little bit cooler. And you can’t assign an R-factor to that!