They’re back at it again…
Just when you
thought it was safe - the faux (foil) insulation crowd is back
at it again…here are two recent attempts from the S & M
crowd - aka smoke and mirrors aka sales and marketing
masquerading as scientist.
Brand X has introduced a “new” 5 mm
backed closed-cell polyethylene foam stating on it's prime web
page - an unqualified R-15.67. Yes folks - a whopping fifteen point sixty seven!
...and get a load of this ...it's "new" - imagine that!
But hold on it gets better...its "new and shiny"...if I were
a fish without a doubt I'd be chasing that new shiny hook -
who could resist?
But wait - digging deeper into the website one finds
the claim to R-15.67 is specific to direction of downward flow and a
2.64” of air space on either side of the insulation. That's
right you have to figure out a way to permanently place the
insulation in a cavity with 2.64" of dead air space on
either side. But wait! At what temperature is the rating and
what happens if the air space has convective loops (and the
air space will have convective loops)? Does
Brand X provide the details? How about a correction factor?
How about a clarifying statement? Nay I say not.
At the end of the day the 5mm product itself
might have an R-1.0 (that's right a big fat "R - one" not
R15.67!) and consumers should know that since the
R-value of air is a moving target changing with temperature
and convective flows (see sidebar)…the products R-1.0
(one) is the only thing you can count on - something Brand X
doesn’t state explicitly – this is just another
fine form of
From the same company comes the use of the
USGBC logo as well as several others under the heading of
“Approvals and Certifications”. So here's the thing - the
USGBC doesn’t approve nor certify products nor do some of
the others listed.
As we have stated before just because a
firm or person holds membership in an organization does not
mean its product claims are valid – you have to be very
careful with these faux (foil) folks.
Last but not least if you see a product review
category heavily tilted in favor of the product (such as
what is shown on Brand X’s website)…ask yourself what
qualifications do these product reviewers have? Are they
building scientists, engineers, researchers with an
accredited testing facility, engineering or science faculty
members of a university (see sidebar)?
Some of these faux foil S & M types refer to
their customers as "users" so just remember the wise words
your Mom gave you about users and dealers...both are hooked and are looking to get you hooked as well.
Brand Y has decided to become scientific
- this time around stating (incorrectly), “emittance is the amount of radiant
heat that passes through the product (that is NOT blocked)”.
They go on to assume that a product with an emissivity of
0.23 allows 23% of the incident radiant energy to pass on
through with the other 77% blocked. The definition
of emittance refers to the materials ability to release
absorbed heat via radiant transfer not the amount of
“radiant heat” that passes through. This is not semantics
- the difference in terms is important stuff.
Furthermore there is no heat in radiant…its
electromagnetic energy which gets converted to heat energy
when it is absorbed.
A low E or low emissivity material is very
poor at “emitting” electromagnetic energy. Often (but not
always true) materials with low emissivity have high
reflectivity such as mirrors, foils and polished metals.
Energy in the form of heat, absorbed by a
material can be conducted or transmitted through the
material but this is a function of the materials
transmissivity or conductivity and not its emissivity.
If you've bought into these brands sales pitch
contact the Federal Trade Commission
If you know
others who are considering this product have them read the
warnings from consumer
protection groups and research reports listed at our