Ask the Expert: Reflective Insulation or Fiberglass Insulation?

Published on: Mar 10 2014 by EcoFoil
Matt Bruckman, EcoFoil Product Expert

Matt Bruckman, Product Expert

When most people insulate their homes, they use fiberglass insulation. Fiberglass has been used for insulation since the 1800s. It’s popular and well known, but fiberglass is no longer the only choice. With the growing popularity of clean, eco-friendly radiant barrier foil, many homeowners are thinking twice about the products they use to insulate their home.

To decide whether fiberglass or reflective insulation is right for you, you must first know how heat is transferred. After all, insulation is designed to prevent heat from leaking in or out of a space!

There are three ways that heat can be transferred: conduction, convection, and radiation.


1. Conduction

Conduction happens when heat is transferred through a solid surface. An example of conduction is how heat can transfer by direct contact through a wall.  Insulating the wall prevents heat from moving in or out of the home by way of direct contact. Both fiberglass and reflective insulation can insulate against conduction.  The double layer of bubbles in reflective insulation provides a thermal break to prevent heat transfer via conduction.  When installed properly, reflective insulation can stop a phenomenon known as thermal bridging.


2. Convection

Put simply convective heat transfer is when heat transfers via a liquid or gas. Air blowing through cracks around windows and doors is an example of convection at work. Caulking or sealing these openings prevents this heat transfer. Again, both fiberglass and reflective insulation can prevent convective heat loss.  When you insulate with reflective insulation and tape the seams you have a 100% vapor barrier that stops all air flow.  This creates a sealed airspace that functions much like a thermos to keep heat where it belongs.

3. Radiant Transfer

Radiant heat transfer uses electromagnetic waves to heat an object. Most people are familiar with the radiant heat of sunlight. Even in properly insulated homes, this radiant heat can lead to sweltering attics and hot rooms.   As the sun beats down on your roof, the heat radiates into the attic and warms the fiberglass insulation.  The fiberglass absorbs the heat like a baking stone and slowly releases it into your home over a long period of time.   Radiant barrier products such as perforated radiant barriers and reflective insulation have a very low rate of emissivity, which means they retain only a small amount of heat.  Radiant barrier products are the only way to insulate against radiant heat transfer.  Fiberglass insulation has no way of stopping the transfer of radiant heat.  

EcoFoil reflective InsulationWhy Reflective Insulation?
Reflective insulation’s effectiveness against conduction, convection, and radiant heat makes it an increasingly popular choice for insulation needs.  Including reflective insulation in your new construction or remodeling project is a small investment that will save you money and make your home more comfortable.


Benefits of choosing reflective insulation include:

• Easy installation with staples, nails or glue
• Can be used alone or in conjunction with other forms of insulation
• Unaffected by humidity and moisture
• Vapor barrier protection
• No special clothing or breathing protection required for installation
• Clean and nontoxic; does not irritate skin, eyes, or throat
• Acts as a radon barrier in ground applications

To learn more visit our how reflective foil works page.  If you would like to speak with one of our technical experts or buy EcoFoil reflective insulation give us a call at 888-349-3645.

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