Thick insulation was a thing of the past: What good are the thin high-performance insulation
High-performance insulating materials open up new possibilities for protecting buildings from heat loss. They are indispensable in the field of core insulation.
What high-performance insulation is all about
Insulation materials are materials that have a low thermal conductivity. The conductivity indicates which amount of heat penetrates in watts at a temperature difference of 1 meter thickness of one meter. The smaller the value, the more effective the insulation. Conventional insulation boards have a thermal conductivity (lambda value) of 30 to 45.
A substance counts as a high-performance insulation material if it clearly falls below these values. An airgel insulating board has a lambda value of 13, vacuum insulation panels even reach a value of 4 to 8. In England, foamed phenolic resin insulation materials have been on the market for some time now.
Modern insulation materials are slow to assert themselves. They are not to be found in hardware stores. As a rule, specialist companies obtain these materials directly from the manufacturers.
Vacuum insulation panels are made of a porous material. The manufacturers weld this into foil after they have extracted the air. It produces parcels, similar, as in vacuum-packed food. Even a small hole makes a panel useless, cutting on site is not possible. At present, the insulating material is only used in finished components, so that the foils are not damaged by tools.
At the same thickness, high-performance insulating materials have a threefold to tenfold insulation effect compared to normal insulating material. In practice, this affects thinner insulation layers.
Impact on insulation
In buildings, the heat loss caused by certain components is important. The so-called U value provides information about this. An uninsulated wall of 25 centimeters thick concrete has a U-value of 3.3. In order to comply with the requirements of the EnEV, this wall must be insulated against heat loss.
Assuming a target value of 0.14 is necessary: To achieve this value with a conventional insulation material (lambda = 35), plates with a thickness of 24 centimeters required. When constructing a new house, wall thicknesses of a total of 50 centimeters are impractical, but they can be implemented.
Subsequent insulation causes various problems: Thickening the wall can, for example, lead to overbuilding the boundary with the neighbor. Particularly problematic are large layer thicknesses when insulating a pitched roof, since the measure costs housing.
For houses that are under monument protection, often only the insulation of a hollow layer is possible. Conventional core insulation panels are not enough to insulate the house sufficiently.
The new insulation innovations solve these problems. To achieve a U-value of 14, insulation material with a lambda value of 15 only requires a layer thickness of 10 centimeters. Due to the lower thermal conductivity of high-performance insulating materials, thinner insulation thicknesses are possible in order to achieve a given U-value.
The use of high-performance insulating materials makes it possible to achieve U-values that are scarcely possible with conventional insulation materials for subsequent insulation. Due to the thinner layer thicknesses, less problems arise at window reveals or when insulating between rafters.
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Thin insulation materials cause high costs
The price comparison between conventional insulation and high performance insulation is complicated. One square meter of an EPS plate (lambda = 35) with a thickness of 20 centimeters costs about 28 euros. Squeegee felts for intermediate rafter insulation cost about € 8.50 per square meter in this specification.
Airgel insulation panels are virtually non-commercial. Demand is currently outstripping supply. One square meter, with a layer thickness of ten centimeters, costs between 60 and 100 euros. Vacuum insulation panels are not suitable for retrofitting and insulating materials based on phenolic resin are not available on the market in Germany.
At the moment, high-performance insulating materials are not a common alternative for conventional insulation with large layer thicknesses. The legislator does not prescribe the use of the substances if insulation with conventional substances is technically possible.
A viable alternative is PUR plates, which reach lambda values of 25, so that a thickness of 17 centimeters is sufficient. The price of these panels is 40 euros per square meter.
Researchers are always on the lookout for new materials that provide excellent insulation.
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