what is r-value ???

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The R-value is a measure of thermal resistance [1] used in the building and construction industry. Under uniform conditions it is the ratio of the temperature difference across an insulator and the heat flux (heat transfer per unit area, \dot Q_A) through it or  R = \Delta T/\dot Q_A.The R-value being discussed is the unit thermal resistance. This is used for a unit value of any particular material. It is expressed as the thickness of the material divided by the thermal conductivity. For the thermal resistance of an entire section of material, instead of the unit resistance, divide the unit thermal resistance by the area of the material. For example, if you have the unit thermal resistance of a wall, divide by the cross-sectional area of the depth of the wall to compute the thermal resistance. The unit thermal conductance of a material is denoted as C and is the reciprocal of the unit thermal resistance. This can also be called the unit surface conductance and denoted by h.[2] The smaller the number, the better the building insulation's effectiveness. (R value is 1/h.)[3] R-value is the reciprocal of U-value.

Around most of the world, R-values are given in SI units, typically square-metre kelvins per watt or m²·K/W (or equivalently to m²·°C/W). In the United States customary units, R-values are given in units of ft²·°F·h/Btu. It is particularly easy to confuse SI and US R-values, because R-values both in the US and elsewhere are often cited without their units, e.g. R-3.5. Usually, however, the correct units can be inferred from the context and from the magnitudes of the values. United States R-values are approximately six times SI R-values [2].

Heat transfer through an insulating layer is analogous to electrical resistance. The heat transfers can be worked out by thinking of resistance in series with a fixed potential, except the resistances are thermal resistances and the potential is the difference in temperature from one side of the material to the other. The resistance of each material to heat transfer depends on the specific thermal resistance [R-value]/[unit thickness], which is a property of the material (see table below) and the thickness of that layer. A thermal barrier that is composed of several layers will have several thermal resistors in the analogous circuit, each in series. Like resistance in electrical circuits, increasing the physical length of a resistive element (graphite, for example) increases the resistance linearly; double the thickness of a layer means half the heat transfer and double the R-value; quadruple, quarters; etc. In practice, this linear relationship may be only approximate for some materials[citation needed].

The US Department of Energy has recommended R-values for given areas of the USA based on the general local energy costs for heating and cooling, as well as the climate of an area. There are four types of insulation: rolls and batts, loose-fill, rigid foam, and foam-in-place. Rolls and batts are typically flexible insulators that come in fibers, like fiberglass. Loose-fill insulation comes in loose fibers or pellets and should be blown into a space. Rigid foam is more expensive than fiber, but generally has a higher R-value per unit of thickness. Foam-in-place can be blown into small areas to control air leaks, like those around windows.[4]

Increasing the thickness of an insulating layer increases the thermal resistance. For example, doubling the thickness of fibreglass batting will double its R-value, perhaps from 2.0 m²K/W for 110 mm of thickness, up to 4.0 m²K/W for 220 mm of thickness. Heat transfer through an insulating layer is analogous to adding resistance to a series circuit with a fixed voltage. However, this only holds approximately because the effective thermal conductivity of some insulating materials depends on thickness. The addition of materials to enclose the insulation such as sheetrock and siding provides additional but typically much smaller R-value.

There are many factors that come into play when using R-values to compute heat loss for a particular wall. Manufacturer R values apply only to properly installed insulation. Squashing two layers of batting into the thickness intended for one layer will increase but not double the R-value. Another important factor to consider is that studs and windows provide a parallel heat conduction path that is unaffected by the insulation's R-value. The practical implication of this is that one could double the R value used to insulate a home and realize substantially less than a 50% reduction in heat loss. Even perfect wall insulation only eliminates conduction through the insulation but leaves unaffected the conductive heat loss through such materials as glass windows and studs as well as heat losses from air exchange.

The R-value is a measure of insulation's heat loss retardation under specified test conditions. The primary mode of heat transfer impeded by insulation is conduction but unavoidably it also impedes heat loss by all three heat transfer modes: conduction, convection, and radiation. The primary means of heat loss across an uninsulated air-filled space is natural convection, which occurs because of changes in air density with temperature. Insulation greatly retards natural convection. Most insulations trap air so that significant convective heat loss is eliminated leaving only conduction and radiation transfer. The primary role of such insulation is to make the thermal conductivity of the insulation that of trapped, stagnant air. However this cannot be realized fully because the glass wool or foam is needed to prevent convection and increases the heat conduction compared to still air. Radiative heat transfer is minimised by having many surfaces interrupting a "clear view" between the inner and outer surfaces of the insulation.[citation needed] Such multiple surfaces are abundant in batting and porous foam. Radiation is also minimized by low emissivity (highly reflective) surfaces. Lower thermal conductivity and, therefore, higher R-values can be achieved by replacing air with argon when practical such as between sealed double-glazed windows and within special closed-pore foam insulation.


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