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What’s the difference between reflective and bulk insulation?

What’s the difference between reflective and bulk insulation?


High quality reflective insulation such as Kingspan’s AIR-CELL® is a fibre-free, non-allergenic, non-itchy insulation material.  Glass wool, the most common form of bulk insulation, irritates and itches the skin upon contact and irritates the respiratory system immediately upon exposure, which is an important consideration for people of have asthma or any other respiratory condition.

Many bulk insulation products carry Occupational Health & Safety warnings and recommend protective clothing when handling or installing the material.  Because AIR-CELL® Insulation is fibre-free, there are no associated health warnings and no protective equipment is required.

Unlike some conventional bulk insulation, AIR-CELL® does not contain toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde or any other volatile organic compounds (VOC).


Like a sponge, bulk insulation works by absorbing heat into the material itself.  Reflective insulation works by reflecting radiant heat, which is the most dominant form of heat gain and loss, away from its surface.

In the summer when the temperature starts to cool down outside, bulk insulation still carries much of the heat absorbed throughout the day, and continues to dissipate that heat into the building even though the outside temperature has started to cool.  Because reflective insulation reflects heat rather than absorbing it, when it starts to cool down outside, it starts to cool down inside as well.

Reflective insulation is also unaffected by moisture, unlike bulk insulation.  As an absorbent material, bulk insulation not only absorbs heat, but can also absorb moisture which reduces its performance significantly.  Leaky roofs and tiles or high humidity can deteriorate the performance of bulk insulation.

About Kingspan Insulation

Kingspan Insulation is a market leading manufacturer of innovative ultra-thin flexible insulation products and super high performance rigid insulation products for building fabric and building services applications.