BlueTex™ insulation products are primarily intended for non-conditioned (or semi-conditioned) buildings. For example, barns, sheds, metal outbuildings, airplane hangars, garages, storage facilities, poultry facilities, etc. While BlueTex™ can certainly be used for fully conditioned spaces (climate-controlled structures that are heated and/or cooled), however typically in these types of spaces, you will need additional insulation. BlueTex™ insulation combines the power of a radiant barrier and foam insulation for the best defense against radiant heat in metal buildings.
What is a non-conditioned building?
A structure that fits the definition of a non-conditioned building simply means this building isn't utilizing any means of heating and/or cooling inside of it. This type of building is mostly used as a shelter or storage facility and it includes buildings that may require extra ventilation, like a garage or a woodworking shop. Common examples of commercial non-conditioned buildings are barns and poultry facilities. The inside temperature of these buildings is pretty much directly correlated to the temperature outside on a given day.
What is a conditioned building?
A structure that fits the definition of a conditioned building is one that is continually using some version of HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) for heating and/or cooling. Typically, the goal is to maintain about 75ºF in the summer and 65ºF in the winter and so these places are constantly using HVAC. Examples of conditioned buildings would be fulfillment centers, offices, studio space, and home/living spaces. In addition to the HVAC, these type of buildings are usually well insulated and pretty airtight. Think of them as being just like a big refrigerator (a well-insulated, airtight box). When weather changes, they adjust the methods by which they stay cool. In summer, when heat is entering the building or in the winter when heat is escaping the building, the HVAC will both pull the heat out, or add heat back into it, in order to maintain the desired internal temperature.
Insulating non-conditioned buildings
For most, the key to insulating these buildings is first understanding why the building is so hot; in many cases the internal temperature of the building can be much hotter than it is outside! The main reason for that is radiant heat - heat coming from direct exposure to the sun. So consider that a typical metal building is, at its core, just a big metal box sitting outside in full sunlight. This is really no different than a car parked in the sun. We all know that being in a parked car in the sun can be deadly. We also know that you can park that same car in the shade and sit in it all day without the same risk or discomfort.
It’s pretty basic - the only way you're going to cool it down is to block out the sun! Being in the shade makes a HUGE difference. That being the case, usually the best we can hope for in a building or a car in the sun, is for it to be no hotter than ambient (outside) temperature. The key to getting results like this is to block the radiant heat.
Radiant heat in non-conditioned buildings
Think back to the above example about the car parked in the sun. In both scenarios (car parked in the sun and car parked in the shade), the outside *air* temperature is the *same* whether the car is in the shade or the sun. So what's the difference if the air temps are the same? The difference is the car in the sun is absorbing the sun's radiant heat.
Now think of your building that is heating up - it's in sunlight most, if not all, of the day! Just like the car, it's going to heat up - and at some point in the day it's going to become hotter inside the building than it even is outside the building! We know that shade would help solve the problem, but outside of moving your building or planting a bunch of trees, how can you do this?
Creating "shade" inside your building using radiant barrier
How do we put a non-conditioned building "in the shade” to block the radiant heat? Well, it's pretty simple - use radiant barrier! A radiant barrier will reflect the radiant heat away from the building. Did you know the 99% pure aluminum surface on all BlueTex™ products is, in fact, a radiant barrier!
Radiant heat is the INVISIBLE part of the light spectrum. So this means even though you don't see the light, you can feel the heat. Here's an example: if you put your hand near the inside wall or roofline of a metal building that sits in direct sunlight, you will feel the radiant heat on the inside of the building, even though the actual sunlight isn't in the building. All you have to do is get the reflective foil insulation somewhere between you/the inside of the building and the exterior metal and just like that, you are “in the shade” (from the radiant heat). Remember it’s not the light that makes the building hot, rather it’s the infrared radiation or radiant heat that makes the inside of the building hot.
The only requirement for this set up to work is that you MUST keep an airspace on one side of the foil, this is most often going to naturally occur between the exterior metal and the foil layer. This airspace is critical to the product working - the heat must radiate (or emit) from the metal, across the air gap, in order for it to be reflected (by the foil layer).
What you can expect after you install BlueTex™ insulation
When you install a BlueTex™ insulation product with the foil side facing outward, the effect is just like putting the building in the shade (or like having a really cloudy day). If you combine that effect with some basic ventilation (think open doors and/or windows, static roof vents, etc.), the building will both feel and actually be much cooler! Remember: the building is non-conditioned, so it will still be close to ambient (outside air) temperature. That means if it's a 90ºF day, the interior of the building should be close to 90ºF too. Even so, it will feel significantly cooler, since you have taken out (blocked) the radiant heat.
Another added benefit to using a radiant barrier is that when you reflect the radiant heat right at the source (ie. close to the exterior metal), before it gets inside the building, the contents of the building will be much cooler (which also lends to an overall cooler interior). Things like stored items, equipment, supplies, shelves, tools, etc. will all be as much as 20ºF cooler after the BlueTex™ insulation is installed! Not only that, but the concrete floor is going to be significantly cooler too! It will literally feel like the difference between night and day inside the building. With all these benefits and a pretty simple install approach, BlueTex™ insulation is the best investment to make the biggest impact in a non-conditioned space.