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-   -   Does bubble-wrap work for insulating windows? (https://ecorenovator.org/forum/showthread.php?t=1997)

ecomodded 12-18-13 03:14 AM

I should put 2ft x 4ft windows in the bedrooms.One window is currently fogged making it less effective, if I happen on a pair of the right sized double panes at a used building supply (not always used but left over) I will purchase them and do the switch, the pay back time would be short with a cheap set of windows.

ctgottapee 12-19-13 05:41 AM

Theoretically you would need bubble wrap that had an air space of over 3/4" in order for there to be a difference, but because the bubbles are separate and not continuous the overall R value would drop to account for the flat spots; it would add roughly another R1 give or take, so if possible it wouldn't matter a whole lot.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Daox (Post 33559)
I just wrote a quick blog on this because its so easy and cheap to do and I think more people should consider it.

One question I did have though. It looks like AC_Hacker used the bubble wrap with smaller bubbles while the pictures on Gary's site look like he used the bubble wrap with larger bubbles. I'm wondering if the larger bubbles would be superior to the smaller ones? It also seems like AC_Hacker used two layers of bubble wrap versus Gary just using one. Anyway, things to consider and compare.


ctgottapee 12-19-13 05:46 AM

There needs to be a control comparison to see how much better bubblewrap is than another basic air tight, low perm covering that adequately sealed around a window perimeter so you would know how much was due to the bubble wrap insulating value over air sealing.

Obviously you get the benefits, but the R value is not likely where its at.
New windows are likely less leaky than old single pane, and storm windows often come with an air sealing retrofit on the outside, so the air sealing nature would provide less benefit as noted by the results compared to each.

Caulking the single panes and gasket-ing the window might provide near the same performance

AC_Hacker 12-19-13 12:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ctgottapee (Post 34075)
There needs to be a control comparison to see how much better bubblewrap is than another basic air tight, low perm covering...

Why don't you do the control comparison?

-AC

ecomodded 12-19-13 08:27 PM

I think .. a infrared thermometer aimed at surface of of the bubble wrap then at the other trial material to compare the surface temperatures could find a winner.
The warmest surface temperature would be desirable I deduce.

Infrared thermometers are touchy, they do not like shiny surfaces so a area sprayed with flat black on each surface would insure continuity in the readings.

AC_Hacker 12-19-13 09:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ecomodded (Post 34088)
I think .. a infrared thermometer aimed at surface of of the bubble wrap then at the other trial material to compare the surface temperatures could find a winner.
The warmest surface temperature would be desirable I deduce.

Infrared thermometers are touchy, they do not like shiny surfaces so a area sprayed with flat black on each surface would insure continuity in the readings.

I don't know if you have an IR Thermometer, but I got mine from a Chinese Tool Store, for $10.

Sounds like it is time for the science to begin...

-AC

ecomodded 12-19-13 11:56 PM

I do have a Chinese one, straight from China off of eBay -58*F to +716*F
The instructions warned of inaccurate readings from surface reflectivity stating to aim for a non reflective / non shiny surface, China shiny ..
Paid $7 for my yellowish orange IR thermometer.

AC_Hacker 12-20-13 12:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ecomodded (Post 34094)
The instructions warned of inaccurate readings from surface reflectivity...

Cheap plastic black electrical tape works very well.

Your meter (similar to mine) may have significant errors in the indicated value, but you can be pretty sure of the accuracy of temperature differences within a close range.

-AC

ecomodded 12-20-13 05:05 PM

the Convection needs to be slowed, I remembered that the insulation used in quilts would work well and that People do it.
Scotch Guarded Quilts can be cut in half and resew if desired.
A friend with a sewing machine would be indispensable if you were to go that route, I think I will leave leave the quilt in one piece perhaps folded.

2nd hand prices will make it dirt cheap, tomorrow I will try to find some white'ish quilts , scotch guard them and replace my flimsy curtains in the bedrooms , first anyways.

I see this working out.
I suspect people have been adding quilting to their windows for 100's of Years

From Wiki
on Convection :

Air and other gases are generally good insulators, in the absence of convection. Therefore, many insulating materials function simply by having a large number of gas-filled pockets which prevent large-scale convection. Examples of these include expanded and extruded polystyrene (popularly referred to as "styrofoam") and silica aerogel. Natural, biological insulators such as fur and feathers achieve similar effects by dramatically inhibiting convection of air or water near an animal's skin.

ctgottapee 12-21-13 03:22 AM

Don't get me wrong, I understand your sentiment.

The intent was to indicate that bubble wrap may not be any more of a miracle than say standard plastic film, which is basically what it is with plastic bubbles on it. And then the degree of miracle is more in its low perm and air restriction; the R value is the skin effect which is about R1 if you seal it properly.

The trapped pocket of air in most cases where one would use this approach would not be insulating as it's not trapped on the window side due to air infiltration - hence why the plastic covering helps so much. The air pocket in a window only has R value because it's sealed.
The more aesthetic and long term approach would be to air seal the window or replace it.
As the test noted it still didn't do much even with a window that probably had a fairly sealed installed as it is extremely difficult to get a true trapped air pocket; windows have multiple gaskets and are filled under vacuum.
Unfortunately the bubbles don't do much as they are not contiguous nor thick enough to have an insulating value - 3/4" is generally what you need for an air gap to have an insulating value. Trapped air in some insulating products is where the benefit comes, but as a whole contiguous unit, if some parts don't have the uniformity it loses sig R value.
Bubble wrap can be free if you can get it wide enough for a window, although it doesn't have a WAF. At the point of using bubble wrap on a home window, one might consider just replacing the window with an insulated wall. The wrap would be equally helpful in hot summers too.

I love the DIY stuff and people sharing info, and my intention is not to stomp on your share, but we should always strive to present a full picture, otherwise we chase shadows and sometimes do more harm than good. There is nothing wrong with declaring a winner with caveats or only in certain restrictions. This type of effort seems more suited to say garages or storage basements and similar type of buildings to get quick cheap help where you can live with the visuals.

We have to be careful not to fall into the candle flower pot heater realm ;)

Quote:

Originally Posted by AC_Hacker (Post 34083)
Why don't you do the control comparison?

-AC



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