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Musings of an Energy Nerd

Stay Away from Foil-Faced Bubble Wrap

This R-1 product can be used to make Halloween costumes, but should never be used as insulation

Foil-faced bubble wrap is a thin product that comes in a roll. Its R-value is dismally low.
View Gallery 8 images

Most brands of foil-faced bubble wrap are only 3/8 inch thick or less, and have an R-value of only 1.0 or 1.1. Since the product often costs more per square foot than 1-inch thick rigid foam rated at R-5, why would anyone use bubble wrap as insulation?

The R-value of foil-faced bubble wrap is so low that it has few, if any, advantages over rigid foam. Of course, the product’s foil facing can be used as a radiant barrier — but if you want a radiant barrier, cheaper products are available. (The bubble wrap layer is unnecessary, since it adds cost to the material without adding any useful thermal performance.)

Exaggerated R-value claims

Since the main benefit from foil-faced bubble wrap is due to its radiant-barrier facing, the product is basically worthless unless it faces an air space. A decade ago, when I was the editor of Energy Design Update, I noticed that many manufacturers of foil-faced bubble wrap were promoting their products for use under concrete slabs on grade. In this application, the shiny foil is clearly not facing an air space, so the exaggerated R-value claims made by bubble-wrap manufacturers were particularly outrageous. My article exposing the bubble-wrap scammers appeared in the September 2003 issue of EDU.

In that article, I reported that one manufacturer, WE International, made absurd claims about a thin (5/16-inch) product called Concrete Barrier rFoil. The manufacturer’s website boasted, “Concrete Barrier can serve three purposes underneath concrete: R-10 insulation, a vapor barrier and a radon barrier. … How does it compare to 2-inch foam board? It works just as well.”

Similarly, Insulation Solutions, the manufacturer of a 3/8-inch thick product called Insul-Tarp, claimed that the flexible tarp has an “R-value equivalent” rating of R-5 to R-10.

After these lies were publicized, three manufacturers wrote letters to EDU apologizing for the “oversights” and “typographical errors” that appeared on their websites.

Blurring the line between product R-values and assembly R-values

Many of the manufacturers and distributors that publish exaggerated R-values deliberately blur the bright legal line that separates product R-values from assembly R-values.

According to federal law, the R-value of an insulation product — for example, a piece of 1-inch thick polyisocyanurate — is the R-value of the insulation alone. That’s the R-value which insulation manufacturers are required to report on their packaging and in their advertising; the requirement is spelled out in the Federal R-Value Rule, a law that applies to manufacturers, retailers, and builders.

The R-value of a building assembly is something different. For example, if you build a wall with a layer of interior polyisocyanurate, followed by horizontal 1×4 strapping and drywall, the air space between the polyiso and the drywall has a measurable R-value. If you want to calculate the R-value of the entire wall assembly, you would need to calculate the R-value of the air space and add that R-value to the R-value of all the other layers. Once you’ve done that, you’ll know your wall assembly R-value.

Here’s the key point: polyiso manufacturers can’t claim the R-value of an air space in their labeling or advertising (unless the advertising makes a very clear distinction between the product R-value and the R-value of a hypothetical building assembly).

Product distributors are violating federal law

Fortunately, most (but not all) manufacturers of foil-faced bubble wrap have removed the blatant lies from their websites. Instead, manufacturers tempt the unwary with vague promises; for example, they claim that their bubble wrap “has a high R-value” or that it “resists the transfer of heat.”

The scoff-law websites with the greatest number of lies about foil-faced bubble wrap are those maintained by distributors — including a few large corporations like , Ace Hardware, and Amazon — rather than those maintained by manufacturers.

For example, that a type of foil-faced bubble wrap product manufactured by EcoFoil (“HVAC Duct Wrap Insulation”) has an R-value of R-8. But a careful reading of the and the referenced reveals that the R-8 value claim is based on an assembly that includes the R-value of a 2-inch air space.

Similarly, , an R-1 foil-faced bubble wrap product, with a blurb that claims that the product has “R-values ranging from R-3.7 to R-21.”

That’s a little like Starbucks saying that a cup of coffee is a satisfying meal — as long as you remember to accompany the coffee with a 12-inch submarine sandwich (not included).

Yes, a few manufacturers are still lying

Although the major manufacturers of foil-faced bubble wrap have (almost) cleaned up their act, some still include exaggerations on their websites.


FUN QUOTES


“Last September, the editors of Energy Design Update (EDU) questioned the astounding claims for R-value made by various manufacturers and distributors of foil-faced bubble pack insulation. Curiously, the November issue of EDU was full of qualifications from manufacturers, down-rating their R-value claims. To help resolve these competing claims, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) decided to fund a quick study on the actual installed performance of foil bubble pack and competing subslab insulations. … The foil bubble pack tested was next to useless as subslab insulation.”“The bubble-pack insulation had a low insulating value compared to the polyurethane panels and the XPS board. It’s cost benefit was the poorest of all insulating materials tested.”“Manufacturers of reflective bubble pack insulations have claimed R-values for 5/16Ë thick duct wrap as high as 5.6. Independent testing of some manufacturers’ products has shown that the actual R-value is approximately 1.1 when the product is tested in accordance with ASTM C 518.”“We found no basis for the manufacturer’s claim of 77% reduction in heat loss due to Ultra CBF rFOIL in an under-slab application. This heat loss reduction significantly exceeds even that of 2-inch extruded polystyrene insulation installed under the full slab, while the insulating value of Ultra CBF rFOIL is much less.”


One manufacturer that trumpets exaggerated R-values is EcoFoil (a.k.a. rFoil, a.k.a. Covertech Fabricating). The describes the company’s duct wrap as an R-8 product, even though the R-8 claim is based on an assembly that includes an adjacent air space. The company that “EcoFoil [foil-faced bubble wrap] under concrete insulation is superior to traditional, outdated forms of concrete floor insulation such as polystyrene or foam sheets.” This statement is false.

Elsewhere, EcoFoil , which is called “Under Concrete Insulation,” has an R-value of R-3.8. It does not.

Another bad apple is Insulation4less, which retails a thin product called Prodex Total. On , the company states, “Prodex Total has a nominal thickness of 5 mm (13/64 inch) closed cell polyethylene foam covered on both sides with .0012 (00.03 mm) aluminum foil facing. … R-value R-16 unaffected by humidity.”

Prodex may be unaffected by humidity — but it is seriously affected by gross exaggeration.

These are not examples of victimless crimes; there are victims. One victim is a blogger using this sub-slab assembly: “In basement, install Insul-Tarp over crushed rock, single layer of wire mesh, and Wirsbro [hydronic] tubing, pour concrete (pump hose will go through stairwell hole).”

Unfortunately, Insul-Tarp has an R-value of R-2 or less. For years, however, the manufacturer of Insul-Tarp claimed that the product was rated at R-7 or more. The blogger who specified Insul-Tarp believed the false claims, which is why he wrote, “This is what the Insul-Tarp looks like. The exterior is some kind of tough fabric, then there are two layers of thin white foam, then a layer of bubble wrap. Hard to believe this can be equivalent of 2 inches of styrofoam.”

Indeed, it is hard to believe — so hard, in fact, that the Federal Trade Commission initiated court action that forced Meyer Enterprises, the manufacturer of Insul-Tarp, to stop making false claims. , Meyer Enterprises “claimed Insul-Tarp’s R-value is 7.54, but in reality Insul-Tarp’s R-value could not be more than 2.”

Duct insulation scams

These days, most of the remaining confusion about foil-faced bubble wrap concerns duct insulation. As building codes ratchet up — many jurisdictions now require ducts to include R-8 insulation — manufacturers of bubble wrap have switched tactics. Instead of marketing their bubble wrap to concrete contractors, an increasing number of manufacturers are marketing bubble wrap to HVAC contractors as an easy-to-install duct insulation.

Online ads for “R-8 bubble wrap” lure unwary contractors into the marketers’ net. Claims that bubble wrap can achieve R-4, R-6, or R-8 when used as duct insulation are based on a rarely attempted installation technique that requires contractors to install a series of spacers to maintain a consistent air space between the duct and the bubble wrap. This type of insulation is fussy and is unlikely to be durable. The manufacturers hardly care whether the assembly works, however, since they are basing their sales on obfuscations and contractors’ misunderstandings.

Few contractors bother to learn about the difference between product R-values and assembly R-values. A classic example of what’s going on at job sites around the country was described in a Q&A thread here at GBA: “Reflectix is still claiming R-4.2 for its bubble wrap, and my HVAC guy is hooked.”

The only remedy to these misunderstandings is the drumbeat of education. To stop these scams, energy experts need to educate building inspectors as well as contractors.

Martin Holladay’s previous blog: “When the Gas Pipeline Shuts Down.”

104 Comments

  1. Lloyd Alter | | #1

    I am embarrassed to admit
    I am embarrassed to admit that I used it in my unwinterized cabin to cut the chill a bit in the shoulder seasons in the room with the fireplace; I wanted something really thin outside the sheathing and behind the siding. Completely useless and waste of money. Perhaps I should add a coat of that fancy NASA ceramic insulating paint.

  2. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #2

    Response to Lloyd Alter
    Lloyd,
    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but here is something else to think about: In addition to wasting your money, you also created a potential future problem by installing a wrong-side vapor barrier.

    Installing a vapor barrier on the exterior side of your wall sheathing is not a good idea in Canada. If you ever decide that you want insulation between your studs, your mistake will come back to haunt you.

  3. Jin Kazama | | #3

    still pushed as high as R4.0 around here
    Just last week i saw an add at local hardware store , clearly pushing " additional R4 value " on a bubble/foil product.

    The only usage i've ever found to this product is wraping drains as it seals pretty hermetically with acrylic tapes and is fast to layout.
    But the low insulation is not much of an help.

    BTW what would you consider as minimum insulation on flat roof plastic ( ABS ) drainage pipes that are passed through conditionned space ?

    Hard to design keeping in mind we do not wish them to freeze near the input on the roof??

  4. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #4

    Response to Jin Kazama
    Jin,
    So, you are designing a "flat" (low-slope) roof that drains to a central ABS drain pipe, and you want to know how to insulate the drain pipe.

    Here's my answer: never design a roof that slopes to a drain pipe. These types of roofs eventually fail, because they get clogged by leaves, pine needles, tennis balls, and Frisbees.

    So the answer is: design your roof to drain to an eave -- or at the very least, to scuppers (plural).

    Every roof drain that I have seen depended on heat loss from the building to stay ice-free. Not a great plan.

  5. Mark Fredericks | | #5

    Water heater tank wraps
    This bubble wrap is also sold as an insulating blanket wrap for hot water tanks. I foolishly installed one of these a few years ago only to learn that it provides very little insulating value. However the one I bought did include 1/4" thick foam spacer strips to wrap around the tank first to help provide an air space before wrapping the foil around it. I don't remember the R-value claims of this product but the spacer strips were clearly indicated in the installation instructions so its possible their claim could have been reasonable.

    Now that I have this foil wrap installed do you think there's any value in keeping it when I add more insulation to my water heater tank?

  6. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #6

    Response to Mark Fredericks
    Mark,
    If you want to install insulation around your water heater, the best products are those made of vinyl-faced fiberglass insulation. Here are links to two products:

    Now that you have installed the bubble wrap, there is no reason to remove it -- unless there is a problem with the tape holding it in place. I see no reason why you can't install a fiberglass blanket around it.

    The usual warnings apply: don't cover up the pressure/temperature relief valve, or the thermostat or other controls. If it is a gas water heater, don't cover up the burner area (where the combustion air enters) or the area around the flue.

  7. User avater
    Greg Labbe | | #7

    Halloween Costumes
    Martin,

    Until you produce evidence, I won't believe you its even good for Halloween costumes- too expensive, unrecyclable and kids will complain about being too cold!

  8. Jon R | | #8

    Use in tropical countries
    I frequently see this used as the sole insulation under the corrugated roof of tropical buildings. In this case, it is facing air gaps on both sides. It works, but foil faced EPS would be better. Or white paint on the top of the roof and a greater roof slope (more convection).

  9. Steve Johnson | | #9

    I witnessed
    I saw an entire house get covered in this stuff (exterior). This was a few years back. What a waste of time and energy (not to mention money).

  10. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #10

    Response to Greg Labbe
    Greg,
    How's this for a Halloween costume? I couldn't find a good photo of a costume using foil-faced bubble wrap, unfortunately, but this example comes close.

    .

  11. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #11

    Response to Jon R
    Jon,
    You wrote, "I frequently see this used as the sole insulation under the corrugated roof of tropical buildings. In this case, it is facing air gaps on both sides. It works, but foil faced EPS would be better."

    I agree that it works, and that foil-faced rigid foam would be better.

    Another observation: in this application, an ordinary radiant barrier (without the bubble wrap) would work just as well, and would be cheaper.

  12. S M | | #12

    Used it on garage door
    I used this product on my west- facing uninsulated metal overhead garage door on my old house. Summer afternoons would really make the inside of that door a scorcher. This product worked great for that - I just wanted to block the infusion of radiant heat that my uninsulated garage accumulated on the sunny summer evenings. I used foil tape to secure the cut pieces in each section of the overhead door.

  13. Matt Dirksen | | #13

    makes a good beer cozy
    I admit I had bought some years ago to staple to the underside of the trusses in the attic (before I could afford to do the r-50 cellulose), and I had extra to play with.
    Here is what I have used it for so far:
    1) beer cozies
    2) to keep freeze dried food packets warm while rehydrating on backpacking trips
    3) made squares out of it to sit on with the camp chairs
    4) a great replacement for the ground cloth under the tent
    5) makes an awesome sled (very slippery on snow)

    and the list goes on....

  14. T Tub | | #14

    Great -- another thing wrong with my house
    I am becoming depressed by all the [good] info on this site showing how key parts of my home build were wrong and either cannot be fixed or will require lots of $$$ to fix.

    My geothermal radiant heating system was provided by Eagle Mountain. Insul-Tarp was, and still is, part of their radiant heat slab construction (). Fortunately I insulated my perimeter frost walls/footers before back-filling or else my slab heat loss would be greater than it is. And like Mark (above), I too bought Reflectix for wrapping around my hot water tank. At least that is an easy fix.

    I better start playing the lottery to hopefully win enough money to fix everything or demo and rebuild... :(

  15. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #15

    Response to AJ Builder
    AJ,
    You wrote, "There is an airgap, that is what the bubbles are, air gaps."

    Fortunately, we know what the air gaps do. They change the R-value of the product from R-0 (that's the R-value of the plain foil radiant barrier) to R-1.1.

    If you perform an R-value test according to ASTM C518, the material is placed between two plates -- which is a similar situation to sandwiching the bubble wrap between dirt and concrete. The effect of the bubble wrap (a type of air gap with thermal bridging) plus foil is captured by the test. In a way, it's like testing a miniature building assembly.

    In short, the bubbles help -- but not much. If you are impressed by R-1.1, this is the product for you.

    Some manufacturers add one or two very thin layers of flexible foam to the sandwich, and make a thin "tarp" with an R-value as high as R-2.

    Wow! R-2! Remember, it costs more than R-5 foam.

  16. User avater
    Dana Dorsett | | #16

    The best application I've seen for it is...
    ...the cushioning binder wrap of a pallet of cases of wine. Inside the bubble wrap there was 1" sheets of Type-I EPS between the wine cases and the aluminized polyethylene bubble wrap. It needed something to hold it all together and a tougher skin to protect the low-density EPS (shrink wrap wouldn't be enough) so a bubble wrap made some sense.

    In that application the low-E of the bubble wrap gives in another bit of thermal performance to protect the cases on the sunny side of the pallet from cooking while on the loading dock in full sun (R3.8 foam wouldn't quite do it, I'm sure.) The high thermal mass of the cargo then gives it quite a bit of tolerance over fairly dramatic and extended temperature changes in-transit, as it makes it's way from Napa Valley to Boston.

    Price/performance isn't a much of an issue when you're shipping $15,000 worth of temperature sensitive wine per pallet. The warehouse guys on the receiving end collected both the EPS and aluminized bubble wrap, posting both on a web bulletin board under the "free" section rather than dumpster-izing it when the pile got too big. At that price it's surely "worth it", for some applications.

  17. Hobbit _ | | #17

    works for me
    I made window shades out of it. No expectations of "R-value"
    per se, especially as there's a half-inch gap around all the
    edges as it hangs in the interior box, but it definitely
    stops that typical chilly feeling of one's body heat radiating
    away when sitting next to a cold window. That's not insulative
    against conduction as defined by R-value, but it's definitely
    doing its job as a radiant barrier in that application.

    I also made a little doghouse around the warm pipes on top of
    the water-heater, which simply helps contain the warmth around
    them instead of letting it float away into the basement. Again,
    not insulation, just a bit of air containment. Other than
    that, it makes great light-duty padding for any number of
    suitable situations around the house.

    The mylar is electrically conductive, so don't use it around
    anything involving exposed voltage...

    _H*

  18. Lee Peterson | | #18

    ?? ProDex. ?? same category??
    See a lot of ads and claims about R19 for the product ProDex.

    Does this fall into the same useless category?

  19. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #19

    Response to Lee Peterson
    Lee,
    It violates the laws of physics for a 3/16 inch thick product to have an R-value of R-16. The R-value of this product is probably less than R-1. Figure it this way: R-4 per inch, divided by 16, times 3 = R-0.75.

    .

  20. Malcolm Taylor | | #20

    Martin,
    I think Jin lives in Montreal where 90% of the housing stock is either semi-detached or row houses with flat roofs. I agree that in a green site build where the designer has many options a sloped roof is preferable, but the type of construction Jin describes is what has been successfully done and continues to be the norm in Montreal. Given those constraints do you have any advice for Jin?

  21. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #21

    Response to Malcolm Taylor
    Malcolm,
    Q. "Do you have any advice for Jin?"

    A. Yes. I provided my advice in Comment #4, where I wrote, "Design your roof to drain to an eave -- or at the very least, to scuppers (plural)."

    This advice applies to low-slope roofs (the type that Jin is discussing).

  22. User avater
    Dana Dorsett | | #22

    The laws of phyics... (response to #20)
    If it were vacuum insulated goods 3/16" thick with aluminum facing aluminum across even 1/8" gap and minimal thermal bridging you'd probably beat R16(!). Vacuum insulated glass window units with indium tin-oxide hard-coat low-E on both sides of a 1-2mm gap regularly hit R10 or better.

    But of course bubble pack has air, not vacuum in the gaps, which both convects and conducts heat energy from one side do the other.

  23. Richard Beyer | | #23

    Young men have died installing this product

    Labor government failed to heed safety warnings before the deaths of four workers in 2009 and 2010.
    Ms Wiley-Smith told the hearing she and a colleague were given two days to plan and cost the scheme, which aimed to insulate more than 2 million homes.
    She told the court she got a call from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet after 5pm on the Friday of the 2009 Australia Day weekend and was told she and another colleague had until Monday to have the details ready, including the risks involved.

    Royal Commission into the Home Insulation Program: Bureaucrats given 'two days' to plan national scheme

    In my opinion, we are just breaking ground on the corruption involved with insulation's savior of our economy. The truth is slowly leaking out on Spray Foam, now it's foil. Most insulation products use deception to sell their product. Our government is slow to act and most probably may never act. The fines associated with deceptive marketing is far less then the profit made. Seems to be the cost of doing business in America and abroad.

  24. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #24

    Response to Richard Beyer
    Richard,
    This is an interesting footnote to the field of radiant barrier controversies. Evidently the Rudd government in Australia was offering incentives to encourage the installation of residential insulation. Evidently some radiant barrier manufacturers or distributors convinced a government official that radiant barriers are a type of insulation, and should therefore be eligible for the government insulation subsidies, just like fiberglass.

    Some poorly trained workers were installing aluminum foil on an attic floor with staple guns. The staples pierced electrical cables while the workers were sitting on the foil. The workers were electrocuted.

    The controversies arose from a few questions, including:

    1. Should the government have been providing insulation incentives to installers of radiant barriers?

    2. Were the poorly trained installers rushed to the field for political reasons, so that the government could show fast results for their program to insulate Australian homes?

  25. Jay Walsh | | #25

    Uses for the product
    We've heard a lot of things it is not good for, how about some it is good for.

    I've used it with great success as a reflective/radiant shield behind my steam radiators in my 140 year old house. The fact that it's flexible helps to get it in behind some which are in tight spots.

    Any other good uses for this product out there?

  26. User avater
    Robert Opaluch | | #26

    One minor usage of bubble wrap
    This winter I used some foil-faced bubble wrap cut-to-fit between a removable insect screen and skylight glazing to reduce convection and heat loss in my girlfriend's rented home. It did help reduce annoying cold drafts from these poorly-located, upward and slightly west-facing skylights. Since its a rental we could not put in better quality, higher R-value cellular shades. Rigid foil-faced foam board would have been better too, but this bubble wrap stuff was in the garage (free and available).

  27. Sally Leong | | #27

    gas-filled radiant barriers were invented by DOE

  28. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #28

    Response to Sally Leong
    Sally,
    The gas-filled panels described in your link are a different animal entirely than the products discussed in this blog. The LBNL researchers are developing new products filled with argon, krypton, or xenon.

  29. Ed Dunn | | #29

    Underslab
    I have always regretted it that a client had me use this crap under slab instead of 2" of foam. They had hydronic heat. Yikes! This was back in the year 2000. Could not find any good info to verify the manufacturers claim. I really had my doubts and am glad they were eventually exposed.

  30. Aj Builder, Upstate NY Zone 6a | | #30

    Missing positives
    With an air gap and taking into account adding an air barrier and using foil where the radiant levels are high, the stuff though marketed horrendously does do a job.

    Should anyone buy the stuff... not very often.
    aj

    Also... Martin... underslab... you are thinking there is no air gap... there is an airgap, that is what the bubbles are, air gaps. I am not saying I love the stuff... but your blog makes it sound like there is no air gap when there certainly IS and air gap. Your saying that just a sheet of less expensive radiant foil would be better is nonsense. The bubbles also stop conduction. In a slab conduction is the primary heat transfer. I do agree with you not to use it underslab unless it falls off a truck and is free.

    Addendum to Martin; Twice I agreed with you that this stuff is of lessor value...

    now I have but thrice
    to agree
    to said...
    advice

    aj ;) 5 days left till a real Spring here in the Adirondacks! Fifty degree days are near.... Update... tomorrow may go above 40 degrees... Monday... word has it that the sun will shine and we may go over 50 degrees! May need bubble foil to stay cool... to keep the beers cool... instead of sunscreen... to ward off mosquitoes...to make solar cookers... what else??

  31. Derek Roff | | #31

    The only way...
    Martin says, "The only remedy to these misunderstandings is the drumbeat of education." I fear that he is correct, but I am frustrated by the fact that there is no chance of effectively enforcing the laws that we already have, and eliminating false advertising on this, and many other products and services.

    GBA is a lifeline to better information.

  32. Gerard Celentano | | #32

    Its' Good to be Skeptical
    These products are marketed first and foremost as a radiant barrier, which they are. Claims by the manufacturer are exaggerated and they're expected to be. Good marketing and sales are supposed to create the most positive spin and it's up to an educated consumer to figure out if it's for him. I think anyone who believes high R-values about a product like this gets what he deserves. I had an application where I looked at Insul-tarp and figured out in about 15 minutes (surfing on my iPhone) that the claims had to be grossly exaggerated and it wasn't the product for me.
    Radiant barriers have legitimate uses, as described by some above. If these products yield an R-3 per inch (give or take) then it's comparable to many other products out there. They should simply be used where it is the best product for the application.
    I don't get upset when a company is trying to sell their product and takes some license to do it. We see exaggerations and mis-information every day in our lives and accept it (think of anything anyone of Capitol Hill says). A much larger problem is when entities publish equally bogus information, but their political agenda is harder to discern. You don't know which way to filter the story until you know which way it was slanted. Worse is when they try to give credibility to their mis-information by shrouding it in pseudo-science. Many large companies use government (and government like) entities in this manner, and that propaganda is difficult to navigate. The examples are too numerous to comment on, but they're far more damaging than what these bubble wrap guys are doing.
    Some of us seek out sources that tell us what we want to hear, while others of us seek out sources that we trust to tell us something close to the truth. Others still, obtain information from may sources, but understand the bias of the source, and use that to draw our own conclusions. It would be nice if there were a source you could truly trust at its face value, but I've yet to find one (no insult to anyone intended).

  33. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #33

    Response to Derek Roff
    Derek,
    In your comment, I sense a gentle reprimand, and you are correct: my statement that "the only remedy to these misunderstandings is the drumbeat of education" was too categorical.

    It is entirely reasonable to expect the FTC to do a better job of enforcing federal law than it has done for the last 15 years (as long as I have being paying attention to this issue). As I have noted repeatedly in articles over these years, it doesn't take long at all to locate websites with absurd and illegal claims about the performance and R-value of so-called "insulating" paint, radiant barriers, and bubble-wrap products.

    The Federal R-Value Rule is the law of the land, and it should be enforced. Shame on the FTC for letting these marketers fleece gullible homeowners and builders.

  34. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #34

    Response to Gerard Celentano
    Gerard,
    After tipping my hat to Derek Roff for his appropriate reminder, it's time to turn to your comments, Gerard.

    I'm sorry, but I disagree. You wrote, "Claims by the manufacturer are exaggerated and they're expected to be. ... I think anyone who believes high R-values about a product like this gets what he deserves."

    On the contrary: our federal legislators decided to pass a law (16 CFR 460) specifically to address the type of crime detailed in my article. American citizens have every reason to expect this law to be enforced, in order to protect consumers.

  35. Charles CAMPBELL | | #35

    car windshields
    Best use here in the deep south is to block solar gain through car windshields. Ordinary radiant barriers are not quite stiff enough. No more cracked dashboards, or steering wheels and belt buckles that are too hot to handle. Also dramatic reduction in A/C load.

  36. Derek Roff | | #36

    No reprimand intended, unless...
    I intended no reprimand, Martin. Unless you have resisted using your secret super-powers, that would have allowed you to fix this regulatory problem. It is a sad irony that those with power to fix the problem lack the will, and those with the will lack effective tools to address the problem. You named education as the best tool in our [meaning the GBA community] limited resource kit, and I think you are right.

    I appreciate the incredible educational resource that GBA is for me, and I thank you for reinforcing my point, that we shouldn't be alone in trying to solve this kind of problem.

    Gerard's comment reminds me of the moral philosophy expressed by W. C. Fields, "You can't cheat an honest man, and never give a sucker an even break." Fields' goal was humor, but a lot of businesses seem to have chosen this as a mission statement.

  37. Richard Beyer | | #37

    Seems this story is old news
    Seems this story is old news in the U.S. after all and as I stated above...

    "Our government is slow to act and most probably may never act. The fines associated with deceptive marketing is far less then the profit made. Seems to be the cost of doing business in America and abroad."

    Published on 3/22/2002
    New Fact Sheet Challenges Performance Claims of Reflective Bubble Pack Insulation Manufacturers

  38. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #38

    Response to Richard Beyer
    Richard,
    Indeed, this story is old news; as I noted in the third paragraph, I have been writing articles on the topic since 2003. (I also quoted from the NAIMA fact sheet that you reference in one of the sidebars above.)

    Perhaps you are implying that it isn't worth reporting on a topic that is "old news." I think it is -- in part because the scammers are still using exaggerations to market their products, and in part because the FTC has failed to shut these people down.

  39. Robert Fritz | | #39

    I used Prodex under my garage
    When I built my garage approx 3 years ago I used Prodex under the slab. I also installed radiant tubing, because i wanted to take the chill out of our NY winters if i happened to be working in the garage. I haven't hooked up the radiant yet so I don't know how effective the Prodex will be. What recourse do I have against the company's false claims? I see that the govmint got money from the foil faced bubble wrap makers but that doesn't help me with my situation.

  40. Keith Morris | | #40

    Yurts?
    Thanks for this.

    As you may know, yurt manufacturers are another group apparently duped by bubble foil manufacturer's claims, as this is typically all that is offered as 'insulation' packages for the walls, usually covered by a canvas interior wall.

    I will be insulating a yurt in Vermont that was done in this way (not surprisingly, the bubble wrap is inadequate. We will do ~4+" of blown cellulose into the cavity created by the 'studs' ("wind and snow load kit") and ~6+" between the rafters.

    As the foil is already around the outside, will a typical pe vapor on the inside (hidden by the canvas) prevent the possible condensation problems?

    Thanks.

    'Farmtek' is another major retailer of this product engaged in serious exaggeration- selling it for barns and chicken coops, etc.

  41. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #41

    Response to Robert Fritz (Comment #39)
    Robert,
    I'm sorry to hear that you chose to install Prodex as insulation under your hydronically heated slab. It certainly would have been better if you had installed real insulation.

    If you are interested in pursuing a lawsuit against Prodex, you should consult a lawyer. I'm doubtful that you will succeed in such a claim, but I'm not a lawyer. One problem that you are facing is that Prodex is a foreign company with headquarters in Costa Rica.

  42. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #42

    Response to Keith Morris (Comment #40)
    Keith,
    Thanks for sharing your experience. I'm not surprised that when "a yurt in Vermont" is insulated with bubble wrap, "the bubble wrap is inadequate."

    I'm not familiar with methods for insulating yurts. I do know that traditional Mongolian yurts (or gers) are insulated with felt.

    I visualize yurts as having fabric walls, but perhaps your American yurt is different. I would hesitate to insulate fabric walls with cellulose, but it's hard to visualize the job you describe -- especially since I don't know what the walls and roof of your yurt are made of.

    In general, it's a bad idea to install a vapor barrier like foil-faced bubble wrap on the exterior side of a cellulose-insulated wall in Vermont. The foil would represent a wrong-side vapor barrier. Adding interior polyethylene to this type of wall would only make the situation worse, since the interior poly would prevent the wall assembly from drying in either direction.

  43. Joel Rovnak | | #43

    foil-faced bubble wrap
    I was planning on using this in an attic space on the outside of a second-story, south-facing wall to help control heat gain from the attic. I was counting primarily on the radiant barrier over the existing uncovered sheathing on a 2X4 insulated wall. Material has to go through a 2X2' access and work around a lot of trusses. Is it worth the expense and effort ? It's hard to keep the upstairs cool without freezing downstairs.

  44. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #44

    Response to Joel Rovnak
    Joel,
    It's hard to visualize where you want to install the bubble wrap. You describe the location as "on the outside of a second-story, south-facing wall." That's usually where the siding goes. Do you want to install it between the wall sheathing and the siding?

    Then you write that the "material has to go through a 2X2' access and work around a lot of trusses," so it sounds like you are working inside an attic. Do you intend to install it on the underside of the sloping top chords of your roof trusses?

    The bottom line is this: if you want to prevent heat transfer through a wall assembly or a roof assembly, it's almost always better to install insulation, not bubble wrap.

    For more information on radiant barriers, see Radiant Barriers: A Solution in Search of a Problem.

  45. Joel Rovnak | | #45

    foil-faced insulation
    The attic surrounds the exterior wall of the second story. Basically a box inside an attic with another attic above. Those walls are just sheathed with no siding. The roof takes full sun and is very hot for lots of radiant heat hitting that wall at a 45 degree angle. The attic is over the first floor ceiling and an adjacent porch. Access is in the porch ceiling. I have ventilated the attic, but that won't stop the radiant transfer.

  46. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #46

    Response to Joel Rovnak
    Joel,
    This type of wall is usually called a kneewall. For information on ways to insulate kneewalls, I suggest that you read this article:

  47. Allan Marshall | | #47

    hvac duct insulation
    If your against bubble wrap on ducts, then what do you recommend. It seems all types are dependent on proper installation. I have found bubble wrap to be helpful in many situations, but it does need the airspace to be effective.

  48. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #48

    Response to Allan Marshall
    Allan,
    Real duct insulation (the type that has an R-value, rather than one that depends on the R-value of an air space) is usually made from fiberglass insulation with a vapor-barrier facing. Here are links to two brands:

  49. Allan Marshall | | #49

    Fiberglass duct wrap
    Thank you for the links. Present California code is R-8. None of these seems to meet that. These wraps are very hard to retrofit on to exposed ducting that might be hanging from joists. I'm constantly seeing fiberglass hanging from duct from previous installers. It is not a very installer friendly product.

  50. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #50

    Response to Allan Marshall
    Allan,
    Owens Corning makes R-8.3 fiberglass duct insulation. Here is a link:

  51. Bob Coleman | | #51

    help calculating R-value
    For giggles, what is the R-value of the following Horizontal wall assembly section.
    It appears it would differ in winter and summer.

    3/4" Plywood | Foil Layer || 3/4" Airspace || Foil Layer || Cement Siding (flat against foil)

    I can't quite determine what two opposing radiant barriers with and airspace between them is in R-value

  52. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #52

    Response to Bob Coleman
    Bob,
    I don't have my copy of ASHRAE Fundamentals by my side right now, but according to my memory, a 3/4-inch vertical airspace with a radiant barrier has an R-value of about R-3. Without the radiant barrier, it's about R-1. So the foil raises the R-value of the air space by about R-2.

  53. Bob Coleman | | #53

    martin
    R2 is what I've seen for a single radiant barrier facing an enclosed airspace, varying with temp.

    Does the R value go up if 2 radiant barriers face that airspace from opposing sides?
    It seems like it should, or maybe it just slightly adjust the Rvalue upward as a combo for both seasons, ie heat travel changes depending on outside temps.

    Some sites like Reflectix have examples of this double barrier, but it is not sandwiched and often faces multiple air spaces closed or open without detailing the R value of each.
    There examples are good, but they don't always break down exactly how it's determined.

    They have a crawl space example listed at R 17:
    Floor
    -------
    Large airspace 3"+
    -------
    Reflectix running and stapled inside joist
    -------
    3/4" air space pocket
    -------
    Reflectix stapled to bottom of joists
    -------
    open air space in crawl

    I've even seen a triple layer product that expands on its own to include 2 air spaces inside.

  54. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #54

    Response to Bob Coleman
    Bob,
    Q. "Does the R-value go up if 2 radiant barriers face that air space from opposing sides [as opposed to having 1 radiant barrier facing the air space]?"

    A. Good question. I'm fairly sure that I know the answer to the question, but I don't really want to post the answer until I'm sure. So I have just sent an e-mail to Dave Yarbrough, and insulation expert, to get an authoritative answer. I'll report back soon.

  55. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #55

    Second response to Bob Coleman
    Bob,
    I have just received an e-mail from David Yarbrough. The answer is that if you install foil on both sides of the 3/4-inch air space instead of foil on just one side of the air space, the second layer of foil adds only R-0.15 (much less than R-1) to the assembly. The second foil surface raises the R-value of the air space from R-3.08 to R-3.23.

    David Yarbrough graciously provided a more detailed explanation, which I am posting below:

    "The following R-values (ft2∙h∙°F/Btu) have been calculated with the reflective air space program I use. The R-values are for horizontal heat flow (vertical air space) with average temperature 75°F and temperature difference 20 °F. I used emittance of wood 0.87 and emittance of foil/film 0.03.

    no low emittance wood-wood R=0.91
    one low emittance foil-wood R=3.08
    two low emittance foil-foil R=3.23
    foil in middle wood-foil-wood R=3.92 (each air space 0.375 inch).

    As is the case with most thermal insulations, the R-value depends, for example, on temperature and spacing or thickness. The above are for the conditions stated."

    -- D. Yarbrough

  56. Keith Morris | | #56

    Further on Yurt Insulation
    Thank you for your helpful comments regarding the yurt.

    Unfortunately this type of 'bubble wrap "insulation" is the norm for 'winterization' of manufactured yurts in the US. It works great "with a big enough heater"!

    The exterior walls are a water tight vinyl and I doubt its very breathable...

    Would love any suggestions for creating an insulated cavity against a vapor tight exterior wall, as we are now very reluctant to place cellulose between two vapor barriers- thank you!

    I've sent a private message if you'd rather not continue conversation on this thread.

    Here's what the bubble wrap looks like on walls and ceiling at one of the large opening windows. You can see the green vinyl exterior wall at the sides and corners of the window cutout, and the studs which represent the cavity we're hoping to insulate (after framing out around the windows).

    Thank you kindly for any advice this forum may offer!!

    (trying again to upload photo- a google search of 'yurt insulation' shows many 'tech foil' insulated yurts)

  57. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #57

    Response to Keith Morris
    Keith,
    As I understand it, a yurt has flexible walls. In many ways it has more in common with a tent than a house.

    Like the gers of Mongolia and the tipis of North America, the walls of these traditional shelters never had a high R-value. A layer of felt or animal hide was probably as elaborate as insulation every got in these traditional shelters.

    If you want a high-R wall, you'll probably have to build yourself a house. Otherwise, you'll need to tack up some flexible insulation: quilts, blankets, animal hides, or foil-faced bubble wrap. Anything is better than nothing.

    Needless to say, pay attention to fire safety when you insulate your walls. After all, your walls lack the benefit of 1/2-inch drywall.

  58. Rick Gough | | #58

    Foil Wrap for Cool Roof?
    Having read all the posts for this article as well as "Radiant Barriers: A Solution in Search of a Problem," I am grateful for your expertise and substantial number of opinions and experiences shared by your readers. Below, I have questions about the use of this material as one element in a "cool roof " system.

    My Pasadena, CA home (summers hot), was built in 1953 and has a low-sloped asphalt cap roof. Inside, there are open beam ceilings for almost all of the house (very little attic). The existing asphalt cap appears to be on top of some rigid foam insulation (thickness unknown), which is presumably on top of felt, plywood, and ceiling planking. By mid-afternoon in the summer, if it's 90 degrees outside, it will be 87 inside without turning the AC on; and when that is turned on, it cools only to low 80s. At night, the interior stays hot long after the air has cooled outside.

    I am considering bids by two roofers to put a TPO or PVC white roof on top of LOW-E 3/16 reflective insulation (on top of the existing single layer of asphalt). Judging from what I read, this LOW-E material might not function as an effective thermal barrier without an adjacent airspace. Can you confirm or correct this assumption, please? I would also greatly appreciate any remedies you could suggest. As this is a $15,000 roof, I am anxious to know whether or not it will have a significant impact on lowering the interior temperatures (and thus, lowering monthly $700 AC bills). Would more rigid foam insulation be more cost effective, and/or would another asphalt roof with white elastomeric coating be just as effective? Many thanks for any advice you can give.

  59. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #59

    Response to Rick Gough
    Rick,
    Installing a radiant barrier in your roof assembly is a waste of money unless it faces an air space. If the radiant barrier was suggested by a roofing contractor, find another roofing contractor.

    The best way to limit heat flow from your roofing to your house is to install insulation. I don't know how much insulation you have right now, and neither do you, but the situation you describe provides evidence that your insulation layer is insufficient.

    It's a good idea to install at least R-30 insulation in your roof system. That means 5 or 6 inches of rigid foam. A good roofing contractor who is familiar with low-slope roofing systems should be able to give you a bid on the work you need: a new layer of rigid foam insulation, topped by new membrane roofing.

  60. Tim Burd | | #60

    Insulation for a bus
    Found your article while searching for an outlet that sells this product, lived off the grid in Northern Ontario and did the upper rafters with it, froze my ass off! Needless to say I was about to purchase the product again to line the inside of my bus ceiling hoping it would help. I purchased the bus with the interior already in so the space available for insulation is limited. The ceiling is bare though.and It has a thermostatically controlled propane heater which works well. The bus has a thin layer of insulation between the outer and inner shells, still, I would like to add to the R value as I live in BC where the temp can sometimes dip below freezing. The interior has limited head room but can occommodate something thin like the bubble wrap. Can you recommend something as thin that isn't too costly? Great article by the way and thanks for your time.

  61. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #61

    Response to Tim Burd
    Tim,
    Closed-cell spray foam is the usual insulation solution for vehicles. If that's too pricy for you, you could use fan-fold foam insulation (the type usually installed under vinyl siding).

  62. Tom Adam | | #62

    Bubble wrap for attic dryer duct.
    I have used this to wrap my 4" attic- vented duct work here in Eastern Ontario, Canada since 1992. Seems to have done the job I wanted which was to prevent wintertime condensation freezing. What would be a better choice today?

  63. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #63

    Response to Tom Adam
    Tom,
    Duct insulation.

    Many manufacturers sell duct insulation. It consists of fiberglass insulation with a vinyl jacket. It is available in a variety of thicknesses up to R-8.

  64. D Miller | | #64

    foiled bubble wrap
    I use this product in the area where I house my indoor/outdoor container plants and start the veggie seedlings. It reflects the light very nicely and has kept water off the dry wall. I've also used it as for sun shades in my camping trailer and to make insulated boxes for grocery runs. There is a place and use for stuff, just not as house insulation.

  65. Daniel Hackett | | #65

    The Foil bubble insulation
    The Foil bubble insulation worked for the application I used it for as an multipurpose use in 2008.
    Insulation in a garage door, reflection of artificial light back into the space, and it is light weight so it held itself in place.
    The springs on the garage door did not need any adjustment for a 8x16 ft door.
    During the summer, the heat between the door and foil would balloon the insulation for a larger air gap, however the temperature was decreased enough to feel a difference.

  66. Jenny Yasi | | #66

    foil faced bubblepack
    I used this in our crawlspace, and it makes crawling around down there a LOT more comfortable! Also, it sure seems like it makes the floors of our little house surprisingly warm and comfortable. You can find the story of how we used radiant barriers in Maine on my blog at I think the foil faced bubblepack is awesome and it works great.

  67. Joseph King | | #67

    Now what?
    I was going to use this product on my trailer. I have a fiberglass 'egg' that is gutted. My plan was to use Reflectix then cover that with automotive fabric, as many people who reno these trailers do the same.

    By reading this I assume there is no product I can get more than an R2 out of short of spray in foam or rigid boards?

    If it doesn't insulate it will it at least keep the edge off the radiant heat and stop it from sweating?

    Cheers

  68. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #68

    Response to Joseph King
    Joseph,
    If you want insulation, you should install insulation. Closed-cell spray foam insulation is the best product for your situation; you can buy a two-component spray foam kit at most lumberyards.

    If you want a radiant barrier, you can install a shiny foil product (with or without the bubbles). To be effective, the radiant barrier has to face an air space -- so if you sandwich the shiny stuff between the shell of your trailer and some type of paneling, the radiant barrier will be worthless. If you can manage to create a 3/4-inch air space with shiny foil on one side, the R-value of the air space will be about R-2 or at most R-3.

  69. Robert Kidd | | #69

    best remediation
    I currently have ducts in my unconditioned attic that are "insulated" with only foil bubble wrap. What is the best and most efficient method to remediate the problem? Can I add fiberglass R6-8 duct insulation on top of the bubble wrap or would I need to remove the bubble first. Alternatively, since they are on the attic floor, can I just cover them as is with blown cellulose?

    Thanks for any and all suggested options

  70. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #70

    Response to Robert Kidd
    Robert,
    The main reason that you probably want to remove and discard the bubble wrap is so that you can inspect the duct seams and seal the seams with mastic. After that work is done, you want to install vinyl-faced R-8 duct insulation, following the instructions of the duct insulation manufacturer.

    Covering the ducts with blown cellulose is usually not a good idea, especially if the ducts are used for cooling. During the summer, when the ducts are cold, the air in the attic may be warm and humid. The humidity in the air is not stopped by the cellulose insulation, and condensation can occur on the cold ducts (or the cold bubble wrap), leading to damp insulation or even a damp ceiling.

    One final point: you really don't want any ducts in an unconditioned attic. For more information on this topic, see Keeping Ducts Indoors.

  71. Robert Kidd | | #71

    best remediation
    Thanks for the quick response. Duct sealing and all ceiling penetrations is definitely priority number one and will be completed first. Unfortunately the ducts are in the attic and it would require a major overhaul to the HVAC system and 2nd floor to change that, so insulation in my next consideration. If I install vinyl faced R-8 duct insulation, would it be safe to then cover the ducts with cellulose. To paraphrase Joe L,where were the adults when this level of insulation was deemed adequate. To me, this kind of seems like the exterior rigid insulation thickness requirements issue, to little can create problems, but the right amount can be very beneficial. By the way I am in climate Zone 4.

  72. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #72

    Response to Robert Kidd
    Robert,
    Q. "If I install vinyl faced R-8 duct insulation, would it be safe to then cover the ducts with cellulose?"

    A. Yes.

  73. Jason Corrado | | #73

    Proper Installation Works
    Informative article but the title is misleading. When used correctly the foil/bubble product can be quite effective. I live in NY and spray foam is being used heavily to satisfy new local energy codes. I built several homes using the Prodex product and have been extremely satisfied. I used the product on the interior rather than the exterior. The exterior wall construction was as follows:

    Hardi siding
    -1" rigid foam, seams were not taped to allow for air flow.
    -1/2" sheathing
    -2x6 studs with R21 fiberglass in between.
    -5/16" Prodex foil/foam/foil installed over studs, edges caulked, seams stapled and taped over with foil tape.
    -2x3 strapping screwed on end, horizontally. This created a 2-1/2 in air gap as well as a pocket to run all
    electrical and plumbing.
    -1/2" Sheetrock.

    I also used the same 2x3 strapping technique on the ceiling of the second floor.

    The houses perform extremely well in both summer and winter. The additional building cost was reasonable, and much cheaper than spray foam. Installation requires no special tools or respiratory masks or clothing. I agree that the advertising techniques may be flawed but the product itself, when installed correctly, is effective.

  74. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #74

    Response to Jason Corrado
    Jason,
    Unfortunately, you made a few mistakes.

    First of all, airtight construction techniques always improve the performance of a wall assembly. The decision not to tape the seams of your exterior foam "to allow air flow" was a big mistake. Air flow through a wall assembly indicates some type of builder mistake -- you certainly don't want to encourage it.

    The second error was to buy a bubble-wrap foam product to install on the interior of your walls. If you are going to go to the trouble of installing a continuous layer of rigid insulation and then horizontal strapping, you should have installed rigid foam -- either EPS or polyiso. These products probably would have been cheaper -- and guess what, these products have an R-value.

  75. John Matthews | | #75

    Plain foil
    What about using the plain foil on the underside of my floor joists in the crawl space?

    I have radiant tubing between joists, fiberglass, and planned on using the plain woven foil (no double bubble) stapled up with seams taped?

    Thanks

  76. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #76

    Response to John Matthews
    John,
    The product you are describing is a radiant barrier. For more information on radiant barriers, see Radiant Barriers: A Solution in Search of a Problem.

    Radiant barriers are (in most cases) vapor barriers. They have no R-value. The best product for the location you describe is foil-faced polyisocyanurate (a type of rigid foam), not a radiant barrier.

  77. John Matthews | | #77

    Thanks.I thought about the
    Thanks.
    I thought about the rigid foam.
    Do you think it would be better if I used 2" rigid foam secured to the underside of the joists, and no fiberglass in the bay, creating an airspace between tubing and insulation? Or are you suggesting using a thin foil foam in conjunction with fiberglass (or roxul) in the bays?
    By thin, I am talking the 1/2" stuff.
    I could also possible get another load of foam seconds, and cut them to fit between joists and spray foam them in place (but I hate cutting foam).
    Some of the radiant people suggest using the reinforced foil, because its inexpensive you can seal it like a vapor barrier, and is easy to handle and install in the crawl space (staple up tape seams).
    Some of them use the double bubble, in conjunction with fiberglass?

  78. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #78

    Response to John Matthews
    John,
    You should use whatever product you want. Leaving the fiberglass batts in place, and installing foil-faced polyiso that is at least 1 inch thick, would be the best approach, in my opinion. But it's your house.

    Cut-and-cobble foam between the joists doesn't make any sense.

    You are correct that some "radiant people" use radiant barriers and others use "double bubble." What you decide to use is up to you. Here at GBA, we provide advice -- but you get to make the decision.

  79. Adam Stetten | | #79

    I am sad about the Tone and Title of this post on GBA
    Simply Google this phrase: Bonus Room Comfort Solution
    then click on the first link. There are plenty of fantastic applications of Prodex featured there.

  80. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #80

    Reply to Adam Stetten
    Adam,
    You are sad about the tone and title of my article.

    And I am sad that contractors like you promote foil-faced bubble wrap (or similar flexible foil-faced products) instead of more effective and affordable solutions.

  81. Adam Stetten | | #81

    Reply to Martin, this is rediculous.
    It is 100% ridiculous for you to assume you know what is affordable or effective in every situation.
    Every building is unique. Every owner has a unique set or circumstances. Budget, space, time, access...
    Every contractor has unique talents, capabilities and constraints. I for one drive a compact car, a Ford Focus Hatchback. I can fit several full rolls of Prodex (700SF ea.) inside, on, or behind my vehicle. I once transported ~2800SF of PRODEX with my Focus which has a roof-rack and a hitch-mounted cargo carrier from my client's home where it was delivered to my shop where I keep it (2800SF minus the 240SF it took to wrap his knee-walls). My cost including delivery on this particular purchase was about $0.25 cents per square foot.

    I do not promote any product. You however are promoting products on your website via advertisements.

    If I were to promote a product, it would not make sense for me to promote a product that is not as affordable and effective as possible.

    You seem to have a vendetta against flexible insulation and foil-faced insulation which I find amusing. I for one don't care what color my Prodex is and would buy the product if it were pink, blue, purple, or black, because I love the way it installs. I also don't really care what the marketted R-Value is, mainly because I use the product as an air-barrier, to cap chases, to wrap poorly performing walls and skylights. The flexibility drives up the value tremendously and allows me to use it in ways no rigid product could ever be used. With a staple gun and some tape I (we) can make miracles happen.

    Labor has a huge affect on affordability. My guys never seize to amaze me with how quickly they can install PRODEX, and how effective the installation is at drastically reducing energy costs and improving comfort. There was this one home with a tiny access on each side of the bonus room, maybe 18"x30" and after resolving the inset stapling and other mis-alignment issues we wrapped the bonus room and installed "blocking" in about 50 bays between the garage ceiling and bonus room knee-wall bottom plates in about an hour. We were so fast we insulated the garage door for free and still made a quality profit and the homeowner was and is thrilled.

    Does this use of flexible insulation still make you sad?

    I just don't understand how you can group PRODEX with foil-face-bubble wrap! They are totally different in the way they are manufactured, packaged, sold, and the way they perform/install, not to mention the ease of installing a rolled flexible insulation compared to rigid foam-board. To blanketly throw PRODEX under the bus in favor of rigid foam board which can hardly compare is ludicrous.

    Just look at some of the pics on the BONUS ROOM COMFORT SOLUTION post via the Stetten Home Services website, like how we wrap skylights, or add blocking where it is missing, you can't deny that the flexibility is critical.

    Your admiration of whatever other product you recommend is irrational.

    I am not condoning false advertising, but as a building scientist I don't care. I know what I want and I want my projects to be fast and effective and affordable.

    I can take a frozen bottle of water, wrap it in PRODEX, take it outside on the hottest, most humid day in July, and the outer surface will not condense. It is doing SOMETHING. It is REAL insulation :-).

  82. Ujjwal Sharma | | #82

    can anyone please identify what sheet is this..
    I got this insulated bag from australia.. want to know what is the silver sheet they have used

  83. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #83

    Response to Ujjwal Sharma
    Ujjwal,
    It looks like ordinary metalized plastic film. A well-known brand name is Mylar. For more information, see these Wikipedia articles:

  84. Jonathan Barber | | #84

    Misleading article on this website concerning bubblewrap
    Foil Faced Bubble Wrap Is NOT as Good as Prodex Total

    Let us begin with the statement - Prodex Total Insulation is NOT foil faced bubble wrap. We found it necessary to state what we thought was obvious because the misleading article on this website that group all reflective insulation into one bunch..

    Foil faced bubble wrap is composed of either one (single bubble) or two (double bubble) layers of mylar air bubbles sandwiched between two metalized surfaces.
    Prodex Total is composed of 13/64 inch (approx. 3/16" or 5mm) closed cell polyethylene foam covered on both sides with .0012 inch (0.03mm) aluminum facing.

    Be careful of websites that claim to be "Green Energy and Home Energy Experts. People visit these websites to get advice and objective opinions about energy saving products. The expert advisors (author of articles) on these sites pretend to be a non-biased so you will trust them and find the information credible. Unfortunately, the authors of the articles and the websites have an agenda - They need the products and services displayed on the site to sell.

    Complete disclosure - We promote Prodex Total Insulation as the best solution for heat, cold and condensation!

    There is nothing wrong with an agenda - Our issues with these websites and articles are:

    Pretending to be impartial.
    Using blatant scare tactics in describing with a broad brush the entire reflective insulation industry as "bad apples" etc...
    They forced our hand to respond with this article to educate and expose such violations of fair marketing practices.

    The authors of the articles on these sites can deceive by stating half truths about some products while cleverly promoting other products featured on their sites. The article will appear to educate - It will link an ICC-ES report or some other government document about insulation. The fact that the document is being misapplied and or doesn't draw the same conclusion as the author won't make a difference - the author knows most readers won't take the time to read the entire government document. Even if read, the consumer most likely not know what to make of it. The purpose of citing or linking the document is to impress the reader - to make him or her more inclined to accept the authors recommendations. I must admit it's impressive how persuasive the articles can be.

    Here's an example what appears to be a fair question, when in fact it's misleading. A case of deception by omission.

    "Most brands of foil-faced bubble wrap are only 3/8 inch thick or less, and have an R-value of only 1.0 or 1.1. Since the product often costs more per square foot than 1-inch thick rigid foam rated at R-5, why would anyone use bubble wrap as insulation?"

    Although Prodex Total is not a foil-faced bubble wrap, we will answer the author's question because foil-faced bubble wrap is a reflective insulation that deserves a defense.

    The R-value of reflective insulation is not measured by the inch.
    The R-value of reflective insulation is measured within a system.
    Reflective insulation reduces the transfer of heat across air space. The R-value of reflective insulation and mass insulation is based on the same fundamental equation - The ability to stop heat transfer.
    Prodex Total - Reflective insulation that reduces the transfer of heat across air space by the use of two surfaces having high thermal reflectance and low emittance. This thermal insulation uses closed cell foam plus two aluminum surfaces and trapped airspaces to form an efficient insulation system.

    Simplified even further - Stick Prodex Total in a cavity with an inch or more airspace and you've got insulation + radiant barrier + vapor barrier all in one product - not affected by humidity or water!

    Another quote, "The bubble wrap layer is unnecessary, since it adds cost to the material without adding any useful thermal performance."

    Although Prodex does not have a bubble wrap layer (its center is composed of closed-cell foam), once again we will defend bubble wrap because the statement is preposterous. A single piece foil does not performs as well a product composed of either one (single bubble) or two (double bubble) layers of mylar air bubbles sandwiched between two metalized surfaces. It certainly does not perform as well as Prodex: 13/64 inch (approx. 3/16" or 5mm) closed cell polyethylene foam covered on both sides with .0012 inch (0.03mm) aluminum facing. Please refer to our earlier photos and discussion on the differences between foil only radiant barriers and Prodex.

    These websites (promoters of fiberglass, cellulose and foam board) throw any product under the bus that prevents radiant heat transfer (the primary source of heat-flow). Hmmm is that because their products are vulnerable to comparisons? (see chart below)

    They'll claim the R-value of bubble wrap is exaggerated because it requires an air space. If the use of an airspace would improve the R-value of their products (rigid board, fiberglass or cellulose) they would recommend incorporating an airspace. But an airspace doesn't help their products!

    Let's shed some light on the R-value of mass insulation.

    The parameters of the R-value test for mass insulation products involves no moisture or wind. Think about the ridiculousness of criticizing a reflective insulation because it requires an airspace to maximize its R-value - The insulation they're pitching tests the R-value in conditions of no air and no wind. Did I just say, "no air and no wind"? That's not real-world conditions!
    It's no wonder the tactic of distraction is used - attacking competing products and providers on the subject of R-value. How else could you convince someone to by a product with less R-value or and or an R-value that is affected humidity and wind.

    Insulation4less provides transparency by linking the Prodex Total R-value to the parameters of the testing. I4L also provides online install instructions so the consumer knows how to maximize product performance. You would think these authors and websites would have no issue with a reflective insulation company that provided such transparency - right? Nope, we have to go under the bus too for the articles to work.

    Insulation4Less links every R-value to the parameters of its test. Insulation4Less.com has always linked every R-value to the parameters of it test.
    Reader, are you beginning to get the picture? To avoid having to defend the parameters they use in their test (no air and no wind) not to mention health risks associated with fiberglass, they distract by attacking reflective insulation. They could teach David Copperfield a thing or two about deception.

    3. Prodex Difference: ICC-ES Recognized : R 16 unaffected by humidity : Prevents condensation : Prevents 97% of radiant heat transfer : Vapor barrier : Core sealed on both 175' side with flange : Elastic : 19dba contact noise reduction : 90 degree celsius (194 fahrenheit) contact temperature rating : UV resistance : Does not promote mold or mildew : Does not provide for nesting of rodents, bugs or birds : Seals around nails (no leak) : Reflective aluminum foil on each side of 5mm (13/64) closed-cell polyethylene foam center : Keeps its shape over time (doesn't collapse) : Rippled surface increases airflow : Member of US Lakesideca Council - Made with 100% recyclable virgin raw materials : Over 3 billion square feet sold worldwide.
    4. Five Reasons To Believe In Prodex Total Insulation

    Reviews by actual customers on product pages.
    BBB report (bottom right of every page). This rating takes into account a company's size in its relation to complaints. We're proud of our "A to A+" rating.
    ICC-ES Recognized - ICC-ES is an evaluation service that takes independent test data for a variety of products and analyses it against a uniform Acceptance Criteria that is recognized internationally.
    Independent reviews (bottom right of every page).
    Over 3 billion square feet sold.
    Summary:

    Foil faced bubble wrap is not as good as Prodex Total Insulation
    Prodex Total and foil faced bubble wrap are reflective insulation
    Green energy and building experts have an agenda - These websites sell products and or services. There is nothing wrong with that agenda. The issue is the deception used - Pretend to be a non-biased advisor when in fact you're cleverly marketing a product with links in the article. Half-truths and exaggerations are packaged with facts to scare consumers away from competing products. The mask used is impartial expert, advisor and protector of consumers.
    The R values of mass insulations are not tested in real-world conditions - The R-value Myth.
    The R-value of reflective insulation and mass insulation is based on the same fundamental equation (The ability to stop heat transfer).

  85. Malcolm Taylor | | #85

    jonathan
    Rather than beat around the bush, why don't you just say it: You think Martin is a shill for his advertisers. You don't come out with it directly because you know damn well there is absolutely no evidence to support that conclusion. Simply because people draw different conclusions about a product than the manufacturer would like them to shouldn't expose them to that sort of innuendo. Having proponents of poor products offering half-baked defences is getting tiresome.

  86. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #86

    Response to Jonathan Barber
    Jonathan,
    I stand by my statements.

    The 13/64 inch thick layer of foam insulation provided by Prodex has an R-value of a little more than R-1. That's not much.

    The federal R-Value Rule prevents insulation salespeople from taking credit for the R-value of adjacent layers in a building assembly (for example, the R-value of an adjacent air space) unless advertising materials clearly state that the claimed R-value is an assembly R-value, not a material R-value. You can play games by trying to add the R-value of the adjacent (proposed) air spaces that you think builders might want to include when building a wall assembly -- it's one way to try to sell thin insulation -- but this advertising tactic is illegal. Moreover, manufacturers of conventional insulation products (like polyisocyanurate foam) could play the same (illegal) game in their advertising literature if they wanted to -- but they don't. (Their lawyers prevent them from doing so, unlike the lawyers consulted by Prodex. The last time I checked, Prodex was being manufactured and distributed out of Alajuela, Costa Rica -- a fact which may or may not be relevant to the legal sophistication of its marketers.)

    If you add two 3/4-inch-thick air spaces to either side of a one-inch-thick layer of foil-faced polyiso, you could come up with a considerably higher R-value than the value stated on the label (usually R-6 or R-6.5) -- but reputable insulation manufacturers choose not to make these illegal claims.

    One of your paragraphs begins with this (not very grammatical) sentence: "3. Prodex Difference: ICC-ES Recognized : R 16 unaffected by humidity." If a lawyer interpreted this sentence to mean that you are claiming that the product has an R-value of R-16 -- and it kind of sounds as if that is what you are claiming -- you could be slapped with a big fine or sent to jail by federal prosecutors (if the FTC were doing its job).

    As Malcolm pointed out, (a) GBA does not sell insulation; (b) Advertisers don't tell me what to write; and (c) My writing is more likely to anger insulation manufacturers (especially manufacturers of spray foam insulation) than please them.

  87. Jonathan Barber | | #87

    Misleading article on this website.
    1. Reflective insulation is measured as a system. Insulation4Less links EVERY let me repeat EVERY R-value on its website to the parameters of the testing. Where is the misleading marketing? Address that question please? Stop, do not forget to address this critical question - If Insulation4Less links every R-value to the parameters of its testing where is the misleading marketing?
    2. You keep talking about Federal Law and that we can be put in jail and have a huge lawsuit. When is someone going to get around to prosecuting us? So now I guess your readers are expected to believe no government agency, (Federal, State or Local) has the will of power to make us stop such activity? Hey people, are you following the ridiculousness of his statements?
    2. WRONG - Adding airspace to OTHER insulation types does NOT appreciably effect the R-value of its system. If it did each manufacturers would provide their customer an install option including an airspace as a way to improve the R-value. That would increase their sales! Saying they don't do that because "they're reputable" is absurd. So stop it with this stuff you're pulling out of thin air - because you can't support it.
    3. You're now reverting to the silliness of writing "(not very grammatical) sentence:" in your comments about my post, I'm sure your readers understand me perfectly well. Let's focus on accuracy and honesty and a little less on the use of a semi-colon.
    4. You write: "(a) GBA does not sell insulation; (b) Advertisers don't tell me what to write; and (c) My writing is more likely to anger insulation manufacturers (especially manufacturers of spray foam insulation) than please them."
    Yes - You do sell insulation via your advertisers. Yes, they cause you to write with partiality. That's what makes this so damaging. You hide behind the guise of being an impartial "Energy Expert". If you were really honest and wrote everything know out the issues relating to the other insulation types - all your advertisers would leave! You selectively and cleverly weave in a little criticism to maintain the appearance of impartially. Where is your article filled with a full blown attack on another insulation type - An article without one redeeming quality of any product offered in that industry? Like I said, time to get real - Time to be honest. You've falsely slandered an entire industry and you included a couple of names that have no business in your article.
    5. You also write "The last time I checked, Prodex was being manufactured and distributed out of Alajuela, Costa Rica -- a fact which may or may not be relevant to the legal sophistication of its marketers.)" Please tell us exactly what you're talking about. I have a guess but rather than conduct myself as you have and call you a "Bad Apple" as you have referred to us, we'll give you a chance to clarify for your readers what you really mean.

    In conclusion:
    You owe Insulation4Less.com and Prodex an apology. You should remove our names from your article. You spread your broad brush over an entire industry without taking the time do the extra research to make sure your criticisms applied to each company. Whenever to you include "All" you'll make this error. It is never "All" of an industry, religious group, gender, nationality, etc. that can be described as "bad".

    Please readers compel this writer to do the right thing - Remove the names of "Insulation4Less.com" and "Prodex" from his article.

  88. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #88

    Response to Jonathan Barber
    Jonatathan,
    Q. "If Insulation4Less links every R-value to the parameters of its testing where is the misleading marketing?"

    A. Here is an example of misleading marketing from : "This single bubble insulation product consists of 1 layer of 5/32" (4mm) polyethylene bubble that is sandwiched between two metalized, low emissivity surfaces. The R-value ranges from 4.9 to 14.1."

    Q. "When is someone going to get around to prosecuting us?"

    A. Soon, I hope. I will be reporting this infraction to the FTC today. However, if history is any guide, the underfunded enforcement arm of the FTC will be slow to respond.

    Q. "Adding airspace to OTHER insulation types does NOT appreciably effect the R-value of its system."

    A. False. If you add an air space on either side of foil-faced polyiso, the air space will have an R-value between R-2 and R-3.

    Q. "You do sell insulation via your advertisers. Yes, they cause you to write with partiality. That's what makes this so damaging. You hide behind the guise of being an impartial 'Energy Expert'."

    A. I feel secure in my reputation for impartiality. My record speaks for itself.

    Q. "The last time I checked, Prodex was being manufactured and distributed out of Alajuela, Costa Rica... Please tell us exactly what you're talking about."

    A. Here you go: are at Zona Franca Bes Coyol Alajuela, Alajuela 330-4060, Costa Rica.

  89. Malcolm Taylor | | #89

    Johnathan
    So now you are threatening him? You are digging yourself a very deep hole here.
    You should remember that this website is frequented by architects, engineers and building scientists. They aren't going to like the way you do business - and I don't see any of them rushing to your defence.

  90. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #90

    Response to Jonathan Barber
    Jonathan,
    Q. "You wrote your article on March 24, 2104. You just decided today (July 24, 2013) to inform the FTC of what you claim are infractions. Reader isn’t it obvious - He's doesn’t like that he's been called out. He makes no effort to inform the FTC for over a year of what he claims is such blatant and unfair practices."

    A. The attorney in charge of enforcing the Federal R-Value Rule at the FTC is named Hampton Newsome. He has held that position continuously for at least 12 years. The reason that I know that is that I have been in nearly continuous contact with Newsome since at least 2003, when I first began contacting him about R-Value Rule violations by distributors of thin, flexible products containing radiant barriers or bubble wrap. I don't know how many times I have contacted him about Insulation4Less, but it's more than once, that's for sure.

    There are so many scam artists out there that it's hard for the FTC to keep up. They shut down one operation and it pops up later under a different name.

    Q. "I wrote 'not appreciable' effect (the R value). R2 is not appreciable."

    A. I agree that R-2 isn't much. That's about what you get for R-value, however, when you install a shiny material facing a 3/4-inch thick air space. That's about all you get when you add that air space to foil-faced polyiso, and it's also all you get when you add that air space to the very thin products you sell. As you said, it's not appreciable.

    Q. "Costa Rica and its people are marvelous."

    A. I agree that Costa Rica is a wonderful country, and its people (by all reports) are also wonderful. I've never been there, unfortunately, but I hope to visit some day. It's probable, however, the the country of Costa Rica doesn't have stringent laws governing the way R-value is reported. The United States, however, does have such laws -- even if they are not enforced very well.

  91. Jonathan Barber | | #91

    Misleading article written by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor
    1. Mr. Martin Holliday of Lakesideca Advisor cites an example on our website of a product that IS NOT Prodex Total!

    2. Mr. Martin Holliday conveniently cut off what it reads after the R-value. It reads, 'see "(Technical Data" tab below)." Below the chart is the following disclosure, "Reflective insulation is the most effective when airspace exists between the insulation and the adjacent material. The R value of the system will vary dependent on the airspace size and the direction of the heat flow, and the conductive and convective properties of surrounding materials". Mr. Holiday - It's not fair or honest to cut off the disclosure to make your false point.

    B. Mr. Martin Holliday expects his readers to believe the FTC has no clue of how we market insulation and he had to come to the rescue and inform them? He expects his readers to believe the FTC is poor and underfunded.
    I know your reader have paid to subscribe to this website and may be prone to believe you but even they can see that you're being deceptive. 1. You wrote your article on March 24, 2104. You just decided today (July 24, 2013) to inform the FTC of what you claim are infractions. Reader isn’t it obvious - He's doesn’t like that he's been called out. He makes no effort to inform the FTC for over a year of what he claims is such blatant and unfair practices but as soon as I post that he's being unfair - Time to go to the FTC and tattletale the same day! He's a bully that doesn't like it when someone stands up to him.

    Readers if Mr. Holliday decided to turn his venom at fiberglass, rigid board, cellulose, etc., none of them would be able to answer even the simplest of questions - For example, the R-values of cellulose and fiberglass is tested under the parameters of NO HUMIDITY and NO WIND. That's not real world conditions. Those conditions don’t exist on planet earth. Why don't you they inform consumers of such? Why hasn't Mr. Holliday gone to the FTC about them? Why is it I have to tell Mr. Holliday's readership of this fact. Isn't he the one that should have told you?

    Mr. Holliday, did you tell the FTC that? Nope! Why? I guess because it's so much easier to go after little Insulation4Less and Prodex than whistle blow against the big boys. That doesn't fit with getting those advertising dollars! Hey everyone how much to you want to bet, he didn't utter a word about the marketing practices of fiberglass, rigid board, cellulose or spray foam to the FTC. Funny how big money makes friends.

    C. Your answer "If you add an air space on either side of foil-faced polyiso, the air space will have an R-value between R-2 and R-3."
    I wrote "not appreciable" effect the R value. R2 is not appreciable. Secondly it would only help on the one foil side of polyiso. 3rd polyiso board is designed to be attached directly to the wall (no airspace). Tell us how you're going to install it any other way? So that example doesn't fly. Thirdly, I also don't hear you commenting on how an airspace would help the R-value on fiberglass, rigid board (with no foil) etc. or cellulose. Funny how the cigarette companies, pesticide companies and big money insulation get to do what they want and the whistle blower Mr. Holliday only blows his whistle on and writes damaging articles about an industry less than 1% of the insulation industry - Reflective insulation.

    D. You write: "I feel secure in my reputation for impartiality. My record speaks for itself."

    Yes, your record does speak for itself. No whistle blowing against fiberglass, rigid board, cellulose and spray foam. No articles attacking those insulation types even though I've demonstrated above that they blatantly deceive.

    F. Your statement " Prodex was being manufactured and distributed out of Alajuela, Costa Rica -- a fact which may or may not be relevant to the legal sophistication of its marketers.)"

    You think you're slick. You demonstrate the worse of people in the United States with what you're doing. Prodex and its staff is ONE OF US! Costa Rica and its people are marvelous. Your mention of "Alajuela, Costa Rica" and "sophistication" is code language. It will only dissuade the worse of Americans from buying Prodex products.

    G. We're growing tired of the lies, exaggerations and half-truths in this article by Mr. Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor. We also suggest he correct any exaggeration or outright lie he now claims to have made to the FTC. He has been given chance in his forum in front of his friendly crowd (paid subscriber audience) to come clean, correct his errors and recant what he knows are at the very least exaggerations and half-truths. We're offering him this final chance to take this opportunity to admit what is obvious to most, he got over zealous spitting his venom. He unfairly accused Insulation4Less and Prodex. Rather that recant he doubled down and dug a deeper ditch for himself by cutting off portions of quotes and disclaimers in a feeble attempt to defend his falsehoods. He conveniently failed to mention the embedded links in the R-values on our website that open to test results showing the parameters of the test. He then had a temper tantrum and started bothering (yes - bothering the FTC). I have come to your house (your forum) like a man and called you out. I have shown you and your audience your mistakes. I didn't follow your lead and first write a dishonest article and include your name and your website to harm you.

    This effort by us to first give you a chance to correct your errors before we take further steps doesn't appear to be working. Our patience is wearing. In the art of war, when one tactic fails, peruse another. Is that what you want?

    P.S Thank you Adam Stettin for post 81. May 10, 2013 12:58 PM ET, Edited May 14, 2013 8:18 AM ET. for writing:
    "I just don't understand how you can group PRODEX with foil-face-bubble wrap! They are totally different in the way they are manufactured, packaged, sold, and the way they perform/install, not to mention the ease of installing a rolled flexible insulation compared to rigid foam-board. To blanketly throw PRODEX under the bus in favor of rigid foam board which can hardly compare is ludicrous."

    I guess everyone on this paid subscription site isn’t drinking Mr. Martin Holladay's cool-aid.

  92. Jonathan Barber | | #92

    Misleading article written by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor
    Mr. Holliday continues with his lies. Prodex and Insulation4Less have independent verifiable test data to support the R-value we post given the parameters of the testing we display. Documented, verifiable test results are documented verifiable test results. Facts are Facts. Where is his independent test results on Prodex Total? He hasn't run any test with Prodex Total for that matter. He's not qualified to make these statements - That is a fact!!!.

    Notice how the cat has his tongue on Fiberglass and cellulose R-value claims? Why doesn't have an issue with fiberglass and cellulose displaying an R-value tested under the parameters of No humidity and No air. Do you see the hierocracy people?

    Did you notice he avoids addressing much of what I wrote. He has this thing about radiant barriers and fly night companies coming and going. That has nothing to do with this discussion. We're discussing Insulation4Less and Prodex. Stay on point Mr. Holliday. The issue is he groups everyone in the reflective insulation business as "bad apples". He refuses to admit either puts the parameters of the R-value shown on the page or embeds a link in the R-value to display the parameters. This simple truth doesn’t support his contention of false and misleading marketing - so he doesn’t mention it. He can't dance around that fact no matter how much he wiggles.

    I came into his house (a forum of his paid subscribers partial to your opinions) and spanked him with the truth. He has lost and you will continue to lose because facts and truth are facts and truth. Unsupported, non tested claims by him has been exposed for what it is.

    He is NOT an insulation expert!. This website describes him as " Martin Holladay has worked as a plumbing wholesale counterperson, roofer, remodeler, and builder." Are you kidding? That background doesn't qualify you as an expert on insulation. It doesn't give you the write to slander with unsupported claims.

    Mr. Holladay. Can't support his contentions. He does not have test reports contradicting the R-value we report given the parameters we display. That's the fact - That's the issue.
    He can't win this argument because this argument can only be won with verifiable evidence. The only thing left is to see if he's big enough to admit it without more pressure being put upon him. The question remains will he remove his slanderous comments about Insulation4Less and Prodex now or later.

  93. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #93

    R-value of Prodex Total
    As I wrote in my article, the Prodex website claims that “Prodex Total has a nominal thickness of 5 mm (13/64 inch) closed cell polyethylene foam covered on both sides with .0012 (00.03 mm) aluminum foil facing."

    A layer of 13/64 inch of closed-cell polyethylene has an R-value of R-1.4 or less. The aluminum foil facing is a radiant barrier but does not contribute to the product's R-value. So a safe assumption is that the R-value of Prodex Total is R-1.4.

    I am not a fan of fiberglass batts, and I often criticize the dismal thermal performance of fiberglass batts as typically installed.

    For more information on R-value, see Understanding R-Value.

    For more information on radiant barriers, and how a radiant barrier can raise the R-value of an adjacent enclosed air space, see Radiant Barriers: A Solution in Search of a Problem.

  94. Malcolm Taylor | | #94

    Johnathan Barber
    You wrote: "He is NOT an insulation expert"

    Perhaps it would help your cause to post your educational background.

  95. Jonathan Barber | | #95

    Misleading article written by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor
    Once again Mr. Holladay doesn't address the primary points:

    1. Reflective insulation R-value is measured as a system. Stop playing stupid. Stop deceiving your readers by referring to an R-value of a material and refer to the R-value of the system. We advertise and market the R-value of the system. Putting links back to your articles that repeat the same tired and deceptive information doesn't negate or address that fact. We inform our consumers that it is a system - We are above board. We haven't done anything deceptive or misleading. That's the point.
    2. You called us a "Bad Apple" and you can't explain what we've done that can be construed as "Bad Apple". You also can't defended your selective prosecution of us rather than the more blatant abusers in the market place - the big boys that advertise with you. You can't contradict with any evidence the R-value we post GIVEN THE PARAMETER OF OUR TESTING. That is the point. Now stick to the point. Until you find such evidence you owe Insulation4Less and Prodex and apology and a retraction of our names from your article..

    Thank you again Adam for post # 81. May 10, 2013 12:58 PM ET, Edited May 14, 2013 8:18 AM ET.

    He wrote:

    "It is 100% ridiculous for you to assume you know what is affordable or effective in every situation.
    Every building is unique. Every owner has a unique set or circumstances. Budget, space, time, access...
    Every contractor has unique talents, capabilities and constraints. I for one drive a compact car, a Ford Focus Hatchback. I can fit several full rolls of Prodex (700SF ea.) inside, on, or behind my vehicle. I once transported ~2800SF of PRODEX with my Focus which has a roof-rack and a hitch-mounted cargo carrier from my client's home where it was delivered to my shop where I keep it (2800SF minus the 240SF it took to wrap his knee-walls). My cost including delivery on this particular purchase was about $0.25 cents per square foot.
    I do not promote any product. You however are promoting products on your website via advertisements.
    If I were to promote a product, it would not make sense for me to promote a product that is not as affordable and effective as possible.
    You seem to have a vendetta against flexible insulation and foil-faced insulation which I find amusing. I for one don't care what color my Prodex is and would buy the product if it were pink, blue, purple, or black, because I love the way it installs. I also don't really care what the marketted R-Value is, mainly because I use the product as an air-barrier, to cap chases, to wrap poorly performing walls and skylights. The flexibility drives up the value tremendously and allows me to use it in ways no rigid product could ever be used. With a staple gun and some tape I (we) can make miracles happen.
    Labor has a huge affect on affordability. My guys never seize to amaze me with how quickly they can install PRODEX, and how effective the installation is at drastically reducing energy costs and improving comfort. There was this one home with a tiny access on each side of the bonus room, maybe 18"x30" and after resolving the inset stapling and other mis-alignment issues we wrapped the bonus room and installed "blocking" in about 50 bays between the garage ceiling and bonus room knee-wall bottom plates in about an hour. We were so fast we insulated the garage door for free and still made a quality profit and the homeowner was and is thrilled.
    Does this use of flexible insulation still make you sad?
    I just don't understand how you can group PRODEX with foil-face-bubble wrap! They are totally different in the way they are manufactured, packaged, sold, and the way they perform/install, not to mention the ease of installing a rolled flexible insulation compared to rigid foam-board. To blanketly throw PRODEX under the bus in favor of rigid foam board which can hardly compare is ludicrous.
    Just look at some of the pics on the BONUS ROOM COMFORT SOLUTION post via the Stetten Home Services website, like how we wrap skylights, or add blocking where it is missing, you can't deny that the flexibility is critical.
    Your admiration of whatever other product you recommend is irrational.
    I am not condoning false advertising, but as a building scientist I don't care. I know what I want and I want my projects to be fast and effective and affordable.
    I can take a frozen bottle of water, wrap it in PRODEX, take it outside on the hottest, most humid day
    in July, and the outer surface will not condense. It is doing SOMETHING. It is REAL insulation :-)."

    I guess everyone on this site not your "groupie".

  96. Malcolm Taylor | | #96

    Enough
    John
    I'm still waiting for you to post your professional educational background and accreditations.

    The one poster you have quoted seems similarly disadvantaged: although he calls himself a Building Scientist, he appears to be a Real Estate Agent and General Contractor. You do know there is a difference between the two?

    If you had spent any time on this website you will have seen that real building scientists like Bill Rose, John Straub, Joe Lstiburek comment here. Don't you think it's odd none of them seem to have any issues with Martin's characterization of your product.

    You really should be ashamed of yourself for trying to stifle debate around these issues just to increase your profits.

  97. Malcolm Taylor | | #97

    Martin
    Just out of curiosity, how much of your time do you end up having to devote to responding to industry shills digging through old content and badgering you to change your writing to suit their commercial needs?

  98. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #98

    Response to Malcolm Taylor
    Malcolm,
    First of all, thanks for your previous comments containing words of support.

    Second, we don't get dialogues like the one on this page very often -- but it happens. It's unclear whether responding is wise. If I fail to respond, some readers may think that my silence gives credence to the attacker; if I respond, it seems to just lengthen the (not very productive) dialogue.

    Reputable companies like CertainTeed and Owens Corning usually have representatives who are smart enough to avoid unfounded attacks. They may be unhappy with some of the things they read on GBA, but they suffer in silence.

  99. Eric Habegger | | #99

    Jonathan Barber,
    Hopefully

    Jonathan Barber,
    Hopefully you are winding down. If not then I will add one more fact that incriminates your product. Radiant barriers stop only one type of heat transfer: radiant heating. It does not stop heating by conduction or by convection. I have a radiant barrier against the rafters inside my attic. Yes, it is a radiant barrier by itself unlike others you are (over) promoting.

    This radiant barrier in my attic gets extremely hot to the touch but will not radiate that heat. However, the air in the attic is in constant direct contact with that hot radiant barrier. That air will then conduct the heat away from the hot aluminized barrier and in turn heat my entire attic through both convection and conduction. Soon my entire attic is heated IN SPITE of the lack of radiant heating simply through contact with air. There is a good reason why radiant barriers are only really effective in vacuum of space. That is because there is no air in space.

    You cannot exaggerate the claims of high R value for a radiant barrier because heat convection and heat conduction almost, but not quite, make up for the lack of radiant heat transfer. The bare radiant barrier in my attic, unlike the barriers you are promoting that contain insulation, is good value for money because it it was very cheap. I don't live in my attic so a few degrees lower than it would otherwise be is good value for me. It would not be so if you add less than half an inch or so of insulation and also double the price as you are doing. It still has a combined R value of 1 or less.

  100. Jonathan Barber | | #100

    Misleading article written by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor
    Time to expand the conversation about Mr. Martin Holladay's insidious marketing techniques beyond the comfort zone of his groupies in this chat room. I told you there would be phase two.

    I'll tell you a story Martin, when was maybe 11 or 12, I picked on a boy at school named Michael Mignone. He was much bigger than me. I don't know why I did it, maybe I was just being a little brat. One day in front of a bunch of other students I poked him. He looked down at me and said, "Touch me again." I guess he finally had enough. I remember another kid named Pierre egging me on saying, "Jonathan did you hear him?." My young ego told me I needed to save face and poke him again. But Michael's eyes told me what was going to happen if I poked him again. I didn't touch or bother him from that day on.

    I understand people do things because they feel it's in their best interest. For you to change, we will need to convince you that your conduct is not in your best interest. That's a high hurdle to climb given you have a lot at stake maintaining this little show - But we will reach that hurdle.

    You know that reflective insulation is measured as a system. You also know we can post the R-value of the system as long as we link the R-value to the parameters of the measurement. Yet you slander and harm us with your "Bad Apple" reference. You deceive consumers that assume you're impartial, fair and correct - None of which is true.

    I looked down on you and dared you to poke me again. I just took another peak at your deceptive article, You didn't remove the names of "Insulation4Less" or "Prodex" as requested. It appears you aren't as wise as the 11 year old version of myself.

  101. Adam Stetten | | #101

    still SAD about the Title and Tone of this article
    MARTIN, I started my activity here with a comment title: "I am sad about the Tone and Title of this post on GBA." and provided your readers a way to see various GOOD uses of PRODEX, a versatile, effective and affordable product, only because you had gone so far out of your way to throw it under the bus in error voluntarily being negative. You immediately attacked me, grouped me with your imaginary bad-apples, ignored this: BONUS ROOM COMFORT SOLUTION post at , and I promptly served you an a$$-kicking response in the middle of may.... silence... months go by... no response.

    July 13 - Matin jumped into action within 20 minutes to help "Ujjwal Sharma" with her pink and mylar purse, yet you still haven't addressed a single point.

    As far as I am concerned none of the comments that occurred here after your silence on the matter [May --> July] are relevant to the real-world building science that makes the premise of this article and lots of the comments FLAWED. I can poke myriad holes in your arguments and we are talking about the wrong things in the first place.

  102. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #102

    Response to Adam Stetten
    Adam,
    I often answer readers' questions, and I tend to prioritize readers who need help.

    The main purpose of your most recent comment, which includes a link to your web site, appears to be to promote your business. In general, GBA tries to discourage comments whose main purpose is to promote a business or web site.

    I still stand by my statements about foil-faced bubble wrap. If you have any technical questions, I'd be glad to answer them. If you post any future comments that appear to have the purpose of promoting your web site, your comments will be deleted.

  103. Martin Greenspan | | #103

    Foil Bubble Wrap in Air Supported Structures
    I'm reading the above article and comment with dismay. I own an air supported structure, a dome, and was hoping to install the double bubble foil lined product to cut down on heat loss. Now I'm unsure if this product will do what I want so I could use some advice.

    The dome make-up has two layers to it. The outer layer is the one that holds in the air and is impermeable and is bolted to the ground with metal angle iron. The inner layer is comprised of a thinner material that is 72" wide and heat sealed in strips to the inside of the outer layer. It is applied in such a way so that slack is in the material and it creates about a 12" maximum air gap between the two layers. This gap runs vertically from the floor to the dome's apex. My idea is to run 72" double bubble wrap up this gap (in about 80 sections) and secure it to the top of the dome, thus creating an extra insulating layer. The reasons why this product is good is because it's relatively easy to install, it will align itself with the curve of the dome, and, since this dome is a temporary structure, it can be removed in the spring before the dome is folded for storage.

    But for an R=.75 value it doesn't seem worth it. Do you think the extra air between the double bubble and dome interior/exterior walls will increase the efficacy of the product? How would I calculate the R-value in such a case?

    If you want to see a photo of the domes, they are on our website at

    Any insights you can give are appreciated.
    Thanks
    Marty

  104. Charlie Sullivan | | #104

    Marty's dome
    For other readers, that dome is in Waterford, MI 48327.

    Your situation is unusual. It might be a rare case in which a radiant barrier is a good idea. It could be a simple single layer barrier material-- that would be almost as good, but it might even be worth paying the extra for the bubbles , since they help a little and you are starting from winch a low level of insulation.

    Ideal would be to fill the space between the layers you have with some fluffy insulation, but that probably makes storage difficult.

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