Here is a question I’ve been getting a LOT lately: “How does AtticFoil® compare to a product called….”? The most common names I hear are eShield, Prodex, Green Energy Barrier, SolarGuard, Reflectix and the list goes on and on. Consumers get very confused about the differences between these products and want to know how they compare to AtticFoil® radiant barrier foil. They want to know if all these products are a SCAM or the real deal.
AtticFoil® is a pure RADIANT BARRIER ONLY. Other types of products take a sheet of aluminum foil (a radiant barrier) and attach it to a thin layer of insulation usually about ¼” thick. This insulation is typically fiberglass, foam or plastic bubble wrap material. The CLAIM is that when you COMBINE a radiant barrier with an insulating product (listed above) that has R-Value, the product MUST be better.
They come up with fancy names like “Attic Energy Barrier” or “Heat Shield” or “Attic Armor” and spend a lot of money on advertising, slick brochures and big sales commissions when in reality all these products are basically the same thing. A piece of aluminum foil attached to a thin sheet of fiberglass insulation, bubble wrap or foam.
Typically eshield™ and other similar products sell for 5-30 times the cost of AtticFoil®.
Are they really better and are they worth it?
First, let me say all these products are NOT BAD products. They are all GOOD products that are often being used for the WRONG purpose. These products work great in metal buildings and some commercial applications but have now found their way into residential attics.
In a residential attic application, they DO work. Why? Virtually ALL of the heat entering from a roof into an attic is RADIANT HEAT. So, here is the secret: It’s the FOIL (radiant barrier) doing all the work. The fiberglass, foam or bubbles are just along for the ride and offer virtually no additional benefit in reducing heat flow into a home. This is why AtticFoil® is the ONLY product needed for attic applications and for a fraction of the cost compared to other products.
I believe in giving good information and getting the best “Bang For The Buck” solutions to help consumers make their homes more comfortable and energy efficient.
Here is the bottom line. You DON’T NEED R-VALUE (insulation) ON YOUR RAFERS IN A VENTILATED RESIDENTIAL ATTIC. You need R-Value on your attic floor and you need a radiant barrier either stapled to the bottom of your rafters or laid out over the attic insulation.
Let’s take a look at the ACTUAL R-Value of these other products mentioned above. Most are about a ¼” thick or less. Standard foam board by Dow Chemical or Owens Corning has a known R-value of about 3.5 per inch. An R-13 batt of fiberglass insulation is 3.5” thick. So, common sense tells you that the ACTUAL R-value of eShield and similar products about ¼” thick can be NO MORE THAN AN R-VALUE OF 1.
When you read about claims that these products have R-10 – R-20 values be sure to look at the fine print. These R-values are ONLY achieved in tightly sealed assembles like a wall and often require over 8” of “Dead” air space.
Since there is typically NO “Dead Air” in a ventilated attic, these products CANNOT achieve a higher R-value than the actual R-value of the ¼” layer of insulation product attached to the foil.
Often, products like eShield are stapled to the bottom of the rafters. This method works fine to stop the radiant heat, but why waste your money for a small amount of R-value (typically R-1) when you NEED the R-value on the ceiling and not your roofline. Plus, you can buy By R-19 of blown-in insulation material for about .25/per square ft.
Here is what I recommend.
AtticFoil® Radiant Barrier Foil ALONE will accomplish the same benefit as ALL THESE PRODUCTS to stop radiant heat for less cost. Then, spend the money you save on these other products and put in additional attic insulation, if needed. You can easily install R-19 or about 6” or more of additional attic insulation and the total cost will be the SAME OR LESS and you will end up with a BETTER OVERALL REDUCTION IN HEAT GAIN/LOSS.
Remember, traditional attic insulation has R-value. This works to slow conductive heat. Radiant barriers reflect Radiant Heat. BOTH types of heat are trying to enter your home on a hot, summer day. The sun heats up the roof and then heat is transferred by radiant heat until it hits the attic insulation. Then, heat switches form to conductive heat to move through the attic insulation and into your home. This is why you need BOTH Types. Traditional attic insulation and radiant barrier work together and each do their part.
Radiant barrier is your first line of defense and attic insulation is the second line of defense against heat gain.
Keep things simple, spend your money wisely and be hesitant when you hear outrageous claims for energy savings products. Follow this advise, and you are on your way to making your home more comfortable and energy efficient.
I've written several other posts on this that you might be interested in. Check these posts below: